Friday, August 21, 2015

Red Lobster's Crabfest Commercial is Bullshit

The last time I wrestled with a crustacean, I walked away with puncture wounds on 6 of my 10 fingers. Even dead, a lobster will fight back. The grocery store tank-to-table experience is gratifying nonetheless, and most of the time, it's much cheaper than going to a restaurant and requires way less pants.

The other added bonus is not looking like a jackass when trying to extract a scant chunk of meat from a shell more difficult to open than heat molded anti-theft plastic (another source of bloody fingertips).

What's my point here? Eating giant shellfish is hard, and Red Lobster is straight fucking with you if you think otherwise. Watch their Crabfest commercial and tell me I'm wrong. Marvel at the ease with which anonymous thumbs separate a crab leg to reveal a giant muscle of expertly cooked meat. Watch as a crab cracker encounters a shell so thin and brittle, it shatters at the slightest hint of pressure.

It's all a goddamn lie.

Here's the reality. You make your way to your neighborhood Red Lobster and proceed to order the "Mega Crab Feast with 36 Preparations of Crab (and two sides and cheddar biscuits," because YOLO. It's like $30, but remember: YOLO (side note: nobody says YOLO anymore, but YOLO, so YOLO). A few minutes later, a plate the size of your DirecTV satellite shows up, its center piled high with legs and claws. Flanked by a mess of gummy linguini to the left and an oversized ramekin of butter to the right, you're thinking, "This is what middle management's all about, bitches." You're also thinking, "I can't wait to shove this crab meat all up in my face, and it's going to be sooooooo easy."

Armed with this false sense of confidence, you grab the crab cracker and proceed to fuck shit up. And that's exactly what you do. First, a cluster of snow crab legs. Not sure how to approach this Rubik's cube, you try and pull a leg apart and hope the meat falls out in a neat pile, just like in the commercial. No such luck, so you resort to the cracker. You center it in the middle of a leg, expecting a clean break. Nope, wrong again. The shell buckles under the pressure until it finally gives, and you're left with a tiny little hole where the two halves of the cracker meet. Total bullshit, right? Then, you twist the rubbery shell in the hopes that tiny little hole will propagate into something big enough for the cocktail fork. This kind of works, but whatever progress you've made is nullified by the shape of the hole, and you're left with a few tiny shreds of crabmeat that don't exit as well you'd hoped. What's worse, you're crunching on shards of shell that stowed away during the extraction process. Not being one to give up, you do the same thing with the rest of the cluster. Your mounting frustration and hunger result in less crab and more shell with every leg. Finally, you surrender, waving your plastic bib in defeat.

At this point, your only solace is that pile of crab-alfredo mush. Call it the consolation prize, a final opportunity to "enjoy" some crab, but since you spent so much time wrestling with the damn crab legs, it has cooled into a congealed blob of fat and sodium.  It's a metaphor for the entire experience, and you have become a Red Lobster cautionary tale.

Many others will succumb to the siren song of that commercial. It's hard to resist that hunk of crab meat splashing down into a baby pool of drawn butter. If you're one of them, I urge you to manage your expectations, because the commercial above is bullshit. Buen provecho.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Rhode Island Round-Up Pop-Up to Feature Awesome Ass Austin Chefs

Last Minute Road Trip to Rhode Island, Anyone?

In high school, I played lacrosse (LAX, BRO!) with this dude named John Prescott. Between Junior and Senior year (I think), it was alleged that he went to a hair salon to get dreadlocks like some sort of prehistoric Ras Trent. White people do the darndest things, but that really has no bearing on this post. Nor does the fact that he told the entire student body I had one testicle (even though I'm still packing two last time I checked. Thanks, John!).

But instead of revisiting salon-styled dreads and bold-faced lies, we should really discuss what Prescott's been up to between the time we were dumbshit kids and now (and no, it's not telling the rest of the world lies about my nuts or lack thereof). He's actually been cooking his face off, first in Salt Lake City and now in Austin, and as you're reading this, he's en route to Rhode Island for a 4-day pop-up at the Horseshoe Farm in Westerly that starts next Wednesday, August 19th. He'll be cooking with Sonya Coté, owner of Austin's farm-as-fuck-to-table Eden East, who called Rhode Island home before she moved to a hippie commune in Iowa at four.

I've yet to experience John's cooking, but if it's anything like the way he played lacrosse (LAX, BRO!), then I imagine it hits really hard and is good at picking up ground balls (that's a terrible analogy). In all seriousness, if you've got the time, then you should definitely have the inclination, because the menu looks ridiculous. Plus, John's a cool ass dude with some cool ass tattoos (check out his food on Instagram @blackwidowchefs), so it should prove to be a lot of fun. Buen provecho.

Rhode Island Round-Up
August 19-22
Horseshoe Farm
Westerly, RI 
Tickets are $150 and can be purchased here

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Benihana: The Rose Colored Tint of Childhood Memories

The requisite Onion Volcano. Dave nailed it.

Remember how cool Benihana was when you were a kid? Remember coming home with a Polaroid of you and the family destined for a few months' tenure on the fridge, the smell of griddled meats and garlic butter glued to your clothes, and you practicing your knife skills with whatever dull objects happened to be within arm's reach?

No? Well then, your childhood must have been awful. Or maybe you didn't grow up near a Benihana. Either way, I'm here to let you know that as an adult, it's sadly not quite the same. Not that you shouldn't check it out, but if you do, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Pay the extra money for the Hibachi Chicken Rice. This is the undisputed champ of Benihana's menu, primarily because the rice is fried in gobs of garlic butter and doused with soy sauce.

2. Interact with your chef. If you stare at the guy cooking your food like you would a caged animal at the zoo, he'll be sad like a caged animal at the zoo. Give him some props for nailing the Onion Volcano or an "It's cool, bro, Mondays." if he fucks up the Shrimp Tail Toss.

3. If your kid chugs their Dragon Juice too quickly, DO NOT order them a second, unless you want to spend the latter half of your meal trying to keep them from doing a belly flop on the hibachi while your steak/shrimp/chicken gets cold.

4. Always tell them it's your birthday or that of someone in your party. You'll get a free dessert and a pretty terrible picture.

5. Be friendly to fellow diners. If you've got less that eight people in your group, It's rare you'll be the only ones at the table. Don't make it awkward by avoiding eye contact and not drinking. If you're at the receiving end, make sure and talk a bunch of shit on the way home. Those wieners deserve it.

6. If the Sugar Hill Gang shows up, definitely get a picture with them (happened once in New York City, I swear).

Follow these tips and tricks and your first/next visit to Benihana will be a good one. Man, what a terrible post. Buen provecho.

Friday, July 17, 2015

A Stupid List About Hangover Food

I got blotto last night and since I'm old as shit I'll be paying for it until Sunday, during which time I'll consume at least triple the amount of calories I average on a daily basis. We've all been there (and we all have yet to learn), so the next time you spend the night alternating between Fireball and Miller Lite for 6 hours, here's a handy list of food to shove in your face the morning after. It probably won't make you feel better, but it's worth a shot.

1. Menudo (or Posole): I blame my dad for a lot of things, but I have to give him credit for taking me to hole-in-the-wall places at a very young age. One of them, Taqueria Piedras Negras in Salt Lake, had menudo on Sundays. Pops knew exactly why. "It's a hangover cure," he said (I didn't really know what a hangover was, or how often I would be getting them later in life). Then he proceeded to tell me that the gelatinous honey combs I was eating used to be a cow's stomach. Then he dumped a shitload of onions and cilantro in my bowl and gave it a generous squeeze of lime. Fuck, I could really go for some menudo right about now.

2. Sausage, Egg, and Cheese croissant from Dunkin' Donuts: Pair it with an iced coffee that's more cream and sugar than actual coffee. If you're feeling especially shitty, order two, because they're kind of small.

3. Spam Musubi: If you have an aversion to Spam, you're dumb. Spam is goddamn delicious, and if you fry it up and glaze it with what is essentially teriyaki sauce, it's even more delicious. Put it on top of a sushi rice brick and wrap it up with nori and you've got a near perfect food.
4. Ultimate Meat & Cheese Breakfast Burrito from Sonic: If you're lucky enough to have a Sonic nearby, this has all of the breakfast meats, a generous ladle of cheese sauce, and TATER TOTS.

5. Five Guys: Put every single topping on their double cheeseburger, douse a giant order of fries with malt vinegar, and don't be shy with the free soda refills.

Alternatively, you can just start drinking again. It's 9am somewhere. Buen provecho.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

My Rappers Are Cooler Than Your Rappers: Marv Mack's New Single

In case y'all forgot (even after being reminded for a second time), Philadelphia's own Marv Mack is here to let you know that Paula Deen is a human old lady version of the confederate flag.

h/t Eater.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Why Did I Eat This? Pizza Hut's Hot Dog Bites Pizza

'tis not a pizza, 'tis a many-headed hydra, sent from the darkest depths of fast food Hades to murder us from the inside.

Perhaps that's a bit dramatic.

It's really just a pizza that was creatively engineered to be equipped with a hot dog crust on some ultra low-brow Ferran Adrià type of shit. But of course I had to try it. And of course it kind of sucked. Admittedly, I was scared at first. I expected Pizza Hut's Hot Dog Bites Pizza to be dripping with grease and redolent with the fragrance of preservatives that cause migraines, but it was actually kind of dry. The crust you normally get from Pizza Hut--the one you can wring the butter out of--was replaced by a thin and wobbly breadlike substance held together by a few pigs in a blanket. I think my mistake was lingering too long at the wine store before picking up the pizza, but how does one choose the perfect white to pair with a Hot Dog Bites Pizza?

In any event, by the time I got the pizza home, filmed a couple failed monologues, took a few shitty pictures, and tried unsuccessfully to get the kids to even look at this pizza, the slices were cold, the sauce congealed, and the bread enveloping the hot dog bites hardened to day-old bagel status. Still, it was no worse than anything on Pizza Hut's regular menu (I have yet to try all of their new crust and topping permutations, however), although it was a bit of a challenge to eat as you approached the hot dog crust. Personally, I think the combination of hot dogs and pizza is worse than Donald Trump at a quinceañara, but when sales are down and your job's at stake, any idea is better than no idea.

You may have missed your opportunity to try it (Pizza Hut's website is no longer advertising the Hot Dog Bites Pizza), but count yourself lucky for not having done so. Buen provecho.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Mike Solo Fangif

Eater recently answered the question, "Why Philly's Mike Solomonov is the Genius of Modern Jewish Cooking" (go read this, it's really good). In honor of the honor, I made this super sweet bobblehead GIF in my spare time* yesterday of a young Mike at Purim. That is all. Enjoy your Friday, folks.

Oh yeah, and put all of the CookNSolo restaurants on your must eat list. It's no secret that they're all really fuckin' great. Buen provecho.

*By spare time I mean time when I should be doing things that actually benefit society.