MSY Has Wireless

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

Just noticed that Louis Armstrong (a.k.a. Moisant) has free wireless now. Hardly seems worth a blog post. Maybe I should be using Twitter.

Better yet, I should figure out a way to feed Twitter into this site.

JetBlue Has Spoiled Me

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

I flew American Airlines for the first time in a few years yesterday. It was cramped, uncomfortable, and crowded. I could tell they’ve stuffed in extra rows of seats since the last time I flew them on anything but a shuttle. The snacks were bad, small, and expensive ($4 Cheese plate: One piece of cheese, four crackers). Beth liked the movie (Horton Hears a Who) but they charged $2 for headsets.

When the Best Just Isn’t That Good

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

Last night Beth and I had dinner at what Zagats rates as the single best restaurant in Orange County. I won’t name names, because they were nice enough, and I don’t want to slam them. The food was good. The service was good. The wine list was excellent, though unfortunately neither of us was drinking. The seating was wonderfully spacious and private, far better than anything you’ll find in New York, where any restaurant worth eating at has crammed the seats together closer than RyanAir. But at the end of the meal our general reaction was, “That’s the best restaurant in the county?”

The meal was OK, but hardly memorable. It certainly didn’t rise to the level of world class restaurants like The Gotham in New York, Commander’s Palace in New Orleans (at least pre-Katrina; I haven’t eaten there lately and I’ve heard it may have gone downhill), or ‘t Fornuis in Antwerp. Food-wise I don’t think it matched the much less pretentious local Chaparosa Grill. Only one dish, the tuna tartare appetizer, really impressed us; and that was offset by a salad that just didn’t work. The remainder of the meal was about average for a nouvelle cuisine restaurant in this price range.

I suppose that’s only to be expected. When in New York, I wouldn’t expect to find the best restaurants in Westchester County or Long Island. Then again, for years one of the best restaurants in New Orleans was on the West Bank. Maybe we’ll have to try eating in L.A. next time. But still, you’d think there’d be room for one world class restaurant somewhere in the O.C.

Sunrise over Mountain View

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

red sun in smoky sky

Shoreline Park, 2008-06-24, 6:12 A.M.

Ad of the Year

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

Our low fares really are low

What sort of topsy-turvy world are we living in when Southwest is the service leader?

Irvine Dining

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

A few random notes from the culinary wastelands:

Mimi’s Cafe

I was really looking forward to this little restaurant on Barranca. Several people had recommended it, and it was always packed. When we walked in I couldn’t quite place the decor. It looked vaguely like it was trying to be a French brasserie. My wife finally identified it: this is supposed to be New Orleans! All I can say is whoever designed the decor and the menu cannot possibly have ever been closer to New Orleans than Bastrop Texas. It looked a little more like French brasserie. Possibly the designer heard that New Orleans was French (something that hasn’t been remotely true for over a century now) and checked out a picture book of Paris from their local library.

The menu was a bit of a shock given the recommendations we’d had: the same prepackaged Sysco pablum you can buy in any Chile’s or TGI Friday’s around the country. They may have listed one or two items as “Cajun”, but there was nothing the least bit Cajun about them (not that New Orleans is or ever has been a Cajun city anyway). I had the pork chop, which was the typical large but bland pork chop you can find anywhere. I don’t know if I can really blame them for this though. Pigs have been so wrongly bred for so long now that only a few specialty farms still raise decent pork. Unless you know where the pigs come from, a pork chop is almost always a mistake nowadays. Still, they could have at least put a little seasoning or something on it. They didn’t even have Worcestershire sauce, the old standby of flavorless meat everywhere.


One of the few bright spots in an otherwise dark strip mall. Reliably good food, if a tad on the pricey side. Do be careful to warn them not to put bacon on everything if you don’t eat pork, though.

Chaparosa Grill

Technically, not in Irvine, (just outside it in Tustin) but I had to include it just to prove I don’t hate everything out here. This is a shockingly good restaurant right outside an AMC multiplex. Beth and I just popped in to grab some Margaritas before a movie started, but were charmed into staying for dinner instead. The food was excellent: redolent with interesting spices and tastes, exactly what’s missing from everywhere else we’ve eaten in Irvine. The Chaparosa Cioppini was a wonderfully spicy bouillabaisse. We’ve had it several times now. The Shrimp Scampi was possibly the best Shrimp Scampi I’ve ever eaten: nothing like the prepackaged reheated Korean shrimp slopped over pasta at most chain restaurants. The seafood pasta was equally unusual and interesting.

This restaurant is several notches above everywhere else we’ve eaten, and quite reasonably priced for the quality. What it’s doing in a shopping mall I have no idea, and I don’t know if it will be able to survive in a climate of diners trained to think that The Olive Garden qualifies as fine dining, but enjoy it while you can. Highest recommendation.