Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Wawa Employees are Stoners

Duuude. We should put BBQ sauce AND honey mustard on it. And pickles. And jalapenos. And onions. And cheese. Dude. Dude.

It's Hoagiefest, motherfuckers! For the next however many weeks, Wawa--the Philly area's mega-bodega--is offering deeply discounted 10" hoagies. To keep things interesting, the suits and ties at corporate looked to the employees this year to expand hoagie offerings beyond hot and cold and meatball and turkey.

The result is a menu of sandwiches bursting at the seams with every meat, cheese, topping, and condiment available, which is a telling tale of how some Wawa associates spend their free time. I'm not judging here. This is a boon to fat asses like me who appreciate a kitchen sink sandwich daily every now and again.

If you're feeling Colorado (or just plain curious), each creation is already programmed into the touch screen for ease of ordering. I tried the Texas Two-Step (pictured above) yesterday, and I was not at all disappointed with the combination of chicken fingers, jalapenos, honey mustard, BBQ sauce, pickles, and cheddar. Sounds hectic, but it works. Here are a couple more clear examples of recipes that really earn the tie-dye hoagiefest t-shirt:

The Flock: Turkey, Roast Beef, Ranch Dressing, Creamy Chipotle Spread, Spinach, Pepper Jack, Sweet Peppers, Tomato, Jalapeno

Wild Imagination: Cheesesteak Meat, Chicken, Ranch Dressing, Creamy Chipotle Spread, Buffalo Sauce, Provolone, Pepper Jack, Lettuce, Spinach, Tomato, Jalapeno, Pickles 

I forget how long the promo runs, but it's probably the best $4.99 you'll spend all Summer. Oh yeah, and they've got a game called Hoagiequest if you need a break from your first-person shooter. Buen provecho.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Why Did I Eat This? Lance BOLD Crackers

The latest in an effort to blanket the entire world in buffalo wing sauce (and then top it with bacon), Lance BOLDS cracker sandwiches grab their nerdier counterparts by their day-glo orange shoulders and kick them square in their Toast-Chee nuts. Remember the Bonestorm episode of the Simpsons? That was me at the grocery store yesterday. I told my entire family to "Buy me Lance BOLDS crackers or go to hell!"*

Fast forward to 10am this morning, when I'm ready to make snacktime EXTREME!  The spokesbro for Lance BOLDS is Nyjah Huston, a 20-year old skateboarder who's had a skateboard under his feet from the time he could walk. Armed with that knowledge, I'm expecting to be able to switch kickflip at least 10 stairs after my first cracker.**

I started with Buffalo Wing Blue Cheese, which have the same orange hue as Lance's Toast-Chee variety. I expected a pronounced artificial flavor, but instead got a mouthful of heat and an excellent rendition of blue cheese flavor. These were the best approximation of buffalo flavor I've had since Herr's Buffalo Blue Cheese Curls.

With my mouth on fire and expectations riding high, I moved on to the Bacon Cheddar flavor. What should have been another roundhouse kick to the face turned out to be a disappointingly bland and crumbly cracker. I should have been on high alert after noticing that the "bacon" crumbles studded into the cracker itself resembled a bunch of scabs, which is probably what happens after you assume that you'll be good at skateboarding after eating these cracker sandwiches.

Ew, there's scabs on my crackers.

There's a third flavor, Pizza (yes, just plain old pizza), but fuck that shit. I guess one out of three ain't bad, especially since the Buffalo Wing Blue Cheese (BWBC) flavor was so damn good. Stay tuned for an update on how much better I am at skateboarding after eating these. Buen provecho.

*Actual Interaction: Me putting two boxes of crackers in the shopping cart and then moving on to the coffee aisle.
**Ed. Note: Lance BOLDS makes no guarantee about improving ability to skateboard.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Philly Burger Brawl 2015: Can You Eat 53 Burgers in 3 Hours?

Everybody's pissed off at Game of Thrones and I made this image over a year ago, but sometimes you need a lede and you're at work (and you're a lazy excuse for a writer).

Anyhoo, in less than a month (June 14th, from 3pm-6pm, to be exact), the 5th annual Philly Burger Brawl will descend upon Xfinity Live!, bringing with it 53 contenders vying for a really cool trophy and bragging rights. For you, this means that for $35, you can subject yourself to an eating challenge that carries its own bragging rights. And, if you can get through all 53, it'll only cost you $0.66 per burger (you can also pay the VIP rate of $100, which gets you started an hour earlier than us common folk)! Sadly, I'll be on my way to the shore, but this is definitely something you should check out if you're in Philly for the weekend. Buen provecho.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

And the Award for Shittiest Meal of 2015 Goes to...

Maybe it's the fact that we decided to go out for dinner on Monday. Maybe this past Monday was, in general, one of those Mondays that gives Mondays a bad rap. Or maybe, just maybe, the Manayunk Brewing Co. has decided to mail it in with their food now that their beer is a level above your ambitious neighbor's "Dave-Brau."

At the risk of sounding like an insufferable Yelper, I'm going to bitch and moan for a few paragraphs in order to get this meal off my chest. Before I launch headlong into it, I will say that the service was great, albeit slow.

But the food was an absolute atrocity.

No sushi on Mondays, I get it. My daughter, not so much. Her reluctant second choice, apples drizzled with caramel for dinner. Three apple slices, two strawberry halves, six bucks, and none of it eaten.

Mrs. Gastro and I (since there was no sushi) decided to split fish tacos and artichoke dip. No fish tacos. Our reluctant second choice, a veggie burger that was allegedly house made. The provolone cheese and mayo both failed to mask the taste of freezer burn. The artichoke dip was another loser. Ten bucks for a baby handful of stale chips and a ramekin of brown goo.

The only bright spot on the table (which was covered in outdoor filth and pollen) was my son's chicken fingers. Unfortunately, he's not real big on sharing these days.

At the end of it, we dropped 70 bucks and got in a big fight. Two days later, I'm still depressed and angry. I guess the moral here is "Don't go out on Mondays, but if you do, get the chicken fingers. And now, a stupid Dos Equis meme to support this point. Buen provecho.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A Volvery Special Announcement: Garces Re-Imagines Menu at Kimmel Center Flagship

How many chefs does it take to change a light bulb?

Duh, chefs don't change light bulbs, they change menus! Whether it's the changing seasons or the constant drive to push the envelope, Philly's chefs refuse to sit still. Case in point, Jose Garces and his GRG Team, who just announced a major Spring overhaul at Volver.

The new menu is a four-way collaboration between Garces, chef de cuisine Natalie Maronski, and corporate chefs Justin Bogle and Gregg Ciprioni. You can choose 8 courses for $95 or get straight baller and opt for the 12-course $150 testing menu (do people say "baller" anymore?). Both menus can be paired with beverages curated by somm and beverage director Gordana Kostovski.

The Kimmel Center hosts plenty of performances, but Volver is where the food theater happens. Buen provecho.

Click through for menus.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Earth Bread + Brewery Loses Its Finest

Devastated is an understatement.

Good, bad, or ugly, social media means that you've access to a constant stream of news (provided you're plugged in, which of course you are because it's 2015), but it doesn't mean you're prepared for it. Last night, when Mrs. Gastro burst into tears next to me on the couch, neither of us were ready for the news of Bernard Ray's passing, especially at the hand of violence. If you knew him, you'll know that this is a terrible irony. If you didn't, it's a shame you'll never get to experience his disarming smile, his open arms, and the way he made you feel so goddamn welcome anytime you sat down for a meal at Earth Bread + Brewery.

Although we didn't know him outside of the restaurant, he leaves a lasting impression with me and my family and a giant hole in our collective hearts. 

This Thursday, January 8, Earth Bread + Brewery will be donating all proceeds from guest checks to his three young boys, daughter, and grandchild. Additional contributions are also welcome and can be given to servers or bartenders. Alternatively, if you can't make it, donations can be sent into the restaurant.

It's going to be difficult to walk through those doors Thursday, but I strongly urge you to do so. My deepest condolences to Bernard's family and to the Earth Bread + Brewery staff.  And to Bernard, rest in peace my friend. Your smile will never be forgotten.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Why Did I Eat This? A Cronut for the Rest of Us

Back in May of 2013, the world lost its shit over the Cronut, a pastry likened to a croissant-donut hybrid created by Dominique Ansel in New York City. Lacking both the time and the patience, I didn't bother to go out of my way to see whether or not it was worth waiting in a line of Shake Shack proportions. Hell, I didn't even try any of the clones that popped up locally. To be honest, I just wasn't that interested, and I prefer to keep my donuts and croissants separate, much like my quesadillas and burritos.

Fast forward to now. Ansel has released a cookbook so we can all fuck up his recipes at home, and Dunkin' Donuts has finally reverse engineered a way to bring shelf-stable Cronuts to the masses. Since the word "cronut" is trademarked (shoulda, coulda, woulda, "Flaming Moe"), Dunkin' is simply calling them "Croissant Donuts," and retailing them for $2.49. They come in their own nifty little box instead of being haphazardly thrown into a brown paper bag (cute touch), and while they resemble the iconic pastry, they aren't that different than Dunkin's regular glazed donut. The butter flavor tastes artificial, the layers of pastry dough aren't flaky, and the shellac of milk and confectioners' sugar slurry weighs the whole thing down. Simply put, it tastes like diabetes with a heart disease filling.

At some point in the future (provided we're not all dead because the world is horrible and full of horrible people), I hope to try the original. For all of you out there, I'd recommend doing the same and skipping this clone in favor of a few extra years on your life. Buen provecho.