Category Archives: So wrong

Do not eat this! Costco carne asada bake

Carne asada bake at Costco

I wholeheartedly agree with this assessment of Coscto’s carne asada bake from Alex Hochman at the SF Weekly.

And don’t eat any of this other stuff either.

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These Avatar cakes fall flat

I thought that cakes for a movie known for its eye-popping visuals would be a little more…three-dimensional. (Sorry, I just couldn’t resist!) In any case, this sheet cake and cupcakes don’t look very appetizing.

Sheet cake with image from the movie Avatar

Cupcakes decorated with images of characters from the movie Avatar

I saw these at the QFC by my house, and they were right by a huge display of “Avatar” DVDs. So the idea is buy the movie and some Na’vi cake to go with it? Maybe for a 10-year-old’s birthday party, but true sci-fi geeks have standards.

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Filed under So wrong, Sweet

7-Eleven’s mysterious food promotion

I’m pumped to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law and don’t need further encouragement to go to the theater to see the flick. But apparently Warner Brothers thinks that a cross-promotion with 7-Eleven taquitos will drive attendance? Only a master sleuth could solve this riddle.

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Filed under Savory, So wrong

Is that peanut butter on my face?!

I commute to work by bus, and most days it’s a pretty uneventful ride. However, this morning on the bus my cheek was feeling a bit itchy, and when I went to scratch it, my finger landed in a big blob of peanut butter. My first thought was, yuck! Then I wondered how long I had been walking around with peanut butter on my face. I mentally retraced my steps. I had an English muffin with peanut butter for breakfast, got my things together for work, headed out the door, walked to the bus stop, boarded the bus. I didn’t discover the peanut butter until about 15 minutes into the ride. That means I might have been out and about with peanut butter on my face for almost half an hour. Embarrassing!

I wish somebody on the bus would have told me about the peanut butter, but then I considered whether I would actually do that. Would you tell a stranger if he or she had embarrassing food residue on their body or in their teeth?

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All I want for Christmas is a salted caramel hot chocolate

Salted caramel hot chocolate

I am a Seattle anomaly. I do not drink coffee.

Even weirder was that I was once a barista.

I drink the occasional cup of coffee every now and again, but when I want a comforting hot drink, I go for a nice, velvety cup of hot chocolate.

Last winter I discovered a delightful variation on the theme. As part of its holiday beverages line, Starbucks offered a salted caramel hot chocolate (hereafter referred to as SCHC). It was particularly frigid winter, and the SCHC soothed my soul. I think I had at least this drink at least twice a week while it was available. I don’t eat or drink any one thing with any kind of regularity so this was a big deal.

I started seeing red Starbucks cups all around Seattle last week, which means the holiday beverages were back. On a cold and soppy night, I ducked into a Starbucks ready to warm up with a SCHC. I saw the eggnog latte, gingerbread latte, peppermint mocha on the menu, but where was my beloved SCHC?

I started to ask the barista, “Do you guys have…” And then she broke the bad news. “We’re not doing the salted caramel hot chocolate anymore.” Bless her for getting to it quickly, but damn–it still stung. First Ciclon and now the SCHC is discontinued.

The kindly barista suggested I go to the Starbucks Web site and post a request to bring back the SCHC. I went to and found that I’m not the only person missing this drink. There were 27 “ideas” related to bringing back the SCHC. Starbucks apparently reviewed the idea and published this response.

“Hello and thank you for your interest in the Salted Caramel Signature Hot Chocolate beverage. This beverage was quite popular last year and we understand that some of our valued customers are sad to see that it is not returning this year. If you fall into this group and are looking for a similar, yummy beverage, we’ve heard from our Baristas that adding Toffee Nut Syrup and caramel drizzle to the Signature Hot Chocolate is very close to the Salted Caramel beverage you’ve come to love. Please continue to share your feedback and passion for our many delicious beverages. Thank you!”

If the SCHC was so popular, why was it discontinued? And why did Starbucks give such a lame answer to customers’ demand for SCHC? Was it too messy to make? Took too much time? Did the company lose money on it? I don’t understand why Starbucks won’t share the real reason for not serving the SCHC anymore.

And why suggest what seems like a weak substitute for the SCHC? The majority of comments I read said that adding toffee nut syrup and caramel drizzle was NOT the same as a SCHC. I may try it since I really do miss the SCHC. Or I might try and make one myself using this recipe.

At, I asked Starbucks to fully explain the SCHC situation. If you love the SCHC, please vote for my submission.

I need closure.

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Filed under So wrong, Sweet

I am breaking up with Grand Central Bakery

I once dated this guy who loved art and literature, had a wicked sense of humor and was passionate about social justice issues. These are all great qualities. Too bad he was a total dick to me. It took me awhile, but I finally learned that someone who is interesting, smart and funny isn’t necessarily good boyfriend material.

This lesson applies to restaurants as well. Restaurants that have good food aren’t necessarily good restaurants. And it’s not good for you to keep going back to them. Case in point: Grand Central Bakery in Seattle’s Pioneer Square.

I work by Pioneer Square and often visit Grand Central for lunch. It has great baked goods and yummy soups, salads and sandwiches. You can sit inside in a charming historic building that was once a train station or outside in Occidental Park. It can be a lovely place to go for lunch.

I say it “can be” because nine times out of 10, something goes wrong with my order. Food will be missing, the wrong salad will show up, I order with a group and everyone gets their food but me, and when it does come, it’s 30 minutes later and everyone else is already done eating. The Grand Central staff are always very apologetic and eventually fix it, but why can’t they just get it right?

I went to Grand Central yesterday, and I ordered a whole Italian grinder, a mixed greens side salad and a chocolate chip cookie. I specifically ordered the grinder because I was in a hurry and that sandwich is pre-made. The cashier took my order, I paid and then I waited to pick up my food. The sandwich and salad came up right away, but I noticed that the sandwich was a half and not a whole. I politely informed the counter person that I had ordered a whole sandwich and not a half. She insisted that the order was for someone else and that mine would be coming up shortly. That sounded plausible so I hung around for another 10 minutes. But after countless calls of “Italian grinder and side salad?” to the crowd, soon it became aparent that it was indeed my order, and that they had gotten it wrong. Again.

It was not a huge deal, but I can’t overlook the frequency of botched orders anymore. There are many other restaurants where I can spend my time and money and not leave frustrated.

So goodbye, Grand Central Bakery. It was nice while it lasted.

UPDATE: Gillian Allen-White, general manager and co-owner of Grand Central Bakery, read my blog the day after I posted and sent me a very sincere apology. (Read it in the comments section.) I asked my Facebook community if I should take Grand Central back. Several people–including myself–were impressed at the prompt response to my post. Way to get your Google alerts and actually take action on them. Some thought I had already given Grand Central too many chances.

My decision is stick to my guns and not return to Grand Central, BUT I will not badmouth the cafe. Our breakup can be a healthy one with no bad feelings on either side.

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Filed under Reviews, So wrong

Hot dish

I’ve been out of commission the last few weeks with a nasty sinus infection so that’s why it’s been all quiet on the blog front. Here are some random bits of food news that I’ve been thinking about while I’ve been getting plenty of rest and drinking lots of fluids.

  • I possess what may be the last four bottles of Ciclón in Washington state! My darling husband drove up north and took a ferry to pick up this precious cargo from the liquor store in Clinton, WA. My friend Bev asked me how I would judge whether an event was “Ciclón-worthy” or not (shades of Elaine on Seinfeld). Good question…
  • The Seattle P-I’s Rebekah Denn wrote a great profile about Seattle food blogger Molly Wizenberg aka Orangette. Sadly, the P-I is closing its doors and will print its last edition tomorrow.
  • I’m still in deep denial that Carla did not win Top Chef. Her spirit guides must have been asleep at the wheel during the last challenge. Why else would she have taken Casey’s advice? Oh, Carla, to thine own cooking be true!
  • The only thing more disappointing than Hosea winning Top Chef was the lame-ass reunion show. Besides Ariane looking smoking hot and living up to her “Cougar” nickname, there was little of interest. And we had to rehash the whole Hosea/Leah hookup. Talk about unappetizing!
  • Speaking of Top Chef, what is up with Tom Colicchio pushing Diet Coke and Padma Lakshmi promoting Hardee’s?!

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Filed under Alcohol, Food TV, Savory, So right, So wrong


Dear Madeline,

Thank you for your inquiry. As per your notification, please be advised that Ciclón – Tequila Spiked Rum has been discontinued in the United States as of January 2008, due to varying consumer tastes preferences and legal restrictions.

We would also like to take this opportunity to thank you for your valued patronage.

Best Regards,

Roseann Brown
Consumer Services Department
Bacardi USA., Inc.

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Filed under Alcohol, So wrong

Like a hurricane swept through my soul


Last week, my husband gave me some very bad news. After he told me, I had to lean against a wall for support. My face was ashen, and I couldn’t speak.

Liquor stores in Washington state have stopped carrying Ciclón.

Ciclón is Bacardi rum flavored with tequila and lime. It may sound gross, but it is DELICIOUS and has been my rum of choice for the last five or six years. Actually it goes beyond rum–Ciclón is my hands down, favorite, go-to liquor. When I want a drink, I want a Ciclón and Coke on the rocks, thank you very much.

When my husband and I were dating and we took our first trip together to Canada, what did we drink in our hotel room? Ciclón.

During my bachelorette party in Las Vegas, what was I drinking? Ciclón.

When I chose to bring my own alcohol to a bar in a Ziplock bag, what was it? Ciclón. (Yeah, I know, pretty ghetto.)

When I finally saw Prince in concert, what was I drinking? Ciclon.

When I was pregnant, what food did I miss the most? Ciclón. (Well, it probably was technically a tie with sushi, but man, I did miss it.)

There are five liquor stores in Washington state that still carry Ciclón but they are all very far away from Seattle, where I live. I searched online liquor stores to no avail.

I sent a impassioned plea to whoever manages the (ridiculous) Ciclón Web site saying that I now live in a Ciclón-dry state and that I needed immediate help locating some Ciclón. And, I had to know: was it true that Bacardi that was discontinuing my beloved amber elixir?!

I got this in reply:


This does not bode well.


Filed under Alcohol, So wrong

More than I could chew

I decided to tackle three of my food resolutions and (hopefully) make some good food in the process.

When I did a roll call of the contents of my freezer, I discovered kielbasa among the frozen meats. And a thorough inspection of my cupboards brought forth (among other things) Zatarain’s rice mix.

These were the two main ingredients in a tasty Real Simple recipe for jambalaya that I had made a few years ago.

In the spirit of my resolution to rely less on recipes, I winged it and cooked the jambalaya on my own. First I browned the kielbasa. Then I added the rice mix and a 28 ounce can of whole tomatoes. I brought the mixture to a boil, reduced it to a simmer and put a lid on it for 25 minutes. At the end, I added some raw shrimp and heated everything through.

The result was this:

It turned out to be one of the worst dishes I have ever made! The main reason was because instead of using a jambalaya rice mix, I used a red beans and rice mix. I realized I had the wrong mix while I was browning the kielbasa but decided to move forward anyway.

The flavors in the red beans and rice mix didn’t complement the spicy kielbasa or the can of whole tomatoes that went into the dish. Instead, there was an all-out flavor war that resulted in nothing but an awful bitterness.

In making the jambalaya, I also managed to pull off a raw food hat trick: the beans, rice and shrimp weren’t fully cooked. There were a couple of things going on here. I didn’t put enough liquid in the pot to thoroughly cook the rice and beans. The liquid from the can of tomatoes would have cooked a jambalaya rice mix just fine, but the addition of the beans required extra liquid.

When it was time to add the shrimp, I didn’t think that the rice and beans looked done, but I decided to go ahead and throw in the shrimp. I thought the heat of the rice would cook the shrimp so I turned off the burner because I didn’t want the rice to burn. Wrong move. The pot needed to stay on low heat.

As bad as the jambalaya was, I couldn’t bear to throw it out because I hate wasting food. I brought it to work for lunch one day but couldn’t down more than three bites. I brought the leftovers home, fully intending to throw them out. But somehow they made it back into the fridge.

My husband ate the leftovers and told me–with a straight face– that the flavors had improved over the course of a few days.

Lessons learned:
1. I need to make sure I have the right ingredients before I start cooking.
2. I should trust my food instincts.
3. Some food cannot and should not be saved.
4. My husband is a saint.

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Filed under Food resolutions 2009, Savory, So wrong