Living the California Dream – featuring In and Out Burger

Life in Northern California is pretty sweet – the location, the weather and proximity to In and Out Burgers. We are living the dream.

The Man, the Meme, the Storage Legend

I had a little fun fun making a fake YouTube ad from the most recent Dos Equis ad – the one that includes the one-liner – “He skips the first date”.  FWIW, the voice overs came from software called NaturalReader.

Terrific Asian Fusion in Minneapolis , Wakame

I took a group of 9 people to Wakame restaurant in Minneapolis recently and the experience was fantastic.

We made a reservation and they were ready for us when we arrived, even though it is a busy place. So far, so good. There were several different palates to satisfy, but we decided to go family style anyway and share everything (except drinks).

Just to make things clear, everything was freaking great, this restaurant really knocks it out of the park – from sushi to chicken wings to curry to noodles to entrees.

There was a decent selection of sakes, the beer and wine selections were ok – not great, but nobody seemed to notice, they got something to drink and the food was excellent.

Starting with appetizers, their spicy chicken wings were a surprise hit around the table and everybody dug into the sushi rolls, many singled out the Cowboy Roll which was a beef covered roll, but I tend to go more for crunchy rolls, I think it was the Crunpy Roll, that I liked best. But the favorite appetizer was Yuzu(sp?) Salmon – lightly seared and eel glazed (I think it was eel sauce) under a fresh bed of greens and sprouts. Big time yum!

The entrees and noodle dishes maintained the momentum including scallops risotto, Pad Thai and what I consider their signature dish, curried walleye.  They all come served with various greens and the flavors and sauces were all lively but not over powering. The walleye especially had a very subtle curry that blended well with the flavor of the fish , and walleye is widely regarded as the finest of freshwater fish.

Yes, we had deserts too, Tiger Chocolate cake and tempura ice cream stood out, but the lemon cake was a big hit too.

We all thought it was freaking great and we went to my brothers house afterwards for conversation and games. A fine, memorable evening for all of us.

Sushi Heaven


We went to a new Sushi restaurant tonight in Saratoga. It’s called Sushi Heaven and we all agreed that we liked it and are looking forward to going back again.

The menu had a lot of interesting options, with a 2 sided sheet of rolls. We ordered grilled beef asparagas rolls and deep fried tofu for appetizers and four rolls – all excellent, but my faves were the dynamite roll -deep fried spicy hamachi , and the 49er roll – spicy tuna with salmon and lemon. The fish was excellent and fresh and the wait staff friendly and attentive.

It’s not a destination restaurant for big events, but it is a great place
for a “damn I feel like Sushi” night or weekend lunch. It’s in a strip mall and not easily seen from the road (Sunnyvale Saratoga) at the corner of Prospect. I hope people find it because I’d like to see it succeed.

Nespresso bliss coffee tech

There are many ways to bliss out on coffee in this world and my newest favorite way to do it is pictured below, the Nespresso Pixie.

The Nespresso makes terrific shots of espresso that you can have first thing in the morning to shake the cobwebs, mid afternoon when things get dull or in the evening when you are just trying to hang in there. Just stumble into the kitchen, drop in a capsule, press the button and watch it do it’s magic.  As they say, it’s all good.  The shots are hot, but not tongue searing and they have a nice layer of crema (aerated coffee foam) riding on top. There are a number of machines that will do this for you, but a lot of them cost a lot more or require you to mess around with the coffee a lot more. Nespresso is flat out the easiest way to make a great cup of espresso.

Nespresso is made by Nestle and it has a definite European mojo to it.  The unit is small, the capsules are small, the cups it pours are small and the buzz is definite but not harsh. You get a decent lift for a small amount of java and if you are like me, that’s important. What the heck, I wouldn’t bother  if it was just for decaf – I’d go for beer instead, but beer and coffee point me in opposite directions and there you have it.

The only hitch with Nespresso is that you have to get the capsules from Nestle, either over the web, or if you are lucky enough like we are to live near a boutique that sells them you can walk in and pretend you are in Switzerland. As far as I know, nobody else makes them. The business angle is pretty clear, get a customer to buy one and they buy coffee from Nestle the rest of their lives.  The capsules look like little space ships – they are metallic in a mix of gemstone colors and there are a 16 regular flavors all with ridiculous European names you will never be able to remember if you are over 45 – regardless of how much coffee you rev up your head with. Ristretto, Livanto, Volluto, Indriya, Rosabaya – they sound like Urugayan reindeer. Anyway you can buy these things by the hundreds and get fancy accessories like they probably had on the Orient Express. Here’s a picture of the one we have to help us pick out the perfect capsule:

They also have limited-time special flavors that you need to order before they run out. The corner drug pusher has nothing on these guys.

The idea is that you drop the capsule down into the miniature bowels of the machine like you are making a tiny orc or something. The mechanism for opening the front is cantilevered where you rotate the handle up and the front of the machine pushes outward where the handle had been. This in itself is a really cool little design detail that I appreciate every time.  When you pull the handle back down, the capsule seats in the machine where it is ready to have pressurized steam blown through it.  Three small holes are made in one end of the capsule and a grid of punctures go on the other end (the cup end). These apparently are the blow holes that the steam gets blasted through on the way to your cup. You push the button and the compressor kicks in. It doesn’t shake the house but it could wake up dog and shortly thereafter the desired result is in your hands. The next time you open the handle, the expired capsule drops into the receptacle of wasted capsules below.  It took either Swiss or German engineers to come up with this compact mechanical wonder.

In addition to the espresso machine, Nestle also makes Nespresso milk frothers for making lattes, cappuccinos and any other drink where foamy milk is used. Darn, if they don’t turn out great too. In addition to coffee, I’ve been using it to make milk for chai lattes and the results have been excellent.

We’ve had our Nespresso about a month so we don’t know how long it will last, but the quality of the coffee drinks has been top notch. Highly Recommended.

This blog post was 100% produced on my Microsoft Surface -all words and pictures.