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July 2007

St. Robert's birthday at All Italiana Restaurant

Sunday afternoon we celebrated my brother in law Robert’s birthday at All Italiana Restaurant in La Mesa

We call him St. Robert because he’s stayed married to my sister for 30 plus years. He is a quiet, very patient man.


The restaurant is located on a side street and can be easily missed if you aren’t looking for it. We have had a couple of family gatherings there and they have been more than accommodating to our large boisterous group.


We had a very nice meal. A few ordered the lunch special for two which consists of antipasto, soup or salad, chicken parmesan, green beans, pasta, dessert and coffee.
Stan and daughter Vicky had the special.


Fabulous tomato basil soup. The cup is rimmed with finely diced, dried basil


Lunch special of chicken Parmesan, green beans and pasta


We asked for garlic bread, when the bread was delivered we were told it was made special for us.
Special is an understatement, it was outstanding.
One was made with marinara sauce and the other with cheese and pesto. I can’t begin to tell how great it was. I was ready to forego my meal and eat just the bread,Special_garlic_bread

they brought out 4 plates of this for us.
I had a dinner salad and pasta carbonara, Pinot Grigio and Vicky had an Italian beer.
I think this was the first time I've ever had pasta carbonara, it was delicious. I can't wait to try it other places and do some comparing.


After dinner we had espresso

We milled around and visited



and the smokers retired outside


The owners were nice enough to let me photograph them. Ladies, the one on the right is single ;-)


He can be found at

All Italiana Restaurant
8356 Allison Ave
La Mesa, CA 91941

Hit up Thornton's again

Saturday evening we stopped by Thornton's on our way home.

Earlier in the month we received a post card from Thornton's advertising their June special. In honor of Father's Day, anytime during the month of June, bring in the post card and you can order the Whiskey Steak for ten dollars.
Stan got the Whiskey Steak special (the steak photo is in the Father's Day post.) I ordered the 1/2 rack of lamb. Now, I'm not a lamb aficionado, it's a taste I've only recently acquired, but let me say I can now cook up a mean lamb shank and some killer lamb chops.

When I ordered the lamb at Thonton's I was expecting a typical crust of garlic and rosemary, there was neither. I got pure unadulterated melt in your mouth mild, tasty, delicious lamb. I don't know what they do, if anything to their lamb. As far as I could tell there was nothing other than maybe a little salt and pepper, and precious little of that and a sprinkling of fresh parsley. 
They do offer cooking classes so someday I will learn their secret. :-)

Rather than my usual colcannon,  I had the bubble and squeak along with their fresh vegetables that are not cooked to death. Oh yes, and the great thick and creamy potato soup, topped with real bacon and Irish Cheddar Cheese.


I was asked how I wanted my lamb cooked, I was a little surprised by that.
I have been under the impression that a rack of lamb was cooked to medium rare. When I questioned the waitress she said some people like their lamb well done so they always ask. I ordered medium rare, and I had a glass of Shiraz with my meal.


Now this is what I call a "Happy Meal"

Breakfast at Bonny's

Saturday morning found us at Bonny’s Café in El Cajon for breakfast.

Not only is it great diner style food It has a really cool decor. It is crammed full of 40’s & 50’s movie star and t.v. personalities memorabilia, everything from Marilyn Monroe to Spanky and our gang.


m-i-c-   k-e-y-  m-o-u-s-e

We have not yet had a bad meal there. Most of the time there is a little wait but well worth it. We hit it at the right time and got seated right away.

Not us, just some other old folks. ;-)

Stan had the short order of ham and eggs, which is a smaller sized ham steak with two instead of three eggs and country fires covered in sausage gravy. His scrambled eggs were nice and moist, no brown, not overcooked in the least.

I had the corned beef hash and eggs over easy, country fries and biscuits and gravy, my favorite all time breakfast. The corned beef, yes I know it’s canned, was cooked on the grill until it had a nice crunchy outer layer and the eggs were nice and runny, all the better to mix in with the hash and potatoes my dear. The potatoes are cooked with bell peppers and onion. Doesn’t get any better than this.


Biscuits and Gravy

The table settings are homey and the whole place has a comfortable feel to it.Creamer_sugar

The waitresses are efficient and friendly and call their customers by name.

Next time you are in El Cajon go by Bonny's, tell them Koko sent you, and you will get the classic who the h*ll is Koko look. ;-)

596 Broadway
El Cajon CA 92021



What I ate at the fair

Friday was the first time I’ve been to the San Diego county fair in over 20 years, sad, I know.

A few weeks ago my stepdaughter asked me if I wanted to go to the fair with her. It has been more than 20 years for her also, what a shame we haven’t taken the time to participate in one of life’s little pleasures, the county fair. So we ditched work on Friday and went.

My main goal was to eat my way from one end of the fair to the other. I had grandiose ideas as to what I would eat and after all, I needed something to report to the newsgroup. 

I didn’t have breakfast in order to have room for fair food. When we first arrived we walked right past the turkey leg stand, there he was, enticing me with his legs.


How could I pass this up?


It was very tasty; I passed on the BBQ sauce he offered. Parts of one side of the leg were a little dry but the majority of the leg was tender and juicy.


 They also offered grilled corn. I usually grill corn myself so I passed, but it sure looked good.


Now this is how I like it. I slather it with mayonnaise and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese or rub with a lime and sprinkle with Tapatio hot sauce.


We walked around for a while and talked with the animals.


It was about time to sit down and have a cool one. We found a nice little beer garden and had a couple of beers. We struck up a conversation with two nice ladies at the table next to us; they were eating the best looking artichoke sandwiches. Come to find out one of the ladies made mole from scratch also, she used Diana Kennedy’s recipe, so needless to say our conversation centered on food and restaurants and recipes. One of the ladies has a friend that owns the Babmu Bistro in Hillcrest, so we have to go check it out.


We walked around and looked at the exhibits but spent most of our time in the commercial buildings. I’m kicking myself for forgetting to go see the exhibits of the food entries.

Well, walking around made us hungry again so we found another beer garden and snacked on some fried chicken. It was really good and not greasy, nice crunchy fried skin. I don’t usually eat the skin but heck, it’s the fair.


After some more walking around it was time for a snack. One thing I wanted to be sure and eat was a deep fried snickers bar.


Now, the inside is disgusting looking but the batter was great. Nice and fluffy not too thick.


On our way out we had to have just a little more fried food.;-) This guy is like the local dealer, fried everything.


My parting shot was deep fried coca-cola and deep fried asparagus.


It’s batter made with coca-cola or maybe the cola syrup is used because it sure is coca-cola tasting and very crunchy.


The asparagus was really good if you started from the smaller end as it got tougher and stringy toward the end.


I still hadn’t eaten rattlesnake bites, deep fried twinkies, or the chicken sandwich on a Krispy Kreme jelly doughnut. Looks like we have to go again next year, because this is how I felt as we left the fair grounds I couldn’t have eaten another bite. See ya at the fair next year.


If you are interested in a review of the Krispy Kreme and rattlesnake and other fair food I didn’t eat go to fellow food blogger mmm-yoso for a great time at the fair.


Father's Day meal at Thornton's Irish Pub

Where do you take dad on Father’s Day, but to a place with red meat and beer. Stan’s daughter Vicky and her husband Bill met us for lunch at Thornton’s Irish Pub and Chop House in El Cajon.


We arrived around 11:00 but the Father’s day specials we wanted didn’t start until noon, so we had to sit around and drink Guinness, eat the best chicken tenders I’ve ever had and talk in these pleasant surroundings with lively Irish music playing in background.


We all couldn’t believe how great the chicken tenders were. The spices on them were just perfect and the batter was not thick. We were all so busy tasting them and talking about how great they were I almost forgot to get a picture, some are missing but you get the idea. They were served with both blue cheese and ranch dressing.


A couple of us (me and SIL) had the Surf and Turf which is a steak and shrimp plate finished with a wine sauce, colcannon and fresh vegetables. We also had some of the best potato soup ever. I don't have a picture of that as I dove into it and didn't come up for air until it was done, then I realized what I'd done, gasp!!!!

Surf and Turf with colcannon and fresh veggies


Vicky had Peter's Harbison's pan seared boneless breast of chicken with a baked potato and fresh vegetables with a fabulous white wine sauce. The breast was not dry at all.


Stan had the Whiskey steak which is a tenderloin of beef with colcannon and fresh vegetables finished in a Jameson Whiskey sauce.


Dad got a photo with his special daughter.


A very nice day for a special guy.

Kalua pig

Saturday night was a surprise birthday party for a co-worker. I was asked to help with the menu for a Luau themed party.

I asked kili one of the participants on and for some help since she had lived in Hawaii. She was very helpful and suggested some typical Luau type food such as Kalua pig, rice, Hupia pudding, and macaroni salad.

My contribution was the Kalua pig and rice, and others made the Hupai pudding and salad. I searched food blogs and google and came up with a basic recipe
The recipe I followed is
3-5 lb pork butt well marbled
1 1/2 Tablespoon liquid smoke
2 1/2 teaspoons Hawaiian salt.
I made mine in a roasting pan but the food blog has their recipe and an oven method of cooking the pig. I tracked them down through

I made 10 lbs of pork and used not quite 1/2 head of green cabbage and made Jasmine rice cooked in chicken broth. Kalua pig ingredients


Kalua pig in the roaster ready to go. I added a couple of cups of chicken broth and started cooking at 350* when it was cooked I held it at 250*


Before the cabbage was added I drained off a lot of the liquid. Dang.... talk about fat. I skimmed off the fat and reserved the broth. There was still plenty of fat left in the pan for flavor.


Sliced up half a head of cabbage


The liquid was added back as needed when the cabbage was added. Here's the finished product.


It turned out delicious and was a big hit. kili said it looked like it was supposed to and that I did a good job. I will definitely  do this again.


First lost tooth

My grandson Jarod lost his first tooth. He said it didn't hurt. He told his mom he heard the tooth fairy gave fifteen dollars for a tooth. Time for a reality check. He did get a silver dollar and two fifty cent pieces though.
He was hesitant to give up his tooth. He asked his mom "what if I miss my baby tooth?" My daughter being the great mom she is, assured him the tooth fairy keeps all his teeth forever. This is where his friend added "She still has Jesus's teeth from when he was a kid" Gotta love 'em.


Continue reading "First lost tooth" »

Mario's De La Mesa

We have eaten many meals at Mario’s De La Mesa. They have been in business in La Mesa for 25 years. Many people remember when they were a little hole in the wall place in the industrial area. They were there for 15 years, and now it's been 10 years in the new location.


Patio dining


We had lunch there today and it was delicious as usual. Stan is hooked on the pork mole. I’m not that crazy about it, I pick up beef gravy undertones. I’m sure it’s just me as he doesn’t taste that at all and honestly, his taste buds are more refined than mine.
I really like the carnitas but today I was in a taco mood.
They have combination plates that offer smaller portions, it’s nice to be able to get a plate with just one taco or an enchilada with rice and beans.  They have a great menu.


We each had a Negra Modelo. Chips and salsa with a little life in it are served when you are seated.


I ordered the taco plate with one taco, rice and beans. I love it when the taco goes “crunch” when you bite into it. The beans are worth living for good, and they have a hint of smokey chipotle. I took the guacamole off the taco before eating it, it could have had a little more beef but the flavor was spot on.
I like is their use of the dry Mexican cheese Queso Seco?, and the radish and carrot garnishes.


Stan had the pork mole, all beans no rice. 


sprinkled with sesame seeds


During the Christmas season be sure and put in your Christmas tamale order, they are very, very popular.

Their tamales are legendary. I’ll give them another shot. The first time around I wasn’t very pleased but thousands of people can’t be wrong, I’ll try them again.
Mario's De La Mesa
8425 La Mesa Blvd
La Mesa CA. 91941
(619) 461-9390


A meal to bring a tear to your eye at Cafe Mediterraneo

We had a late lunch today at Cafe Mediterraneo Bistro Bar and Grill in Alpine CA.


I don't know where to begin. The food, the service, the day was just perfect.
We arrived about 3:30, it was nice enough to sit outside.


I wanted a glass of wine with lunch. The waitress recommended a Sterling Chardonnay, I wasn't game for this because I don't care for chardonnays. She offered to bring me a sample, I've never been offered a sample of a wine before, how great is this. I liked it and had a couple of glasses with my lunch.
This is the sample


We started with a couple of simple Cesar salads that were served with focaccia bread and herb butter. The salads were lightly dressed, no pools of dressing left on the plates, perfect



Order up

Stan had the rigatoni with shredded pork in a sweet pepper ragu and shaved Parmesan cheese. It had a little kick to it, very, very good. Stan's comment on his first bite was, mmm al dente. It had just the right bite to the pasta, good job.


I had a Brick Oven Pie aka pizza, of heart of artichoke & fresh asparagus, pesto and fresh buffalo mozzarella


close up of the top of the pie


wanna bite?


O.K. so I'm obsessed with the pie. I want to tell you, very few things almost bring tears of joy to my eyes when I bite into them, this dang near did. The crust was thin, thin, thin and crispy. The asparagus is fresh cut onto the pizza per order as well as the fresh cheese. Just perfect and the first of many.

We had Florentine for dessert. It is an almond shell filled with Starbucks coffee flavored ice cream and whipped cream, topped with a strawberry and drizzled with chocolate syrup and powdered sugar


I loved the slivered almonds on the shell


We all but licked the plate clean. I would have if I could have figured out a way to do it without getting chocolate and sugar on the tip of my nose.
I had a cup of coffee with this that was just O.K.

Cafe Mediterraneo Bistro Bar and Grill

1347 Tavern Rd Ste 34
Alpine Ca 91901

Burger at Claimjumper's

When we are hungry for a good salad or a really good burger we usually end up at Claim Jumper restaurant.
Stan wanted a salad, he's very fond of the citrus salad and I wanted a burger.
The carnivore in him took over and we shared a B&B burger


a blackened grilled burger served with onions, tomato, green leaf lettuce, Dijonnaise, ranch dressing with applewood bacon, blue cheese crumbles on a sesame seed bun. And of course their salt and pepper fries, nice and crispy.

We got just a regular ol' house salad. I had the Balsamic vinaigrette dressing and Stan had honey mustard.

I had a Heffeweizen and Stan an iced tea.


we shared what they call the world's smallest hot fudge sundae.


we always longingly walk by the dessert case.


then we check out the muffins and cobblers


going home happy we exercised self control and split the sundae.