Tuesday, February 18, 2014

No More Hot Dogs

Last month I was playing in a bonspeil and our team won a mystery box.  When I asked another player what they thought was in the box I was told "a bag of dicks." Not having much of an idea what that was I promised him that if he was right he'd get the first mushroom stamp with the first fresh dick.

Now the chickens have come home to roost.  With a bag of free hot dogs—used.  Yeah, you know it is time to go down to social services and reapply for SNAP benefits when someone offers you a bunch of used hot dogs and you take them.  The good news is that they also had extra buns.  Or rolls.  I think that is some sort of eastern thing…like Maine or something.

Which brings us to cooking them.  Or re-cooking.  Or, really, re-re-cooking.  Usually I'd boil hot dogs in a shallow pan, but that doesn't seem like a good idea since they've been split.  The microwave is for lazy people, which sounds like me, but doesn't do much for the texture.  So that leaves me with the broiler (too much wasted heat for one hot dog) or throwing the flippity floppity in a pan.  And that really is the best way to get some browning going.

A Hot Dog Sandwich?
There are a lot of questions and cultural implications about hot dogs, but for now I'll only dream of a day with none.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Pie and the Hound

Yeah, I haven't been to Ohio in a few months.  But I still have dreams about Hound Dog's.

Monday, January 20, 2014

It was worth it with a brother like Martin…

Being back in the DC area presents challenges.  These are mostly related to Mexican Food. 

Now, I won't lie to you: I love Mexican Food.  Very much.  I talk about it at parties.  I dream about it.  I'd almost go as far as saying that it is the last thing that I think about before falling asleep at night and the first thing I think of when I wake up in the morning—except that would be going too far.  But I do get excited about it.

I suppose this is mostly because it is rare in Washington, DC.  There is a lot of delicious Salvadorian food.  Lots.  Now, I don't want to say that this or that isn't "Real" Mexican food.  See, I grew up in the Mid-west and my ideal Mexican meal comes from Chicago.  Admitting that doesn't go over well in Arizona.  I like the food in Arizona too—I was told that I could get "real Mexican food" in Arizona, but it was still real (yeah, we have the same problem when we talk about what "real food" is at the farmer's market—but that is another story).  The good news is that lots of Mexican food can be found nearby—once you know where to look.

The first big advance was Route 1.  Up towards Baltimore.

Martin's is just a first step, there will be more in time.

Chicken Pot Pie?

Yeah, one of those.  Not very impressive.  Nothing special—unless David Cross gets involved.

How was it?  Not bad.  The pastry was ok, flakyish in a sort of chemically engineered way.  There were peas and carrots.  And chicken chunks (not a lot, but there were some).  The star was the gravy.  Not because it was good, but because the gravy really tied the pie together.

And for 69¢, well, this could be ok from time to time.  It was pretty filling—a reasonable meal.  As always the concern with frozen foods is sodium and this one has a good amount, but it is 33% of what you should have in a day (according to the box), which isn't too bad.

The real question is if you want to be this guy.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Travel Sandwiches

Yeah, after a couple of days of these the idea of a shitty hamburger and flaccid french fries will sound pretty good.  But for about 15¢ each it isn't so bad.  Or so good.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Nothing good ever came out of Mentor, Ohio.

"First I was born.  Then the trouble begins."

So it isn't that I'm opposed to boutique grilled cheese restaurants.  I'm not.  What I have trouble with is them doing it poorly.

So while in Columbus, Ohio I went to lunch with my Father et al. at a place in the "Short North" called "Melt".  Wow, the Short North continues to change.  Pretty soon it will creep far enough north that it will meet the South Campus mall-like development juggernaut and there won't be any smutty parts of town left—and I can't get behind that.  The atmosphere was really just something that we should have let die in the 90s.

BUT ABOUT THE SANDWICH: Nice attempt, poor execution.  What went wrong?
Well, first there was the name.  "Kindergarden".  Just because it wasn't made with crab cakes or bull semen it is some sort of under developed piece of crap that lacks maturity?  Come on!  I'll tell you what, you have to master the basics before you paint like Francis Bacon.  And there is the problem.

The bread: too thick.  Cooked too quickly, leaving too much moisture in the center so that it totally collapses when you bite into it.  Not only that but the high temperature and nature of the bread lead to an unfortunate pattern of browning—a thin ring at the crust and a spot in the center with the space in between left underdone.  So for the most part there wasn't a good bite to the sandwich.  It just squishes. See, a good grilled cheese should have a slight snap when you bite into it—sort of like a fine hot dog, but less so—a quality entirely absent.

The cheese: Fine.  A bit too much.  It was a mixture of provolone and cheddar.  But where there is too much bread you'll usually find too much cheese.

Over all I just think we lacked refinement.  I think someone needs to spend a few months alone in a cabin in the woods with a loaf of white bread, bunch of "cheese" singles, and a fucking hot plate.  I know, it isn't exactly fine dining, but stripping down you it will teach you how to handle your materials in a more meaningful way.

I'm sure you'll hear more about my grilled cheese journey here.  For now I'll leave you with this thought:
Not perfect, but fair for 35¢.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Fly Free, Giant Eagle

Shocking.  I'm eating more doughnuts.  
Of course I'm eating more doughnuts.  Good ones for sure.

This time they are from Giant Eagle, a Pittsburgh based grocery store.  Not to be confused with Giant Eagle Market District—their upmarket version.  These came from the regular Giant Eagle at Bethel and Sawmill in Columbus, Ohio.

See, they do very similar doughnuts.  But Market District tries to make their version more, well, upmarket.  The result is, well, upmarket and a bit cloying.  I think I even ended up with a custard filling once.  I don't think there is anything wrong with a custard filled Long John, but it is a real shock to the system to bite into something and get gush of custard if you have no warning.

Now, these doughnuts—these doughnuts—are pretty good doughnuts.  Why?  Well, I'll tell you:

The Pastry:  
1. The Skin: When you bite into there is little resistance caused by the skin—a doughnut shouldn't have a crust and the skin should be barely noticeable.  Staleness is going to happen, but overcooked doughnuts have an unnecessarily thick and crunch skin.  That might be nice for a fritter, but not so much here.  B+, a little too much bite, but only a little.
2a. Interior Texture: Tight, but not too tight.  Ok, here I think for a glazed ring you want a more open crumb (something on the baguette end of things), but for something filled you need a medium crumb.  A crumb that is too dense will create dense nodules when displaced by filling—too light and it isn't satisfying.  A-, good, supportive texture, nice chew.
2b. Interior Moisture: The crumb is moist—almost but not quite custardy on its own.  Not wet, that would be terrible.  But a dry crumb makes for an unpleasant doughnut.  A, just about right.

Frosting: Dark, not too sweet.  Not too much.  A-, it could have even more bitterness for my taste, but I am likely a bit extreme in my taste.  

Filling: Somewhere between soft peaks and stiff peaks.  You know, medium peaks—ones that stay peaked, but sag under its own weight when you take a bite and it splooges out the other end.  Sweet, a little vanilla (not overpowering, but necessary to balance the chocolate).  Shouldn't be oily or wet feeling.  A.

The only sad thing is that I don't have more of them.

Young Lovers