Monday, November 24, 2008

Top Five, er, Four Sandwiches

Today, over crepes at the crepe place next to Giwa, D-tron pulled out a huge gun (like the one in the Clint Eastwood movie), pointed it at my head, and made me name my five favorite sandwiches. Sadly, I could only name four, but since D-tron didn't really have a huge gun, I was still standing after lunch. Any suggestions for number 5?

Top 5:
1. Cheesesteak (duh)
2. Fat Knight (similar to the Fat Darrel, which is now copyrighted by Darrel himself, because he's a paper chaser. Hell, I'd do the same)
3. Croque Monsieur
4. Chicken Parm
5. __________

Oh yeah, the crepe place was the kind of place you'd go with your Rittenhouse Square living grandmother (if you had one). Our waitress, even though (s)he looked like Grace Jones, was about as nice as you can be while still keeping it authentique. My overpriced crepe was topped with an over-fried egg whose yolk was more mealy than oozy. The crepe itself had the right sponginess, but overall, it lacked that certain je ne sais quoi that satiates you. I wanted to order another one, but fearing the wrath of faux-Grace Jones (and realizing my lunch hour was almost up), I left hungry. If you're in the mood for a snack or a light lunch (but not a quick one), I'd say go ahead and give it a try. But if you're hungry, you should opt for one of the top 4 above. Buen provecho.

Friday, November 21, 2008

You Want Fries With That?

With great risk comes great reward (or the loss of your tailored french cuffed Brooks Brothers shirt), and a perfect demonstration of this can be found here. In my case, I think I'm just trying to make my junk food more efficient.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Beefsteak Post Script

Yep, that's vanilla ice cream over tenderloin. A more literal interpretation of the hot beef sundae.

Beefsteak Redux

When the cold winds blow in from the north (or when James googles "beefsteak dinner"), the beefsteak-as-fundraiser season is upon us. Last year's outing left us begging for more, and even the recent move to Philadelphia couldn't prevent me from taking in another beefsteak as soon as I got the chance. With my expectations boiling over, I recruited a fellow glutton to join me on the two hour drive to Verona, NJ, for the Broken Arrow District Boy Scouts of America Annual Beefsteak Dinner. If you think that's a mouthful, have a gander at the (crappy) pictures.

This year proved to be a much more muted affair compared to last, although I'm certain the beer was much more abundant this time around. I imagine this windfall can be blamed on those in attendance, a sparse crowd with a median age of 49. And while the Verona Community Center was a nice facility, the low ceilings and dim lights added to the "4pm dinnertime at the nursing home" ambience. Thankfully, nobody tried to give us the wrong pills or steal our wallets. I'm getting off topic here. Back to the food, which was catered by Nightingale, the original beefsteak catering service since the 1930s. We were running a bit late (Che was even later), and by the time we arrived, the tenderloin was making its final rounds. Thankfully, the two waiters circling the dining room concetrated their efforts on our table, and before we knew it, our plates were piled almost a foot high with buttery tenderloin and crispy freedom fries. It was enough to satisfy, but not enough to make us sick, which was a bit of a disappointment, especially because the final hour of the event did not have a comedy hypnotist to help the food settle. Instead, there were some pretty crappy raffles, made only crappier by DG's preference for statistics over gambling (he put all his tickets into one basket). As the crowd shuffled out, making it awkward for us to stick around and drink, we figured it was time for us to do the same. We were graciously thanked by the organizers for showing up, who were quite surprised that their beefsteak had attendees from both NYC and Philadelphia. We thanked them back by taking beers for the road. Until next year's carnage, buen provecho.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

How Dry I Am

The food dehydrator is up and running. The first desiccation? Beef jerky, of course. Sadly, the meat was too thin and I slept too long and I wound up with brittle shards of cure. This was unfortunate until I had my first bite, which was a spicy and salty punch in the face. The marinade concentrated itself into what was left of the meat, providing an intense flavor that whisked me away to my days backpacking through the wilderness*.

The best part? It's so easy to make. A bowl of soy sauce, liquid smoke, red pepper flakes, and any other rugged ingedients you can dream up. The worst part? Waiting the 24 plus 12 hours to get to the finished product, but that beats the old timey days when it took the better part of a week AND you had to worry about wild animals all up in your business, potentially eating not just the jerky, but your face to boot.

*actual backpacking may not have occurred

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cheesesteak Tally

I've decided to tally the number of cheesesteaks I will eat as long for as this blog remains active. If anyone can show me how to install a sidebar graphic, I'll buy you a cheesesteak. Without further ado, here's a rough count broken down by venue:

Pat's: 1
Geno's: 0
Delassandro's: 2
Steve's: 1
Street Meat: 2
Other: 3

Total: 9

Today I went with mushroom, american, hot sauce, and ketchup from a cart called "Breakfast N' Lunch" on 18th and Market. Big roll, but not enough meat to fill it, even with the addition of canned mushrooms, which could have already spent a day out of the can. Perfectly acceptable for four bucks. Buen provecho.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Fresh My Ass

Dear Baja Fresh,
Please cook your rice. Please rotate your salsa stock. Please instruct your cashiers not to cough into their hands behind the counter. Please melt the cheese on my "enchilado style" burrito. Please tell your cooks to stop giving me dirty looks through the pick-up window. Please do not ever again serve the pile of crap that I ingested this past Sunday. In other words, please do your best to give a shit about what you serve. If you can't, then please take the word "fresh" out of your name.


Friday, November 07, 2008

Channeling Victorino

A combination of honeymoon nostalgia, leftover brown rice, and a transplanted Hawaiian World Series champion were all the inspiration I needed to make my own Spam musubi. Hate if you must, but only if you've already tasted it. You will be pleasantly surprised at the richness of the meat and how well it marries with the brick of sushi rice below. I think the secret could be the sauce that the Spam gets hit with at the end of cooking. Soy, mirin, and sugar give it a sweetness that makes you forget you're eating canned meat. Be careful with the sugar, though. I overdid it last night and had a bitch of a time cleaning the molasses out of my egg pan. Also, most recipes call for a musubi maker, a plexiglass box with a plunger used to make these culinary cubes. Lacking this special tool, I went McGuyver on that ass and used the empty Spam can. Buen Provecho.

Spam Musubi

1 small tin of Spam, cut into 1/4 inch slices and then halved
3 cups cooked short grain rice cooled to room temperature (I used brown rice)
1 sheet of nori, cut into inch slices
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin
1/4 cup sugar (this turned out to be too much. A tablespoon should do)

Combine the soy sauce, mirin, and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat to dissolve the sugar. Meanwhile, fry the Spam (no oil needed) until browned on both sides. At the end of cooking, pour in the soy sauce mixture and use tongs to coat the slices. Remove from heat. If you have a musubi maker, fill with rice, plunge away, top with Spam, and wrap in nori. Repeat until finished with rice and Spam. You can also form the cubes yourself, or use the empty Spam can.

Monday, November 03, 2008

I Sure Do Love a Good Bender

The amazingness that was last week (after pretty much the best weekend of my life):

Monday: A ticket to the World Series. Like a hypoxic mountaineer just steps from the summit of Everest, I deluded myself into the notion that the game would go on. Prior to the cats and dogs, however, I finally had the Schmitter, which I've been meaning to try since I heard some jerk talk about it during the cleanse. It sets itself apart from the ubiquitous cheesesteak by adding fried tomato, salami, and russian dressing, and to rationalize the gluttony, it's served on a kaiser roll. Sadly, my high expectations were met with disappointment, more than likely because it was a windy 40 degrees at the stadium, so the whole thing was cold after the first bite. I refuse to give up, though, and thankfully, the establishment that created the Schmitter just so happens to be in my neighborhood.

Wednesday: After unloading my ticket to a neurotic Indian, Mrs. Gastro and I joined the Gastro-in-laws for cheesesteaks from Delassandro's (my new 2nd favorite cheesesteak) and cheese fries from Chubby's (near and far, nothing compares to Pat's cheese fries, but these are in the ballpark). Unlike Pat's and Geno's, the steak is of the chopped variety, and there's a pile of it three feet high on the grill at any given time of day, so even if you call it in, they don't make it until you show up. Not exactly cooked to order. I think the beef could have used a little more salt, but I numbed my tongue with cherry peppers to cope with this. After dinner, the fightin' Phils won the World Series, which meant a stroll down Manayunk's Main Street, and more whiskey and colas than necessary, partly because of this, but primarily because I turned 30.

Thursday: Visit number four to Qdoba (please don't remind me that I hated the first visit. I know), which I've dubbed the pork burrito visit (and every fourth time from here on out, I will get pork). The assembly line put double of everything on it, and the result was a two pound behemoth that I probably shouldn't have finished. Then again, I probably shouldn't have drank my face off the night before.

Friday: A day off from work and a Wawa hoagie. If you don't know, I feel sorry for you. In the evening, a novelty costume and too much Red Bull. It usually doesn't work, but this time I was screaming at everyone I was with and laughing like a stupid banshee. My apologies to all who were with me.

Saturday: Just like the man upstairs, I saw that it was all good, so I finally got some rest. And some Chinese take-out.

Bender complete. Buen Provecho.