I’m Back …

By , June 5, 2017 17:06

Things change.  The world changes.  I have changed. I started posting online under my pleasurecooker.com banner in 2006.  The site was fueled by my love of people, food, drink, travel and humor.  Over the past few years I left it dormant.  Posting every now and then.  Life caught up with me and blogs got boring.

I love great food, but I have learned a very hard lesson, that most of the food I loved did not love me back.  So, I’m throwing it all out and starting over.  I’m going to start writing again and focusing on eating and living healthier.    No longer will I be sharing recipes like, the Greatest Whipped Cream EVER, Scalloped Scallops, Chicken Fried Ribeye with Pan Gravy or Double Layer Pumpkin Pie.  No longer will I post drink recipes like the French Vanilla Swirl, Amaretto Sourtini or the legendary Dragonslayer.

I have removed over 200 recipes on this site in order to focus on the future.  I have left a few things behind, like posts by my friends, restaurant reviews and a couple I think were funny for their time.

The tagline at pleasurecooker.com is: the most abundant and versatile ingredient in my kitchen is passion.  Well, I still have that passion.  Passion for love, for people, for food, for life, staying healthy and staying on this earth with all of you.

Yankees suck.

J.Ho

Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG)

By , May 9, 2017 13:15

Yes, that happened to me.  Heart attack and all.  Luckily I had one of the best cardiothoracic surgeons in the country, Dr. Rick Martin.  He and his surgical team pulled off a miracle.  Even though it’s something they do all the time, it was a miracle to me and my family.  My days of cooking up all the rich foods I’ve spent the last 25 years concocting are over.  Simple whole foods from here on out.  I’m not sure if my new dishes will be exciting enough to post online.

I’ll be back soon to share my progress.

It’s great day to be alive.

Yankees suck!

Trattoria Bella Mia

By , July 20, 2010 13:07

Sometimes something totally awesome runs you over like a freight train and you never saw it coming. That’s what happened to me at Trattoria Bella Mia in Beverly, MA.  I went there to wait for a friend, have a beer and some quiet time to go over some work … what I got was so much more.

I moved to the area about five years ago from California.  I lived for a few years in Hamilton and now I’m in Beverly Farms.  I’d say about 50% of my bar hopping and restaurant outings occur in Beverly. And even then, I frequent very few places.  I go to the places I like and know will serve me well.  I’ve probably driven past Bella Mia a few thousand times and never really thought to try it out.  A while ago someone kept telling me to give this place a try.  Well, this person is a maniac, so I never really paid the recommendation much mind.

So like a week or two ago I decide to walk in and see what this place is all about.  It was pretty much dead.  I slid up to the bar, ordered a beer and watched some sports for a while and then scrammed.  A couple days later I do the same thing.  While I was there a friend called and asked me where I was.  I say, “Bella Mia on Cabot!” … They had no idea where this place was even through they lived about 100 yards away.  So I go meet them at another place and I head back to Bella Mia a few days later.  Same thing, kind slow.  I drink a few beers, watch some sports and leave.

This was going to be my new hide out. It’s perfect. It’s right in the middle of everything in Beverly, but no one knows it’s there. I could go there, chill out in peace and be left alone. No one is going to find me!  Life is grand.

So I was invited by a new friend to a Pan-Massachusetts Challenge cancer fundraiser cocktail party last week at Bella Mia.  Since this is my new hide-out I figured I better get to know the locals there. They put out some fried chicken tenders, pizza, stuffed mushrooms and shrimp cocktail as appetizers. All of it awesome!  I knew no one at the cocktail party and wasn’t really in the mood to mingle, but I had some beers and chilled out in the peripheral.  The crowd seemed pretty cool and I knew I would get to know this place very well in the future.  What really struck me is that at the restaurant I briefly met what has to be one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen in my entire life.  Seriously. Not kidding.

Well, back to the lecture at hand. Last night I went back to my hide-out to sip some brews in peace.  I decided to take a look at the menu and order up something since I was wicked, wicked staaahvin.  I decided on the Veal Florentina.  I love my vitello.  Some people don’t eat veal cuz they hear of all the inhumane treatment a baby cow goes through before it becomes a grilled veal chop.  I love animals. Really.  However, baby cow is just soooooo good.

The food comes … tender veal sautéed in wine with mushrooms and spinach covered in perfectly melted fresh mozzarella cheese.  Wow.  Amazing!  Oh, lets not forget the side of fresh house-made fusilli pasta smothered in a very fresh tasting robust marinara sauce.  I was in heaven.  I mean HEAVEN.  The food tasted so fresh and delicious I just couldn’t get over it.

I believe the key to my enjoyment of this meal was it’s simplicity.  I could vividly taste every ingredient in the dish.  Simple satisfaction is always a worthy goal.  Simple, delicious and amazing meal.  The veal was tender, the wine sauce was savory, the mushrooms were cooked perfectly and the spinach was just divine!  It seemed as if every ingredient amplified the pure, natural, intense flavors of all the others.

I guess I’m giving up my new hiding place by telling everyone I know about it’s total awesomeness.  I cannot in good conscience keep my mouth shut about Bella Mia.  I also can’t imagine not eating here at least once a week for next ten years or more.  This is a charming neighborhood restaurant that should be a lot busier than it is.

Yankees suck!

Far Away Communiqué – San Francisco

By , December 7, 2008 18:04

Part One … San Francisco is by far the favorite of the vastly geographically separated trinity of metropolitan areas I call home. Last September I left the wicked awesome confines of Boston to embark on a business trip to the City by the Bay. This business trip turned out to be all pleasure.

So my plane lands on an early Saturday afternoon. I was to stay with the JilliBean at her crash pad on Sutter & Jones for a few days and then check into the Grand Hyatt for the remainder of my stay. My post-sortie ingress plan was to take the BART from the airport into downtown San Francisco, meet up with the JilliBean, drop my gear off at her pad and cruise the city. I’m never one for plans anyway.

I get off the BART at the Powell station and the first things I notice are how many more bums were around than usual and the awesome weather. I mean awesome weather. You know, the perfect kind that only San Francisco can provide. The kind of weather that has something for everyone. Warm, sunny and a slight breeze mixed in with extreme cold, wind and gloomy fog. A paradox like no other.

So I step over my quota of bums and call the JilliBean. No answer. I call again. No answer. I call one last time. Beat. Luckily, I had accounted for this contingency in my ingress plan. So I’m on my own in downtown San Francisco for a while, where do I go to kill some time? The Gold Dust Lounge, that’s where!

Where else would you go if you were a busted ass kid like me wandering around the shopping mecca/tourist trap that is Union Square? A bar! Not really a bar, more of a saloon. Near the southwest corner of Geary & Powell, the Gold Dust Lounge is a throwback to the old San Francisco days which existed way before I was probably born. High-back chairs and benches accented with gaudy red velvet padding and model airplane paint gold trim. Totally worn out wood paneling, old smoky mirrors, wicked tarnished brass lamps and cherubs painted (or probably wallpapered) on the ceiling. The second you walk in you’ll notice the smell. It’s a kind of like stale beer, ass, piss and a hint of vomit smell. Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it. Pssssst … it’s the smell that keeps the tourists out.

If you’re lucky, you can score the table immediately to the left when you walk through the entrance. It’s a small round table that juts out a bit towards the sidewalk behind a semi-circular window with small red velvet padded brass stools. There is no better spot in the city for people-watching while sipping your suds in peace. I walk in and my table was taken. Beat! So I waddle up to the bar with my extremely heavy woodland MARPAT duffel bag, desert MARPAT backpack, Targus laptop bag and Lowepro camera bag. I had that look as if I just traveled 3000 miles and I need a beer! I order a Stella draft with a Wild Turkey on the side. You know, the J.Ho Combo. At last, I’m home.

I score my drinks, sit down and absorb the fact that I’m back in San Francisco wishing it was to stay. I used to sit at the same bar while my former better half and her friends would go shopping in Union Square. I’ve stumbled in and out of cabs while coming and going from this place. I miss it. I never really missed the bathroom though. I give it only one star. I had to go wizzle, so I walk towards the back and hold my breath as I walk in the tiny bathroom. What was the first thing I saw? What was the perfect San Francisco greeting? I had to take a quick picture.

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Indeed, I’m home. No town in the world does obscene bathroom wall literature better than San Francisco. Just to the left this shot someone wrote, “Michael Savage for President.” Then someone had crossed out the Michael part and wrote in Dan. This is just a taste of how polarizing the political landscape can be in this fine city. Actually, I believe Michael Savage and Dan Savage are equally irrelevant.

The next fine example of San Francisco bathroom wall literature was one of the most timeliest I’ve ever experienced. See below …

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I had to adjust my flash a bit from when I took the first shot. It says, “100 years till the next one! Go home Bostonian! Don’t like home? Women are ugly? Weather is awful? California … priceless!”

Interesting comment. I assumed they were talking about the Red Sox winning another World Series. The funny thing is about six weeks later, the Sox did just that! The rest of the writing is spot on, though. Trust me. I’ve lived both places. Trust me, San Francisco is in no place to say another city has ugly women. We’ll save that topic for another rant.

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After several J.Ho Combos and many, many tall tales shared with the bartenders, it was time for me to continue on my travels. I didn’t get to stop by the Gold Dust again during my trip, but the short time to water up and reminisce was all I needed. The two pictures below are a shot of the Gold Dust entrance taken from my hotel room and a picture of the J.Ho Combo.

Check out the Gold Dust if you’re in the area. Live jazz almost every night.

Too be continued …

Yankees suck! Giants too. Both Giants.

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