There has been a bottle of Central Grocery olive salad in my fridge since I returned from New Orleans this winter. I have broken it out for muffalettas, sandwiches and as a snack (a spoonful of olive salad at the right moment can fix everything wrong in the world), but I’ve been trying to figure out other ways to deploy it.
There was almost always a bottle of giardiniera in my house as a kid. Most of the time, it was store bought from William’s or one of the Italian grocery stores on the North side. Every so often, my father or mother would get ambitious and make their own. It actually doesn’t seem all that difficult, combining olives, carrots, cauliflower, celery and onions in a olive oil brine, but for something I only eat once in a great while, it strikes me as not worth the time or money.
That said, I still have this bottle of stuff from Central Grocery.
You may think that the biggest challenge of taking nine adults, two children and two toddlers out to dinner would be finding a place that everyone can agree on. Nay nay. For years, we did seafood buffets with people in tow that do not eat fish. Our problem is squeezing a group of 13 into a restaurant at dinnertime.
One of the issues we ran into in Rehoboth Beach was reservations. Few restaurants outside of the “high-end” description take them. Otherwise, it’s first-come, first-served. Or, as I like to call it, wait at the bar.
Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats is located on the fringe the seaside town’s dense commercial area. The restaurant is a stillpub, not a brewpub. The building housed the microbrewery’s original operation, now located in Milford. The upstairs dining room now overlooks the state of Delaware‘s only legal distillery. Dogfish Head also has the distinction of being the only restaurant with a parking lot east of the Lewes and Rehoboth Canal bridge on Rehoboth Avenue.
Our group of 13 found a one-hour wait when we called at 4:45 on a Thursday evening, which is impressive when you think about it. A few of us went to the restaurant to get our name on the list and belly up to the bar, while others wandered the town. When we were seated approximately 45 minutes later, we found an affordable gastropub menu that married typical pub fare with more gourmet offerings. Continue reading Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, Rehoboth Beach, Del.→
For Christmas, my CEO (a Red Sox fan, but an otherwise lovely person) got me oil and vinegar from F. Oliver’s in Canandaigua. This boutique foodie haven infuses its own olive oils and balsamic vinegars in small batches. It has since grown to a location in Rochester and is opening a storefront in Ithaca. My present was a bottle of chipotle oil and dark chocolate balsamic vinegar, the latter of which is guaranteed to make ground beef taste like steak when mixed together and grilled.
Local restaurants and bars notwithstanding, you know what you are getting when you walk into any of these establishments. Each one has a shtick (the Jimmy Buffet theme at CIP, Fuddruckers’ toppings bar) and a particular take on the burger (In-N-Out and Five Guys’ fresh meat, Wendy’s square patty). And, because they are either heavily-regulated franchises or company-owned, the food quality is the same from store-to-store.
Cheeburger Cheeburger falls into the last category. The Florida-based franchised chain has stores nationwide, with a high concentration on the Eastern Seaboard. It’s shtick is the 50s decor, down to the soda fountain, powder blue and pink walls and extensive milkshake menu. It takes its name from the Saturday Night Live/Belushi/Olympia Diner sketch. It’s claim on the burger is never-frozen 100% Angus beef from vegetarian cows.
The Wife and I have been regular customers since the Camillus location opened in 2009, though takeout has been our M.O. lately. It’s in a former Quizno’s location, which means that it’s far too small for a quality sitdown restaurant. The 45-46 seats in restaurant meant long lines at first. Those lines are long gone. When Five Guys opened down the road two years ago, the traffic evaporated. Within seconds of walking in the doors Saturday evening, four different employees asked how many people were in our party. Continue reading Cheeburger Cheeburger, Camillus, N.Y.→
A couple of weeks ago, I trumpeted the virtues of farro and mocked quinoa. These grains transcend mere carbohydrate status and thrust themselves into the superfood strata thanks to their protein content.
A cooked cup of either comes in at about 160-170 calories and offers 6-7 grams of protein. Quinoa also offers 12 percent of your daily recommended iron intake. Cooked with veggies and broth, either one makes for a decent main or side dish.
I ran across a recipe for a quinoa burger that intrigued me, but the ingredient list left me at bay. I ended up adjusting the recipe for selfish reasons. Cottage cheese? The sight of it makes me heave. (Just typing the phrase makes me nauseous.) Forget about touching or smelling it. I also cut out the sugar and one of the three eggs, you know, for health reasons. I ended up adding some mustard and some other spices to enhance the flavor. Continue reading Tuesday dinner: Quinoa burgers→
My boss saw a special about all things bacon on the food channel. One of the featured restaurants was a joint in the LA area called Slater’s 50/50, which had recently opened a location in the San Diego area. When the boss makes a suggestion, we make it happen.
Tucked away in a rather secluded part of Point Loma’s Liberty Station area, Slater’s shares a building with an Ace hardware and a bakery. Our van driver drove around twice before finding the spot. What was poorly marked became a coma inducing oasis.
Greeted by an enormous bronze burger and about 100 beers on tap, Slater’s has cornered their niche in the gourmet burger market with their hook…the 50/50. Their signature patty is half ground beef, half ground bacon.
While I was pushing my cart around the massive Wegmans in Fayetteville, I marveled at all of the things that the rich east-side folk have that us bottom feeders in Fairmount do not. There was the dry-aging case behind the meat counter, slowly decaying USDA Prime beef into perfection. Up front there was a team of people chopping vegetables as if to say, “Here rich people. Let us chop your carrots so that you will never have to use your $500 Wusthof knife set.” To its right was a gentleman whose sole purpose was to crush oranges into fresh juice. And don’t get me started on the prepared foods department.
One thing that did catch my eye was a case in the meat section featuring New York State meats. There was Empire State bred pork, lamb and beef, including ground meat from Angus Hill Farm in Randolph, N.Y. — a sleepy little burg about 30 minutes from my alma mater St. Bonaventure University. The sign said that the cattle was grass-fed and the meat packed within the past seven days. Priced at $5.49 per pound, I figured I couldn’t go wrong. According to the Ellicottville Special Efects, the Black Angus calves are free-range, hormone-free and pasture-fed. When its time for them to meet their demise, the cattle are shipped down I-86 to Panama for slaughter, where the farm’s owner has set up his own operation. Angus Hill supplies 10 Wegmans outlets with meat from his farm, including the store in nearby Jamestown. Continue reading Burger Week Finale: Grass-fed beef burger→
There are simple, irrefutable facts that are the backbone of my life.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
I will sweat profusely without regard to temperature, humidity or activity.
I married up.
I was wrong about having kids.
I find great pleasure in eating good food.
The meaning of life is maintaining the balance of giving as much to others as you give to yourself.
Combine these seven points together and I can honestly tell you that I have led a fulfilling life. And if you’ve never achieved number seven, you cannot honestly say that you’ve been fulfilled. In-N-Out is to the American hamburger as Mecca is to the Islamic faith or the Lincoln Memorial is to Washington, D.C. If you have ever eaten a hamburger, then it is your duty an In-N-Out store and pay homage.
Sadly, they will never make it cross-country. If they do, it will take decades. They just made it to Dallas and only because the company opened a second meat processing plant. You see, In-N-Out only positions its stores within a one-day drive of a plant (where they also bake their own buns). Can you imagine trucks being waylaid on the New York State Thruway due to lake effect snow, unable to reach the In-N-Out in, oh, Syracuse? It will never happen. Continue reading Burger Week→