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The Great Smoked Brisket Experiment!

I Did Not Make This… But I Wish I Had~!

My culinary endeavors have been slacking as of late. Outside of devising a decent recipe for Garlic-Cheddar Biscuits, I haven’t really expanded my repertoire. The one thing I’ve always wanted to try, but never thought I had the skill for, was cooking Smoked Barbeque meat. I know when one makes a first go of it they should start small and work their way up the more experience they get. An example would be say chicken thighs or even a game hen or two. I’ve never been one to start small. I decided to just get the big hunk of meat out of the way first, so I started with a brisket. Now brisket is probably the trickiest cuts of meat to try for any amateur smoker/griller but I was tired of watching Travel Channel and seeing Anthony Bourdain get off gastronomically every time he visits a a BBQ joint1.

So this article is dedicated to “The First Attempt” at smoking a brisket. It goes without saying that if the “First Attempt” would fail, the odds of their being a second attempt would be slim. To prepare for this endeavor I turned to that vast repository of free knowledge on all subjects, The Internet. I read as much as I could on what the best way to prepare a brisket for smoking was. There were many articles that contradicted one another on minute details and others that were less than specific about proper procedure. Luckily, for me, I am a long-time poster on The Death Valley Driver Video Review Message Board, a resource of knowledge on a wide range of subjects. What started as a message board for wrestling fans morphed into something so much grander and fun. In this case the DVDVRMB provided me with an incredible guide to smoking meats2. So let’s get to the listing of said equipment, followed by the methods I used to make this brisket my bitch.

1 Basic Shallow BBQ Grill bought at Kroger’s for $5. High quality it is not.

Our Crap-Ass $5 Grill, Thank You Kroger~!

1 Cup Brown Sugar

½ tbsp of Paprika

½ tbsp of Garlic Salt

½ tbsp Ground Black Pepper

1 Pair Long Handled Grilling Tongs

1 Roll of Aluminum Foil

1 Bottle of Yellow Mustard

10/13/2012

The Victim Before Sacrifice

10:30PM – The brisket was purchased the day before and has been resting in the refrigerator since then. I start by taking my bottle of mustard and spraying it liberally on the meat (i.e. non-fat side) of the brisket. I massage the mustard all over the meat and even on the fatty side. I then proceed to do the same thing with my seasonings. I do this for around 5 minutes, making sure the brisket is thoroughly covered in the rub. It is then wrapped in foil and returned to the refrigerator overnight.

10/14/2012

7:30AM – I wake up after a fitful sleep. I was plagued with bad dreams and wake up groggy and not in the best of moods. I determine that waking up now would be a tragic idea and opt for 30 more minutes of bed.

8AM – I wake up again, feeling only slightly better. I trudge to the bathroom and get my morning routine out of the way3. I had recruited my roommate Lindy4 to give me a hand since I actually suck at lighting fires and we needed to get our coals going posthaste. Now this was not the ideal day for any type of outdoor cooking, as it had rained the night before and it was very windy. We were concerned about more rain and since our back porch doesn’t have an overhang or canopy we moved he grill to the front porch. It took us quite a while to get the fire going once the grill was moved but once we did it was game on.

9:30AM – Our coals were now burning embers so it was time to add our wood fuel. I had decided to go with Hickory woodchips that Lindy had helped to acquire at Lowes. I had soaked the chips in Apple Cider for a half hour before draining them and then sealing them in a foil pouch. The pouch was thrown in to the burning embers. I had taken the brisket out of the fridge at around 8:45AM so it could get to room temperature and then placed the meat on the rack, fat side up5, over the heat and smoke and shut the lid on our shitty little grill. We leave the top vent on the grill slightly cracked so the smoke can vent out. The plan was to add more coals and wood once every 90 minutes.

11AM – Lindy and I check the meat. The smoke had slowly died out over the time so we hadded more lit coals to replenish our fire and smoke. I keep the old woodsmoke in there for the time being. Once the fire calmed again and we go a good smoke going the grill was re-sealed for another 90 minutes.

12:30PM – More coals, to replenish our fire and smoke, are added. I also swap out the old foil pouch of cider soaked chips for a new one that I had prepared. The first pouch had reached critical mass i.e. some of the wood had burned out and the packet was smoking black. Lindy and I agreed that from this point forward we’d change the foil pack once every hour to ninety minutes.

1:30PM – The smoke is out, which means out fire died. We add fresh new coals and even mix in some wood chips right on the fire. I also add a small pan of apple cider to further flavor the meat6. Lindy I confer and agree that we will now check on the fire/smoke every hour instead of every hour and half to make sure everything doesn’t go out. This is made more complicated because the wind is really picking up.

3PM – The smoke is going. We add the last of our coals and one last foil pack of cider soaked chips. The Brisket looked beautiful as the smoke and seasonings have given it an amazing caramel apple red color. The entire front porch and front room of the house had this incredible sweet smoky smell.

4:30PM -The Brisket looks incredible, the smoke is getting weaker. The first of our guests for the upcoming dinner arrives. It’s my buddy Zac, one of oldest pals and a man who likes a good brisket. He sits on the front porch with me as Lindy and I agree to let the brisket keep smoking until the smoke stops coming through the vent.

5:30PM – The smoke has stopped. We remove the lid on our ghetto smoker and Zac, Lindy and I ooo and aaah at the gorgeous hunk of meat. Lindy’s husband Paul had woken up around 4ish and the smell of the brisket was driving him crazy. Lindy grabs me a serving latter to move the brisket to and carry it through the house, specifically so Paul can see the meat. His mouth waters as I tell him he has to wait. Our second guest for the evening arrives, the lovely Nicole. The lovely Nicole, the ideal woman to eat brisket and drink beer with. The plan is to let the Brisket rest for 20 minutes so any excess juice and fat can settle.

5:45PM – Dinner is served and when dinner is served our buddy Mike tends to show up7. While the meat was resting, I cut off small bits of teh ends and gave everyone a taste and not a bad reaction was to be had. We all had a good dinner of Brisket and French Fries. After about 2 hours Nicole had to leave to go see her Mother but luckily our good friends Brenda and Eric showed up and took part in our repast and we reveled in each others company

The end result was a house full of happy, well-fed people. Everyone enjoyed the hell out of the Brisket. I personally felt it came out a little too rare for my liking but my roommates and friends were all happy so what more could I ask for?

So the “First Attempt” was a success. This only means more “Attempts” in the future. I’m already thinking whole chickens smoked with the seasonings for wedding chicken could be amazing, or maybe just bust out a good old pork butt for smoking and chopped BBQ pork sandwiches. Hell after this, there is nothing I won’t want to smoke and eat!

My Tasty, Tasty Finished Smoked Brisket~!

1Don’t construe that to mean that I m not a fan or do not have deep respect for Anthony Bourdain. He is, by far, my favorite culinary TV personality. He is honest and blunt and I, like so many others, wish I had his job.

2Mr. Mike Naimark gets a huge “Thank You” from me. His multi-page thread on BBQ/Smoking was the guideline I relied on and while I didn’t follow his instructions step by step exactly, I got a very acceptable outcome and also know what NOT to do next time.

3The standard 3 things that begin with the letter “S”.

4Lindy is married to one of my best friends, Paul. Together they form Th Flying Malotkes.

5His is done so the meat doesn’t try out. As the fat renders from the heat and smoke, it drips down over the meat that is exposed to the flame, thus keeping he meat moist even while it chars.

6My thinking was that the Apple Cider steamed off would mingle with the flavor of the smoke, giving a nicer, sweet flavor.

7In all fairness, the same thing happens when NFL games are played. So since this was a Sunday, he was due to appear.

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On Food: I Crave Kimchi!

So Much Pain, But Soooooo Worth It~!

I was lying in bed reading and suddenly started thinking about Kimchi. It wasn’t like I was watching some Korean Drama or some news item about North or South Korea. It had nothing to do with what I was reading at the time. It was just in my head out of the blue, “Damn it has been forever since I’ve had kimchi”. I started running through just how long has it been since I last tasted it. For those not in the know, Kimchi is a delicious Korean dish of pickled and seasoned cabbage. That is the overly simple definition of it. Really, there is so much more to it than that. The process of preparing it is one of those things you hear about on travel shows or through friends who have traveled abroad. Cabbage, pickled, seasoned with soy, fish oil and other things I couldn’t begin to name, peppered and then buried in a clay pot in the earth for several months1. When it comes out it is pungent, powerful and so damn tasty. I utterly adore kimchi yet I haven’t had a good “Kimchi Bowl” in like 10 years.

This random thought of how long it has been since I had kimchi led to my mind wandering further away from what I was reading. It wandered to the memory of the first time I had kimchi. It wasn’t in a restaurant, it was, in of all places, boarding school. My first year of boarding school in fact. The thing about being sent away for my education was that every now and again, for those of us that lived close enough to school, we were allowed to go home for a weekend. This meant not only did you get to go home and enjoy those things that made you miss home in the first place but you also got to bring things back with you, like a conquering hero with the spoils of war. These spoils were usually food. Hell, on more than one occasion I brought back a box of chicken wings from my favorite deli and kept them in my Dorm Parent’s fridge along with a 12 pack of Coke2.

There was one weekend when one of the Korean boys in my dorm came back to school with kimchi his mother had sent back with him. Everyone in the dorm knew what it was the moment he unsealed the jar. Well everyone but me. I had never smelled such a thing before and even worse, I was actually at the other end of the dorm. The kimchi smelled sour and potent the closer I got to the room he was in. When I finally got to his room he was sitting there, eating a steaming bowl of stewed kimchi. I asked his roommate what the hell that was and told me the name of the dish and even explained how it was made. He encouraged me to try it, as the Korean boy’s mother made excellent kimchi, so I was assured3. I was reluctant at first but was egged on by both boys to give it a try. I was given a hunk of kimchi in a plastic bowl, cold kimchi fresh from the jar no less. I speared it with a fork and nervously bit into it. The kimchi burned my lips from the all the pepper. I had never had anything that hot in my life, especially something that hot that had been served cold. It was sour and hot. It was the first time I had any kind of food where the heat from a pepper actually overpowered the actual flavor of the spice it came from. Does that make sense?

It was the first time I had ever tried a food that actually gave me immediate pain and that was just on my lips. For what seemed like an eternity my lips and mouth were on fire. The odd part though was that my tongue wasn’t. The taste of the sour fermented cabbage clung to my taste buds. It was powerful, briny flavor and I actually liked it. It took me the rest of the night to get through my chunk of kimchi, as I nibbled on it the rest of the evening through study hall. Slowly my mouth adapted to the heat of the peppers and I was able to get their actual flavor. The more I ate, the more my mouth was able to process the flavors in my mouth and allow me to enjoy all the elements as one flavorful experience. It wasn’t my last experience that yer with kimchi, it became the thing I put in my ramen most often if my new found friend was willing to part with some his precious supply. It turns out I wasn’t the only guy that found himself with a kimchi addiction. The problem was, the pungent odor stunk up the whole damn dorm so bad that our head Dorm Parent put the kibosh on our kimchi soaked dreams, banning the stuff outright. It was even worse the next year as my Korean friend had left for a different school and the other Korean kids were not nearly as generous with their stocks of kimchi.

The last time I can clearly remember having kimchi was in 1999. I was in New York City in the part of Queens known as “Koreatown”. I was there to just skim through the local markets, see what bootleg movies I could find and grab a quick bite before heading to Manhatan to crash at friend’s place for the night4. The memory of where the place was is hazy, I can’t remember if I got the kimchi bowl with fish and prawns from a street vendor or a food court. I just remember sitting, eating and thinking that it had been too long since I had a bowl of kimchi. It was hot and spicy, the way I remembered it. It was a meal I was unable to rush through due to just how hot and spicy it was. The heat of the pepper permeated the fish and prawns, though the natural sweetness of both gave almost a balance to the rest of the meal. It was steaming hot and it had cost me like $6 with a hot cup of tea. The rest of the night my mouth was on fire but I savored it. It was flavor and heat I had missed since boarding school.

So here I am today, trying to get through that damned book and just randomly, I think of kimchi again. There have been many times I’ve had the chance to eat kimchi, but those times always seem to be at local Chinese buffets and honestly, I’m not trusting a Chinese buffet’s kimchi5, that’s just way to much of a gastronomical roll of he dice, especially since most Chinese buffet’s are questionable to begin with. But my mind still remembers that first cold, briny, peppered hunk of cabbage and how I nibbled on it all night long. I need to find some good kimchi in Toledo, Ohio. Let’s see if there is any out there that can get me excited!

1 One Korean friend of mine said his Mother had 3 year old kimchi, the prospect of which sounds like it would melt my stomach.

2 “Dorm Parents” are basically teachers that lived on Campus in the Dorms to prevent any Lord of the Flies type shit from going down.

3 And if you can’t trust a Korean kid’s white boy roommate, I ask you: Who can you trust?

4 All so we could spend 4 hours on a bus to Philadelphia to watch an ECW show and potentially die from heat exhaustion in the air condition-less ECW Arena.

5 Don’t even get me started on how it seems everyone in Ohio thinks the natural environment for Chinese food is a buffet. There is a severe lack of proper sit-down communal family style Chinese restaurants in Toledo. It makes this Chinese food loving New York Jew weep!

Until Next Time… 맛있게 드세요!

So I Can Sorta Kinda Bake S*** or Screw You Ichijo-San!

I Can Totally Make This Shit!

I like to cook, this we know. Lately though I’ve been taking the more scientific route of the culinary arts more seriously. That is a fancy way to say I’ve been trying my hand at baking. This isn’t to say I’m going to be on Ace of Cakes or anything like that. I’ve just been dabbling with various and sundry recipes as of late. The results have been mixed thus far. I’ve been doing free form cooking for so long that to rely on things like exact measurements is a bit of tedium that I need to adjust to. I’ve severely upgraded my baking abilities. Provided me old baking skills used to be buy a cake or cookie mix, follow instructions and viola Baked Goods!

The baking bug kind of bit back I n2008 when living in a house with my friends Ichi and Jack. The three of us were strapped for cash and all we had in the fridge was cheese, garlic, butter and ground beef. The cabinets were just as bare, save for ramen and one box of Jiffy Baking Mix. So I decided to season the ground beef and make biscuits with the jiffy. The problem here is that I can never leave well enough alone. No, I had to go ahead and add the cheese and garlic to the Jiffy biscuit recipe. The end result was way better than I expected. Jack devoured his biscuits. When Ichi woke up a few hours later his initial reaction was positive. When he asked me how I made the biscuits I told him. He ate 1 biscuit before the word “Jiffy” was said. After the word “Jiffy” was said he refused to eat anymore. All I got from him was a simple response of “You cheated”.

Ichi was many things in the years before I met him. One of those things was an apprentice pastry chef. To Ichi using a mix to make anything is just plain cheating. Initially I disagreed with this assessment. Jiffy is essentially just flour and baking soda pre-mixed. It removes a step from the measuring process. Ichi explained to me that if I used a mix then I really didn’t make the biscuit batter, Jiffy did. I couldn’t argue that point. It didn’t matter how much garlic and cheese got put into the mix, I wasn’t the one to actually blend the ingredients. Still it would be 2 years before I stopped using Jiffy.

Last Christmas I went to visit Ichi and his darling wife Dorrane in West Virginia. There was much cooking done. Ichi refused to let me bake. “As long as you are still using Jiffy, you will not bake in my house”. Again he stressed to me that my use of Jiffy was disingenuine and I really couldn’t put forth anything made with it as my own recipe. More importantly I couldn’t make the claim of it being called homemade. He then made a simple challenge to me; make something wholly from scratch without a mix and then he would deem me a true “Cook”. I pondered this challenge for some time and then returned to Toledo, Ohio. 1 month later the challenge was met.

I decided to start simple with Chocolate Chip Cookies. I hunted online for a simple CC recipe and came up with 3 that were simple enough and that I could borrow enough from one another that the end result would be my own recipe. So one Saturday afternoon I went about making my first actual homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies. I took a bit of each recipe, got rid of things that would make my own a bit too cumbersome and set those bad boys to bake. The result was mixed. My initial tray of 12 cookies were to thin and not baking up the way I wanted. I added a little more flour to stiffen the batter and then made my next 12 cookies.

The second batch was a vast improvement over the first. I got the right shape and consistency for the cookies but they kept coming up burnt on the bottom. It took many more attempts at making the cookies before it was pointed out by my friend Cindi that my cookie sheet was too close to the heat in the oven. It was as simple as that. Four months after the first batch of cookies, I had finally gotten the cookies I wanted. More importantly my friends loved them. They always ate the cookies I made before then but usually the complaint of “Burnt bottoms” plagued me. Now I had the recipe I needed. I called Ichi with the good news. His response was not exactly what I expected.

“I don’t believe you” he said flatly. I explained to him, I didn’t use a mix, the cookies baked perfectly and everyone loved them. What could he possibly not believe about my triumph?

“Are the cookies in my mouth?” he asked. It was a simple yet stupid line of reasoning. If Ichi had no cookies as proof then he had no reason to believe I had finally made a great cookie. I told him that if he wanted the cookies then he was going to have to haul his ass from West Virginia to Ohio to get them. With his driver’s license under suspension that was not an option for him. What we had was a true stalemate.

Since then other baked goods have come and gone from my kitchen. Apple Cinnamon Bread made for Cindi was a rounding success. Apple Spice Bread, well that needed some work. My Dark Chocolate Cake with Dark Chocolate Icing went over like gangbusters. The Dark Chocolate Cookies with Butterscotch chips were just ok by my standards; they got almost overwhelming praise from everyone save Breann. My latest concoction was an “attempt” at a Pecan Pie. It was my fist pie and it came out decent. My caramel was a little too runny. I should’ve baked the pie at a lower temperature and for longer so the filling could firm up. Still, the pie got eaten because my friends, God bless them all, ravenously hungry people.

The only person who hasn’t gotten any is Ichi. I usually torment him by snapping picture of what I bake and then sending that to him as a phone message. He still doesn’t believe me. He’ll get what is coming to him soon enough. He is coming to visit in a month or so and the only way I’ll be satisfied is if I send him home with a mouth full of rotted teeth from too many sweets.

So my adventure in baking continues. I’m going to try the Pecan Pie again this weekend simply because I want to get it right. Life is too short for mediocre Pecan Pie so this needs to be spot on. Even if it isn’t all my friends, save for Ichi, will still eat it. I guess it is comforting to know that even food I consider mediocre by my standards is still devoured by those I make it for. In the end, I must be doing something right.

Simple Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 ½ Cups All Purpose Flour
¾ Cup Granulated Sugar
¾ Cup Packed Brown Sugar
1 Cup Butter, softened
2 eggs
½ Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 tablespoon Dark Molasses
2 Packages (24 Ounces) Chocolate Chips

1. Preheat Oven to 375 degrees
2. Combine Sugar, Butter and eggs in large bowl.
3. Stir in flour (1/2 Cup at a time), Baking Soda, Molasses and chips until dough is stiff.
4. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto greased cookie sheet.
5. Bake 9 minutes in Pre-heated oven.
Recipe will yield 36-48 cookies.

On Food, Father & F@#%ing Up The Japanese!

Now That My Friends Is One Good Looking Meal!

I’m a fat guy, I like food. Well maybe not fat, just a tad portly. I’ve managed to keep myself in the 250 range despite my love ofgluttonous endeavors. The factthst Ialos liek to cook doesn’t help in my own personal Operation: Market Garden. I choose Operation: Market Garden because it is so damn cliched to refer to one’s battle with weight as a Batle Of The Bulge. Ther eare hundreds of World War II battles to choose from, why limit yourself with just one?

Any way, if you read my recap of Thanksgaming, then you should have figured out I like to cook as well as eat. I am a big fan of meat. Be it beef, poultry, pork or wild game I’ll give anything a try at least once. Well, except for duck but there is a reason for that and Im going to cover it here. The sheer amount of meat I eat probably shouldv’e killed me by now, I therefore determined that when it comes to eating meat that I cannot be killed by it. That last sentence probably will have some wacko animal rights group at my door in a matter of minutes ready to throw Baby Seal blood on me on the way to work. What to do I care though? I mean it is a wacko animal rights group and most members of PETA are hippies and I’ll be damned if I let a hippie kick my ass, let alone get Baby Seal blood on me!

This doesn’t mean I ignore vegetables. I will seriously fuck up a salad. People are stunned when I go out to dinner with them and I start with a salad. The truth is salad is yummy. You give me any form of lettuce with tomato and cucumber and a even a light dressing and I’ll be very happy to devour it right in front of you. I’m also a big fan of corn. Corn is ssweet and delectable. It doesn’t even need any salt or butter, corn is just perfect on its own. Of course the only thing better than corn is a potato. A potato is the greatest vegetable/growth on the planet just for how multi-purpose it is. You can bake it, fry it, boil and mash it and add any one of a thousand differnt toppings to it. Fuck one of those toppings can be MEAT! A baked potato topped with sirloin tips? Fuck, that is just brilliant!

I Call This One 'Vegan: A Portrait'

I figure at least one, if not more than one, vegan has already stopped reeading this little ode to meat, probably somewhere aroubd the point where I started making fun of PETA. For the record, I have the utmost respect for all vegans because they actively choose to do something that I am unable to do and the majority of them do it based on a certain moral principle. Some of them could lighten up a bit but who am I to judge? I mean I think a meal of steak with a side dish of a smaller, yet equally delicious steak, maybe even cooked medium rare as opposed ot medium, is simply the best meal there is. It is all well and good to be vegan but you don’t have to be all preachy about it. PETA protesters in front of my house be damned!

Damn, they move fast!

Seriously though, if you are going to try and take the moral high ground and be belligerent about it, I will gladly slap you in the face and point to The MOTHERFUCKIN’ TORAH, where the Lord encourages us to partake of the flesh of animals. See the Big Guy knows that there is nothign wrong with eating flesh. You wanna bet when your you cash out in the Big Casino of Life, that when you meet The Big Guy, he is most liely going to be eating a few New York Strips with a Lobster Tail or two? Your damn right he will, because he is God and if anyone know how good meat tastes, its Him! I mean he was the guy who came up with it after all!

Pocky - Part Of Japan's Master Plan To Make Americans Fat!

Of course, as a Jew that is just my take. Every religion has their own take on eating meat. There are some meats that are OK with certain religions and others that are not OK with others. There a few religions that assuage the eating of flesh and that is fine. Again, more power to them. Hell, different cultures have different views of meat altogether. I mean think of how much we fucked up Japan during the Meiji period. We took a society that had a pretty decently structured diet, based around vegetables, fish and rice and we totally fucked them up. The revolutionaries that overthrew the Tokugawa Shogunate were determined to Westernize Japan and in the process totally fucked a pretty healthy dietary regimen. Of course if that hadn’t happened then we wouldn’t have fought World War II against the Japanese, the Japanese would then never have lost and then we would never have had Pocky. I refuse to live in a world without Pocky. I simply will not do it! So thanks you magnificent bastards you fought in the Bakumatsu Period, without you we wouldn’t have Pocky to make nerds like fat, sluggish and slothlike!

Fuck, I’m off topic… AGAIN!

There is a chance I really do need to cutback on my meat intake though. I know I’m not invincible. I mean I’m not a teenger anymore and while I can still eat a lot, I don’t eat nearly as much as I used to. I can actually step away fro ma meal unfinished, where as in my youth it was always more of a diret challenge from the meal itself that it be finished. Being young and stupid means you take on stupid challenges and rarely was there ameal that would best me. I also used to eat pretty fast and I mean like people would be only a quarter done with their meals when I would be done with my own. I attribute this to 2 things. First, growing up in New York City kind of puts in a hurried state of mind. You are always moving, always on the run and always thinking ahead. Even when relaxing a New Yorkers mindset is that of “What can I do to relax next? When is next? Let’s make next NOW!”. Thus the New Yorker tends to eat faster than your average person. Having been away from NYC for over 10 years now, I’ve slowed down a bit. I still finish my meal before everyone else but I’m not nearly as rushed as I used ot be and thus savor a meal a bit more. Especially if that meal involes steak. The second reason for my hurried eating is because I grew up in a house of scavengers!

Now by scavengers I mean a family full of members who would finish eating their meal and then start to pick at my plate. The family members in qustion were my Father and my sister. It sisn’t matter the meal, if I was still picking at my plate my Father and sister would start going after my food. My mother viewed that just terrible, but she was transplanted British, thus she could be appalled by the simplest of things. Luckily, my mother was a good cook which means I loved every meal she made for me that didn’t involve the word “liver”. Unfortuneately my mother was a good cook, which means that I had to either find new and impressive ways to eat my food or else I would myself not being the one actually eating it. Thus, I learned to eat quickly. The bitter irony of this is that the last time my Father and I went to dinner together, he sat there eating his meal at a leisurely pace, while I was hurriedly eating my meal. He than had the nerve to ask me with a smile, “Why are you in such a rush? Enjoy your meal”. I wanted to dive acros the table and grab him bythe shirt and scream “YOU! YOU DID THIS TO ME! I’M LIKE THIS BECAUSE OF YOU!”. Instead, I opted to slow down and enjoy my meal as best I could. It is hard to enjoy a meal when you are actively sitign across the table from the person you are trying to resent.

So what we have learned today?

Firstly meat is yummy. Don’t let some wacko animal rights group guilt you into believing otherwise. Second, If you are vegan, then more power to you, just don’t be all militant vegan in my face or else I’ll show up at your next rally and eat a hutch of fried prairie rabbit just ot get MY point across. Third, We really kind of screwed up the Japanese waaaay before we dropped the A-Bomb on them so they created Pocky as a form of revenge. Fourth, I’m a New Yorker DAMMIT! Get out of my way! I’ve got somewhere to be. Lastly, my Father can be kind of a dick, even if it is to teach me a lesson about taking my time. Now if you’ll exscuse me, there is a PETA rally in front of my house, so I must simply go outside and eat this magnificent Sirloin Steak out on my front stoop…

Note: Please note, I refer to PETA as a “Whacko Animal Rights Group” completely in tongue-in-cheek fashion. I completely respect what PETA does and they deserve a lot of praise for how many animals they work to save every year. It IS a worthwhile cause and they deserve your respect and support. Trust me, there are far more militant groups than PETA out there but I’d rater link to PETA jokingly and have you see what they do than give the other militant whacko groups any lip service.

On The Hot Dog…

PK

Make All The Dick Jokes You Want! I Still Love Hot Dogs!

Food is a wonderful thing, it really is. I happen to love how awesome food is both for how simple you can make it and then turn around and jazz it up in so many ways. A prime example of this is the Hot Dog. A plain Hot Dog is just fine thank you, but add a little brown mustard and sauerkraut and you’ve got delight for your stomach. Ah but you can also chop up a Hot Dog and throw it in mac & cheese or even to Spanish Rice. The Hot Dog is the perfect utility food.

Now being a New Yorker, the Hot Dog was pretty much part of my regular diet for a very long time. Growing up in Manhattan one can’t spit without hitting a Hot Dog vendor. A Hot Dog from a Hot Dog Stand is one of the greatest treats ever. Most of the cart pushers still stick ot Sabrett’s as far as I know and God bless them for it! Sabrett’s are a magnificent Hot Dog, using a natuarl casing to give it a great snap. It doesn’t matter if you grill or boil a Sabrett’s dog, it always tastes amazing. Of course there is also Nathan’s but boiling a Nathan’s Famous Frank is a sin, it simply must be grilled. A Boiled Nathan’s dog just doesn’t taste right, the flavor of the casing isn’t really brought out as opposed to when you grill it. I mean who wants a bland hot dog? You know who? A communist that’s who!

I think the key to a good New York dog relies on the fact that they use casings for their dogs. I actually don’t like skinless Hot Dogs, the lack oif casing says that their a lack of flavor and a hot dog has to have flavor. Don’t believe me? Next time you go shopping at the market buy a pack of skinless hot dogs and a pack of Nathan’s Famous Franks. Grill both and see which has more flavor. I promise you it willbe the Nathan’s dog. That isn’t to say I won’t eat a skinless dog. I most certainly wil, but the dog in a casing is where the flavor is at my friend.

The problem of being in Ohio, they like to put Chili on everything. Fuck, I dare you to go to Cincinatti and get a Hot Dog WITHOUT chili. They look at you like a special needs kid for fuck’s sake! I won’t even get int othe struggle it is to get spaghetti sauce on spaghetti in Cincinatti. I shit you not, you order Spaghetti and Meatballs and you’ll get Spaghetti with chili over it and meatballs on the side. Ah but I’ve strayed from my main subject here… The Hot Dog!

There si a saving grace in Ohio andI’m just as shocked as the rest of America is that it is right here in Toledo. Ladies and Gentleman, Toledo has Hot Dog that rivals the masterful Dogs of Sabrett’s and Nathan’s! I’ll sum it up simply… Thank You Jess for turning me onto Tony Packo’s! There is astory here in case you couldn’t tell. I was working for a crappy crdit card processing company in Downtown Toledo and had gotten a job for my friend Jessica there. Jess loves Tony Paco’s. She was horrified when I told her I had never been therer or even had a Packo’s Hot Dog. It was like she felt genuinely sorry for me yet appalled by me at the same time. I am positive that at that moment Jess decided that if anyone wasgoing ot introduce me to Packo’s it was going ot be her. So one day for lunch we ventured forth to the nearby Fifth-Third Field. Across the street sat Packo’s At The Park. We ventured in, sat at the bar and began plotting our repast Our waitress/bartender took our order with a smile, 2 double dogs wit hthe works. What came out 5 minutes later were these amazingly large Hot Dogs, thick and bulbous, piledhigh with cheese, onions and chili. I ordered 2 of these things? I had to be mad!

martha-stewarts-loves-hot-dogs

Martha Stewarts First Porn - It's A Good Thing!

Well order them I had and I sat and fixed myself to the task of eating them. It was magnificent. I mean it wasn’t a New York Dog but this was something completely new as far as taste. It was a Hot Dog in a casing that had been boiled, but it was circumference of the damn thing that got me. It was like a Blackjack made of meat. I was actaully challenged by these dogs. I mean I got these things FULL LOADED dn Tony Packo’s doesn’t skimp on the extras. After about 25 minutes, both dogs were gone. I had noted that Jess had eaten her Packo Dogs with this blssful smile on her face, like at that moment in time a bomb could’ve blown us all up but it all would’ve been alright because she was eating a Tony Packo’s Double Dog. I could totally, at that moment in time, completely agree to that sentiment.

Look, Hot Dogs are a very simple food. Youcan dress them up in bun with mustard or ketchup or chop them up and fry them with some scrambled eggs. They just miught be the most utilitarian food in your fridge. They are simple yet you can add such layers of complexity to them. Shit, I’ve even had good Hot Dogs at the movies and I’m not talking at the modern Multilex either. I mean like back in the 80’s, when the Hot Dog would just sit on the grill all day until some poor slob (i.e. me) would dare to try one. It is the simplest food that people from all walks of life will enjoy. Just go to New York to really see what I am gettign at. In a single file line a any Hot Dog stand you will find Lawyers, Construction Workers, Teachers, Brokers adn Cops. All ofthem are waiting for a Hot Dog. All of them just people that are hungry. The Hot Dog doesn’t care if you are rich or poor. It just wants to reign in your appetite. To hell with it! Next time, after I bite into a Hot Dog I’m going ot say “Thank You Mr. Hot Dog!”.

Now if the Hot Dog talks back then I’ve got a problem…

James 5 Favorite Hot Dogs
cp1. Hot Dog Vendor At The Entrance To Carl Schurtz Park on 85th Street & East End Ave (NYC, NY)
This is the Hot Dog stand that was closest to my apartment as a kid in The City. I don’t care what anyone else says, his Sabrett’s Dogs were the fucking best!

PapayaKing2. Papaya King On The Corner Of 86th & 3rd Avenue (NYC, NY)
So what if they were shut doiwn for rats? They got rid of them! Besides Papaya King still has some ofthe best all beef hot dogs you will ever taste. They are a New York institution at this point. The Board Of Health could find out that the Hot Dogs are made from Human Meat and Papaya King would be shut down for aweek tops!

nathans-famous-13. Nathan’s Famous (Coney Island, NY)
Say hello to the one thing on Coney Island that the Russian Mob doesn’t run! Nathan’s Famous Franks remain one of the greatest accomplishments on the 20th Century. They all somewhere beween the A Bomb and Man Landing On The Moon! Of course Nathan’s also has the infamous July 4th Hot Dog Eating Contest, seriosuly NOT FOR AMATEURS!

packos4. Tony Packo’s (Toledo, Ohio)
Toledo makes up for its shitty Pizza with an amazing Hot Dog! Thick, meaty and flavorful. Now I understand why Jamie Farr wouldn’t shut-up about it! seriously though, the Packo’s Double Dog is just the perfect thing to kill your hunger. One will leave you satisfied. 2 will leave you in a coma for days!

max15. Max’s Famous Hot Dogs (Long Beach, NJ)
Proof that not everythigg in Jersey is Toxic! Quite possibly the finest slow griddle cooked hot dog known to man. A good variant on the old fashioned Kosher Grilled Dog, a variant because… well… you can’t call it a Kosher Dog with Beef/Pork mixture. Still I’d punch your mom in the mouth to eat at Max’s again. Fuck, you’d punch your mouth in the mouth after trying it once!

On Pizza…

Food Of The Gods!

Food Of The Gods!

I don’t know when I exactly showed a love of pizza but I’ve always loved food. I try not to be the stereotype of a geek that lives off of pizza and Mountain Dew but I do love pizza (Mountain Dew is drinko f choice in these parts sadly. Would it kill someone around here to make a fucking Egg Cream?). I mean I like pizza, don’t get me wrong but seriously, I live in Toledo, Ohio. All the pizza in this town is utter shit. That’s right ALL OF IT! I grew up in New York City man, where you get pizza by the slice and that slice will do a good job of knocking out your hunger. In Toledo my options are limited but I live in a land of fucking heathern’s where Pizza Hut, FUCKING PIZZA HUT, is considered good pizza!

There is so much bad pizza in Toledo it makes physically ill. Pizza Hut, Pap John’s, Marco’s and Babmino’s seem to rule the roost and they are all crap. But the worst of the lot is Vito’s. How could a place with a good Italian name like ‘Vito’s Pizza’ be such utter shit? It boggles my fucking mind. Their crust thick and chewy and the cheese they use is just god awful. Yet people I know rave bout Vito’s like it was cooked by Jesus H. Christ himself. It is time for a serious wake-up call people. Vito’s pizza is the drizzling shits and if you mention it in the same breath as “Good pizza” you automatically make my list of people not to trust about food.

Even worse is that no pizza joint in this town believes in putting proper sausage on their pizza either. By proper sausage I refer to taking a whole sausage and slicing it into round slivers that are spread on the pizza in the same mannas pepperoni. Every place in Toledo suffers from what I call “crumble sausage fever”. It is all ground sauage that is drizzled on pizza like hamburger. God forbid if I could find someplace that will put sliced meatball on a pizza. Shit, the meatball pizza is a staple of any New York pizzeria. Wheter you’re in Manhattan proper, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx or Staten Island you can get a meatball pizza. Fuck I could go out to the farthest dregs of Long Island and get a meaball pizza. But not here in Toledo. Toledo makes us settle for ground hamburger and it even isn’t even seasoned ground hamburger. It wouldn’t be so bad if one or two places did this, but EVERY place does it and drives me crazy.

Fear not though, James Harris, New Yorker is here to save you all. To get good pizza in Toledo all you have to do is get out of Toledo and drive north my friends. Drive to the glorious college town of Ann Arbor. There you will find New York Pizza Depot, a sanctuary for good pizza in this heathen land where they have no metballs on their pizza. I first discovered this little slice of heaven (slice? Get it? Like a slice of pizza? Its a pun!) when a friend and I came up here for an anime screening way back in 1998. Anything with the name New York on it grabs my attention. You add the word ‘Pizza’ to it and I’m all over it. I walked in and immeadiately started having flashbacks to my childhood. It smelled like a right proper pizzeria and looked like one too. When I saw that they offered pizza by the slice I felt like I was back home. I went upto the counter and orderd 2 slices of pepperoni for myself and got a medium fountain drink.

Ann Arbor's NYPD - How A Pizzarria Should Look!

Ann Arbor's NYPD - How A Pizzarria Should Look!

When my slices came out they looked like how slices of pizza shoulkd look. Golden cheese melting with just a touch of light brown, indicating it was lightly overcooked. The crust was thin, crisp yet chewy but not doughy. The pepperoni was flavorful and spicy, something that is sorely lacking in all pizza in the city of Toledo. I swear all pizza places in Toledo all get their pepproni fro mthe same generic food supplier because it all tastes the same. I devoured my first slice, completely ignoring the fact that I burned the roof of my mouth from the scalding hot cheese. I went up to the counter and began asking questions of guy behind the counter. He filled me in on how the owners were Italian immigrants who first arrived in NYC originally and moved out to Ann Arbor in the 90s. They realized that the pizza out in these parts wasn’t quite as good as it was back in the Big Apple and thus created New York Pizza Depot so people could get ‘Real’ pizza.

I listened and realized I was in the presence of visionaries. NYPD, as it is abbreviated on their sign now, has been going strong for close to 10 years now, serving the city of Ann Arbor and students of University of Michigan. Though they aren’t open 24/7, they do remain open until 4am thus keeping that “Open all-Nite” feel of any good New York style Pizzaria. I always make it a point to go there whenever I go to Ann Arbor. On top of the pepperoni of the gods they also have this incredible 4 Mushroom pizza that is to die for. Hell they even have a New York staple in the Sicillian style thick crust pizza.

They have more than just pizza of course. Calzones? Got’em! Subs? Got’em! Pasta? Got it!

Lord I love New York Pizza Depot. I could eat there 3 days a week and never get sick of it. That is, if I lived in Ann Arbor. Instead, I’m stuck in Toledo, the city with the worst pizza I’ve ever had and only 2 decent delis. OY VEY! The lack of delis out here makes me wanna cry!

But that is a rant for another time my friends, another rant altogether…

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