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Archive for the ‘Bread’ Category

Better Bakery Ham and Cheese Pretzel Melt


Better Bakery Ham and Cheese PretzelNew from Better Bakery, the Southern California specialty bread and pretzel manufacturer, is the Ham and Cheese Pretzel Melt, deli sliced ham, cheese within an enclosed pretzel roll.  Oven or microwave prep is allowed, and I went with the former, 350 for 25 minutes, from a frozen solid state.  It’s good, fast, and cheap.  Salty pretzel roll, crispy exterior, and tasty fillings.  I got mine at Wal Mart, amidst the frozen sandwich section, generally next to the pizzas.  Highly recommended.

The USDA establishment number is M44128, which leads us to a Valencia, CA address. (pictured below).
Here is a little video the company had on YouTube.

Better Bakery Ham and Cheese Pretzel

Wrap in foil prior to oven

Better Bakery Ham and Cheese Pretzel

Out of the oven, crispy, melty

Better Bakery Ham and Cheese Pretzel

Valencia, CA HQ



Rigazzis Review – St. Louis

Rigazzis Review St Louis

Exterior of restaurant – from their own website

I think I have only been to two “traditional Italian” restaurants in my life, where I either went “wow” or returned multiple times; one was in London, the other Hong Kong. I stopped in an Olive Garden thirty some years ago shortly after they started, haven’t been back. I imagine their food would be a lot like Rigazzi’s.

I shouldn’t have been surprised at my reaction to the restaurant, I lived in St. Louis for a year and have been back several times, and with the exception of one very memorable evening decades ago, I’ve never had a good time in St. Louis, no matter the reason for being there or the person I had in tow.  I also can’t think of a time I’ve enjoyed a meal in any city where the locals insisted a joint was a “don’t miss.”  A lot of time I believe those endorsements come from a reputation earned years ago, but get passed down due more to tradition, than anything else.  Whatever.

Rigazzi’s is the oldest restaurant (60 some years) on “the Hill,” which is the “Italian neighborhood” of St. Louis.

It was a Wednesday night, and we were seated promptly. I had perused the menu online, in advance, so I had an idea of what I wanted.   The problem wouldn’t be finding something I would enjoy, but narrowing down my choice, as the menu was long and seemingly held lots of promise.

When you’re seated, you’re presented with a half loaf of bread, a cracker basket, and butter packets.  Drink orders are taken and rather promptly filled. Service is friendly.

I started with the antipasto plate, described as “for two,” with a combination of Italian meats, vegetables, olives, some oddly misplaced triangle wedges of American cheese slices, and a dollop of blue cheese.  It was a lot of food, and a really great value for the price.  I’d go with it again, and be even more enthusiastic if they offered a choice of platters, like all meat, or just meat and cheese, and so on.

I knew I wanted my plate to be loaded with meat for the entree, so I ordered meat filled ravioli, in meat sauce, with a meatball, and  with a side of Italian sausage.

There is crumbled, unidentifiable meat in the sauce and the ravioli (pic below);  the pasta was cooked far past the point of oblivion (which seems to be a common complaint in many online reviews), meaning attempting to pick it up with a fork made the pasta pillows disintegrate; it’s a dish you end up scooping instead of stabbing.

The sauce was thick with not much unique flavor.  The meatball was in the “it’s OK” category, and the sausage was a finely ground, fairly unseasoned Italian –  I prefer mine “hot” as they are labeled from manufacturers, which doesn’t usually refer to a ‘heat from seasonings’ designation, but usually from a dose of fennel and Italian herbs.  I use a lot of fennel in my Italian dishes at home.

I didn’t get a pizza, which I had fully intended on trying.

Would I go again?  Doubtful, but I think the food and service are just right for the palates and temperaments  of most American diners.  It’d also be a good place for groups, as I imagine one could “under-order” (say, 2 entrees for every three people) and leave happy.

The restaurant’s prices are fairly modest.  They have that going for them.

On second thought, I might return for meals of bread, sauce, and sausage/meatballs, skipping the pasta.  I’d be OK with that.  But it wasn’t an experience like I had in London or Hong Kong!

Rigazzis Review St Louis

Meat ravioli, dissected


Rigazzis Review St Louis

Italian sausage

Rigazzi's on Urbanspoon
Rigazzis Review


Superior Seafood Review – New Orleans


Superior Seafood is on the St. Charles Streetcar line, a quick ride from the Quarter.  Superior’s  menu incorporates the best of local seafood,  po boys, plates, and fresh catch, with beef, chicken and pasta available for those who partake in those edibles.  It’s moderately priced ($10 – $25), is happy to toss you a loaf of Leidenheimer’s to start with, is open for lunch and dinner seven days, with brunch service Sunday mornings.

My companion is a local, as local as you can get, her family having arrived in 1750, and she had a hankering for a shrimp po-boy and said Superior was the one for her.  I ordered a half with fries, she ordered a whole one and said I’d regret my diminutive order. Which I did. She said she’d share, but she lied.

It’s one delicious sandwich, and they had outstanding coffee as well.

Classic cocktails run $8-$12, and they have a happy hour daily from 4:00 – 6:30, the highlight of which is 50 cent raw oysters, a bargain these days. Wine list is respectable and value-priced.

They do catering, including crawfish boils.

Superior Seafood Review New Orleans

Shrimp Po Boy

Superior Seafood & Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon


Superior Seafood Review


New Orleans BBQ Shrimp Recipe



Yeah, most people know dat in New Orleans, the dish “BBQ Shrimp” gots nothings to do with yer momma and dem’s  backyard grill.

At most establishments, it is a savory dish, huge whole (headless) shrimp in a bowl of butter/oil/herbs.   That’s the way you’ll find it at the New Orleans  restaurant that purportedly created the dish, Pascale’s Manale (previous review).

Some establishments insist on screwing conceptually with the recipe.  That Cajun wannabe, Emeril, serves a version that is sweet, not savory.  Not appealing.

Last trip revisiting my former home, I dined at Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House (previous review),  and really liked their treatment of the dish.  A recipe card the restaurant gives out is shown below, and differences in their, and other recipes, may well be the addition of the beer and Cajun seasoning.  The difference between this recipe and the one I make at home is theirs specifies 1 C + 1 T butter. I use a pound with 1/4 C EVOO tossed in.

Serve the shrimp in bowls filled with the sauce, finish the shrimp, mop up the sauce with bread.

In any case, Bourbon House’s version is my new favorite.  It can be yours, as well, whenever you visit NOLA, or if you make it at home.  Get a nice crusty baguette to accompany the meal.  In New Orleans, most everybody gets theirs from Leidenheimer, and there isn’t another loaf in town that compares.

Make reservations for Bourbon House online, ahead of your arrival.

Bourbon House BBQ Shrimp Recipe

Bourbon House BBQ Shrimp Recipe









New Orleans BBQ Shrimp Recipe


Todays Temptations Bakery Review – Chicago

Old C&NW Train Chicago

C&NW Train Station

There’s a fancy pants food mini mall at the Ogilvie Transportation Center in downtown Chicago.  The OTC is where a lot of the commuter trains terminate and it used to be called the Chicago and Northwestern Terminal, and old timers still call it that.  The name was changed when the main building and facade was razed in the 80s to build a high rise office tower above it, designed by the man who changed Chicago’s skyline, architect Helmut Jahn.

In a city where everything stays the same but nothing does, the C&NW is no longer called that, the Sears Tower neither, and the market at OTC is called the “French Market” but bares no resemblance to the ‘real thing’ in New Orleans.

The market has a variety of food vendors, offering made to order sandwiches, hot plates, artisan goods and grocery items.  It’s the perfect place to grab something to take to the office, or on your reverse trip, something to eat for the train ride home, or for dinner that evening.

On a recent pass through, I wanted more than a sandwich, so I grabbed a pound of sliced corned beef from Bebe’s Kosher Deli (menu) at $25 a pound (!!!) and a loaf of Today’s Temptations Light German Rye from the food shop.  Today’s Temptations is a small Chicago baker that sells via a few local groceries, and apparently inspires a lot of enthusiasm from healthy bread advocates, as found here on the Chowhound discussion board.

It was $3.99 for the loaf, and if I had any knowledge of the brand, or healthy people’s enthusiasm for it, I would have passed.  An all natural recipe, with no added yeast (the label states), as well as no sugar and a low fat content (not stated) I just didn’t care for it.  If you’re an absolute bread lover, like me, and swoon when you take your first bite of a good bread, this isn’t for you.  It’s kind of dry, relatively flavorless for a rye, and doesn’t even toast well. (Sugar in bread recipes assists browning in toasting).

If you’re on a healthy regimen, you may well love this bread.  You’ll find zero information on the company’s website, so you’ll have to call to find the loaves near you.

As for the corned beef?  Aside from the outrageous price, I found nothing extraordinary about it.  The clerk said it was “Solomon’s” brand, which I also could find little about online (and Bebe’s did not respond to an email inquiry), other than some anecdotal blurbs about it being “Chicago’s best.” For my money (the only coin I care about), I much prefer local purveyor Vienna Beef’s product. Firmer muscle, considerably more flavor, and a lot less expensive.  The Solomon’s is one of those deli meats that has an “iridescent shine” to the slices, which is quite common in processed meats.  It is not a reflection of anything “wrong,” but simply the way light reflects on natural elements in processed meat that has been exposed to air.  But I don’t care for the appearance, even tho it has nothing to do with quality, taste, and so on.

If Vienna products are not in a store near you, you can order them online here, along with other Chicago foods.

Today's Temptation Bread Review

todays temptations bakery


Sunday Brunch Recipe


Before Mrs Burgerdogboy passed, we lived in Portland, Oregon, for a number of years, which celebrates the complete and utter silliness of Sunday brunch on so many levels;  in short, you’ll wait in line a really long time to overpay for pretty normal fare.

The television show “Portlandia” did a pretty funny bit on it, which is closer to reality than satire, IMHO.


There were a few places I liked, but they most certainly weren’t on the brunch “a-list”; greasy spoons like the Tik Tok,  but mostly Sunday breakfast was an en suite deal for us, which was always enjoyable.

Mostly, I’d rather have people over for brunch and I’m always interested if someone has a new brunch recipe or approach beyond quiche or eggs benedict. One of my “off-beat” ones is a “reuben strata,” which is usually fairly popular.

Today I had some folks over, and one of them produced this baked egg concoction, which I really enjoyed.  It was simple and fast to prepare, and could be easily customized for each diner’s choice.

To wit:

Greased ramekins with chopped tomato, fresh spinach, cumin, black pepper, brie, sweated diced onion, crack an egg on top, bake for 15 minutes at 350.   Great taste, beautiful presentation. Add breakfast meats or bread on the side if desired. You might want to garnish with some greenery, too.

Burgerdogboy Recipe


Read more about what’s going on at the BurgerDogBoy condiment ranch.


Fear/Loathing/Loving the Letter “T” / And Texas Toast


When I was living in China, it didn’t take long for me to figure out the Chinese have a deathly fear of the letter “T”.   I learned this watching their television news, every time Taiwan, Tibet, or Tiananmen would come on the news, the story would be bleeped out.  See what i mean?

Last week, I figured out that I LOVE foods with a “double T”.  This will greatly simplify my life going forward, as I can focus on eating the things I love,  Tater Tots, Tongue Tacos, Texas Toast, Tuna Tartare, Truffle Toast,  and there must be more.    Fast food chicken outfit Zaxby’s includes texas toast with every order, worth a stop on its own!

Cool.  No longer will Mrs. Burgerdogboy and I  have to order an entire side of a menu (and we have!) , we can just skip straight to the T’s!


Elgin, IL – Kendalls Kountry Kitchen Review

Kendalls Country Kitchen

Google Maps Street View

Damn.  Old timey diner, affable chatty waitresses (including the owner),  great food, great value.  So unassuming from the outside (left) you’d be likely to pass by if you weren’t looking for it, or one of the locals that has made a daily habit of stopping in for the last couple decades.  I know I would if I lived around there.

Perused the menu, ordered the “Country Fried Steak” to which the response was “I’m sorry, we’re out, you should try the chicken fried chicken, it’s really good.”  But of course, I HEARD her say “chicken fried steak” cause that’s what I was thinking about, but was too confused at that point to ask “what’s the difference between Country Fried Steak and Chicken Fried Steak?”   If I would have asked, I would have understood at Kendalls, the latter is chicken.

Some think eating chicken with eggs is kind of weird.  Cycle of life kind of thing.  My neighbor down the street, Al, who raises chickens in his back yard, gets so many eggs he ends up feeding lots of them back to the chickens.  Ok, that is weird.  Cannibal chickens.

The ‘steak’ was ample,a nicely crisped crust, and a handsome piece of breast meat inside.  Big bonus, it’s served with sausage gravy, a smooth and creamy concoction with nice chunks of breakfast sausage.   Add a couple eggs, hashbrowns, and toast, and you’re gonna get outta there for less than seven bucks.

It’s a very long breakfast and lunch menu,and on a Saturday morning, there were empty tables.   If you’re tired of waiting for a table for an hour at some place on Randall Road on the weekend, head down to Elgin.  You’ll be happy and richer at the end of your meal.  CASH ONLY.  ATM in the bar across the  street.


Kendalls Country Kitchen

Two over easy with hash browns


Kendalls Country Kitchen

Chicken Fried Chicken




Kendalls Kountry Kitchen Review


Trader Joes Chocolate Croissants

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail haven’t been in a Trader Joe’s for awhile.  Not sure why, wasn’t an intentional thing unless you count the frustration of parking at many of them.   No, just circumstance.   Kinda odd actually, since I think they have some of the best frozen pizzas (imported from Italy and France) available, and something I had forgotten about, their frozen chocolate croissants.

Croissants came to me fairly late in life, when I was partners with an American woman living in Europe.  We had a place in Leysin, Switzerland, and after a few globe trotting years relocated to Paris, just off the Rue Saint Denis, in the 10th.  We were just a down the street from Gare de L’est,  one of the city’s train stations, and handy for popping around the rest of Europe.  In both Leysin and Paris, pain au chocolates (not really a croissant) were a big part of our morning routine, walking down to the patisserie or bistro or tabac to have one along with an espresso or six.

Trader Joes does an outstanding job of replicating that experience, although you’d never expect that when opening the box and pouring out the four little rock hard nuggets of dough; you have to let them thaw and rise on the counter overnight, so they are not really an impulse item (well, they are to buy, just not to eat).

After you let them thaw, pop them into a pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes, the box cautions you that if they are “light brown” they aren’t done  – bake until they are a deep rich brown in color.   They are amazing.   They also have almond ones (which  I like) and ham and cheese (which surprisingly, I haven’t tried.  note to self).

Trader Joes Chocolate Croissant Review

Trader Joes Chocolate Croissant Review

Trader Joes Chocolate Croissant Review

Leysin, Switzerland

Trader Joes Chocolate Croissant Review

Our Paris Apartment






Trader Joes Chocolate Croissants




Steak Tartare with a Side of Adultery


tartar3I love steak tartare.  I like the ingredients and ritual of them gobbling it together table side for you.  Hard to find in the U.S. anymore, except at the occasional French bistro and I have scored it at the Pacific Northwest mini chain upmarket steakhouse, El Gaucho.  My favorite place in the world to get it is at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club in Hong Kong.  That might be partially due to the quality, but also to the mystique of the place, headquarters for journalists, spies, and various souls with nefarious intent.

My second favorite place is here in Paris, where it’s pretty easy to find.   I have mixed feelings when I come to Paris,  I lived here a couple decades ago, and it was a 50/50 proposition, half of my stay was glorious and half was hell, kind of like my time in Portland,  Oregon.  In Paris,  I was partnered with a woman who couldn’t keep her pants on, which was great when she was home, not so great (for me) when she left the house.  Some people have “gay-dar,”  I’m cursed with having “cheat-dar,”  I have a knack for picking women who are serial adulterers.  But I’d have to define “serial,” wouldn’t I?   Paris partner cheated three times in two years, Portland partner cheated on average, three times per week.  So I guess whatever term would be more severe than “serial” would apply to cheating partner #2.  Both still in their respective places, working their ways through the phone book.   But enough of the fun stuff.

Steak Tartare is raw ground steak, mixed with onions, caper, worcestershire, seasonings and egg yolk, served with little pieces of toast to schmear it on.  Incredible when prepared with great ingredients, I can imagine it could be terrible as well, tho I have never had a bad serving personally.

In Paris you can get a version called tartare aller-retour, which is mostly raw, but slightly seared on one side.  That’s good too.  “Cafe society” in  Paris is great.  Hardly anything, for me, is more enjoyable than sitting on the sidewalk at a bistro and whiling away the day with demi-tasses of espresso and chain smoking, reading the International Herald Tribune. (recently renamed as the “International New York Times.”  It’s just not the same).

One of my favorite such places is Le Petit fer à Cheval, in La Marais (video below), not far from where cheater # 1 and I lived.  And while it might not be the most “kosher” accompaniment, I do like some terrific pommes frites with my raw beef.

I have had a nice version, a coarser chop, at Fraiche, in Los Angeles, as well, but here’s a pic of today’s (above),  and it was lovely.   It was a glorious day for sidewalk dining in Paris – mid 70s, clear and sunny.

And by the way?  If you’re married or partnered with a serial adulterer, pack and run.  It’s symptomatic of much, much deeper problems that the individual most likely will never have a desire or courage to face.  In life, sometimes people decide it’s easier and less painful to stay messed up than to do the work to get well.




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