Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Trying to escape the concrete jungle

After slothing my way out of biking to work this morning, I decided that I couldn't let the pleasant weather go completely unnoticed and headed outside for a little break.
So, harmonica in hand, I went out to navigate the brief strip of nature between office buildings here, hoping for a secluded spot where I could play my harp. After walking for about 15 minutes (and most likely looking like a weird fellow to those outside smoking), I realized how economically the nature space was used. There was *just* enough that tenants could feel like there was something other than asphalt out there, but little enough that there was not a single spot where one could sit without the windows of a building staring down right at you.

It was pretty depressing.


Wow, I didn't know one could screw up an order this bad...

So, after all my talk of Mexican food, when lunch came around and a co-worker was offering to take order for this new burrito bar in Slavic Village, I decided to nix Chinese for the week (a weekly ritual in my department) and go with a burrito.

Now, here is what I ordered:
barb-q'ed pork with black beans & corn, tomatoes, jalapeno's, sour cream & hot salsa.

Here's what I r/c'ed
"barb-q'ed pork" with black beans, NO corn, tomatoes, NO jalapeno's, sour cream, NO salsa..and cheddar and black olives, which I did not order.

Notice the quotes, what I mean is that this is all made all-the-worse by the fact that I temporarily forgot that, though in the restaurants I go to barb-qued pork means pork cut from a wheel, usually marinating in a bunch of spices. Here, barb-q means the standard northern definition = sweet tomato based sauce, which is what I got.

All this and it took them an hour and half to make 5 (!!) burritos.

And to put the topper on the cake, one of my ...least liked...co-workers is now constantly talking in a horrible xenophobic spanish accent (see: Speedy Gonzales)



With my whole Mexican food obsession, it was a bit ironic that, just yesterday, I was asked, by a stranger, directions to the nearest Mexican restaurant. On my way into the market to get tomatillos and queso blanco, nonetheless. I, of course, gave her incredibly bad directions to the closest place I knew of: La Tortilla Feliz (though they are, as I explained to the person, Central and South American..not Mexican).

And..later that day, we were lucky enough to find the Rick Bayless book "The Mexican Kitchen" (thanks Mike! ;) at Half-Price book, so we picked that up and drooled over it all night. I'm starting to wonder when I'll finally reach the point where Genevieve will revolt. Pleading for Italian, Provencal, Mediterranean ..anything but Mexican.

So, with that in mind, here's what I should have told the person..if they a bit of time to kill and the urge to read this blog ;)

1) Taqueria Guadalajara (12926 Lorain Ave) - You've all heard me rave about this place's flavorful food and cheap-ass prices. But, I'll do it again. Granted, the veggies out there will be left a bit out in the cold, as their mushroom tacos are their only standout non-meat dish. But, for the carnivores among us, their Torta al Pastor and Chorizo tacos are not to be beat.

2) Luchita's (3456 W. 117th Street) - If Guadalajara is street Mexican fare (which it is), then Luchita's is authentic restaurant cuisine. Much more veggie friendly than them as well, they offer a wide variety of dishes, overflowing with moles, sauces and black beans. The prices are a bit on the high side (but not prohibitively so). In my opinion, they're Cleveland worst kept best secret, as this ..almost seedy looking (on the outside) joint fills up the ceiling on a Friday or Saturday night.

3) El Tango Taqueria (14224 Madison Ave) - Okay, so originally more of a Southwestern joint, El Tango's delicious ventures into Mexican and South American food have earned it a good place on this list.

4) Mi Pueblo Taqueria (12207 Lorain Ave) - Though, admittedly, not as good as the other Taqueria down the street, it's a great place to go after you've made yourself impossibly hungry wandering around their Mi Pueblo Mercado, next door.

Places I avoid, at most all costs:
1) Chipotle - oh, for so many reasons. One, my overall dislike for national chains, esp. McChains. The biggest reason (and I know some would disagree). Their food is just bland as hell. I've gone there a few times and each time, my burrito was overflowing with rice and ..not much else. Their extremely limited amount of choices in comparison to someplace like Que Tal? leave me a bit "blah", as do their spices..or lack thereof. Finally, can someone tell me one thing they have there which actually has chipotle in it? If so, can you name more than one? At least "The Lime" in San Diego served lime with just about everything.

2) Tie - Chi-Chi's / Don Pablo's - do I even have to merit this with reasons? If your idea of Mexican is taco salad, there's something wrong...

3) Any restaurant named something so stupid, you refuse to believe the owner actually speaks any Spanish (La Tortilla Feliz, excluded ;) or has the word Fiesta, in it.

4) lastly..Taco Bell..Though I don't think anyone believes this to be authentic Mexican food, the fact that they takes types of Mexican food and then *completely* change WTF it is and still call it the same thing infuriates me to no end.


Monday, June 28, 2004

One thing I forgot to mention in my last weekend post were my new kitchen toys: a set of cast-iron frying pans. I got these from my Dad while we were down visiting :)
Not only do they possess enough weight to knock anyone unconscious with one blow (always a plus), they've proved very enjoyable in the kitchen. Just this past weekend, I used them for things they should be used for (like some excellent skillet cornbread), but shoot..by the end of the weekend, I was using them for everything from tomatillo salsa on..

In other, unrelated notes, for those who don't know, I've formed a LiveJournal for my band, Subliminal Self.
You can check it out here.
For those who are already on the mailing list, the livejournal is somewhere between that and this blog, in ways of personal level. Most often, I'll just be posting stories from shows/practice/etc, or just things not important enough to post a newsletter about, yet.


Friday, June 25, 2004

Weird dreams last night
My head's in a daze
Dreary day

bah! bah, I say!


Thursday, June 24, 2004

Here I am working up to biking to vermilion from Cleveland.
This man has been biking for the past 40 years, non-stop.


WTF is wrong with some people...

For starters, I would like you all to take a look at this cake:

This cake was featured on the cover of the January 2004 issue of Gourmet.
How do you feel about this cake?
Does it make you say...angry? infuriated, even?
Would this cake, maybe, want to make you write a nasty letter to Gourmet magazine and cancel your subscription?
Would you still be talking about this cake in the middle of June?

If you are a sane person, to all of these questions, you answered: "No, of course not!"

On the other hand, if you are a Gourmet subscriber, you are so freggin infuriated over this cake, you would have done all of the above. (Without even having *made* the cake). Does any of this make sense? I mean, it's just a cake, after all. The answer is: NO. It makes no sense. People that write nasty letters to the editor over a (admittedly, slightly garish) cake need to do two things: #1 - UNCLENCH, it's just FREGGIN FOOD people! and #2 - Get their heads out of their butts and realize that every dish does not have to be about truffle oil and a balsamic reduction (now, don't get me wrong, both are great things :).

Now, I'll admit, I have a bit of the food snob in me. I try to stifle it, but it does come out every once-in-awhile. But it seems like these Gourmet subscribers have me beat. Time and time again, I've seen people write to the editor and write reviews on the website which seem to reveal nothing more than a pompous attitude that makes me want to slap them. Look, I love food. Shoot, I'm spending a pile of money in order to make food my career/life. But, I just cannot get this worked up about it. At the end of the day, food should make you happy. You *should* enjoy what you eat, you *should* feel good about your meals. These things are important to me. And neither of these two properties are, in any way/shape/form, limited to "fine" food. Quite the contrary. I can get these feelings by something as simple as a cold slice of watermelon on a hot summer day or a warm leek and potato soup in the middle of winter.

So.. throw some sweet potatoes in your Viking Oven, flip some pancakes on your T-Fal pan. Enjoy food! And shut the hell up and eat the damn cake!

Btw, this is my 100th post. Yah! Big number for someone who was so resistant of the blogging thing for awhile.


Tuesday, June 22, 2004

I know it's been awhile since I've blogged. Big apologies for that. I guess, for awhile, I really felt like I didn't have much to say. That I could ramble on about, at least.
Today, I'll change that. Today's post will be devoted to the little blips and blurbs I've stifled 'cause I felt they wouldn't make an interesting post unto themselves.
Hopefully, there is strength in #'s.

This past week, we went back to a restaurant we hadn't visited in awhile: El Tango Taqueria. When we'd originally gone there, just a few short weeks after they opened, it was pretty straight tex-mex fare. Certainly good, but pretty standard: burritos, tacos, etc. It's been amazing to see how this little joint has progressed. On this visit, we found the ,once bare, side wall covered in blackboards outlaying specials, soups, desserts of the day...each one more tempting than the next. They'd also moved their cuisine on a locale level. No more constrained to just tex-mex, they'd incorporated a Mexican and South American flair to their dishes. I picked out a cinnamon and honey chicken, which was unbelievably tender, served with a (almost overly) garlic sauce on rice and their staple salsa salad. All excellent. Genevieve, obviously, went for the veggie fare, including a tequila and lime sweet potato dish which made me want to scream, it was soo good. Service was friendly and prompt, as it always has been, though the lack of air conditioning in the day's weather did dampen things. But just a tiny bit.

On the other end of the service spectrum was the Central Park Cafe, which we visited on our recent trip to Louisville, while down there to see my Dad. The restaurant was just around the corner from the B&B we were staying at and had been recommended to us by the innkeeper. With the surprisingly good weather of the weekend, we had decided to enjoy the fresh air and eat outside. We were seated promptly and had menus in our hands, but that's where the good service ended. First up, we were promised place mats (the tables were grated), that fell through, as they were never brought and we were later told that they were only for the "wobbly" tables. O-kay.
I'd also made a vain attempt to -gasp- get a beer. First up, I ordered their local seasonal beer (name - I can't remember), which I was told, after 15 minutes of waiting, that they didn't have. I then ordered a Hoegarden ale (a favorite of a friend, Mr. Chris Foldi)...which arrived another 15 minutes later with the warning that they were having trouble with the taps, so that would be the last Hoegarden of the night. (Strangely, I saw another table get some just minutes afterwards). All-in-all, we were there for 2 hours. A perfectly fine time to be at a restaurant, were it not for the inattentive wait staff and overall poor service. I'll give, the food was good, but not so good as to merit the wait staff.

Note: the Service level changed the other way, on the same trip, on a visit to an Indian Restaurant (Shalimar). The waiter there was amazingly friendly and helpful. He even offered Genevieve and I some cooking tips for the Channa Masala we make at home :) Service was prompt and the food was excellent.

Other foodie stuff.
Well, I guess the big thing that I haven't blogged about, but most of you know about, is that I'm planning to attempt Culinary School. So far, I've looked into three schools:
Pennsylvania Culinary Institute
Sullivan University
Icasi Culinary Institute

The latter of that list is a new school in the Cleveland area. Unfortunately, as a new school, they do not have the clout the other schools do, yet. I can definitely see them being a great school in 5 years or so. But, for now, though the temptation is there, since they could be something I could go to without relocating, it just does not seem to be for me.

The other two though, are def. on my list. It's going to be a tough decision, esp. as our recent trip to Sullivan left me very impressed.


Tuesday, June 15, 2004

So, for various reasons, namely ones involving not selling my excess yet, I currently have three, count-'em, Apple Newtons (OMP, MP120 and an eMate).

I've had the eMate for a few months now, but the arrival of the MP's into the office yesterday was met with the usual: curiosity and ridicule.
Let's face it. These things are bricks. The MP120 looks to be about 7" long and the eMate, shoot, that's the size of a small powerbook. They're b&w and their history (having the product line dumped unceremoniously by Steve Jobs upon his return to Apple in 1998) is not the best.

To those naysayers.. who very much include Genevieve..let me point out the following:
Wired magazine, just a few months ago (and a full 6 years since the discontinuation of the Newton line) published an article in support of blogging via the Newton:

Their last Newton article before that, in 2002 (again, 4 years after it's death) spotlights the joyous brick, in-full:

A 3Com Palm III, which was issued the same year as the last Newton (the 2100), goes for approx $8.00-15.00 on ebay. A Newton 2100 with similar accessories goes from $80.00 to well over $100.00.

The LOW traffic point of the Newtontalk.net mailing list, this year, was April..with only 2261 messages.

A google search for "Apple Newton", pulls up 38,300 relevant hits.

Point of all of this being:
My love for the newton isn't just a solo desire for technology lost and forgotten (though I will admit that is part of the reason, as well ;) Well made and engineered technology does not have to fade into the distant at it's stage of considered obsolesce.

Plus, they're just so damn cute. Even Genevieve has gotten to referring to them as living things "Newton" instead of "the Newton" ;)


Monday, June 14, 2004

My cubemate encourages me to be messed in the head.
So I r/c'ed a shipment of another Newton and additional accessories this morning, all for a nice deal I might add.

As I was going through and accounting for everything, I felt a little something odd in one of the pockets of the carrying case that came with my shipment. Digging into it revealed a set of about 10 photographs, obviously of the sender and his friends (circa 1992-95 from the date stamp on all of them).

I was just planning on throwing them out or sending them back, but before that, I made the mistake of showing them to my cubemate. He got all excited and insisted that we hang these on our walls and make like these are our friends/family. (He even went so far as to make up a story about the death of his 'ex-girlfriend Lisa's' dog in one of the pictures, as well as,of course, names for all the people. Including "Carl", who 'touched' him when he was a kid.)

So, I gave him all but two of them, which he now has hanging on his walls. I tried to give him all of them, but he insisted that I keep two to hang on my walls. I kept the picture of "Dan" and "Brian" outside this restaurant and a picture of "Carl", "Dan" & two others inside a concert arena.

He's now talking about sending a group of kids he has a picture of presents for Christmas.....

This is freggin weird.
(I couldn't handle it and took mine down) If anyone wants 'em...


Friday, June 11, 2004

Using this site:

It was deteremined that this site, http://fivedollarbeer.blogspot.com is, in fact,
This site is certified 56% GOOD by the Gematriculator

I doubt it's accuracy though, as very strangely, www.organicmechanic.org turned out to be:
This site is certified 99% GOOD by the Gematriculator

This is a shock to everyone involved.

The site also allows one to search names.
To no one's suprise "Patrick Coleff" turns out to be 99% evil. Luckily, the same goes for Genevieve..but not until she married me! The name Genevieve Southern (as opposed to Genevieve Southern Coleff) is only 50% evil. Thus revealing that I am the source of all evil. I think this shocks no one.

On the flip side, it turns out "Lauren Spisak" is 99% GOOD. Obviously, the machine is broken.

For the rest of the people who look at this blog, to save you the time of following the link:

  • Adam, you are 84% Good.
  • Mike, you are 80% Evil. I thought as much. Too many winky faces have tarnished your soul ;)
  • Alesha...shoot, she's 99% GOOD! Thus dashing my "Coleff" theory. Obviously, the bone once again points to me. Dad, turns out you're also 99% good.
  • Virg, the same goes for you. 99% good.

So, as it turns out, I am more evil than anyone I know. Too much coffee, I say.


Thursday, June 10, 2004

It's amazing how the mind works when it comes to music. Take something such as this fado (like the Portuguese blues) song I'm listening to right now. A live version of 'Conta Errada' by Amalia Rodrigues. Though I've never been even close to Portugal, I listen to this music, which - taken down to it's most base- is nothing more than a combination of frequencies, and I can visualize it. I can see this world created by the music. I don't understand a word that's being sung, but I can feel the feeling. All of this from the (relatively) simple combination of instruments and voice. It's evocative and organic and living in a way that makes me almost jealous.


Wednesday, June 09, 2004

If you are in a band and you, consistently, spam me for your upcoming shows, but then don't join my (non-spam) mailing list when invited. You suck.

If I helped your lame-ass bands, before I had one of my own, and you've not returned the favor in any way, but you still expect me to *continue* helping your lame-ass band. You need a massive slap. Whiny Bastards. You also, suck.

I promise a real blog later. Man, I'm a bitchy bastard lately. Better lay off the coffee ;)


Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Someone voicing their complaints with motorists v. cyclists better than I could:


Also, though this story is quite old by now, it still never fails to piss me off:


Okay, I've noticed something.

You people *love* it when I rant about low-carb food (and I say "you people" with the utmost affection). I just scanned through my comments and nothing seems to get people talking like a good old "what is UP with these low carb foods?" a'la Seinfeld rant.

But, honestly, I've run out of low-carb things to talk about it. Shoot, I would have thought you'd be all so tired of it that you'd be *begging* me to talk about something else.

Or so I've though....

In an effort to appease everyone and find something to blog about, I did a search for "low carb foods". Yes, I delved into the belly of the beast.
Milk, soft drinks, candy bars...I was just scratching the surface! How blind I was! But really, this is it. No more lo-carbs rants. I've said what I wanted to :)

But, in closing, I've decided to list some other "low-carb" foods that I came across in my searches.

"Just-the-Cheese Baked Cheese Chips" - I'm still having trouble believing this one. I'm (half) tempted to order it. I just don't believe someone is making a cheese chip for those on a diet. But, I'm not dumb. I just read the description. Yes, by god. It is BAKED CHEESE, Gone through a "17-step baking process." And only 1 gram of carbs per serving. Yea, too bad there's 15 (!) grams of FAT in a serving. As much as an average candy bar.

Wait, it gets "better"...

"Steel's Rocky Mountain Ketchup" - #1 - I was not even aware that Ketchup was HIGH in carbs. #2 - are you really using so much of this stuff that it makes a *difference*. Shit, people. You use about 1-2 tblsp on-average and, considering that it's neither oil nor fat, it shouldn't make a difference. Wtf is wrong with good old ketchup. Plus, it's flavored with Splenda, which means you'll grow a third eye in a few years.

"Keto's Ready-to-Drink Milk" - okay, I know I've harped on about low-carb milk before. But, does something strike you odd here? Let's look...hrm.."Ready-to-Drink Milk". Wow! That means, I can like ..open up the milk, pour it straight into a glass and drink it. Just right out of the carton. What will science think of next? This product should come with a free..boot to the head! -whoomp-

"Ketone in Urine" test strips - No, not a food. I guess I was just not aware that a lo-carb diet would involve having to PEE on a STRIP! You know, if I'm peeing on a strip, I better be pregnant.

"Low Carb Flax and Nut Crunchies" - I'm sorry, low carb or not, as a guy, I *refuse* to buy something called "Nut Crunchies".

"Sugar Free Truffles" - Because, when I want to enjoy the decadent delights of truffles, I want them sugar free. Damn, just don't eat them everyday and enjoy REAL food.

Btw, here's a hint that carbs are not the solution - ONE apple has approx 14g of Carbs. I have eaten probably almost a thousand (literally) apples in my life. A raw carrot has 12g. If someone ever told me not to eat a carrot because of carbs..well, you can all guess where I would place my uneaten carrot.


So I biked to work today.

For those who don't know, I live in downtown Cleveland, but work in Independence. It's actually not a bad route, I can take the Towpath Trail most of the way. It's, unfortunately, not the most direct route though. That is reserved for the highway. The advantage of where we live is that we are spitting distance from I-77, which goes straight into Independence. The disadvantage is this: that direct route, the highway one, well, there is nothing under it that is bike friendly. So, in order to get to work, I need to head a bit West, then a bit East..and finally West again.

I can't complaint too much though. The Towpath is beautiful at 7 in the morning. The birds are all out catching the worms that surfaced last night and the rabbits are all out (god knows why) around the trail. Of course, in addition to these lovely creatures, the geese are hanging about as well. Here's a little thing about me: I hate geese. It's true. They're foul, mean-ass-birds and they literally *line* the trail with shit. It's pointless to try and avoid it. You just go through and thank goodness that you don't have to scrape it off your shoe. They also hiss at me everytime I pass. Only the pacifist in me keep me from sticking my leg out and giving one of them a quick boot to the head.

But, the geese..or their shit, are not the bike's worst enemy. That is reserved for our fellow commuters. I've learned, from street biking most of my life, that there are three types of drivers when it comes to dealing with riders.

  • #1 - the Movers. These are the people who will shift lanes to avoid a bike. These people are my saints. If you are one of these people, I wish you a bountiful and happy life. You are good at sharing the road and probably play well with others.
  • #2 - the Skimmers - These are the people who move about a tire's distance to the left. They don't want to move for the bikes, but they also don't want to have a lawsuit on their hands when they slam into you. They move, but not without a little sigh of discontent. Sadly, even though I bike, *I* can be one of these people.
  • #3 - the Assholes. - There's no other way to put it. These are the ones who do-not-fucking-care that you are a human being sharing the road with them. They go, you move. They are bigger, so they "win". Any other option is unacceptable. These are also the people who cause bike accidents by clipping cyclists. To drivers like this (which, strangly, seem to have a population of 75% SUV drivers), I point to the $2.13 a gallon gas prices, using my middle finger - firmly extended.

All rants and bad feelings aside, biking into work gives me a great sense of accomplishment. I'm always more awake and alert when I bike in the morning than when I do not.


Monday, June 07, 2004

Trying a new restaurant (not counting on vacation) can be a bit of a risky venture, especially with a vegetarian around. You never know if you're going to sit down, only to discover that either a) a salad costs $19.95 or b) there are no veggie options besides said salad.

Luckily, in our trip to Udupi this weekend, we had neither of these things to worry about. Not only had it been recommended by an infamous cheap friend (and seconded by another - though he's not cheap ;), but one was a veggie, the other vegan *and* the website professed their dedication to vegetarian cuisine. Rockin'.

Udupi is, as are many Indian restaurants, holed up in a Parma strip mall. I don't know what it is about Indian restaurants in strip malls in Parma, but the two seem to go hand-in-hand. Once you enter though, the whole place opens up to you. It's expansive beyond what we would have thought from the meager sign and entrance. Typical Indian "artwork" hangs on the walls. The big difference is that Udupi serves mainly Southern Indian dishes (though there are some Northern options). It's, I believe, the only place in the Cleveland area which does so.

Southern Indian food seems to differ from Northern on quite a few counts (and maybe Mike can elaborate on this in the comments section? ;). The main one we noticed was, in addition to the different spices used (much more savory than the sweet spices used in the North), a bigger reliance on tomato sauces. Most dishes were served with a spicy tomato dipping sauce and it seemed to play a central role in many of their dishes. There was also much less of a reliance on heavy cream, making for a lighter feeling meal.

And..despite the fact we enjoyed appetizers, bread & tea, in addition to our meals, we walked out of there only about $25.00 shy of what we walked in with and still had enough for lunch tomorrow. Oh, I didn't mention their portions, did I? One word: Huge. Two words: freggin huge. My Mysore Masal Dosai was about 1.5' x 1.5', overflowing the plate it was on and the bread we got (a deep fried puffy affair) was the size of a small child. You need not fear walking out with an empty stomach or wallet at Udupi ;)


Thursday, June 03, 2004

Good news / Bad news

The Good news is that, last month, my site (www.subliminalself.com) hit an all-time-high in the # of hits.
By high, I mean that, last month alone, my # of hits = half the # hits for ALL of last year. Cheers all around!

(So I guess that means I can stop going ;))

Bad News - this past week's outage really sheered off a # of hits. I should see this ramp back up in the next couple of days (I hope).


So, the Cleveland Scene Music Nominees are in..and Subliminal Self is not among them.

s'okay. I honestly didn't think we would be. But, what I was suprised with is who *was*:

Best Goth/Industrial Act :
Chew's Eye Shop
Planet Killswitch
Nox Arcana
Midnight Syndicate
Filament 38

Now, most of you don't recognize any of these names. But, let me give you the rundown.
Filament38, Midnight Syndicate (who always win it) - these I am fine with. They both definitely deserve it.

Planet Killswitch, on the other hand, is a *metal* band. And I don't mean like KMFDM metal. I mean metal-metal. Not Goth/Industrial. Metal...metal.
Nox Arcana, I've never heard of. I assume the same thing.

And Chew's Eye Shop - don't get me wrong. They are very good and def. deserve a place on the list. But - years ago! Their website hasn't r/c'ed regular updating since early 2003, they haven't performed regularly since 2001, they haven't released anything since March of 2003. Yet, they still make the list, every year. I don't get it. If they starting going again though, this opinion would change and I would put them up on the list in a second.

So who should be on the list (besides SubSelf, of course ;)?

* Decadent - David K. and I have had our differences, but they're a solid force of performing and promotion. They deserve the credit for that.
* UV - If you're going to pass the goth/industrial torch on from the band, Lestat (which is, I assume, how Killswitch got on there, since they were formed by Lestat's ex-vocalist), give it to Tim and his band of rivetheads.

But, what's done is done. So..if you do plan on voting...I would suggest. For goth/industrial: FIlament38 or Midnight Syndicate.


Forewarning: Today's rant will only be mildly amusing to Food Network viewers. All others will probably wonder WTF I'm talking about.

I love the Food Network. I've spent more time with Mr. Jamie Oliver and Alton Brown that I have my own family at times.
That's not to say I like every show though. In fact, one host in particular gets to me like no other:

Rachael Ray, also known as "Ray Ray" (but perhaps only to spiteful and bitter people like Genevieve and I).

The picture in the above website doesn't do her justice. To fully "appreciate" Ray Ray, you need to see her in action. Imagine if that bubbly cheerleader at your high school, you know, the one with cutesy names for everything, learned to cook and got her own show. This is Ray Ray.

She currently (and thankfully) only hosts two shows: '30 Minute Meals' and '$40 a Day', each annoying in their own right.
'30 Minute Meals' is what you'd imagine: a show dedicated to dishes that can be prepared in 30 minutes or less. Not a bad premise and, okay, I'll give her this: The dishes are not bad. We've made some of them at home before and they're actually, for the most part, good. But (as I believe our friend Kerry once said), Rachael Ray is a drinking game waiting to happen. She giggles (the most *annoying* giggle) constantly, she refers to Extra Virgin Olive Oil as E.V.O.O., she calls her father "Daddy"and talks on and on about dishes that kids will love, even though she seems to be perpetually single - and drinking.

But the show that makes no sense to me is $40.00 a day. This show that tells you how you can - wow - only spend $40.00 going out for every meal - for one person. Now, maybe it's me, but $40.00 seems like *alot* of money for just one person! Add that to the fact that they only recently starting figuring in things like, say, a tip. (and even then, they tip like $1.37 for a meal..usually 5-10%). And, I know, the show acts as free promotion for whatever place they go to, so I can see them not having to tip. BUT..these guides are supposed to be for your average diner and I'd sincerely hope nobody is trying to pass off a $1.37 tip when they go out.
So, in defiance of the show, I have composed my own list: $20.00 a day - in my neighborhood.

Breakfast - Cup of Coffee ($1.50) from City Roast @ the West Side Market (some of the best coffee I've had) and a huge Apple Fritter ($1.50), also @ the West Side Market.

Lunch - A Ham, Brie & Pineapple sandwich from La Bodega ($5.95)

Dinner - A Mushroom & Bean Burrito "Big Plate" from Johnny Mango's ($7.95)

Total = $16.90
+ tax (for the sandwich and dinner) - approx $1.00 and tip

Note: In my linking research for this post, I came across a new show on the Food Network that makes my skin crawl. THIS. I'd rather see Tony Bourdain eat live insects than this..