Sunday, August 22, 2010

back to burrito blogging

generally mr loke stroke is one who dishes out an honest (maybe at times biased) critique of taco shops. i have lived in north county san diego my whole life, and know my way up and down the coast- and all the taco shops peppered throughout. i have a couple pretty basic rules about mexican food-

1.) i like to taste the flavor of the food, not just the hot sauce that adorns it

2.) mexican restaurants are not authentic nor have tasty food- taco shops hold the best grub

my experience this weekend broke my 2nd cardinal rule. i feasted on one of the best traditional platos i have ever had at a little place called- Casa de Bandini. some of you SD natives may remember this restaurant from old town-
it up and moved to north county in the Forum shops of Carlsbad/Encinitas. i have been to this restaurant many times since its new location, and have never once been disappointed. usually i get the Carnitas tacos plate, or "Tres Amigos" which consists of 3 tacos- 1 carne asada, 1 Pollo Asado, & 1 Carnitas- both of these keep the loke stroke real happy, real full and left on a good mex food buzz for a couple days.

last night i was in the mood for something different- more "tradicional" as they i studied the menu carefully, my eyes kept wandering back to "Arroz con Pollo" so i took it as a sign- and went with my gut, quite literally. before getting my food, i was in the mood for a smoothie-type drink and treated my self to a "flamingo"- pineapple, coconut, strawberry, and orange juice concoction that was perfect for a warm summer night. imagine a strawberry pina colada with a hint of orange too- freakin amazing. my waiter poked a jab at me as he questioned my order of a "pink flamingo" as he called it. he could have called me queer as a 3 dollar bill, that flamingo was off the hook.

the arroz con pollo was exactly what i was looking for. the chicken was cooked in a mixture of tomatoes, bell peppers and onions- mild but rich flavors that blended perfectly. the chicken nestled into a bed of rice-that was moist and had some type of sauce- not sure what it was but it was perfect. a little spice, some sweetness and some corn and carrots (minimal) up in the mix. on the side i had fresh, warm, and chewy hand-made flour tortillas to dip and wrap the goods up in. a side of black beans in a crispy corn tortilla shell completed the meal.

the plato tradicional was incredible, all flavors present, none too dominating. i made two of my own special burritos with the tortillas- each bite better than the one before it. the chicken was tender and juicy. the slight crunch and sweetness of the sauteed onions and peppers provided a great accent to the flavor. the black beans and rice made the burritos substantial and fulfilling. the portion size was generous; if i was watching my girlish figure, i wouldn't have eaten the whole thing- but it was too good to retire the fork. i completely succumbed to the plate. my palette was in ecstasy between the custom burritos, the flamingo and the chips and salsa. if you have ever doubted mexican restaurants like i do- look no further than Casa de Bandini. i am still on that good mex buzz.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

excuse me, but its maestro now

so i have been pretty much AWOL from the world for the past 6 months (3 years quite honestly)- but with good reason. the past 6 months have been crunch time for me in my educational pursuit. my LAST 6 months of formal education. my last 6 months in my grad program- and yes it was intense to say the least. for the past three years i have been running through a gauntlet. i have been wrapping up my architectural thesis and i can now safely say that i have reached that light at the tunnel and it has never felt so good. for a while that light was so faint, and possibly a figment of my imagination especially during times of intense mental, emotional and physical breakdown due to lack of sleep and nourishment. at times i wan't sure if it was the light of day or an oncoming freight train. but alas, i have made it, bruised and broken, but with a subtle smile half cocked and proud.

its a rare day that i boast, i am not the type to want any piece of the limelight or attention. but after this experience i have earned my stripes for some bragging rights. it has been a struggle- a constant battle of balancing life, work, school, church. it has all been on my plate and i have only been able to concentrate on one at a time- school usually trumping it all. i worked harder than i ever have in my life- even on my mission i was able to sleep- and most of the time i pulled it off. for those of you who don't know, my thesis project was an aquarium. i designed an aquarium in North Embarcadero to help create a better connection between downtown and the ocean. i have a whole shtick i could go into, but quite frankly i am sick of spewing it out. (if you really wanna know it, come over some time and look at my 200 pg thesis book- its all in there).

the project was fun, challenging, annoying and like any true designer would say "if i had more time, i would've done XYZ..." but apparently it was good enough to be put on display at my school- yup. my "Urban Aquarium" was chosen as one of 7 projects, out of 70 to be put in what's known as the NAAB room- basically the shrine to excellency. this is the room that they took us to the first week of thesis year and said " this is the go and beat it." its a room that big timers and head honchos of architecture accreditation councils look at to make sure the school is producing excellent work. i was pleasantly surprised that my project was chosen to stand among some of the greats of NSAD. so yeah, i'm awesome. recognize.

being done with grad school, i would be a total tool if i didn't give credit where its due. i am amazing, true, but i would have never been able to make it through on my own. there has been my own personal team of supporters who have been cheering me on the whole time. so in true tone loke style my top 5 list (in no particular order)

5. my parents have been super stars- always encouraging, constructively critiquing, helping glue together architectural models, editing drafts. they have been solid, patient, and giving. thank you is not enough of a sentiment to express my gratitude for their help.

4. my buddies at school- we thrived and fed off each other, pushing each other, learning together, and struggling together. without them, progression would be limited and apathy would be too. the world of architecture has some amazing talent coming its way.

3. my family- siblings and in-laws: they have always encouraged me and been impressed with what i have done. whether they really were impressed is beyond me, but they always knew how to feed my ego. and after all, whats an architect without his ego? my sisters have never fallen short to tell me how proud they are of there baby bro. miq even drove down with jules battling LA traffic late fri night and sat to see me for just a couple of hours! my mother and father -in-law have done the same. jon and mary have been supportive and have taken good care of erika, while she has been abandoned and taken the back seat to school. ryan and jose have always been excited and impressed of my hard work and even came to my showcase. thanks for showing your support guys. clint and josh have been there too with support and rally caps.

2. my friends- old college roommates, new friends here in SD. they have been awesome, even though i have been awol. my friend mario called me everyday at 7:30am of finals week to pump me up and help me finish strong. what a bro! my buddies from BYU, have always encouraged me, and showed interest in my work. i really have the best friends in the world. the best part about it is the fact that even though i have been totally out of it for 3 years, anytime we get together its like no time has passed at all. they are good examples of hard workers who have excelled in there various fields, which help make me push harder in mine.

1. the etrain. erika has been so solid and so supportive to me through this whole thing. it wasn't always easy or pleasant, but she has stuck with me and helped push me along. she was the one the lit a fire under my butt way back in 2006. she always encouraged me to pursue my passion, to take a chance and seize opportunities. she has been alone many nights, days, weeks- with nothing but buster to keep her company. she has been lax with my hygiene- which is very impressive because she is like her dad- everything must be "sano." she has been upbeat and positive through each project that came my way, always applauding my efforts and designs. she has been patient with eating next to balsa wood models, holding conversations about architectural theories and jargon. she has known when to come and embrace me with positivity and when to leave me be. she has been fun and exciting, and a breath of fresh air after long finals weeks. she is my rock, she is my joy and the reason why i do it all. i love that blondie!

of course i couldn't have done it without help from the Lord- this journey has been rocky and there were many a night i spent on my knees pleading for help, inspiration, guidance and strength. literal miracles occurred- from fixing crashed hard drives, to solving complicated design issues. He clearly has had his eye on me, through it all and has given me so much help. from softening hearts of critics and jurors, professors, all those times i drove downtown with one eye open, after being up for 36 hrs straight- giving patience and empathy to my family and friends. i have been truly blessed.

so be on the look out for the rebirth of the blog guys. I'M BACK!! (and badder than ever)

-loke out!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

sight for sore eyes

after a long week, one that consisted of late nights, early mornings and staring at a computer screen way too much...those three little items above were just what the doctor ordered. i know i generally talk about burritos, but i do enjoy me a good taco too. rico's (again?- yes again) has fabulous beef tacos. they are even better with guacamole- but you already knew that, right?

school is wining down, so you better believe i will be hitting up the taco shops a lot more over the next couple of weeks. be afraid taco shops of san very afraid.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

all i want for xmas is....

i have been asked by several peeps what i want for christmas this year. the truth is i can't really think of anything i am dying to have. i am so consumed with thesis, that anything fun or outside the realm of school is kind of out of an afterthought. i am a simple man- jeans and tees. those are always good staples. but i have racked my brain to come up with some things that i could use, during those few hours a week where i am not thinking about adjacencies, aperture, sustainability and analysis- (that's architecture jargon- do i sound smart yet?) in no particular order- here you go asked for it, may God have mercy on your soul.

Surfing DVDs
Rob The Mob's new flick.

Dane and Clay's vid- i wish i surfed like these two

my sunglasses broke, so here are some from Urban.

"blackout sunglasses" from urban outfitters.

i have seen these at Hansen's but you can also get them direct from Channel Islands.

Philips iphone dock. its amazing

other than that. all set. as always gift cards are always good- any surf shop, urban outfitters, apple, amazon. also fast food-

what do YOU want for christmas?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

rico suave

if you haven't figured it out yet, you must not know me or have ever been to ENC. this next burrito is one of my all time favorites...and some of you may be wondering: "what has taken you so long, man?" i know my sisters for one have been thinking that. thats right bloggheads and burrito lovers- none other than .... duh, duh, duh!(insert dramatic music for effect here)

now for those of you who don't know, i almost hesitate in writing this review. ever heard of the saying "never meet your heroes?" well, this is sort of in the same vein. i am imagining a burrito, with a utility belt- strapped with an array of hot sauces varying in different heat. well, i don't wanna give the place too much hype, cuz i don't want anyone to get let down. and if you do, then we are no longer friends.
first of all, Rico's is the mexican equivalent of mashed potatoes and meatloaf. what?!! its comfort food- its the one thing that puts me right back in a little time machine, as soon as i walk through those doors and make my way up to that old counter. or i immediately get swept away into another universe as i take that fist bite.

enough already- i know, i get long winded when i write- enjoy it cuz thats the only time i do. but my ultimate comfort food, and will be good anytime i call up Pavlos or Juan is the BRC+G.
beans, rice, cheese and uh huh guacamole. i freakin loves this burrito and it has been the foundation of my burrito knowledge and love. Rico's is my rock and the BRC+G is my salvation. last time i got this was on tuesday night after a long day of workin for the man and doin time downtown at school. nothing could have calmed my nerves more. maybe the burrito is my version of a cool stiff drink after a long day. is that weird?
down to the stuff you pay me to say:
synopsis time-
tortilla- perfect. absolutely the right combo of size- big enough to wrap all its precious cargo tightly, protecting it from harm. slightly toasted, yet chewy. moldable, flowing with the contents inside, as to not tear or break and cause leakage. thats the worst.

the beans- the soul of it all- hot, mushy, and infused with the great Rico's cheese. i don't know what kind they use, but they have the best cheese around. i know they must grate it by hand- it is fine and melts in all the right spots. sometimes you get chunks of cheese that aren't quite melted- this is a bonus for Etrain. its perfect.

the rice- light, moist, and absorbent the rice is the binder that soaks up the beans to prevent any leak sneaks. its warm, flavored with subtle spice, and most likely onion. its a great compliment.

then theres the guac- rico's has an amazingly thick, pure guac. there is nothing added to it- guacamole straight up. no chunky salsa, no cilantro or onions. its pure and delishus. yes i wrote delishus on purpose, people. i always get guac on everything at rico's. its a must splurge.
on this occasion Rico's scored a 10- a freakin 10.

the cool thing about this joint is the vibe. its got the local feel, and everyone who eats there has been eating their tasty grub for years- they share the same whacked out love i do. the cashiers are friendly, funny and they know you. they small chat with you and joke around. its great. they used to have tables that had old pictures of people underneath a sheet of plexiglass- they were awesome- who doesn't wanna see Brady Gusta (spelling jess?) in a hot pink quicksilver sweater and huge hair and braces. classic. unfortunately no longer have the memory trippin tables- but the owners and staff make up for it.
thank you Rico's for makin a brutha smile knowing he has a full belly o' beans.

Monday, October 12, 2009

new burritos!! aka sweet nothings

ok so i lied- they are not new. in fact they are old, but they might be new to you. after receiving warm reviews of my last post i suppose i should keep this thing up, eh? my mother referred to me as "the burrito whisperer," due to my last post- and think i will coin that if she doesn't mind. thanks ma. (on a sidenote i have been calling my mom "ma" a lot, as of late- i don't know why. i hope she doesn't hate it)
on to what i do best. since the last post i have been on a burrito frenzy. i literally had a burrito everyday after i posted last- i think subconsciously i thought i owed it to my fans. so without any more shenanigans- i give you the skinny.

Jose's Taco shop in vista-ish.
Burrito: california.
synopsis: Jose makes a pretty good burrito, man. he prides himself on portions- this is like the claimjumper of taco shops- but still classless and smelly like a taco shop should be. now, some places have different ingredients that concoct the infamous california- some use potatoes, some french fries, others have even gone with tater tots. Jose's goes with fries- which i enjoy, because the fries are longer, thus the ratio of fry to bite is pretty high. i love me a crunchy tater in my bite! then there's the staple Carne Asada- jose's is pretty solid- strips of meat with a good assortment of spices. overall tasty, tasty. now here iswhere the biggest difference is for most CA's - sour cream vs. guacamole. as for myself, if i could i would inject guac intravenously along with dr. pepper. i add guacamole to everything, if i have the option and the extra buck. from time to time i enjoy me some sour cream, but the Guac is where its at. jose's guac is good- kinda chunky with some salsa mixed in. next is cheese- good amount of it in there. the thing about the cheese is you have to know where to put it within the mix- my expertise leans toward putting it right in the hot carne so it will melt ad ooze into the rest of the goodies. jose's options to put on top of a layer of pico de gallo. i like pico, but not as much as oozie cheese. the tortilla is huge, and pretty chewy- cooked enough to have some charred-ness yet raw enough to retain the doughy goodness of a fresh tortilla.

scoring- 7.5 out of 10. - the cheese factor is what it comes down to. plus, with any good taco shop there must be good hot sauce. this is where jose's really lacks. they have green, "chipotle," and pico de gallo. no regular hot sauce to spice up your bite- i tend to think i am a "burrito purest," meaning its rare that i need hot sauce- i enjoy the flavors of it all on my pallet, but crappy hot sauce at a taco shop? the homies i work with have even gone so far as to want to bring there own sauce with them- maybe hijack some roberto's bottles and leave them there so jose gets the hint.

Monday, September 28, 2009

burritos or bust

so a while ago i came to the conclusion that my blog lacks consistency, both in content and in frequency, and ultimately people have lost all faith in waiting to get a glimpse of the inner-workings of the infamous mr lokestroke...however, i recently realized that there is one constant in my life- the BURRITO. yes, the taco shop staple, the bundle of joy wrapped delicately with a flour tortilla, like a baby bjorn for beans and cheese. now, stick with me for a minute, please. the bountiful burrito is the staple of my diet, and i have been around long enough to know what makes it or breaks it.

therefore, i, mr lokestroke, have been self-appointed as the burrito connoisseur . my duties, privileges and ultimately pleasures as the burrito boss is to provide you with an unbiased, detail oriented book report of sorts, review of the burrito that i eat. in a given week i usually eat 3-4 burritos, (sometimes more) so i should have plenty of ammo to offer an onslaught of succulent and tasty info for you, my faithful fans. move over anthony bourdain, a new tony is in town and ready to take on taco shops near and far.

today i dined at the classy Rudy's in La Costa-

burrito: chicken, beans and rice
verdict- this tasty blanket of beanville is a wonderful twist on the simple bean and cheese. Rudy's chicken is shredded, but has a slight, very light crunch- it is then cooked in a broth mixed with peppers. its light, yet full of flavor and the portion is generous. the beans are wonderful, the right consistency- creamy, not dry or undercooked. the spanish rice is decent, a little too moist for my taste- i prefer i drier rice to help soak up the beans and chicken juices, adding extra flavor to the rice itself.

all in all Rudy's chicken burrito gets 8 out of 10 burrito bombs- the taste, the size, and quality of ingredients are the reason for its high marks.
it would be a 8.5 or 9, but sometimes the juices of the chicken are a little too present-like today- and your burrito can have (but it is rare) the squirts.
the hot sauce at Rudy's is really good too- enough heat to make you sweat a bit, but not too much to mask the flavors of the chicken, beans and rice. Rudy and his hermanito Mario know how to throw together a good burrito!

Rudy's- muy sabroso!!!