Wednesday, May 30, 2007

HoiCin Cantonese Restaurant

HoiCin Fine Modern Asian Cuisine
9555 Folsom Blvd #D
Sacramento CA 95827

I have had dim sum, lunch about five or six time, dinner 3 or 4 times and their, yes, All YOU CAN EAT!!!

It is kind of funny, I think that HoiCin is the only restaurant I have ever had breakfast, lunch, dinner and all you can eat.

Let me start with dim sum. We had the promotional items; I think we had:

Sesame Seed Ball (5) $2
Shrimp "Har Gow" (5) $2
Pork "Shu Mei" (4) $2
Steamed Pork Buns (4) $2.50

Everything was good, but I was disappointed that the steamed pork buns were store bought and not made in the restaurant (the tag gave it away). All in all we were pretty full for about $12. I think that's a pretty good deal.

Lunch is either hit or miss; sometimes the food is cooked well, sometimes a little overcooked, sometime canned fruit is used like when I ordered pears pork chop. Today I had the BBQ pork, that was good. You know how a lot of times when you get BBQ it is a little tough? I think they used a pork shoulder because it had a nice crust, but was tender.

Dinner I remember having:


Smoked Sea Bass.

The smoked sea bass was really good. It was cooked perfectly with a nice amount of smoke permeating each bite. I think it was a little sweet too.

The All YOU CAN EAT, well that was just a blur, all the dishes I had were good, none great.

Overall I think it is a pretty good place to eat Chinese as good as Fat's in Folsom. So 14/20 vs other Chinese restaurants in the area and 12/20 overall.

Hoicin Cantonese on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 28, 2007

Roasted Pork Shoulder

I hope you have a good weekend.

"What is the difference between baked and roasted?"

Answer: Basically the cooking term "baking" refers to the method of cooking food in the dry heat of an oven. According to Williams-Sonoma Cooking Companion (Time Life Books 2000), the terms "baking" and "roasting' equally refer to the method of cooking uniform pieces of meat, poultry or vegetables in a small amount of fat or liquid in an open pan or dish in the hot, dry air of the oven. "Baking" is most usually associated with the process of making baked goods like cakes, pies and cookies. While "roasting" generally refers to meats, poultry, large fish, and vegetables.

I think the origin of he words may be the difference also, spit-roasting- impaling meat on a metal or wood spike and turning it continuously near the radiating heat source...McGee H. (2004) On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. New York: Scribner.

Have you ever spit-roasted a cake? If you have, I am very impressed.

I highly recommend getting an over thermometer to make sure your oven is really at the correct temperature. I lived in an apartment once where the actual oven temperature was 75 degrees above what I set it at! That's a huge difference over a few hours.

1 boneless pork shoulder with skin if possible (about 4 pounds)
4 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon Chinese five spice powder
Smashed 1 handful fresh thyme
4 tablespoons Kosher salt
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil

The night before toss everything into a ziplock bag and let marinate overnight in the refrigerator. If you cannot do that try to let it marinate at least an hour.

1. Take the shoulder out of the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for about an hour.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
3. Roast for 3 hours.
4. After 3 hours take it out of the oven and let it rest at least 30 minutes before slicing and eating.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Career Path Fork; Left or Right?

A few years ago, I was in this career rut. I just moved to Sacramento and was just working part-time and the other 50% of the time I tried to "find myself". Corny and cliche, I know :) I went through a barrage of career tests. After about a month, I had it narrowed down to ER doctor, HS science teacher and cook.

I finally decided on HS science teacher. I figure I could help struggling students and make a decent living. So I started to study for the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET). As I started to study basic science, chemistry, astronomy and earth science I realized one thing. Teaching erosion for the next 20 years is something I did not want to do. The basic sciences do not change and I get bored semi-easily.

So after about a month of studying I decided to look into becoming a cook, then maybe a chef. I started in intern at Cascades in Roseville. The restaurant closed down a few years ago. How I chose this restaurant, in the middle of nowhere, I really cannot say. It was very interesting, was it like Kitchen Confidential? Well, almost. If I told you everything now, what you you have to look forward to?

That's all I will say for now. For a more mundane view, you can check it out here.

If you are seriously looking into a career in cooking, check out the rant below, I copied it, I did not write it.

Got this rant from a long time ago

Thank you for applying, you want to be a cook huh?

No you say, a chef? OK then, here's the MINIMUM BASICS I expect you to know.

Each of these skills you will be required to perform rapidly, under pressure, within a set time frame, in a team environment with minimal supervision.

  • You must work in a safe, organized, clean and sanitary fashion with little to no waste. These skills I expect you to perform with complete competence and understanding of proper technique and procedure.

  • Ability to dice, slice, chop, julienne, carve, brunoise, peel and turn standard fruits, vegetables and proteins.

  • Knowledge of grading, butchery and cooking techniques of beef, pork, poultry, fish and shellfish.Ability to bake, broil, boil, saute, braise, blanch, grill, steam, stir fry and roast primary cuts of beef, fish, shellfish, pork, poultry and vegetables.

  • Know what can be baked, broiled, boiled, sauteed, braised, blanched, grilled, steamed, stir fried or roasted...and what can't.

  • Know when a food is cooked enough.

  • Know when a food is cooked too much.Know how long a food is to be cooked.Knowledge of dairy products, fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and pastas. Stocks, demi's, remi's, fumes and glace.

  • The how's and why's.The 5 mother sauces and those that aren't; purees, coulis's, jus's, essences, foams, ect.

  • Sanitation and hygiene: Safe temperature zones, holding times, cross contamination, basic foodborne illnesses, receiving and storage applications, pest control.

  • Knowledge of nutrition.

  • Full service, working experience of ala carte pantry, grill, saute and expedition.Knowledge of salads.

  • Knowledge of salad dressings - vinaigrette and emulsions. Ability to prepare steaks and roasts to desired doneness by internal temperature, time or feel.

  • Service of hot food hot, cold food cold, and all that implies.

  • Strong garde manger skills to include but not limited to hot and cold buffet/platter presentations, center piece art work and hors d'oeuvres.

  • Basic baking and pastry skills.Write, execute and delegate mise en place and prep lists. Menu development, costing, testing, training, set up and execution.Read, create, write, calculate, adjust and tweek recipes.

  • Knowledge of basic first aid.Safely operate and maintain slicers, mixers, robot coups, buffalo choppers, convection and conventional ovens, tilt kettles, flat tops and steamers.

  • Interview, hire, train, evaluate, organize, lead, discipline and motivate a staff of your peers.Understanding of food costs, inventories, scheduling, payroll, P&L statements, marketing, ordering and receiving.Understanding of labor laws to include equal opportunity employment, workmans comp, sexual harassment, employee discipline and termination procedures.

  • Let me ask you, did a book give you this knowledge? Yes, some you say.

  • Did your 2 year AOS give you this knowledge? Yes, some you say.

  • Great, please go over in detail your experience and expertise in each area I've listed that qualifies you for the chef's position.....I thought so.

So ends the rant. lol.Not to be taken too (cough) seriously.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Comfort Food

I love a good burger, who doesn't? So what do you do when you have craving on a Sunday when a lot of the good burger joints are closed like Squeeze Inn and Nation Meats? Any man should be able to make a burger. So few Sundays ago, I went down to the Safeway and bought 80/20 lean ground beef and put. (I know I should have ground the meat myself, but I was feeling kinda lazy) I opted to go with the jalapeno foccacio bread instead of a bun and one of my favorite sides, onion rings. I had some Havarti cheese around so I ended up making a cheeseburger.

Onion Rings

1 quart vegetable oil for frying
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup beer
1 pinch salt
1 pinch ground black pepper
4 onions, peeled and sliced into rings

In a large, deep skillet, heat oil to 365 degrees F (180 degrees C).
In a medium bowl, combine flour, beer, salt, and pepper. Mix until smooth. Dredge onion slices in the batter, until evenly coated. Deep fry in the hot oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

I used red/purple onions so they were a little sweeter and cut them thick so that they would stand up to a little extra fry time since I like my onion rings very crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside.

I needed to buy beer for the beer batter anyway, so I decided to treat myself to some Newcastle. Newcastle is my favorite beer. Open and pour.

Overall, it was a pretty solid meal. I had no complaint except for the likely high fat content of the meal. Well I skipped dessert that day so everything evens out, no?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Fun Food Fact

In the 17th century, based on a question raised by the Bishop of Quebec, the Roman Catholic Church ruled that the beaver was a fish. The legal basis for the decision probably rests with the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas, which bases animal classification as much on habit as anatomy. Therefore, the general prohibition on the consumption of meat on Fridays during Lent did not apply to beaver meat.


So I guess land sharks are are forbidden during Lent?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Il Forno Classico
2121 Golden Centre Ln. #10
Gold River, CA 95670

Not to be confused with Il Fornaio.

For one reason or another, I have ended up eating here, mainly for lunch, about eight (8) times in the last three months. And I had the same server six of those times. So this review will encompass my overall impression.

One of the first great things about Il Forno is the BREAD. I love bread, let me rephrase that I love good bread. I cannot stand white bread like Wonder bread, sorry.

The bread is always fresh and warm from the oven, the crust is just crunchy enough, the just enough Parmesan cheese to provide some saltiness, just enough fresh parsley (or thyme?) to provide some herbal essence when you cut into it. I think the first time we ate there, we finished two loaves before we knew it.

These are the are the things I remember having that were pretty good. The one thing that was memorable was the ARTICHOKE & SPINACH RAVIOLI: with prosciutto, chicken, sundried tomato and sage in a lemon cream sauce.

The ravioli were cooked perfectly, the chicken provided enough of a firm texture for contrast and the prosciutto and tomato brought just enough saltiness to the dish. The tartness of the lemon was perfectly balanced by the cream for a nice light sauce.

The only dessert I had was the MIRABEELLE CHOCOLATE CAKE: Rich and moist, with custard cream center and chocolate ganache. It was OK. The closest thing I can think of to compare it to:

That's really what it was like.

These are the other things I have had that were pretty good.
MIXED BABY GREENS with bleu cheese, walnuts, balsamic vinaigrette.
CRAB CAKE SANDWHICH: with pesto aioli, mixed greens, tomato, served with mixed greens salad with bleu cheese & walnuts .
STROMBOLI PIZZA: Italian sausage, pepperoni, salami, mushrooms.
ROSEMARY GARLIC CHICKEN PIZZA: roasted potatoes and cream sauceCHICKEN SCALOPPINE ALLA CLASSICO: Garlic, bacon, muschrooms, marsala wine flamed with mashed potatoes, garlic green beans.

My rating is 14/20 vs other Italian restaurant and 13/20 vs other restaurants in general.

Il Forno Classico Wood Fired on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Non Food Related Post Sacramento in News

I have a Yahoo! email account and when I close out of my email, sometimes I see an interesting story. Here are two in the last week.

America's Most Overpriced Real Estate Markets

Sacramento is #3

Rude driver list

Sacramento is # 8

Maybe people are tired of paying exorbitant prices for real estate and taking it out on other drivers?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Reed's Ribs

Reed's Ribs
9408 Kiefer Boulevard, Suite 2
Sacramento, CA 95826

We went here for lunch:

I had a half slab of the pork ribs. They had good flavor and that nice pink ring from the smoke. Two different sauces were offered, a mild and a spicy. I got the spicy. It had a nice amount of heat, a little too sweet for me.

My friend had the pulled pork sandwich on a soft roll. It had good flavor. We had a small side of potato salad, nothing special, a little sweet also.

It is what it is; a quick bite.

Reeds Ribs on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Mangarosa Review

1548 Stockton St
San Francisco, CA 94133 (I wish the address was in Sacramento!)

I really was a little hesitant about making a reservation here. Brazilian and Italian, I have had good food from each of these cuisines separately, but together? I knew it would be either hit or miss with this place.
So to kill any suspense: Brazilian cuisine + Italian cuisine = Yummy!


“Pão de Queijo” cheese bread “Brazilian Style”
Love the smell of fresh Italian bread? Do you like melted cheese? How about a nice ball of melted mozzarella in your fresh Italian bread? That's what you get. Can you smell the gooey cheese? That's what I love, two simple ingredients merged , but the end product is exponentially tasty.

“Mangarosa” butter lettuce salad, sweet & spicy walnuts, fresh mangoes, dry cherries, cambozola cheese and mango lime mint dressing. This was a solid salad, it was sweet, sour, crunchy, fresh and a little spicy. All the taste buds get to play in this salad.

Brazillian steak Rechaud is a steak finished at table in a heated iron grill with three sauces. We split this entree, it was a pound of meat. The meat was good, grass fed and tender.
For a side we had Yucca fries. They were cut like steak frites, nice and golden on the outside and perfectly seasoned. To me they are a tiny bit tangy/sweet and held up well against the steak.
The drink we had was

(The new Brazilian Rum), muddled lime
wedges, fresh mint leaves, pineapple juice and orange
liqueur, shaken and served straight up
My friends had:

crab dip with artichoke, onions, grana padano and parmesan crostini
filet mignon “Espetinhos
pumpkin risotto
They had a:

Coconut flakes, coconut milk, sugar,
shaken with coconut rum, Premium “Cachaça” Leblon
and finished with ice
We were too stuffed for dessert! We had three baskets of the “Pão de Queijo”!
My rating: 20/20 vs other Italian/Brazillian places (Are there other ones?)
Overall it was good 16/20.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Lemon Shortbread Drops and Triangles

2 cups Butter, softened
1 cup sugar
0.5 cup lemon juice
4 tablespoons freshly grated lemon peel
4.5 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons lemon zest
3 teaspoons sugar

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Combine all shortbread ingredients except flour in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy.

2. Reduce speed to low; add flour. Beat until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

3. I made two different shapes:
  • I used a tablespoon and made "lemon drops", put them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and baked until they were a golden brown.
  • I lightly greased an 8 inch cake tin, and baked it until it was golden brown in the center and a little darker brown on the side.

4. Mix the two topping ingredients together and sprinkle over the shortbread.

The thing about this recipe is that each shape gave two distinct textures. The "lemon drops" were more packed so they were a little more crunchy and a little chewy in the middle. The bad thing about this is that that after about 3 days, they turned hard, really hard, like a jawbreaker.

In contrast the lemon triangles were nice and crunchy on the edge, but were chewy as you got to the center piece. They remained this way after four days, the texture did not change.

Which one did I like better? Definitely the triangles, the lemon drops were good if you finished them in a day, but not two days later.

I think next time, I will try some lime bars? I also bought some lime thyme for my garden. That should make for some interesting flavors.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Pyramid Brewery

Pyramid Alehouse,
Brewery & Restaurant
1029 K Street Sacramento, CA 95814
Telephone: (916) 498-9800

We were planning to go to 58 degree, but our plans changed and we ended up going here for a more casual evening. We walk walked from the K Street Mall after watching ,"Fracture" (it was pretty, blah) to the pub. I swear I have never noticed how run down this part of the city was and the high concentration of homeless and kids just running around rampant. There were six cop cars I counted on our 10 minute walk.

I do not know about you, but all the kids at the mall look like punks and out of shape, without a care in the world. I think Sacramento is still tying to find its identity;urban, capital, small town, comfort, hip hop, art friendly, organic, flood prone, green, rich, poor, etc are adjectives that can all describe Sacramento. This is an exciting time.

Back to the food.

We had the calamari and a thing crust sausage, pepperoni and mushroom pizza.

I had Mac’s Blackwatch Cream Porter, I love the heavier, beefier, full bodied beers and this was just perfect for me, a lot like Guinness in flavor, but not as heavy.

Amber Weizen: Pretty good, like a Killian's Red.

The food was nothing special, but the beer was good. But it is the food that counts and I give it a 10 for average.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Non Food Post Ahead: First Vaccine Against H5N1 Avian Flu Approved In The US

From time to time, I will post things that I think are relevant or useful information; something like a Public Service Announcement.

What happened? The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first bird flu vaccine in the United States. The bird flu vaccine is designed to protect against the current form of the H5N1 bird flu virus, should it develop the ability to spread efficiently among humans and create a pandemic outbreak. This bird flu vaccine could be used early in such an outbreak to provide limited protection until another vaccine — designed to protect against the specific form causing the outbreak — is developed and produced.

This bird flu vaccine was approved on the basis of a study of its use in healthy adults. About half of those vaccinated with two intramuscular injections of 90-microgram doses given one month apart developed enough antibodies to reduce the risk of getting bird flu.

What does this mean to you?

The H5N1 virus is most often found in birds. However, the virus is capable of mutating and has in some cases made the leap to infect humans. Although no one in the United States has reported infection with the bird flu virus, about 300 people around the world have been infected with the bird flu since 2003, and the threat of a pandemic outbreak remains a major concern of world health officials. The bird flu quickly causes severe signs and symptoms including pneumonia and respiratory problems, and about half the people infected have died.

This new vaccine won't be commercially available but will be stockpiled and distributed by U.S. government officials in the event of an outbreak. It's intended to help protect adults ages 18 to 64. Although the bird flu vaccine fully protected only about 45 percent of those vaccinated — about half the effectiveness rate of the seasonal influenza vaccine — it still may help reduce the severity of the disease and decrease the risk of hospitalization and death in those who aren't fully protected.

The original article can be found here.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Variety is the Spice of Life

One of the reason I shop at Costco, beside buying bulk, is the variety of food that they offer. For example, where else can you get 9 different kinds of chocolate candy in a bag? For the recovering
chocoholics like myself (I go to the YMCA on 15 th street on Thursdays) this is a very good thing.

It helps lot towards portion control as you have to open each package before you eat another piece. I will admit this is not a huge deterrent, but that extra 1/20 of a second it takes to open one, my brain is able to yell, "STOP!" Most of the time I listen.

Sometimes seeing all this candy makes you wonder, "What would a Snickers-Crunch taste like? or a Reese's-Crunch? A Kit Kat with almonds and coconut? A Butterfinger with nougat, caramel and crisp wafers?" Well I guess those ideas never made it past the drawing board.

The last idea I had was to melt all 9 kinds of candy in a big bowl, mix it up and reform it to see what I get. I am not that bored....yet.