Archive for food
Adam Richman, the moon-faced foodie from The Travel Channel, has been setting out across America to find the country’s best sandwich.
There are 12 finalists in “Adam Richman’s Best Sandwich in America,” which airs on TTC Wednesdays at 9:00pm.
Detroit is represented, as the Yardbird sandwich from Slows BBQ is among the final 12.
In today’s Freep, food writer Sylvia Rector writes that Slows chef Brian Perrone tosses smoked, pulled chicken with sauteed mushrooms and then adds cheddar, applewood bacon and a special sweet-and-tangy mustard sauce.
Sounds scrumptious, as do these sandwiches in Rector’s story. But they all have one thing in common: a strong hint of hoity-toity-ness.
Nowhere in Richman’s series or in Rector’s story, which tells of the Freep’s 2008 attempt to find the Best Sandwich in Metro Detroit, will you see a true American classic.
Give me a good ole BLT (or two) and you can have all your fancy-shmancy sammies.
Is there anything better, really, than freshly fried, crisp bacon layered with ripened tomatoes and crispy (not wilted) lettuce, lightly slathered with mayonnaise and sitting between two slices of toasted bread?
The only thing not good about a BLT is the price of the B.
Honestly, as much as I love bacon, I don’t know why anyone would purchase it if it’s not on special.
I can’t see spending upwards of $5 on a pound of Oscar Meyer or other “name brand” bacon.
We wait till those glorious two-for-$5 specials appear at our local market. Then we snatch up a couple of pounds and go to town.
And watch out for those pseudo specials, where the markets offer 2 12-oz. packages for $5. That’s really only a pound-and-a-half for five bucks, which is tantamount to about $3.33 per pound.
I sometimes make and eat a BLOT, which is simply a BLT with slices of onion.
Crisp is the operative word, however, when talking BLT. Everything that has to do with the sandwich, save the tomato, ought to be crisp; the bacon can’t be gummy, the lettuce can’t be wilted and the toast can’t be soggy. Or else, the sandwich loses much of its appeal.
And oh, what an appeal it has.
Gathering the family around the kitchen table for a bunch of “serve yourself” BLTs is a great answer to the nightly question, “What’s for dinner?”
If you have the patience to baby the bacon during cooking, then you’ve survived half the BLT battle. A proper crisping of two pounds of bacon in a frying pan can take upwards of 30-45 minutes; anything less will result in under cooked, gummy bacon, which is like a tough, overcooked filet mignon in terms of kitchen nightmares.
The tomatoes ought to be ripe and juicy—not orange and hard, like the ones found on a cheap diner’s tossed salad in winter time.
The mayonnaise must be present but not overly so. It’s the goofy uncle of the sandwich, and we all know how obnoxious and insufferable a goofy uncle can be.
The lettuce should be Romaine, if possible, and freshly bought. It has to be able to withstand the bacon’s warmth and the tomato’s juiciness. Wilted, old lettuce can torpedo a BLT’s flavor and feel slimey in your mouth.
The bread ought to be white—not Italian, French or (gasp!) anything Pita. I might get some static here, but I maintain that a traditional BLT tastes best on sliced white bread, lightly toasted.
Cut that sucker in half, diagonally, and you’ll have your own Sandwich of the Year.
This BLT isn’t stacked exactly as I would do it, but it looks tasty
As for how to layer it, that’s up to you. I place the bacon on first, then the lettuce, then the tomato. If it’s a BLOT, the onion goes on between the lettuce and the tomato. Only the top slice of toast gets swiped with mayonnaise. But that’s just me.
One more thing: I like to not put my BLT down once I start eating it. They tend to fall apart if properly stacked. So grasp the sandwich with both hands and then after biting into it, gently release one hand while keeping the other on the sammy, to guard against self-destruction.
It’s an American classic, I tell you, and it’s not just for lunch. BLTs with a soup of choice make a proper dinner.
Make sure you have a bag of fresh potato chips ready to complete your plate. Something pickled works nice, too, as a relish.
If you like the sophisticated sandwiches that Richman is hopping, skipping and jumping to try, or the ones Rector judged in the Free Press, God bless you.
Just give me a BLT, made the way described above, and I won’t be missing out on a thing.
I might be more thirsty than you, but it’s a small price to pay.
The question goes like this: “What would YOU do for a Klondike bar?”
I’m not sure what I would do, exactly, but I’d do some things.
I’d do some things, because there is something wonderfully simple yet with largesse about a Klondike bar.
You know what a Klondike bar is, right? It’s that block of vanilla ice cream generously covered in chocolate, wrapped by hand, it seems, in foil.
When eaten immediately out of the freezer, before it gets a chance to get remotely soft, is the best way to eat a Klondike.
They have different flavors, but I think I like the old fashioned vanilla the best.
They come in packages of six and I start to get sad as early as when the third one gets lifted from the freezer, for that means it won’t be long before we’re out of Klondikes.
Mrs. Eno doesn’t buy Klondikes every week, and that’s a good thing, because absence makes the stomach grow fonder.
Klondikes wouldn’t make me nearly as happy if they were constantly in the freezer, as counterintuitive as that sounds.
There’s a ceetain degree of excitement that I get when I see that a package of Klondikes has made its way into one of the grocery bags that come home.
I know this sounds like a paid advertisement (I wish!), but there really is no generic version of a Klondike, so there you have it—I have to use the name.
So why am I glorifying the Klondike today?
There are two left in our freezer, and I noticed them again today. It got me to thinking about the aforementioned jingle, which in my mind is one of the best advertising campaigns ever created.
The question is apt.
“What WOULD you do for a Klondike bar?”
Because they’re just so gosh darn good.
Ask yourself the question, if you enjoy a Klondike as much as I do (which is doubtful, but even if you’re close, that’s OK).
What would you do for one?
If a Klondike bar was just out of your reach, and the person who could retrieve it for you asked you to perform some sort of a task in order to get it, what would your limitations be?
It’s a question meant to be taken seriously, now!
You can eat a Klondike with your fingers and you don’t have to rush. A firmly frozen brick will last a good five minutes before getting too soft—or before it disappears, whichever comes first.
My Klondikes never get soft.
So what would I do for a Klondike bar?
Just try holding one out of my reach if you want to find out. I dare you.
Burger King knows America all too well.
When in doubt, offer us bacon.
Despite all the saber rattling about eating healthier in this country, the struggling hamburger chain is turning to bacon—fat, salty, calorie-filled bacon—to attract customers this summer.
But here’s the best part: the bacon is being sprinkled and laid on…an ice cream sundae.
You heard me.
The salty-sweet dessert clocks in at 510 calories, 18 grams of fat and 61 grams of sugar.
So what does a bacon sundae consist of? Vanilla soft serve with fudge, caramel, bacon crumbles and a piece of bacon.
It was the comedian Jim Gaffigan who said that “EVERYTHING tastes better with bacon. Foods wrap themselves with bacon in order to taste better.”
But this is a little ridiculous, don’t you think?
No. 2 BK has been scuffling, trying to keep up with No. 1 McDonald’s for quite some time. Burger King’s menu items just haven’t landed as well as they would have liked.
So now they turn to bacon, that old standby.
Early returns, in my highly unscientific poll, aren’t encouraging.
My polling sample consisted of my wife, daughter, and a co-worker.
The responses I got ranged from “That sounds awful” to “That sounds disgusting.”
Yes, that’s a strip of bacon sticking out from that sundae
The new item has already begun to be offered, in Nashville, TN—which should come as little surprise. If anyone likes their fat, it’s the Southerners. The rest of the country will be rolled out starting on Thursday.
The bacon sundae is part of a slew of limited time items which include several pork, beef and chicken sandwiches.
BK has changed its tag line to “Taste is King,” a departure from “Have it Your Way.”
Makes sense. I can’t imagine that a bacon sundae is having it anyone’s way.
But this is the country that has introduced such items as fried dough (Elephant Ears), corn dogs, hush puppies and chicken fried steak to the world.
Who knows? Maybe bacon sundaes will take off.
I mean, it’s a breakfast AND a dessert. If we can’t be healthy, at least we can be efficient.
Towne Club pop isn’t dead. Those rumors are greatly exaggerated.
Well, maybe not greatly exaggerated; it’s not exactly on every shelf around town.
Or should I have spelled it, towne?
But Towne Club, that distinctly Detroit soft drink, can still be accessed.
Our daughter spotted some at Produce Palace, on Dequindre in Warren.
The bottles aren’t the same, bullet thin sized as before. They’re 16 oz. now. But it’s still Towne Club.
If you’re under 30 years of age, you might want to click away. For Towne Club was a staple in the late-1960s, early-to-mid-1970s.
It worked like this.
You bought the pop, in its multitude of varieties, by the case. You could mix and match. The main bottling and distribution center was located on Ryan Road near 1o Mile, if memory serves.
The cases would be purchased and there was a deposit on the case itself—which at the time was a HEAVY wooden thing.
Then you’d bring the empty bottles and the case back, and repeat the process all over again.
Sometime in the 1980s, Towne Club seemed to vanish. Certainly the center on Ryan Road closed. I’ve not done the research, so there may have been a reason. Regardless, Towne Club pop kind of fell off the radar for quite some time.
Over the past decade, I’ve seen Towne Club pop up (no pun intended) at select specialty stores; certainly not in any “mainstream” markets like Kroger, Meijer’s, etc.
The “new” Towne Club bottle: not as thin as the original
The pop itself wasn’t, to me, award-winning, but the varieties were plenty and that was more than you could say about so many of the other soft drinks on the market.
I think what made Towne Club an allure was the process. The whole notion of getting into the car, empty bottles in their cases in tow, and driving to the center to pick out new varieties and bring them back home.
I was a little disappointed when I saw the “new” Towne Club bottle, I must confess. It seems so….fat!
The old bottles could have been fit inside a paper towel roll.
Towne Club pop, I guess, wasn’t just a beverage, to so many of us.
It was an experience.
And one that you can still partake in, I’m happy to report.
Fifty cents to add sweetener to iced tea. Thirty cents for extra sauce on a Big Mac.
We aren’t being “nickeled and dimed” anymore; we’re being quartered—and drawn.
The two examples above happened to my family recently. Our daughter wanted a sweetened iced tea at Starbucks and it cost us four bits. A couple days later my wife asked for some extra “special” sauce at Mickey D’s on her Big Mac and the tab was three dimes.
The markup on some sweetener for a 12-oz. glass of iced tea, at 50 cents per, must be a gazillion percent. Same with 30 cents for another splat of sauce on a hamburger.
Again, these are only two examples. Lord knows how many more there are, of food and drink establishments gouging us for “extras.”
It’s a lose/lose proposition, in my book. The asking price should be negligible, like a nickel. But then, when you ask for a nickel for something, you look petty (probably because you are).
How many people ask for extra sauce on their Big Mac? I don’t expect you to know that number, and I certainly don’t. Yes, McDonald’s is a HUGE enterprise, and if you added together all the people who asked for extra sauce in any given day, I’m sure the amount would stagger me.
But how much does an extra splat of sauce, truly, cost McDonald’s?
It HAS to be calculated in pennies, or even in fractions of pennies.
I know—even fractions of pennies, times the amount of people, could be a lot.
It’s more of a PR thing.
Thirty cents for extra sauce on a Big Mac just seems too expensive. It seems like gouging. Same with 50 cents for some sweetener.
Despite the possible pettiness, I say drop the sauce price to a dime. I’ll bet fewer would be disdainful of the pettiness of asking for a dime than they would for the gouginess of 30 cents.
How about you? If you’ve come across ridiculous fees and charges for trivial requests, let me know, either by e-mail or by commenting below.
I wanna hear your two cents’ worth. Unless that’s up to a quarter now, too.
I wonder how Ina Garten is going to explain this one when she arrives to gain entry past the Pearly Gates.
Garten, the syrupy-sweet, giggling “Barefoot Contessa” on the Food Network, has surpassed a line that you cross at your own risk.
When it comes to kids and animals, one must tread very lightly.
When it comes to kids dying of cancer, it’s no time to trot out traditional acts of avoidance.
An “I’m really busy here, ask me later” doesn’t get it this time.
Garten has been ducking the advances of six-year-old Enzo, who’s suffering from Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, something which will almost certainly kill him, sooner rather than later.
Enzo, through the terrific Make-a-Wish Foundation, has not once but twice requested that he be able to cook a meal with Garten.
Seems that Enzo became infatuated with Garten and her show while he watched TV with his mother, who tuned into “Barefoot Contessa” regularly.
I’ll let TMZ.com pick up the story from here.
M.A.W. approached Garten with the wish last year … but at the time, she was unable to meet with Enzo due to a book tour. The organization urged Enzo to pick another wish, but he told them he wanted to wait until she becomes available.
We’re told the organization went back to Ina this year … but her team responded with a “definite no” … once again, citing scheduling conflicts.
Not just a “no,” but a “definite no.”
Garten’s people keep citing scheduling conflicts, and they say that she “can’t honor every request.”
Umm, how many requests is she getting from six-year-olds with a terminal disease?
After reading Enzo’s story, I couldn’t help but think of New York Jets QB Mark Sanchez, who was so touched by a young fan’s adoration of him—that kid has cancer, too—that, without being nagged, Sanchez all but adopted the boy. Sanchez flew him to a Jets practice, had him meet all the players, get autographs, and let the kid sit at Sanchez’s locker, just taking it all in.
The smile on the boy’s face went from Maine to California.
Not only that, Sanchez routinely called the boy, sometimes right after games, wondering what the youngster thought of the game. Sanchez would call at other times, too, just to chat.
Sadly, the boy who adored Sanchez passed away earlier this year.
Sanchez, it was reported, took the death pretty hard.
So Garten’s boorish behavior does have its inverse, thankfully.
I can appreciate the need for a celebrity to prioritize requests, though I’m not sure Garten is getting all that many, but there you go.
But at what point do you put someone at the front of the line? Doesn’t that ever occur to the “people” who are charged with the task of managing their boss’s agenda?
And why didn’t Garten herself overrule her minions and say, “Whoa—we need to address Enzo’s request?”
The cruel irony is that Garten’s people keep citing not enough time as their reasoning for rebuffing Enzo’s advances, yet if anyone is running short on time, it’s the six-year-old with cancer!
According to TMZ, a member of Enzo’s family says the 6-year-old is heartbroken … and asked parents, “Why doesn’t (Garten) want to meet me?”
The horrible Garten (left) and six-year-old cancer patient Enzo
The MAW Foundation says that Enzo has finally changed his request to swimming with dolphins, which the Foundation is working on as we speak.
I don’t know if Garten and her staff figured that this shameful denial of Enzo’s innocent request would never see the light of day. Nothing doesn’t see the light of day anymore, it seems, which is good and bad.
In this case, it’s very good.
It’s good that this came to light, because the more people who realize that Ina Garten is a fraud, the better.
According to one of Garten’s reps, “Despite her demanding schedule, [Ina] participates and helps as many organizations as she can throughout the year, helping children and adults like Enzo with life threatening and compromising illnesses. ”
Actions speak louder than words, lady.
Thankfully, there are athletes/celebrities like Mark Sanchez, and like actor Johnny Depp, who is famous for his eagerness to engage fans and surprise them with acts of kindness.
Then, of course, there are those like Ina Garten, who has smiled, winked and giggled her way to a fortune making hoity-toity French food on The Food Network.
Now we know that behind that smile and hidden behind those irritating giggles is a person whose heart is as cold as dry ice.
Oh, to be a fly on the wall when Ms. Garten is called out on this one by the man upstairs.
You’ve got to hand it to Taco Bell. They keep pumping out new menu items using the same five ingredients.
They’re thinking “outside the bun” all the time, they are.
First, this isn’t an anti-Taco Bell rant. Quite the contrary; I find T-Bell to be the best “bang for your buck” among the fast food competitors. I like all the menu items whose costs are measured in cents, not dollars. I like that you can take as many sauce packets as you want, sans rationing.
And it truly is “fast”—much more so than the burger joints.
Taco Bell does more with five ingredients than some places do with twice that many.
The folks at T-Bell have been saddled with tortillas, beans, beef or chicken, tomatoes and onions for decades, yet they keep coming up with new menu items including just those ingredients, with few exceptions.
Everything is self-wrapped in its own casing, for the most part, except for the tacos, which are the roofless convertibles to the rest of the menu’s sedans.
I’m not going to bother to list the plethora of items that the Head of Cooks has come up with over the years, but they are amazing in their diversity, considering they all contain the same stuff, for the most part.
Yet another Taco Bell menu item utilizing the usual suspects
But that’s how Mexican food is, similar to Italian cuisine, which is mostly pasta, cheese, and sauce.
Did you laugh scornfully when I called Taco Bell, Mexican food?
Well, what ELSE would you call it?
I know the menu items at your local T-Bell aren’t exactly what a Mexican mother from south of the border would serve her family, so I’ll compromise and call it Mexican-American food. Or, more accurately, Meximerican.
Call it whatever you like, you can’t deny that Taco Bell gets awfully creative with the same five things.
They have a new item now, one that imports Frito’s corn chips into its makeup. But the rest of it is still a flour tortilla and the usual suspects inside.
McDonald’s, Burger King and the rest are constantly falling all over themselves trying to put together an eclectic menu, one that dares to be different. They use lots of different ingredients—way more than Taco Bell.
But Taco Bell keeps its menu items on the cheap side, and they keep coming up with new takes on old ingredients.
It’s like one of those word puzzles, where you have to come up with 25 different words using one with five letters.
Taco Bell prides itself on thinking “outside the bun.” I keep waiting for the time when they’ll have to think “outside the tortilla.”
More than 40 years after arriving on the food scene, that time hasn’t come yet. It may never.
I started eating on Thanksgiving Day and I haven’t stopped.
Correction: I did stop—to go to the bathroom, and to breathe—barely.
I remember having a routine physical seven or eight years ago, sometime in mid-November. My doctor said everything was fine, but that I could drop a few pounds.
Sure, who couldn’t stand to lose some weight?
But notice the first sentence, two paragraphs above. The checkup took place in mid-November.
You think I’m losing weight from mid-November through the New Year?
My wife won’t agree with me, but I put partial blame on her. She’s an Italian-Polish woman who can cook circles around you, which means that her dishes aren’t exactly to be confused with anything Lean Cuisine would come out with.
So yeah, I blame her, a little. I mean, she cooks so GOOD.
So we started eating on Thanksgiving Day at our house, like the rest of the country. But we pressed on, long after the leftover hot turkey sandwiches and my traditional turkey soup had been consumed. It seems like we’ve been on a slippery slope into a vat of lard ever since.
Right after the turkey was gone, here came the hectic holiday season, with its shopping and LOTS of ordering takeout.
Takeout was a main option because my wife was either too darn tired to cook, or was inside a mall right around dinner time.
We did it all—subs, chicken, Taco Bell, burgers, Chinese, pizza, you name it. It got to the point that it was literally impossible to say, “You know, I could really go for _________, because we haven’t had it in a while.”
Then it was time for holiday baking—cookies and the like. And, don’t you know, someone had to eat that stuff up, too.
Before you knew it, Christmas Eve was here, and that meant Honeybaked Ham. Christmas dinner was a beef tenderloin (cooked by my mother), and then it was right back to the leftover ham, and its sides: Italian mushrooms cooked in water and oil; green bean casserole; potato salad (my wife makes the best, hands down); yams; and rolls. Dessert was pecan pie and lemon meringue pie.
It was Thanksgiving, Part II.
The ham bone was used to make my wife’s delicious Pasta Fagioli, a vat of which was made, and that I’m still eating, but I don’t care because I love it.
Just when we got rid of the ham, it was time for New Year’s Eve, and that meant a trip to Antonio’s Italian Market at 17 Mile and Ryan for a slew of lunchmeats, cheeses, olives, and breads. Oh, and later that night—shrimp with cocktail sauce, and two spreads for crackers: crab and clam.
Pasta Fagioli, a.k.a Beans and Macaroni
Followed, naturally, by our traditional New Year’s Day feast of homemade lasagna—with cheesecake for dessert.
The lasagna is just about gone. The Pasta Fagioli is still hanging around, stubbornly.
So it’s a new year and I can finally stop eating—or at least come up for air.
And remind me never to schedule a physical in November again. It’s just a waste of doc’s time, and breath.
Is there a more wonderful, more thrilling time to raid a refrigerator than on Thanksgiving night?
Is nothing better than to feel that first tummy grumble, right around 11:00 p.m., and know that in the icebox lies mountains of food to silence those grumblings?
If you hosted Turkey Day, that is.
It’s one reason—hell, the main reason—that my wife enjoys hosting Thanksgiving. You can’t forage for leftovers if you’ve spent the day at relatives’.
But I won’t throw her under the bus. I’m just as guilty of “leftover envy.”
It’s a lot of uncovering, unwrapping, reheating and replating, but what’s better than chowing down on Thanksgiving, Part II as the witching hour approaches?
We only serve five on Thanksgiving, yet we annually purchase a 25-27 pound bird. Because hot turkey sandwiches the day after the holiday, positively rule.
Eat. Rinse. Repeat.
It’s the usual fare as you’ll find in most American homes—turkey; stuffing (my wife’s famous Italian stuffing featuring ground sausage and rice); mashed spuds; green bean casserole; sweet potatoes; Italian mushrooms (cooked for hours in water and oil and mixed with sliced onions); rolls; cranberry sauce (gelled AND whole); jello mold; cherry pie; and pumpkin pies (two of those).
There’s always enough for several meals, which means we chow on that smorgasboard all weekend. Then, to top it off, I make my famous Turkey Frame Soup on Sunday, a family tradition.
You can’t accuse us of not getting the most out of our turkey.
All told, from Thursday through Monday, at least, we’re picking away at the big bird until just about every shred of it is gone.
The real challenge is to clear the downstairs fridge on Wednesday, because it will be bursting at the seams the next day, and throughout the weekend.
I still can’t understand those who would eschew tradition and do fish or a ham on Thanksgiving. I don’t know about you, but we only make one turkey a year in our house. Why substitute?
We always overdo it with the food on Thanksgiving. Sometimes I think we made too much.
When it comes to sizes of things, this country was practically founded on the premise of small, medium, and large.
We have small (Rhode Island), medium (Michigan) and large (Texas) states. We have small (villages), medium (towns), and large (cities) municipalities. We have small (ponds), medium (rivers/lakes), and large (oceans) bodies of water. We even have small (jockeys), medium (baseball players), and large (sumo wrestlers) human beings.
That perfectly efficient way of designating sizes bleeds into our clothes and our foodstuffs.
You just can’t beat small, medium, and large. They’re about as American as it gets.
So who do those coffee people think they are?
I’m cranky with the coffee folks, and not just because they charge $4.79 for a cup of fancy-shmancy joe.
The coffee people, with the delicious exception of Caribou Coffee, insist on ramming very un-American like sizes down our throats—literally.
Tall, grande, and venti is the coffee shop’s small, medium, and large.
In every other joint in this country—from the greasy spoon diner to the five-star restaurant—the beverages are sold using the tried and true S, M, L system.
Some places eschew medium, or small. That’s fine. Having two sizes instead of three is OK by me.
But this tall, grande, and venti stuff is for the birds.
And worse, the word they use for small sounds like it would be the large version—”tall.”
When I hear tall, I don’t think small. Call me crazy!
Yet tall is small in the world of overpriced coffee.
Maybe that’s how they do it in the tony coffee shops in Europe; I don’t know. But this is America and we speak small, medium, and large—in just about everything.
Starbucks is a place I won’t patronize, and it’s not just because of the size name issue.
When this lousy economy began affecting the coffee houses, Starbucks had a golden opportunity to seize the moment and do a couple of things.
For example, they could have temporarily reduced prices or began offering real specials. It would have been a marketer’s dream: make your competition look bad by boldly announcing price breaks until the economy gets back on its feet.
What’s the markup on a cup of brew, anyway?
Oh, shut up and get over yourselves!
Yet Starbucks didn’t do that, of course. Instead, they closed locations and laid off a gazillion workers.
Heaven forbid they knock 75 cents off the price of a “tall” drink.
I mentioned Caribou Coffee, and they won me over a couple months ago. We stopped at their Royal Oak location after a day in downtown Detroit. It was chilly and rainy and a perfect day for a hot beverage.
I tensed as soon as I walked in, because I can never get those damn coffee sizes right and I was sure Caribou used that oddball system of sizing.
Yet there those three magical words were on the menu hanging behind the workers: small, medium, and large.
Caribou Coffee is my new most favorite coffee joint.
I’d have given them the shirt off my back if it wasn’t so cold.
I wear size extra venti, by the way.