Pumpkin Ramen - Ramen Halu San Jose, CA

It's that time of year again. PUMPKIN EVERYTHING! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! It drives me crazy! I'm not one of those people that enjoy the fall flavors of pumpkin. Actually I can't stand it. Even worse is that everyone just associates pumpkin with actual pumpkin spice. Which is a concoction of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. I also learned that canned pumpkin isn't actually the Jack o' Lantern pumpkin we think it is. It's actually Kabocha squash (Japanese Pumpkin), or a variety of other winter squashes pureed together an canned. My guess is that if you were to see a mixed spice latte or a slice of squash pie on the menu, people wouldn't buy it. It must be a marketing ploy.
Well, there is actually one pumpkin indulgence that I crave every Fall season. Ramen Halu of San Jose, CA has a tasty pumpkin ramen that they make every October through Thanksgiving. This twist on traditional ramen keeps my soup cravings going through the year satisfied. Ramen Halu creates this soup in their own way by adding a puree of Kabocha squash to there rich house made pork broth. This adds color and a sweetness to the broth that is already amazing. To top off the soup they add thin sliced fried pieces of Kabocha squash, corn, and finely grated parmesan cheese. Oh, and of coarse the center piece is a perfectly cooked egg.
Yes! I said parmesan in Japanese ramen!!! I have never heard of any place topping ramen with it before. To be honest I love to top all my soups at home with parmesan. So why not? Don't hate on it, until you try it...

Pictures Courtesy of Richard Park Photography  


Is it doughnut or donut?

According to grammarist.com:  The dictionary-approved spelling for the ring-shaped cake made of dough and fried in fat is doughnut. The shortened donut has been around since the late 1800s, but it wasn’t popularized until the late 20th century, when the successful American doughnut chain Dunkin’ Donuts made it ubiquitous. Today, writers outside the U.S. still favor doughnut by a wide margin. Donut appears about a third of the time in published American writing.  

In that case, I'm sticking with the more easier modern version of donut from now on...

A hot warm delicious donut is pretty much irresistible when handed to me. I find myself enjoying every type of donut. From long and twisted, mini and sprinkled, to even being a hybrid of a croissant. Whatever the type, as long as they are fresh.    

Stan's Donut Shop does nothing fancy to their donuts like many other up and coming shops these days. They just serve good old fashioned donuts. Stan's has been my regular donut spot for the majority of my life. Sometimes eating certain foods brings memories back from my younger days. Stan's hot original glazed donut, fresh out of the fryer does just that.


Falafelove... My falafel journey.

Every so often I get cravings for certain foods. For the last 20 years I have been going to Falafel's Drive In, in San Jose, CA to satisfy two of my craving outbursts: A fresh falafel sandwich and a banana milkshake. To me, it doesn't get much better than that. First of all, I'm a sucker for a good banana milkshake. And this milkshake, by any means, isn't the greatest I've ever had...but it definitely hits the spot. Though I have been going here for a majority of my life, it was just recently I found out that this legendary spot was actually called "Falafel's" not "Falafel" Drive In. This just goes to show that my eyes are not on the establishment's sign, but on the food I find.

However, this posting isn't about shakes... it's about the falafel sandwich. I would have to say that the falafel sandwich has been on a steady climb of popularity over the years. While I have journeyed to find other joints with a more satisfying falafel sandwich,  I have failed to find ONE that was worth talking about.

Until now...

Falafel Stop in Sunnyvale, CA is my new 'go-to' spot. It has a more tasteful, layered sandwich. The toppings and pita bread are by far more delicious. To me the actual falafel balls are vastly different from each other, but my palate can appreciate each approach.  For me the difference between the two sandwiches is quite obvious. Falafel's Drive In has a more simple and traditional approach while Falafel Stop creates a more complex savory sandwich.

So after nearly 20 years strong of serious falafel spot hunting, I now have two that I can regularly frequent. Both of them tend to get busy during the regular business peak hours, but have the necessary staff to move customers through the lines swiftly. Recently, I have been going to Falafel Stop more often; mostly because it's closer in proximity to where I work and live. But, whenever I start to savor over that banana milk shake I'm missing out on, I can walk next door to Dairy Belle (which is literally, next door, to Falafel Stop) to complete my falafel experience. 


Jackson, Wyoming - The Bird "Old School Bar And Kitchen"

I was lucky enough to go on a 3000 mile road trip this past Summer. On my way back home I stopped through Jackson, Wyoming for the first time. I am now definitely a fan of Jackson, and would like to return one day. Always on the hunt for the good food where ever my travels take me, my crew and I ended up at The Bird. Just a mile or so outside the center of town this spot has just what I like. They call themselves an "Old School Bar & Kitchen". They serve high quality meats and fresh products. The Bird has an array of burgers to choose from all coming on an English muffin bun. The bar is stocked with plenty of booze and good beers. Actually this place encourages you to let loose and get drunk. They say that they are about the only place left in Jackson where just about anything goes. Not only does this place have great food, and a great atmosphere. If you end up having too much to drink, they will drive you back to the center of town in "The Bird Booze Bus". This is a great idea for them to attract more customers. My dinner was enjoyed with friends and family on a huge deck with an amazing view. I couldn't have asked for a better time. See you again soon Jackson, Wyoming!
The Dirty @*&% Burger at The Bird in Jackson, Wyoming