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Micah Camden’s catsup mixed with a little horseradish and a squeeze of lime makes a fantastic cocktail sauce.

 

Crinkle cut fries are the worst fries. The best fries, in order, are shoestring, regular,  steak, home, waffle and then crinkle cut. And, if you widen the fried potato spectrum, many other items come before crinkle cut fries.

 

Bacon ground up in a hamburger patty or sausage is a waste of good bacon. Bacon should be crisped and accompany or surround the primary meat object, not be ground in it. Same goes for bacon in chocolate. I’m ready for that to no longer be a thing.

 

The quality of coleslaw in BBQ shacks, fish shacks, chicken shacks and dive bars has really declined in recent years. Coleslaw should not just be the Sysco shredded cabbage and carrot bag with some bland mayonnaise mixed in.

 

The more reviews on Yelp, the more likely the place will have four stars. The aggregate review score seems to be more related to the number of reviews than the quality of the food.

 

We might not have to sneak as many Koi Fusion burritos into JELD-WEN Field this season. Rumors have it that the food cart program is coming back and at least one permanent concession stand behind section 108 will offer bacon and bleu cheese tater tots.

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Day 4, and I belive I have developed the perfect hot turkey sandwich. Over the last four days, I’ve conducted a series of experiments to determine the proper order, layers and ratio of turkey, dressing, potatoes, cranberry, vegetables and gravy in the classic Thanksgiving leftovers open-face sandwich..

Key learnings:

  • The base-layer bread should be toasted to provide a different texture from the stuffing.
  • If using dark meat or a part of the turkey that doesn’t lend itself to thin slices, chop the turkey in to 1/3 of an inch chunks otherwise the sandwich will fall apart when you try to cut or bit through a big piece of turkey.
  • Do not apply cranberry sauce directly to the sandwich, instead use it as a side relish. If applied directly to the sandwich it liquefies as it heats and saturates everything, overpowering the other flavors. The alternative, is to mix a very small amount of cranberry with mayonnaise and apply the cranberry mayonnaise to the bread.
  • Order of ingredients is critical. The order ensures proper texture and flavor variation.

The optimal sandwich ingredients in order:

  1. one piece of toasted sandwich sliced sourdough bread
  2. thin layer of cranberry mayonnaise
  3. blend of light and dark meat, thinly sliced or chopped
  4. thin layer of stuffing gently pressed down on to the turkey
  5. lettuce leaf to separate the stuffing from the potatoes and provide just the slightest crunch
  6. scoop of mash potatoes
  7. a few green beans of brussel sprout halves sprinkled over the top
  8. a generous portion of gravy, enough to lightly cover the entire sandwich with some spillover to the plate

Heating:

I examined three heating options. The classic, throw it all into the microwave method, resulted in loss of textural integrity of the bread with some mushy parts and some unpleasant chewy parts. I also tried heating all of the components separately, but it was time-consuming and I failed to achieve the synergy desired. The best option was to assemble all of the ingredients except the bread on a plate, microwave them to the desired temperature then with a spatula lift the hot ingredients, and slide the toasted bread with cranberry mayonaise under the tower of turkey, dressing and potatoes.  This method resulted in the best texture and blending of flavors and just enough gravy under the bread to help flavor it without becoming soggy.

Following up on my Worst Things I Ate in 2010, I’ve made a new list for 2011. It’s short. I guess that means I ate pretty well.

 

1) Whatever I had at Guy Fieri’s Tex Wasabi. I don’t remember what it was, but from appetizer to beer selection it was all bad.

 

2) Pizzicato’s gluten-free pizza. There is some great gluten-free food. Baker’s are starting to find ways to make it taste good and provide the chewy elasticity that gluten provides. However, these bakers don’t work at Pizzicato. In general I like Pizzicato and hope they change their recipe. When they do, I may just remove this post.

 

 

 

 

 

Just because a “chef” is on the food network it doesn’t mean they’re restaurant is any good.
By far the worst meal I had all year was at Guy Fieri’s Tex Wasabi in Sacramento. Worse than someone else’s leftovers in the break room. Worse than hotel ballroom chicken. Worse than the continental breakfast at La Quinta Inn and Suites.

Cream cheese is excellent on hotdogs.
Seriously, cream cheese is the best hot dog condiment ever. Try it with pickles, cucumbers or your favorite crunchy relish.

Not everyone has figured out the cupcake sandwich.
I was at a lighting and furnishings store the other day and the clerk behind the counter had a beautiful cupcake stashed next to the calculator and canister of pens. She was afraid to eat it because the frosting would get all over her face and once she bit into it, it probably wouldn’t be able to stand up straight, so she’d have to eat it all at once.

I introduced her — like I have to hundreds of other people — to the trick of slicing said cake in 1/2 horizontally and then placing the bottom half over the top, so the frosting is in the middle. She liked the idea so much she called her coworkers around to marvel at this innovation. You should try it, it will change your small personal cake consumption habits forever.

Shark & chips is really good.
I’ve never been a fan of game fish. Give me a nice mild halibut or cod and I’m happy. Across the street from my office is a fish counter. When they get a big catch in, they fry up the extra  and serve it with fries to go. Not too long ago it was shark. It was good. Firmer than halibut, mild flavor and yummy.

There are people who make gravy from a pouch. Yes, really gravy from pouch.
Seriously people, if you are serving meat then you have some type of meat drippings.  Just make a little roux, add the drippings and maybe a bit of stock or broth.  Maybe I was naive to believe everyone did it this way, but until one dinner party I hosted, a couple of the guests said they were surprised I made my own gravy.

Schweddy Balls aren’t that good.
Okay, it’s good, but they’re about 11th on my list of best Ben & Jerry flavors. If you’re not familiar with Schweddy Balls, they are a rum ball and malt ball flavored ice cream based on an SNL sketch featuring Alec Baldwin and created a lot of buzz when Ben & Jerry’s introduced it.

Burgerville does not have pork belly on the menu.
No, pork belly is not on the menu, but everywhere else in Portland has it. How long before Burgerville adds it as one of their seasonal specials? I’ve had pork belly hash, pork belly cubano sandwiches, pork belly tacos, pork belly pho, and maple pork belly ice cream this year.

My favorite food of 2011
Sweetbreads. If 2011 was the year of pork belly, I predict 2012 will be the year of the sweetbreads. Crispy, creamy, delicious. I had them at 4-star restaurants in big cities and road-side asados in Argentina. You can only eat it so often, but it’s always good.

 

Bars to Avoid

If for some reason common sense eludes you, I’ve developed this handy list of bars to avoid. It’s actually not a list of bars but a set of common bar names associated with bars that in general should be avoided.

Flirts

Giggles

Jiggles

Rendevouz, and its sister property Rendevous

Rascals

Sidelines

Hoops

Scores

Katie O’Briens

Molly O’Briens,   O’Briens without a woman’s name in front of it is acceptable.

Shennanigans

Shagnasty’s

Scandals

ESPN Sportszone, or anything named after a network or magaizne

I’m constantly disappointed with  dried out chicken breast. Chicken breast doesn’t have much flavor, but it’s the favored chicken part of choice by most restaurants. I understand that it looks pretty, and its a nice size, but come on how about a little thigh occasionally?

Most of the chicken I consume is pretty well hidden in sauce, wrapped in a burrito or folded into noodles. In the last week I’ve had pad se ew, a mango chutney wrap, and a chicken lasagna. All were made with dried out flavorless breast meat, that probably cost the restaurant twice what a similar portion of thigh meat costs. All would have been much better with thigh meat.

I understand why you’d use a breast when you were plating it as a single piece of meat on a plate, or on a bun, but when diced in little pieces, covered in sauce and wrapped in a tortilla does it matter what it looks like? 

I think I’ll start asking for thigh meat.

The great thing about food carts is there is always a new one to try. The downside is you never can find the one you want.

This last weekend Jennifer and I tried to have lunch at Che Empanada, an Argentinian empanadas cart in the Mississippi Marketplace. It was closed. Today, I snuck away for lunch and drove across the bridge to Mississippi (its only about 7 minutes).  And great news, the cart was open!

As I approached, I looked at the menu . . . chili dogs . . . and sausages . . .

I walked across the pod to another cart and ordered a rice bowl and asked about the empanadas guy. Turns out he sold the cart over the weekend.

sigh . . .