This, That, and The Other Thing

Hello, it’s me!!

I am starting my own blog because even though I am retired I feel I still have plenty to offer. I have a couple clues how to do this and I will make up the rest as I go along. I want my blog to reflect not only how I feel about four of my passions – books, art, food, and travel –  also a little about this new chapter of my life.

I want this to be enjoyable for me to write and for anyone who happens to read it. Although I have to warn you, I have opinions, informed or otherwise, and look forward to expressing them.

In my blog posts, I will write about “this and that” and end the posts with “the other thing,” which is the unique element that enhances or detracts from my overall experience. I wanted to end this introduction with “I hope you enjoy my pithy bon mots,” but my son thought that sounded too pretentious, so I’ll leave it out. Happy reading!



Featured post

Tupelo Junction Cafe

We had a little trouble finding this place on the Newport Peninsula. It looked like 29th Street was under construction and didn’t realize that Tupelo was so close to the marina. It is nestled in among commercial buildings that look like residences. Thankfully, there was a parking space right in front. There is also a small parking lot. I think the only negative about this restaurant is the parking – everything else was wonderful!

The menu is quite extensive. It’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu offers small plates and large plates for breakfast and lunch. The dinner menu is separate so I didn’t see that. With a name like Tupelo, it had to include some dishes with a Southern flair on the menu. Debbie showed great restraint and ordered  Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwich. I, on the other hand, must always order like it would be my last meal. Thursday special was a Pulled Pork Sloppy Joe with Gouda and Peanut Slaw. It was to die for – but hopefully not very soon! We shared an appetizer of Fried Green Tomatoes served with a Corn Salsa and Herbed Buttermilk Dressing. They were fried just right with a light crispy breading.

For dessert, we couldn’t resist the Cinnamon Apple Beignets with Crème Anglaise and Homemade Caramel. They were a little doughy but the yummy sauce made up for it.


The Other Thing – Everything was attractively plated, which is something that, for me, makes a good dining experience even more pleasurable. This place is a keeper!






Belmont Shore

It was a beautiful almost-spring day, so my visit to Belmont Shore was all the more pleasant. First was my visit to Polly’s Gourmet Coffee and coffee guru Mike Sheldrake. I hadn’t seen him in a while, and it is always good to catch up. He is a man with a thousand stories. Then off to Roe Seafood and my monthly lunch with my friend Julie.

I had been wanting to try Roe for a while. I  had heard good things about it. The interior is quite nice and very welcoming – complete with a lovely tree in the dining room. The building was obviously built around it.


We both chose the combination lunch – Julie’s with the fish sandwich, mine with tuna toast. They included a small salad and a cup of seafood bisque. The bisque was a little salty, and there was not a lot of dressing on the salads. But overall, an enjoyable lunch made better, of course, by wine.  I think I will be back!


If I am blogging, I must always include dessert, and I was immediately drawn to the Yuzu Meringue Tart because it contained rhubarb, one of my all-time favorite foods. It was pretty tasty but there was not much rhubarb involved in this dish.

The drive down Second Street and out of the Shore was slow due to street construction but it gave me a chance to gaze at the blue water and colorful sailboats. Lots of people enjoying the sunny day.


The Other Thing – It has been 19 years since I moved from Belmont Shore, and I still miss living there. Circumstances caused me to move, but we do what is necessary for family.




Bosscat Kitchen & Libations


Bosscat, on MacArthur Boulevard between Birch and Campus in Newport Beach, is my 100th blog post. So, I wish it had been a more enjoyable experience. Not to say that Bosscat was not good, it’s just far from my Top Ten. It caught my attention because it features Southern style cooking. So with that in mind, Debbie (my first Thursday of the month foodie friend) and began our dining experience with Pulled Pork Hush Puppies – cornbread battered pork, deep fried and served with Carolina barbecue mustard. Not much taste to these, so the mustard saved this dish.
img_20190307_123829Entrée for Debbie was Fish in the Rye – Chef’s selected White Fish, Rye Whiskey Butter, Shaved and Ancient Grains. Those grains looked pretty much like rice in a sweet and sour sauce of some kind. I chose the Avocado Farm Chop – romaine Lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, onions, cucumbers and Lemon Verbena. The well-seasoned shrimp served on top was the best part of the salad. All the vegetables were chopped so finely, it was hard to define the flavors.


The dessert was the best part of the meal – Chocolate Bourbon Custard, served with whipped cream and crushed carmelized pralines.

img_20190307_133740The Other Thing – The rest of the menu looks interesting, and the prices are fairly reasonable, service was fine. However, I don’t know if there is anything really special to lure me back to Bosscat.

Urra Spaghettini

I hadn’t been to Spaghettini for many years but it was close to friends Julie and Stan who I invited to join me in celebrating my brother’s birthday. It’s been in this location in Seal Beach for a long time so they must be doing something right.

The place was busy so quite noisy, but we had a nice table for four in the main dining room. I was surprised that David wasn’t quite as surprised as I thought he would be. But no matter, we had a great time, and the conversation flowed. Our server, Cat, was very attentive, knew the menu and gave helpful suggestions.

I was introduced to a red wine that I thought quite pleasant – nice smooth taste in my humble opinion. A toast to the birthday boy, then our first course of Red Oak And Bibb Lettuce Salad with Reggiano, cabernet tomatoes and creamy parmesan dressing.

Main course for Stan was Seven Layer Lasagna with spinach pasta, bolognese, béchamel sauce, ricotta, marinara, parmigiano-reggiano. He said it had an even amount of cheese and sauce so it was a perfect blend of flavors. Julie said her Pasta Primavera with linguini, roasted fall vegetables, and shaved Reggiano was delicious. The birthday boy chose the Seafood Pasta. He was quite pleased with the amount and size of the seafood – lobster, shrimp, jumbo lump crab, parmesan cream, rustic bread crumbs. My Wild Mushroom & Chicken with penne pasta and roasted garlic sauce was loaded with flavor, which shows what a really good chef can create with so few ingredients.

The special dessert of the day was Red Velvet Cake with cream cheese frosting and vanilla ice cream. This was the birthday cake presented to David which was obviously too good for him to share (lol). The rest of us shared the Tiramasu – espresso, ladyfingers, rum, and mascarpone.

The Other Thing – This birthday lunch was the perfect example of a pleasant atmosphere, good food, great company and accommodating waitstaff. Long live Spaghettini!


Mexican Rivals

There are two new Mexican restaurants in Costa Mesa, so I decided to try them both on the same day – appetizers and entrée at Descanso and dessert at Playa Mesa. Of course, one must compare the Margaritas.

Descanso claims to bring you the Street Side Taquero to discover authentic Mexican flavors from recipes presented in front of you at the taco Bar, at standard dining or on the Plancha (an open fire grill).

The menu is unique. Debbie and I started with the Costras de Hongos – Fresh Corn Tortillas, Wild Mushrooms, Tres Quesos, Salsa Fria and Epazote. Interesting combination of flavors and quite filling as an appetizer.


The Taco menu AKA “a la plancha entradas” offered the Al Pastor for Debbie with Chile Toreado Salsa, Chamoy and Micro Cilantro. I opted for the Mahi Mahi with Chamoy, Mexislaw, Cacahuates Enchilados and Chile Morita Aioli. To understand what all those words mean, I guess you will have to experience it yourself.


We were pretty full after all this, but we sacrificed ourselves for the chance at dessert at Playa Mesa. They have an interesting wine list and a huge tequila menu of “over 50 bottles of premium Agave spirits, including smoky mezcals”. Their flavors are from the coastal regions of Baja and the mainland Mexico.

Debbie was driving so she opted for water. I had to try Playa Mesa’s house margarita – for comparison of course. Both made with house tequila, similar taste. Playa Mesa’s was served with a fresh lime slice, an orange wedge at Descanso. After a few sips, we were served our shared dessert — Tres Leches – sponge cake, milk, cream, seasonal fruit (strawberries). It was good but a little disappointing. I have to say the Tres Leches I got from Costco was much better. After the sweet dessert taste in my mouth, the margarita didn’t taste quite the same.

Playa Mesa has a family friendly atmosphere and is a little more casual. Food menu at Descanso is much more appealing. We were at happy Hour at Playa Mesa. That menu and drink prices were very reasonable.

The Other Thing – There are so many Mexican restaurants in Costa Mesa, but they are all a little different. It depends on how traditional you like your food. I am all for tasting new flavors – raising the bar on what I think are quality ingredients cooked in a unique way, attractive plating, reasonable prices and great service.  Is that too much to ask for?

Olea, Newport Beach


Lots of hype about this new restaurant so we had to give it a try. It’s not as large as I was expecting but the interior layout with the bar in the middle is cozy and inviting.

Jennifer and I shared the Friend Green Tomatoes with Fresh Burrata Alla Panna, crispy Serrano ham chicharrones and hazelnut romesco. The burrata was slightly melted over the tomatoes – such a delicious blend of flavors.


Interesting and varied choice of entrees, any of which would have been delightful. Crispy Jidori Chicken Schnitzle with wild Mushrooms, sugar pumpkin spaetzle, baby rainbow carrots and maitake mushroom gravy for Jennifer. I opted for the Bourbon Braised Kurobuta Pork Short Rib, creamy fromage Blanc grits, winter vegetables, mustard BBQ jus. Lots of fancy words to describe two scrumptious dishes!

They certainly don’t serve “small plates” here. Generous portions left no room for dessert, but we had some anyway – compliments of the house. The Homemade Belgian Chocolate Cookies with Peanut Butter Ice Cream was much too good to resist.


The Other Thing – Young, goodlooking and attentive waitstaff always help to make the dining experience pleasant.

Old Town Seal Beach

The rain cooperated just enough to allow Julie and me to stroll down Main Street a bit, just for the chance of a leisurely visit to some of the stores. One of the pleasure of these few blocks is the variety of goods being offered – everything from vintage to the unique, a little something for every taste. This is a great place to shops for gifts.

We ate lunch at The Abbey – a fixture in Old Town for many years. Food is pretty basic but quite good. The soup of the day was Cream of Potato. It contained some chicken and veggies and was a real treat. My Black and Blue Salmon BLT was open face because it would be impossible to pick it up. The Salmon fillet could easily be served as a dinner entrée – it was that large. It was nicely seasoned and totally delicious. Anything that includes blue cheese is fine by me. Julie’s soup and sandwich combination included a turkey sandwich that looked like an entire pound of turkey  was between those pieces of sourdough. By the way, it was Wine Wednesday.  How could we let that go by unobserved.

On to Crema Artisan Bakery for some dessert. Just about the best brownie I ever tasted was followed by a fairly yummy Champagne Cake Ball. I haven’t tried the lemon ginger cookies yet. Julie’s blueberry muffin was “ok”. That is the kiss of death when referring to food. She bough some macaroons for her granddaughter. The jury is still out on them.

I noticed that Javatinis was still there. The gimmick is their cold coffee drinks served in martini glasses. Not much call for them in this weather but I had to try the espresso with vanilla and cream – oh boy!! That was more of a dessert that our goodies from the bakery. And they roast their own beans!

The Other Thing – One of the last of the local newspapers is still be printed on Main Street. I wonder how much longer the little guys will survive. It’s too bad!!



My first blog of the new year was lunch with my foodie friend Debbie at Pacific City in Huntington Beach .There are so many places from which to choose. Bluegold is on the upper level with a great view of the ocean.


Debbie’s Cioppino looked good enough to eat, so she did – loving every bite. My, choice the Thursday special, was Pork Schnitzel. With two large cutlets on a bed of warm German potato salad with olive oil, it was almost perfection!  The little frisee salad on top was also quite good.


It doesn’t take much to talk us into dessert, so we shared the Key Lime Pie.  Jeff said, “I’m from Florida so I know about key limes. They fly these in “.


The Other Thing – I took one cutlet in a doggie bag for later. When I looked in the bag, Jeff had written on the box, “Enjoy dinner” and added a little smiley face. How cool was that!!


“An Americano Supper”

My first Stonewall Kitchen Cooking School demonstration class today was presented by Joanna Chun, Culinary Studio Manager for Macy’s. Classes are held at Macy’s Home Store at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa.  Complimentary coffee, tea, and water were served during the class. We enjoyed generous servings of each dish – it was not just a tasting. Joanna’s Sous Chef  for this session was Susan Carter who will also be presenting cooking demonstrations in the coming weeks.

Chef Joanna Chun joins the Macy’s team with an impressive resume. Trained at the International Culinary Center in New York, she has worked in the kitchen at Jean-Georges and was pastry chef at Le Cirque. Her focus at Stonewall Kitchen is to offer unique cooking methods and fixes for cooking mistakes as well as detailed food preparation and presentation.

Today’s  4-course menu consisted of Mixed Greens with Orange Supreme, Hazelnuts and Creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette – Roasted Eggplant Risotto with Capers and Basil – Honey Roasted Carrots – Coffee and Chili Rubbed Ribeye Steak – Malted Chocolate Espresso Cake.

Chef Chun showed us step by step preparation for each dish and encouraged questions. Detailed recipes were given to the attendees as well as suggestions on where certain ingredients could be purchased locally.

It was a delightful hour and a half, and I came away with a full and contented tummy!     I look forward to more of these demonstrations.

A few kinks need to be work out, but this promises to be a popular and useful attraction at Macy’s. It will surely draw new customers. The Stonewall Kitchen Café is open daily from 11am-3pm. I ate there on opening day. The food is good and the Wild Maine Blueberry Lemonade is a delight!!

The Other Thing:  Tip of the Day – “Black Dust” spice mix from Savory Spice Shop in OC Mart Mix at SoCo Collection as a pre-mixed dry rub for the steak.


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