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March 30, 2010


Last week, I was talking to a new friend about an issue we both--sorry, let's be honest, an issue we all--have faced: Getting hurt.

I explained to her my philosophy in dealing with getting hurt. It's a two-parter.

1. If the person doing the hurting is a true friend, I consider his or her intention and don't focus on the words. I do this because a true friend never intends to hurt us, even if the words chosen might do so.

2. If the person doing the hurting is not a friend, I never look at his or her intention (because that's clear). Instead, I focus on the words, because without the intention attached, those words become very easy to deflect.

My new friend took that in and--apparently--really applied this philosophy to her life. When we next talked, she told me it had an impact and had healed some issues (and quickly) that had been festering for a while.

I'm good at compartmentalizing. It's how I get so much done. It's also how I maintain amazing, lifelong, beautiful friendships while keeping business business. And if you hurt me and leave me, it's why I'll forgive you when you come back around. If you're a true friend, I know your intention was never to hurt me. And if that was your intention, your status was never "true friend" to begin with. And that's okay too. It's just a different place in my compartmentalized life.

Posted by bonnie at 6:32 PM | Comments (0)

March 25, 2010

GSFiSCC: Aunt Kizzy's Back Porch

What is the Great Southern Food in Southern California Challenge? Click here for the low-down. Want to see reviews of all stops on our tour? Click here. Wanna see any photo below, only larger? Well, just click on it!

Our fifth stop on the GSFiSCC was Aunt Kizzy's Back Porch, 523 Washington Blvd., Marina Del Rey, 90292.

One of the major reasons we chose Aunt Kizzy's Back Porch for our fifth stop on the tour is that it offers Sunday brunch. I think it may be the only restaurant of those on our master list that does so. So. We had to check that out.

Oh, before I get into anything about Aunt Kizzy's, can anyone tell me what this thing is? There were two of them on Washington, just a hundred feet or so east of our destination, and there were all sorts of digging machines poised to put these huge things into the ground. What are these things and why do they go into the ground? Thank you in advance, to anyone who can tell me what this is all about. It concerned me so greatly that I did two laps before parking (also I was way early) so I could snap a few pics--all of which turned out "wavy" due to photographing while driving. Um. Oops. Did I just admit to that? Anyway...

I asked everyone to gather early, because I had heard that Aunt Kizzy's gets slammed after church (and that everyone would be in their Sunday best) and I didn't want to worry about how to get our big table, if people started showing up late (as people tend to do, sometimes). Turns out there was no major crush of customers (although things did pick up after 1pm), but Nyah--who greeted us and gave us a nice tour and history overview (including loads of details about Cuba Gooding, Jr.'s term of employment there) about Aunt Kizzy's--was very appreciative that we were so thoughtful as to arrive early.

We were given the option of inside or outside seating. It was a gorgeous day, so we chose the patio. When I began salivating over "sides" options, I was encouraged to get the sides platter (four sides for $9.95). Seeing as each side is $2.50 on its own, you can imagine how elated I was to save that nickel by ordering four sides, together. :\ That said, I have to say that I was very impressed when our waitress--Amber Rose, who is all about the high-five--offered Ryan a sample of the dressing and gravy, when he wasn't sure whether he wanted that with his order. "You wanna try some?" she asked. "Uh, yeah," was Ryan's response.

No question. Several of us would order the dressing and gravy (and then we'd launch into a conversation with the yankees among us about dressing vs. stuffing). No regrets. That was probably one of the best items on any plate! We also ordered a bit of fried okra "for the table" and it came out fast, hot, and--well--over-breaded for my liking. The majority ruled we'd all prefer a cornmeal and pepper dusting to the full-on breading offered with this okra. Bummer. I'm still jonesin' for fried okra done right.

Derek said, "Mason jars? Check!" when the drinks arrived. I had to cut my sweet tea with my water. It was just far too sweet. But I'm a wimp for sweet drinks. My beverages of choice are water and vodka. So, anything with sugar is going to need watering down, most likely. Of course, that sugar is a sweet, sweet (and seductive) thing, upon first sip. My immediate response, "Yes ma'am!" (Realizing as I write this that the Aunt Kizzy's website boasts beers, wines, and mimosas--the latter of which I was looking forward to having--but no alcoholic beverages were offered. Wondering now whether Mason was correct, when he mentioned that a good, southern place like this probably wouldn't offer booze on a Sunday. Hmm. No one asked, so I don't know for sure.) When Ryan saw on the menu, "All I want is chicken and a waffle," he said, "That's perfect. That's just how I'd order it too."

Amber was great about helping us order. She suggested best "shareable" items, saying, "Sharing is caring," when we'd debate as a group about particular options. While we waited for our food to arrive, we discussed whether Ryan should re-up with Compatible Partners, David's reconnaissance mission on diners for next year's tour, and what's uglier: Uggs or Crocs. Then Amber showed up with cornbread muffins fresh and hot. The talking ceased. Immediately. (Note Laura's very cool Feng Shui-friendly purse hook in the background. So flippin' badass. Must have.)

Oh! Before I forget, joining me for the fifth stop on the GSFiSCC were David, Derek, Kathi, Laura, Masasa, Ryan, Tanya, and Shirley.

David--who was a little late--mentioned having "a filtering problem" when it comes to bad theatre, which made me laugh like crazy. And Masasa--who arrived even latter--showed up in her church hat and explained the subtle difference between "CP Time" and "African Time," the latter of which is apparently worse by 30%. Shirley proclaimed that certain things are best when cooked in bacon grease. Everything is, we agreed. Further in this category, Masasa mentioned, "I could Paula Deen out on some butter." Yes. We do appreciate our food in this group!

Masasa was not happy that I neglected to wear my gloves. I should've mentioned to her back when we discussed Sunday brunch wardrobe that my "gloves" are actually Hello Kitty mittens. Not quite the same.

Photo by Masasa.

Okay, so let's eat!

I ordered grits, dressing and gravy, collard greens, and black-eyed peas. Not pictured: a biscuit. That biscuit was probably the best thing I ate, frankly. Or maybe I've been dreaming about it because it is so far off the "allowable gluten scale" I've created for myself on these tour stops. *sigh* It was really delicious. Really. Sadly, the grits were not. They were the worst I've ever had. I passed them down the table and no one would have more than a bite. Not authentically southern by any stretch and just absent of any flavor. But the dressing and gravy--as I hinted above--was a real treat. Greens and beans, fine. Nothing special. But plenty good.

Kathi had some mac and cheese, chicken, and bacon--and I had some of that bacon (a bit of Kathi's and a bit of Derek's, in fact). Holy crap, that was good. Really really good. And Kathi's review on her mac and cheese (which I did not sample) was, "Oh, man..." which sounded pretty positive to me! And to Derek. And to anyone else at our end of the table. Kathi seemed to really like that mac and cheese!

Ryan went for the scrambled eggs, mac and cheese, dressing and gravy, and bacon. Awesome! Tanya had the chicken and waffle, after which she said, "I feel a little pregnant with food."

Laura chose chicken, mac and cheese, a BBQ rib, and black-eyed peas. I sampled a bit of that rib, and it was tender and delicious. Laura said the sauce was really good, and she knows her sauce! Shirley shared some of her chicken with me, which was on the dry side, but still tasty. Certainly nowhere near Roscoe's-level chicken. Just sayin'.

When Masasa's smothered pork arrived, she was none too pleased. (See last stop on the tour for her candid thoughts on "meat in sauce.") She tried to get me to take it home to my cats, but Derek decided he'd sample it. After two bites, he was done too. No one liked this, it seems. Uh-oh. As for Masasa's thoughts on the mac and cheese--remember, she had lots to say about this dish at our last stop--she will be going back to Chef Marilyn's for mac and cheese. Back to Aunt Kizzy's? "I wouldn't drive out here again," she said.

So, how's it looking like Aunt Kizzy's Back Porch measures up, using the criteria I set out when issuing this Challenge.

Pretty good. Yes.

Eh. Ryan mentioned everything was pretty low in sodium, and I don't disagree with that. All who sampled the chicken mentioned it was a little dry but the breading was pretty good. Biscuits, cornbread muffins, waffles, mac and cheese, dressing and gravy, and most of the other sides were good. Grits were inedible, as was the smothered pork.

Kathi summed it up, saying, "seems a little high." And yeah, based on portion size and prices we've seen elsewhere, this was a little on the high side for the amount of food that showed up. That said, it's still a pretty reasonably-priced brunch option, for Los Angeles.

For sure. Nyah and Amber Rose made us feel at home from the instant we arrived. Tales of their 25 years in business, the wall of fame (over 1000 photos of famous people, only 300 on display at this location), the now-famous folks who worked there in the past, and paparazzi stalking celebs when they come here to "get their southern grub on" (a line that once ran on TMZ, apparently) were woven into lots of laughs and comments that you'd only let your family get away with making. Instantly casual and intimate, here. That's southern, for sure.

Worth a visit, yes. A good option if you're on the westside and don't want to truck it out to Miss Peaches or do takeout from Chef Marilyn's for something more delicious.

Connell can rest easy, as after five stops, Miss Peaches is still in the lead for service, atmosphere, food, and best overall experience. South is still the best (um, only) party-style option we've visited. Check back for a review of our sixth stop, coming in early April! Thanks, y'all!

Posted by bonnie at 2:05 AM | Comments (0)

March 21, 2010

Conversation in the Gillespie-Johnson Household

(while watching Life on The Discovery Channel).

Me: I wish your son were here, so I could stay up on things they teach you at that age.
Keith: Uh-huh.
Me: Because clearly, there's a lot of stuff that I either never learned in public school or am forgetting.
Keith: Yeah.
Me: Y'know, it's only gonna get worse!
Keith: I don't mind.
Me: Of course YOU don't mind! You can get away with more stuff!

(Really, it's not the turning 40 that's weird. It's the things I keep learning I never knew about stuff.)

Posted by bonnie at 8:52 PM | Comments (0)

March 16, 2010

Good Credit

Okay, this is going to be a long, ranty one. So, settle in.

I've been a member of the AFTRA/SAG Federal Credit Union since the '90s. They have my checking account, my savings account, my stepson's Coogan account, my husband's checking account, my husband's savings account, and until today my credit card account. They also once had a signature loan for me. They're good. Except for today.

Seems the AFTRA/SAG Federal Credit Union credit cards are under new management this year and, just like the last time they went under new management four years ago, I didn't receive a bill. Yup. It's a total scam. They change companies and then the second or third bill doesn't come, so you are late with your payment and they can lop on fees, offer you the opportunity to pay by phone, and offer to enroll you in auto-pay plans. Awesome. I remember this well. It happened in late 2005, when the credit card went under new management the last time.

So, February's bill never came and I was traveling and therefore totally didn't notice that I hadn't written a check 'til Miss Henry called me last week to tell me I hadn't. Crap. So, I do a payment by phone immediately and ask her what repercussions this late payment has on my account (increase in APR, fees, etc.). She assures me that the only charge is this $39 fee, which she can reverse since I haven't been late with a payment since 2005, when--strangely enough--the company change happened last time. Awesome. Charge reversed. February bill paid. March bill on its way with the fee showing, but she assures me it's been reversed. Gives me a confirmation number. Yada yada yada.

Today's mail includes a letter from the credit card company ("cardmember services" -- no company name anywhere to be found) stating that "Because you have not consistently paid the minimum monthly payment on or before the due date, we have reduced your credit limit." They've reduced it to my current balance. I usually keep a good five grand available on any credit card, because it's not only good for my credit rating, but it's also always nice to know I have that kind of credit available to me, should an emergency hit.

Let's note for the record here that I have a FICO score of 788.


I am an excellent customer, if you are a bank. I always pay my bills early (except for when my credit card company inexplicably neglects to send a statement, apparently). I never bounce checks. I am your worst nightmare, if you want to ding customers with fees, because I will almost never give you the opportunity to do so. However, if you want a customer who will always pay her bills and carry a balance so you can collect interest, while never costing you in collections, I am your dream come true.

I am also planning on buying a house this year, so I don't need any drama where my credit score is concerned. I am looking forward to my 4.5% home loan after putting only 3% down, plus first-time buyer credit. I am not dicking around, here.

So, when I got a letter telling me that my credit limit had been slammed down to the current balance I carry on my card, I made a phone call.

First there was Marie, who told me that perhaps Miss Henry hadn't been made aware that my credit limit had been lowered, and that's why she didn't disclose it last week when I asked what ramifications existed due to missing February's payment. She then transferred me to Carmen, since what I wanted was a reversal of that cap. She couldn't offer me that.

Neither could Carmen. She said she could certainly put in a request to increase my credit limit, but I'm no dummy. I told her that was not what I wanted, because that would trigger a notice in my credit report that I was seeking access to more credit, just before buying a home. No thank you. That makes me look like a bad risk. Not interested. I just want y'all to undo the punishment you saw fit to bestow upon me without notice, last week.

The call got escalated to a supervisor, Kent. (And let me state for the record that I handled this call VERY well. Sometimes I get hot-headed. Sometimes I yell. Today, I did not. I am very proud of that. Especially because I have every reason to yell.) I stayed calm and repeatedly asked for what I wanted: A reversal of the punishment they put on my account. A return to the credit limit I have enjoyed--yet never hit--in nearly a decade with this credit card.


Not gonna happen. They can put in a request for a credit limit increase--which will show up on my credit report as consumer requested--but there's no guarantee I'll get it (bullshit. I'll get it. I'll get it and more. I have excellent credit. They want me to have access to--and to use--many more thousands of dollars on their card than I already do).


So, I tell Kent not to bother with that request, as I'll simply close my card and transfer the balance elsewhere, rather than giving another penny to this ridiculous company that wants to punish someone with a fucking 788 FICO score.


Anyone wanna tell me a great credit card company that loves new, excellent customers who want to transfer over thousands of dollars?

(Yes, I understand that this will also show up on my credit report, and probably does me more harm than "requesting" the increased credit limit. So, what I'll probably just end up doing is closing the account so it shows up "closed; paying as per cardmember agreement" and wait for a credit card company to send me an incentive application that includes 2.9% APR for balance transfers. That's how I closed my Chase Visa, years ago.)

But man, I'm so fucking mad I could spit tacks. This is why we hate the banks, people! You punish good customers in ways that screw their credit rating. You put us between a rock and a hard place and remind us why stuffing money in a mattress is never a bad idea.

Posted by bonnie at 1:05 PM | Comments (4)

March 13, 2010

12 of 12, March 2010

Hello again and welcome back to Chad's last year of 12 of 12. Who is this rockstar named Chad? Click here.

(If you really love Bon-photos, I'm also participating in a Spynotebook-generated project called Snapshot a Day. Yup. 365 photos in 2010. Click here to check that out at Flickr.)

As always, please enjoy my 12 of 12. Click any photo to enlarge. :)

2:10am: Home from class. (I got my oxygen back.) It's been a great night, but I've got an early day, so it's time for sleep, like it or not!

6:28am: Hello, pretty kitty. Keith has left for Runyon and Salema has decided my hip is a good pillow. *Yawn!* Good morning, Friday!

9:57am: I'm leaving a little bit late for my ladydate, but I feel good about traffic and my awesome "Do Not Eat iPod" shuffle filled with traveling music. Time to head out from the driveway and into the world!

12pm: Ahh... Babycakes. AnnaVo went downtown yesterday and blew a C-Note on gluten-free, vegan deliciousness. We've eaten a lunch of leftovers (so delicious) and now it's the main event: CUPCAKES! Good news: In addition to being gluten-free and vegan, they're also only 100 calories apiece. (Note: There's one little ballpark estimate-slash-lie in that last statement. Humor me.)

12:10pm: And now, introducing: IZZY! That's Izzy Schmata Tarquinio. She's a four-month-old Italian Greyhound. She is precious and really sweet.

1:04pm: We spent most of the day in AnnaVo's lovely VO studio-slash-office, listening to podcasts, watching YouTube viral darlings, discussing marketing vs. advertising, renting vs. owning, relatives vs. family, setting limits, trust, and living our dreams. We also spent a lot of time petting and playing with a puppy and a kitty (Pilky. Never saw Biscuit on this visit).

1:06pm: Anna with the tongue bandit. Such sweetness!

2:13pm: This is how Izzy spent several hours: in my lap, sleeping. She is such a love! I can't wait to be a homeowner so we can have puppies!

3:15pm: Best! Magnet! Ever!

3:45pm: Heading back to the beach from the Valley along with a few hundred thousand of my closest friends.

4:04pm: Made really good time, even on a Friday afternoon! Crossing from Brentwood into Santa Monica and getting ready for some of my favorite views: the sexy strip of exercising beautiful people running along the divided and tree-lined San Vicente, all the way to the beach.

5:27pm: Sugar coma from the cupcakes. It's time for a nap. Keith's still working on my computer (it had a spa day, today), so I'm gonna go down for a sleep cycle and then get to work!

7:10pm: Sid the MacBook still has another few hours to go, before getting back from the spa, so I'm reading another script. Defragging has been going on for quite some time, at this point, but hopefully the directory restructuring and the few passes through this process will get all its blocks back in the right places and have Sid happily running efficiently again soon.

(Sure enough, here I am working on Sid at just after midnight. So far, so good! Very nice to catch problems before they become ridiculous issues of data loss.)

As always, thank you, Chad, for another lovely 12 of 12. :) Having a blast and ready for a blissful weekend! See y'all next month! Thanks for the comments, thanks for the visits, thanks for the love. <3

Posted by bonnie at 12:09 AM | Comments (3)

March 11, 2010

GSFiSCC: Chef Marilyn's Soul Food Express

What is the Great Southern Food in Southern California Challenge? Click here for the low-down. Want to see reviews of all stops on our tour? Click here. Wanna see any photo below, only larger? Well, click it, for heck's sake!

Our fourth stop on the GSFiSCC was Chef Marilyn's Soul Food Express, 5068 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, 90019.

Technically, Chef Marilyn's was supposed to be the third stop on the tour, but when we arrived at the restaurant for our dinner Tuesday night, we learned that Chef Marilyn's is NOT a restaurant.

Photo by Masasa.

Nope. It's a takeout joint.

Photo by Masasa.

Now, maybe I should've picked that up by "Express" in the name of the joint, but seriously, shouldn't "takeout only" be mentioned somewhere on the flippin' website? Crazy! I combed all through that site and saw no way I could've figured out we'd be entering an establishment with no chairs or tables. I just thought "Express" meant fast. Ah... lesson learned.

Photo by Masasa.

So, because of our discovery upon arrival--and not wanting to lose out on a tour stop--we wandered down Pico to Roscoe's, which became tour stop number three (see previous entry). And, not wanting to give up on Chef Marilyn--especially because that food looked and smelled so good--we each bought a little takeout and did our critiques of the cuisine from home via email the next day.

Joining me for the fourth stop on the GSFiSCC were Eric, Masasa, Ryan, and Susyn. We were all excited about our little styrofoam containers of southern cookin' and probably could've stood right there and eaten, if we had to. Luckily, the food travels and reheats well. :)

Here's Susyn's review of Chef Marilyn's food:

chicken legs: falling off the bone good
meatloaf: great
collard greens: yum, with a kick stronger than Roscoe's
yams: scrumptious
mac and cheese: yum
corned beef and cabbage: really good, with a nice kick

You may recall that I mentioned in the last post that Susyn told us about something called "chicken bog." Here's the scoop on that! "The official description is it's a conglomeration of rice, spices, and chicken, topped with bacon. It is a South Carolina delicacy cooked in a pot, which gives it that boggy, soggy name." Sounds awesome! Maybe our tour needs to include a good ol' fashioned home cookin' stop!

(Ooh, how I wish I had been hungry enough to order some fish. It looked sooo good.)

Photo by Eric.

Here's Eric's review of Chef Marilyn's food:

Out of the microwave ('cept the banana pudding) at 12:36.
35 minutes later. Damn, that's gooooooooooooood mac and cheese! ♥
Oh, I probably would have finished off the chicken bones too, but i did need to make room for the banana pudding. :)
Photo by Eric.

Hee! That did look good. Eric was so pleased to be able to get his CRISPY mac and cheese. He even asked for extra crispy edges and they scooped out more for him!

More, please!

Photo by Masasa.

Here's Masasa's review of Chef Marilyn's food:

I stand by my aversion to meat floating in juice, and my hot link experience did not sway me from that philosophy. As for the sides, I say "PLEASE, Chef Marilyn, can I have some more?" I got a plate of greens, yams, cabbage, and mac and cheese. Back in the day, Scoe's used to have my most favourite mac and cheese ever, but sadly in recent years, I have found theirs to be lacking in the cheese department. There's nothing worse than a "cheese tease," I always say, so I actually stopped ordering it from Scoe's all together. Having said that, Chef Marilyn has MASTERED the art of mac and cheese! And from now on, should I happen to have a craving, I know just where to go.
Photo by Masasa. (Her review continues, below.)
After having paid proper homage to the cheesy carbs, I moved on to the veggies, and I was not disappointed in the least. Each one was perfectly seasoned and had just the right amount of love. Although I prefer my cabbage to be a little more al dente, the seasoning and other veggies mixed in made up for that. I finished my feast with the candied yams and they were like a yummy little dessert, they were so good!

As for me, I ordered collard greens, black-eyed peas, and mashed potatoes. $4.50. And the helpings were huge. Seriously, two days of leftovers, here!

The collard greens were peppery and delicious. Black-eyed peas were exactly like Momma used to make, and I didn't think I would ever be able to say that about anybody's beans! They were awesome! The potatoes were fine. Nothing terribly special. Still, good eatin'.

Let's see how Chef Marilyn's measures up, in the criteria I set out when issuing this Challenge.

Absolutely. Super yummy!

For sure. No question about it, this is true southern food.

Absolutely! There's a whole section of 99-cent specials and it's a ton of food you're getting. Holy crap, what a great deal!

Well, no, because there is no table. But you're welcomed and joked around with and encouraged to call in orders for free delivery. (I asked, "How far will you deliver?" "Anywhere, if you order enough," was the reply.)

Sure thing! Just be sure you have a next destination, as you will not be able to eat your food here. I imagine a catering situation would be pretty wonderful.

I actually stopped at Miss Peaches for a piece of butter cake last night and, yep, they're still in the lead for service, atmosphere, food, and best overall experience. And, yes, I told Connell that was the case. He wasn't surprised. In fact, he has invited us back for a Sunday book signing and "high-end food" event (coming soon). Everyone who is currently on the southern food mailing list (via Facebook) will be invited. Food will be free, but you'll have to buy a copy of Connell's brother's book. ;) Be ready! The items he's talking about fixing sound outrageously good.

Posted by bonnie at 3:02 PM | Comments (1)

March 10, 2010

GSFiSCC: Roscoe's

What is the Great Southern Food in Southern California Challenge? Click here for the low-down. Want to see reviews of all stops on our tour? Click here. Wanna see any photo below, only larger? Well, click it, for heck's sake!

Our third stop on the GSFiSCC was supposed to be Chef Marilyn's Soul Food Express (see next entry for why it was, instead, our fourth stop on the tour. Yes. Two stops in one night, technically). Instead, our third stop on the GSFiSCC was Roscoe's, 5006 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, 90019.

Now, Roscoe's is a Southern California institution, but I've never been sure why folks consider this place "southern," as there has never been a waffle served with chicken at any southern dinner I ever had. But it's a place that got mentioned several times when I first posted about seeking out some good, authentic, southern eats back on 1/1/10. It's also the place my first LA boss took me in 1993, when he promised my mother he'd be sure I ate good, southern food. I reported back to my mother that he was no judge of such things and not to be trusted.

Still, due to the technical difficulties that will be revealed in the next post, we ended up at Roscoe's for the third stop on our tour. Waffles and all.

As Eric said, if we had excluded Roscoe's, we'd have been asked about that choice, so it's fine that we ended up there. Heck, the food was very good, so let's say it was more than fine that we ended up there!

Now, there are a lot of rules at Roscoe's. I didn't even get to the credit card signs or the solicitation signs (yet, strangely, there were two very eager and friendly women roaming the restaurant offering tours, free drinks, and coupons of indeterminate value for a karaoke sports bar for the "luxury car set" -- Is that right, Ryan? -- across the street). But there are rules to visiting Roscoe's. Yes, one in our party was still bold enough to ask to make a substitution. No. No substitutions. Read the sign.

We passed the case of merch and went to table one, after making the staff aware that we'd likely have one or two joining us after they learned we were not down the street at Chef Marilyn's Soul Food Express. No worries, we were assured. A chair could pull up to our table with no issue. Cool. (That did turn out to be true, BTW.)

Now, I usually check out a menu before I visit a restaurant for the first time. That's mainly due to issues with wheat gluten, but also because I'm one of those annoying diners who needs to read the whole menu to decide what I want, rather than just magically spotting something hopping up and down at me from the page, begging to be ordered and eaten. Still, the menu at Roscoe's is not too long, so we were able to figure out what we wanted (yes, even me) by the time our drinks arrived. And I, for one, was hongray.

As for atmosphere, the signs are about it. (This one exists at every table.) Well, there's also art. There are flat-screen TVs (all turned off, from what I could tell). And while we strained to hear if there were any music playing, I still think--if we heard anything--it was someone's iPod. Eric says the Long Beach Roscoe's is the homey-est and this one is more like a diner. Ryan mentioned expansion at the Gower St. location (the only one I have visited, although that was nearly 20 years ago), which should mean it's a bit roomier than I recall.

Joining me for the third stop on the GSFiSCC were David, Eric, Ryan, Susyn and technically Masasa (more on that in the next post, I promise). Our time together included talk of (and quotes from) Bring It On, discussion of Light My Fire (a booth at the Grove specializing in hot sauce), and a domain check on BackYardPorn.com, which David will now not be able to snap up, as it's already taken (.org, however, is available, which Susyn says is a great option, since that could stand for "orgasm"). We also verified that the "Carolinian" in North Carolinian and South Carolinian are pronounced differently (the LIN in the latter is said with an EE sound) and Susyn told us about something called chicken bog, which I'll also cover in the next entry.

So... let's eat! My goal was to order the most traditionally southern meal available. I decided that was the #23, for $13.40 plus tax.

Collard greens (which I've decided I'm ordering at every stop on the tour, as that will be the great equalizer, when tabulating the votes at the end of this journey), candied yams (called "candy yams" on the menu, and, um, that's probably more appropriate, because I swear they tasted like dessert), a fried breast of chicken the size of my head, and cornbread served with a pat of butter (where "pat" is code for "tablespoon of fluffy goodness"). Yum! Good decision-making on the ordering, there, Bon.

Traditional Roscoe's fare: chicken'n waffles, add a side of mac and cheese. All three gents ordered exactly this, but Eric did request the most "baked brown" mac and cheese possible. No-go. This was as dark-brown as it got. Well, 'til David added hot sauce and pepper to his. That was pretty badass, actually. (Note: David refused a Birthday Biscuit Bottom when I offered it, once he realized it was the uneaten part of a biscuit with a fake candle mounted upon it. Pff. That's gratitude for ya!)

[NOTE: I'm going to leave this next bit in, even though I've since been corrected and will set the record straight after this little story. But the story is funny and well-written, so in it stays, just for fun.]

Now, I'm not sure whether my momma tried to save me from the harsh realities of what chitlins actually are, but my whole life I was led to believe that they were chicken necks. So, tonight I decided to finally try one when Susyn offered, thinking that it couldn't be that bad. And it wasn't. Tasted like deep-fried beef jerky. Fine. And then I came home and started to post this blog entry, which involved looking up chitlins (well, chitterlings), to be sure I was spelling everything right and, uh...

I ate pig intestines. Awesome. No regrets. But, I think I'm done with eating chitlins in my lifetime. Maybe. We'll see. Maybe I just need to let it all sink in.

[Okay, so those aren't chitlins at all. They're chicken giblets! As Susyn informed me just now over at the Facebook, "While I have eclectic food tastes, I don't think even I would eat chitlins! Giblets--I was always told--are the stomachs, hence the tough, chewy taste. After doing some research this morning, the official word is that giblets can be the heart, liver, and gizzard (secondary stomach). But, what I had was clearly the gizzard. And yummy it was! :) There you have it!" So, thank you Susyn for setting me straight! I ate chicken innards, not pig innards. Hee!]

Here are the chitlins chicken giblets with the rest of Susyn's dish: a biscuit, eggs, grits, and collard greens. Everybody shared everything (I sampled everything but biscuits, eggs, and waffles, I think) and everyone agreed that everything was tasty and plentiful. I actually said to Ryan, "Oh my god, I think this is the first time in a year of eating together that your plate got cleared before mine did." (He's a notoriously slow eater and likes to keep his food around even if he's not going to finish it, just in case.) His response, as I continued to pick at my food long after I was full: "I couldn't stop!"

We sat for a bit and talked and laughed while enjoying the wet-naps the waitress brought us and each other's company, then it was time to head out. Eric offered me a plastic bag as a souvenir, to which I replied, "No thank you; I'm de-cluttering." (Thank you, David, for capturing that, plus for telling us all about the Dragon Dictation app, which I must remember to download, seeing as I now recall you're the second cute boy to tell me about it in 2010 [I'm lookin' at you, Bill the DILF].)

As we left the restaurant and headed back west on Pico on foot toward our cars (still parked at Chef Marilyn's), we were greeted by the smell of a lovely incense burning in the bushes just under a Roscoe's window (let's just say something else was burning off the back of the parking lot, probably justifying the very large portion sizes provided at Roscoe's) and then spotted the sign offering us information about the scent. There was a table, but no one manning it. Perhaps we were too late to buy any incense. Oh well, we weren't too late to get back to Chef Marilyn's and experience our fourth stop on the GSFiSCC tour. But more on that, next post.

Meanwhile, let's see how Roscoe's measures up, in the criteria I set out when issuing this Challenge.

Yup. If you like lots of food, come on by. Several locations to serve you. The chicken is almost "broasted" (roasted in a pressure cooker, according to Eric), but the waitress assured us it was deep fried in oil, and the reason it tasted so moist and flavorful was "a secret."

What is on their menu that is southern is certainly authentic enough. The collard greens had a kick. The grits were buttery. I didn't try the sweet iced tea -- Did they offer any? -- but I think I got more than enough sugar for the day in my yams.

Looking at the menu, I thought the prices were high ($13.40 for one chicken breast and two sides, plus cornbread, for me), but when the food came it became clear that there was way more food on the plate--scratch that, it was a platter--than I had anticipated. Five were fed for around $87, plus tip. Not bad at all!

We decided no, mainly because your grandma would allow substitutions (says Susyn) and offer water without you having to request it. She wouldn't share the secret to the fried chicken flavor either, but she'd tell a joke or two to take the sting out of that.

Hmm... well, I can't find where Roscoe's says they serve southern food. I think folks around here just made that up and decided to tell their southern friends that there's good southern eatin' there. So, since Roscoe's doesn't seem to want to be southern and is really just offering good, down-home soul food (which, naturally, happens to include a good number of authentic southern options), I'll say, sure! You can get your southern grub on here just fine.

Miss Peaches is still in the lead for service, atmosphere, food, and best overall experience. South is our only alcohol-serving contender at this point, but that'll change at stop five, later this month. All three stops have involved loads of fun and lots of laughs, plentiful food, and good times. And isn't that what southern eatin' is all about?

Posted by bonnie at 1:21 AM | Comments (3)