Saturday, January 22, 2011

Fresno Food Review - Iron Bird Cafe

I've only been to the Iron Bird Cafe a couple of times now, but it's where my book club meets, so I know I'll be finding myself there more in the future. So far I haven't had a chance to sample a lot on the menu, but I feel like I can still write a brief review.

The food is what you would expect at a cafe: breakfast food, soups, salads and sandwiches. And coffee of course. I've tried the Grilled Chicken sandwich, which comes with the standard fare: lettuce, tomato, cheese, but it also comes with a pesto aioli spread which is really yummy. Normally I'm not big on trying out new sauces, but this one was really good.

Today I tried out the Downtown Mocha. The drink was really good. A carefully crafted mocha. The only downside is that it is a little small for the price, but I watched the guy make it, and he did spend a lot of time making sure it was right and presenting it nicely.

The staff at Iron Bird is great. Everyone has been really nice when I'm there, and I never feel unwelcome (You know how that is, you go to get a coffee, and you end up feeling like you're interrupting the person - none of that here).

The place itself is very clean and welcoming. Iron Bird also offers free wi-fi, you just have to get the days password off your receipt when you order.

A lot of my friends swear by this place, and one of them I know spends a ton of time there. Honestly, I can't blame them. I would probably spend a lot more time there if it had a better location for me. It's right near the Tower District and downtown Fresno, so it's a great spot for lots of people.

If you haven't been there yet, then you should give it a shot!

Restaurant: Iron Bird Cafe
Location: 1915 Fulton Street, Fresno (At Divisadero and Fulton, just south of the 180)
Overall: Highly Recommended
Company Website:

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Fresno Food Review - Harlem Wing and Waffle

**This is the first in what I hope to be a series of restaurant reviews in the Fresno area.**

Last night we headed to Harlem Wing & Waffle at Riverpark in Fresno. As you can guess from their name, the menu isn't very expansive. They have chicken wings, chicken fingers, and waffles. There is more than that, but not much.

They may not offer many choices, but there are lots of variations on those choices. They have full wings which are breaded, and they have "winglettes" which is the smaller wings you would see at someplace like Red Robin or a pizza place. When you order your wings, you can pick a flavor. There is plain, buffalo, suicide, spicy bbq and many others (I forgot to grab a brochure, so I can't give a full list, but I know there were well over a dozen flavors to choose from). Among our group we tried about a half dozen of the flavors, and everyone was satisfied.

Most of us had the waffles. They were small, maybe 3-4 inches in diameter. But really, that was a perfect size. If you couldn't finish it, you could take a couple of small ones with you, instead of having to take half a big waffle home (like you might with a normal sized waffle). They were also very light and fluffy.

My wife tried the onion rings as a side, and they were just standard onion rings. Nothing overly fancy and impressive, but nothing wrong with them either.

The staff was great. The girl at the front counter was really friendly in explaining our different options. She was also very nice about cleaning up a little "mess" one of our friends had (someone needs a sippy cup next time!). There was a guy who was going around the dining area cleaning up the tables, and he even stopped to ask if we needed anything, which was nice. The guys who were cooking were very polite as well. The girl at the counter had stepped away to clean some stuff up, and when I went up to ask for a knife, they were both quick to find one for me. None of that "I'm in the kitchen, I don't deal with customers" stuff.

Finally we come to what might be the greatest thing about Harlem Wing & Waffle: the price. I ordered the 12 wingette combo, which was $8.99. In comparison, at Red Robin I could get around 10-12 wings for the same price. Except that this combo also came with 4 of the small waffles and a soda! All of their combos are like this. Get a bunch of food and a drink for a good price. At any other place, I would probably have paid close to double the price to add a drink and the extra side.

I have to give a big recommendation to Harlem Wing & Waffle. The only downside I can think of is that it is at Riverpark, which can be an unpleasant experience if it's too crowded. Surprisingly, Riverpark was pretty clear for a Friday night, and there were plenty of tables at this place. So get out there and try some Wings and Waffles!

Restaurant: Harlem Wing & Waffle
Location: Riverpark, Fresno, Next to the IMAX theater
Overall: Highly Recommended

Friday, January 7, 2011

I Am Going to Read 50 Books in 2011

I don't generally make New Years Resolutions. I try to stick to goals. And I do have a goal for 2011. I want to read 50 books. Just under 1 book each week. I think this is doable. I've got a decent list built up that I want to read, and I know I can find more as the year goes on.

I'm going to keep a list here of the books I plan to read or have read. I'll update fairly frequently as it regards to this goal. I'm of course going to keep more specific tracking over on GoodReads.

The first 20 books on my list are books that have won both the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award for science fiction. I'm in a group that is going to go through these throughout the year (on a side note, if you're interested in joining us for this, come visit our group here:

The rules? Nothing too concrete, but it has to be a mostly word book. In other words, I won't count the latest treasury of "Pearls Before Swine," or a compilation book from the "I Can Has Cheezburger" site. But I would count a blog-turned-book book like "Stuff White People Like" or "FU Penguin," since it's mostly text. The book doesn't have to be all high falutin' or anything. Young Adult does count, I plan to read the 2nd book in the "Lorien Legacies" series (i.e. the sequel to "I Am Number Four"). I also would like to re-read some books I read as a kid ("Where the Red Fern Grows," "A Wrinkle in Time") and that I never did read as a kid ("The Chronicles of Narnia" series). Other than that, I'll adjust the rules as necessary.

Currently the list stands at 36 books I plan to read, with 1 completed. So I've got my plan of attack, plus room for a little over a dozen books that I can randomly find throughout the year!

Six books done, 44 to go. I'm well on pace (although Maus and The Metamorphosis were pretty short, I do admit that).

Seventeen done in eleven weeks. Good pace, actually a lot better than I thought I was!

I haven't really been keeping track, since this is all but done! 40 books down!

On to the list!

  1. The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi, Started 1/15/11, Finished 1/19/11
  2. The Yiddish Policemen's Union, Michael Chabon, Started 1/19/11, Finished 1/26/11
  3. Paladin of Souls, Lois McMaster Bujold, Started 2/16/11, Finished 3/3/11
  4. American Gods, Neil Gaiman, Started 3/9/11, Finished 3/13/11
  5. Forever Peace, Joe Haldeman, Started 4/22/11, Finished 4/29/11
  6. Doomsday Book, Connie Willis, Started 5/14/11, Finished 6/11/11
  7. Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card, Started 6/15/11, Finished 6/18/11
  8. Speaker For the Dead, Orson Scott Card, Started 6/18/11, Finished 6/24/11
  9. Neuromancer, William Gibson, Started 6/28/11, Finished 7/5/11
  10. Startide Rising, David Brin, Started 7/17/11
  11. The Fountains of Paradise, Arthur C. Clarke
  12. Dreamsnake, Vonda N. McIntyre
  13. Gateway, Frederick Pohl
  14. The Forever War, Joe Haldeman, Started 4/2/11, Finished 4/6/11
  15. The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia, Ursula K. Le Guin
  16. Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke
  17. The Gods Themselves, Isaac Asimov
  18. Ringworld, Larry Niven
  19. The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
  20. Dune, Frank Herbert
  21. Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood, Started 1/3/11, Finished 1/6/11
  22. In Fifty Years We'll All Be Chicks, Adam Carolla
  23. Where the Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls
  24. A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'Engle
  25. The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka, Started 1/16/11, Finished 1/28/11
  26. The Meowmorphosis, Franz Kafka and Cook Cooleridge
  27. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Zombie Jim, Mark Twain and W. Bill Czolgosz
  28. The Rookie, Scott Sigler, Started 6/25/11, Finished 6/27/11
  29. Ancestor, Scott Sigler, Started 1/28/11, Finished 1/21/11
  30. City of the Dead, Brian Keene
  31. The Curse of Chalion, Lois McMaster Bujold, Started 1/29/11, Finished 2/13/11
  32. The Living Dead 2, J.L. Bourne (Various Authors)
  33. The King of Plagues, Jonathan Maberry, Started 3/28/11, 4/2/11
  34. Dust and Decay, Jonathan Maberry
  35. The Night Eternal, Chuck Hogan and Guillermo Del Toro
  36. The Power of Six, Pittacus Lore
  37. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Jane Austen and Seth Graham Smith, Started 1/6/11, Finished 1/14/11
  38. Maus, Art Spiegelman, Started 1/26/11, Finished 1/27/11
  39. The Hangman's Daughter, Oliver Potzsch, Started 1/31/11, Finished 2/6/11
  40. Darkly Dreaming Dexter, Jeff Lindsay, Started 2/8/11, Finished 2/16/11
  41. Zombielicious, Timothy McGivney, Started 2/21/11, Finished 2/23/11
  42. You Might be a Zombie And Other Bad News, Cracked.Com, Started 2/28/11, Finished 3/5/11
  43. The Year of the Flood, Margaret Atwood, Started 3/4/11, Finished 3/9/11
  44. 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth, The Oatmeal, Started 3/9/11, Finished 3/13/11
  45. Ship Breaker, Paolo Bacigalupi, Started 3/13/11, Finished 3/16/11
  46. Breaking News: An Autozombiography, N.J. Hallard, Started 3/14/11
  47. Catalyst, Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, Started 3/18/11, Finished 3/28/11
  48. The Fiche Room, Suzie Carr, Started 3/19/11, Finished 3/25/11
  49. Dearly Devoted Dexter, Jeff Lindsay, Started 4/6/11, Finished 4/9/11
  50. Death Note, Tsugumi Ohba, Started 3/14/11, Finished 4/12/11
  51. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, David Sedaris, Started 4/5/11, Finished 4/5/11
  52. The Zombie Autopsies, Steven C. Schlozman, Started 4/11/11, Finished 4/13/11
  53. Dead Spell, Belinda Frisch, Started 4/14/11, Finished 4/21/11
  54. What You See In The Dark, Manuel Munoz, Started 5/1/11, Finished 5/14/11
  55. Bossypants, Tina Fey, Started 5/6/11, Finished 5/8/11
  56. Blood is Red, Scott Sigler, Started 5/8/11, Finished 5/8/11
  57. Coraline, Neil Gaiman, Started 5/14/11, Finished 5/31/11
  58. Pump Six, Paolo Bacigalupi, Started 5/31/11, Finished 6/5/11
  59. Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro, Started 6/12/11, Finished 6/15/11
  60. Sundiver, David Brin, Started 7/6/11, Finished 7/16/11