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Archive for the ‘Deli’ Category

Schaumburg, IL – Pilot Petes Restaurant Review 10/2015 Update


I was flying home from FCO, stopped at ORD and taxied out to a suburban airport to hook up with a friend, and bum a ride on his plane back to Santa Barbara. He was held up with a ground stop at TEB, so I was gonna have a couple of hours to kill.  Luckily, there was a bar and restaurant at the airstrip.  I didn’t even know the airport was there, despite the fact I used to live nearby. Seems more like it’s for personal aircraft, I didn’t see many corporate-sized planes on the tie downs.  There’s a flight school and heliport, as well.

The restaurant overlooks the runway, and it’s called Pilot Pete’s.   It has an aviation theme (surprise!) with large scale model airplanes hanging from the ceiling, airline seats in the waiting area, and other general air knick-knacks as decorations.

I admire the owner/manager, this place has a very long menu, seemingly no pre-prepared dishes, as well as daily specials. It has to be a chore to keep everything running smoothly. The waitstaff is clad in shirts that say “Flight Crew,” and the couple I talked to said they’d worked there for years and wouldn’t work anyplace else.

Although this place is apparently known for its version of the hundred dollar hamburger, I was in the mood for something a little different, and surprise, I over ordered.  Started with an amazing “Fall Salad”, which crisp greens, blueberry, chicken and damn near a half pound of feta.  Salad came with soup, and I opted for French Onion, piping hot, flavorful, with the traditional baked cheese/crouton cap.

Launched into the restaurant’s version of a Cuban, which the menu says is an homage to the one prepared by Treasure Island in Tampa.  Pete’s strayed a little bit by adding mayo, tomato, and lettuce, which didn’t take away from the quality meats and cheese, which were amply packed between  pressed  halves of a garlic Cuban baguette.

The only downside to the meal were the accompanying fries, which were the extruded type, good flavoring and seasoning, just not a personal favorite. Overall, it was a terrific meal with portion sizes that could easily have served three.   Sandwich, soup, salad, cocktail, $40 including tip.

Here’s the menu.   (Update, October 2015).  Had their “hundred dollar burger” and onion blossom.  I added Asiago and onion straws to the 10 oz medium rare patty. Excellent. Pics down below.

PIlot Pete's Review

Fall Salad


Pilot Pete's Review

Cuban Sandwich and Fries


Pilot Pete's Review

Aviation Decor


Pilot Pete's Review


Pilot Pete's Review











Pilot Pete's on Urbanspoon

Pilot Petes Restaurant Review


Volpi Prosciutto Review


Volpi Prosciutto Review I’ve looked at a lot of deli meats lately and written them up – the quality and prices cover the full spectrum.  Not surprisingly, I tend to prefer the more expensive meats, the low cost ones have a texture I find unpalatable.  But that’s just me. The smaller manufacturers seemed to have not lost their way on how to make a great product, and you can pretty much pass on anything by Hormel, Sara Lee, or Wal Mart’s house brand.

Prosciutto is defined as a dry-cured ham that is usually thinly sliced and served uncooked; this style is called prosciutto crudo in Italian and is distinguished from smoked ham, prosciutto affumicato.  And I love it.  And it’s “cousin” across the continent, Spain’s Jamon Serrrano.

Volpi Foods, in the “Hill” neighborhood (an area settled by Italian immigrants)  of St. Louis, (factory pictures below) started in 1902 by a Milanese immigrant who had learned curing meats from relatives in Italy. The tradition has continued, and the family owned business now makes a variety of Italian meats that you can buy at your grocer or direct, online.

Prosciutto adds a smoky, salty flavor when incorporated in dishes, but it’s often served ‘as is’ as a starter;  you may have seen it in restaurants offered as wrapped around a slice of melon.

Any way you choose to consume it, prosciutto is a delightful pork product, and I find Volpi’s version a really excellent choice.  It has a buttery, melt in your mouth quality. Not sure of the full retail price, it was on sale at my local grocer for about $8 a pound, and that’s a bargain.

If you’re in St. Louis, visit the neighborhood called “the Hill,” where there are lots of great shops and restaurants serving old world classics.

Volpi Prosciutto Review

Volpi Prosciutto Review

      Volpi St Lois Factory








Volpi Prosciutto Review


Free Veterans Day Meals 2015


Veterans Day Free Meals 2015

Veteran’s Day is officially Wednesday, November 11, 2015.

2015 Free Meals

(These deals are at participating locations; strongly suggest you call ahead to double check and ask whether military ID is required!)

At participating Applebee’s on 11-11-2015, Veterans and Active Duty Military can select a free meal from a limited menu for Veteran’s Day. Provide proof of service required.

Bar Louie Free Lunch or Dinner
On Wed., Nov. 11th, 2015 every Bar Louie location across the country will offer veterans and military personnel a free meal up to a $12 value when they show valid military I.D. or other proof of service.

Buffalo Cafe Free Meal

Another place to eat free this Veterans Day is Buffalo’s Cafe, located in three US states.

California Pizza Kitchen Free Meal

Stop by a participating on Wednesday, November 11, 2015 to choose a pizza, full size salad, or pasta from the special Veterans Day Menu when you dine-in.

Carrabba’s Free Appetizer
All active and retired veterans receive a free appetizer at participating locations on Monday, November 9th through Sunday, November 15th.

Cattleman’s Free Steak Dinner

Active, inactive, and retired military personnel can come into Cattlemens and get a free Small Sirloin Steak Dinner on Veterans Day.

Chili’s Free Meal

From special Vet’s menu

City Barbeque
One free half pound sandwich platter will be given to each veteran for either dine-in or carryout orders on 11-11-2015. At participating locations only.

Cotton Patch Free Meal
Free meals to veterans of Veterans Day.  Choice between a chicken fried steak or chicken fried sandwich.

Denny’s Free Grand Slam

On Wednesday, November 11th, all active, inactive and retired military personnel at all participating Denny’s restaurants nationwide will receive a free Build Your Own Grand Slam breakfast.

FATZ Cafe salutes our Veterans and Active Military with a free entrée on Veterans Day. On Nov. 11 from 11 AM to close present your Military ID and enjoy a free world famous Calabash Chicken meal.

Fox & Hound Free Meal

Stop into a Fox & Hounds on Wednesday, November 11 for a free meal or beverage (up to a $10 value) for all veterans and active duty military.

Friendly’s is treating veterans and active military, with a valid military ID or honorable discharge card, to a free dine-in breakfast, lunch or dinner from select menus on Veteran’s Day, 11.11.15. The breakfast choice is their Big-Two-Do’s® array of breakfast options, and the lunch and dinner option is the All American Burger with fries and a beverage (soda, iced tea or hot beverage).

Golden Corral
On Wednesday November 11, 2015, Golden Corral offers a free sit-in “thank you” dinner for Military veterans, retirees, and active duty members.

Grub Burger Bar
Veterans, Retired Military, and Active Duty members with a military ID will receive 50% off of their meal, plus a free  Caramel Apple shake for Veterans day this year on Wed. 11/11/2015.

Hoss’s Family Steak & Sea House Free Meal
Hoss’s is serving up their “American Value” meals absolutely free for veterans on Wed., Nov. 11th, from 11 A.M. to 9 P.M. Valid I.D. is required

JJs Red Hots All You Can Eat

Both locations of JJ’s Red Hots in North Carolina are letting active duty military and veterans enjoy a free all-you-can-eat special all day long on Wednesday, November 11.

This Veterans Day free meal consists of an unlimited supply of hot dogs, sausages, sides, and non-alcoholic drinks.

Max & Erma’s Free Cheeseburger Combo Meal with Dessert
On Veterans Day, participating Max & Erma’s locations are celebrating veterans and active military personnel with a free three course combo.

McCormick and Schmick’s Free Entree
On Sunday, November 8th, 2015 enjoy a complimentary entree. All veterans must show official verification. Entrees must be enjoyed at the restaurant.

Mission BBQ
Veterans and active-duty military will get a free sandwich after the National Anthem at noon on Veterans Day.

Longhorn Steakhouse Free App
Receive a complimentary Texas Tonion appetizer and a non-alcoholic beverage on Nov. 11. Includes veterans and current service members.

Max & Ermas Free Meal

Free cheeseburger combo for dine in.

Mission BBQ Free Sandwiches

After a live performance of the National Anthem at noon on Veterans Day, November 11,Mission BBQ locations will be giving away free sandwiches to active-duty military and veterans.

MOD Pizza – Free pizza

In honor of Veterans Day, all MOD Pizza locations will be giving out free pizza or salad to veterans.

This free Veterans Day offer is valid on Wednesday, November 11 only

O’Charley’s Free Meal
On Monday, November 9th, all veterans and all active-duty military personnel will have their choice of one of nine meals on the O’Charley’s “$9.99er” menu. Options include O’Charley’s Famous Chicken Tenders & Twisted Chips, Cowboy Sirloin, Homestyle Chicken Pot Pie and Santa Fe Tilapia, among others.

Olive Garden Free Meal
On Wednesday, November 11, 2015 all veterans and military active duty will receive a free meal from a special menu including entrees, freshly baked garlic breadsticks and a choice of unlimited soup or salad.

Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt

All veterans, retired and active-duty military personnel receive a free cup of froyo, up to 11 ounces, on Veteran’s Day, Nov. 11. To claim the offer, customers should provide proof of military service, such as a military ID card, uniform photo, honors, badges, or come dressed in their military uniform.

Outback Steakhouse Free Bloomin’ Onion® and a beverage
All active, retired military and veterans get a Free Bloomin’ Onion® and a beverage on Veterans Day. Must have valid identification. There is also a military discount of 15% off the total check from November 12th thru December 31st, 2015, valid for military members and their families.

Ponderosa and Bonanza Steakhouse – free buffet from 4P til Closing on Vets day.

Primanti Bros.
Veterans and active duty military get a free sandwich from 4 PM to close on 11/11/15.

Red Lobster Free App
Service members past and present receive a complimentary appetizer or dessert from a special menu. Proof of service required. Valid Monday, November 9 through Thursday, November 12, 2015.

Red Robin Free Burger & Fries

Veterans and active duty military can stop into Red Robin on Tuesday, November 11 to get a free Red’s Tavern Double burger and Bottomless Steak Fries

Sammys Woodfired Pizza and Grill

On Wednesday, November 11, Woodfired Pizza & Grill is celebrating Veterans Day by offering veterans and active service members one of two free selections.

With a valid military ID, you have the choice between hummus served with grilled herb flatbread or garlic cheese bread.

Sheetz Free Sandwich

Sheetz convenience store locationswill be giving veterans and active military members a free lunch on Wednesday, November 11.

The Veterans Day free meal will include a 6 inch turkey sub and a fountain drink. 

Shoney’s Offers Free All-American Burger
Shoney’s says ‘Thank You’ to America’s heroes by offering a Shoney’s All-American Burger and fries to all Veterans and Active Duty Military members on Veterans Day, 11 November 2015.

Tijuana Flats
Veterans and active-duty military eat free on Veterans Day.

Tubby’s Free Sub

Veterans and active duty military members can get a free small Grilled Steak N’ Cheese or Tubby’s Famous Sub 

Village Inn Free Breakfast
All who have served get a free breakfast on Veterans Day. Choose between Buttermilk Pancakes, three slices of French Toast or a Belgian Waffle. Village Inn is also thanking veterans with a “Thank You for Your Service Card”, which is a 20% discount off the total bill for the next time they visit a Village Inn.

Ponderosa and Bonanza Steakhouse – free buffet from 4P til Closing on Vets day.

Wienerschnitzel – Free chili dog and small Pepsi on Vets day.


More locations and benefits can be found at:

Free Veterans Day Meals 2015


Eataly Floor Plan – Chicago


Plan your attack in advance.  Click on image for full size graphic.

Eataly Chicago Floorplan






Eataly Floor Plan


Certfied Angus Brand Deli Corned Beef


Certified Angus Brand ReviewGeez, I just get finished with my “deli roast beef” smackdown, and I run into Certified Angus Brand on sale, which I previously had skipped over. Certified is a brand that was created by a group of Angus ranchers in the late 70s, who wanted to produce a higher quality product, held to higher standards.

This is a good one, deserving to be in the top 5, if not top 3; clearly “whole muscle” meat, and by the taste and texture, lacking the dreaded “injected solution.”

I like it.  I’ll be back. Here’s where to find Certified Angus Brand products, at stores and restaurants.

Certified Angus Brand Review

Certified Angus Brand Corned Beef










Certfied Angus Brand Deli Corned Beef


Boars Head Hot Dogs Review


Boars Head Franks ReviewIt’s “hot dog week” for me, here in the middle of “National Hot Dog Month,” and in advance of “National Hot Dog Day.”

Well, I don’t need an official designation to celebrate hot dogs, I love them and they are a part of my regular “diet.”

I’m especially fond of natural casing dogs, unfortunately, most of America isn’t, NC’s make up less than five percent of the hot dogs sold in the country.

Especially an all beef dog, with minimal additives and preservatives, that’s the ticket.

Today I’m having Boar’s Head weenies, a company that started in the early 1900s in Brooklyn, and is now a national manufacturer and distributor of real size, sell sausages, deli meat, cheese, and condiments.

The Boar’s Head dog ingredient list is short: beef, water, paprika, salts, flavorings in a sheep casing. Perfect.

Around here, they are about $7.50 a pound, or a buck a dog, and that seems to be the price point for most quality NC dogs.

Boar’s Head I can depend on and purchase almost anywhere in the country. When I’m in the Midwest, I like one from a brand called “Old Wisconsin,” and of course, the legendary Chicago manufacturer, Vienna Beef.

Have a dog or ten to celebrate the month and grillin’ season!  Boar’s Head are manufactured in their plant at Jarratt, VA, USDA establishment number M12612, pictured below.  Jarratt is on I-95, about 40 miles south of Richmond.

Boars Head Franks Review

Boar’s Head Virginia Plant






Boars Head Hot Dogs Review


Deli Counter Roast Beef Smackdown


Compare deli roast beefI’ve been on a mission over the past couple years to find deli meat brands I can “call my own.”  That is, that I can purchase and enjoy every time without concern for taste or texture.  I’ve looked at a lot of them, and when I say deli “roast beef,”  I include any kind of meat that started from a beef round.

So here’s the rundown on my favorites:

First place tie – goes to Vienna Beef of Chicago, and Carnegie Deli from New York City.  Excellent products, no additives or fillers of note.

Second place – Dietz and Watson

Three way tie for fifth – Wal Mart house brand Prima Della, Hormel, Charley’s Pride

You’re gonna pay double for the top two as opposed to the bottom three.  But for my taste, they are well worth the coin.






Deli Counter Roast Beef Smackdown


Charleys Pride Roast Beef Review

Charleys Pride Roast Beef Review

Charley’s Pride Main Plant, Vernon, CA

My final installment in checking out the beef products in the deli counter at Wal Mart. Most stores that I have been into seem to carry four brands of beef products; their house brand, “Prima Della,” (review) Sara Lee, Hormel, (review) and “Charley’s Pride.”

The latter three are not very well represented, the house brand takes up 60-70% of the counter offerings for deli meats.

My goal here was to simply see if any of these products, generally selling for half the price of many deli meats elsewhere, were worth putting on my regular shopping / consumption list. I did not bother with Sara Lee, as my past experience with the label was enough to know I wouldn’t be happy with the product.

Today I picked up Charley’s Pride Oven Roasted Roast Beef, at $6.99 pound. (My preferred brands, such as Carnegie or Vienna Beef, are usually $13- $14 per pound.

Charley’s Pride was started in 1969, and is domiciled in two smallish production facilities in Vernon, CA, about 20 miles SE of downtown Los Angeles.

Their website boasts that they sell “premium roast beef, corned beef, pastrami and other fine deli items that are exceptionally flavorful, tender and juicy.” Charley’s Pride sells their beef products in 4 or 8 pound chubs, and there is no way to tell what particular version of beef Wal Mart is offering, as the deli man takes a saran-wrapped chunk out of the deli counter for slicing. Whole chubs are on display in the counter.

While the roast gives the visual appearance of being a whole muscle cut, I’m disappointed to see in the ingredients on Pride’s website, that, depending on which type of roast beef Wal Mart buys, the cut may include an injection of >a 10%, 15%, 20% solution, or isolated soy protein added.  While it has become nearly standard in the industry to have brine injections (to soften the muscle and add weight) or the infamous “isolated soy protein” (a protein and flavor booster), to me, these additives absolutely ruin the tactile pleasure of chewing beef.

The muscle is broken down (I imagine to create a standardized product, primarily), and you might as well (in my mind) be chewing one of those “lunch meats” that come in the packets at 2 or 3 for a dollar. You know, the ones where the only thing that varies is the label and color of the “meat.” Buddig is a good example of that. (Previous review).

Charley’s Pride offers a couple of upscale lines, which I’d like to try; they feature cuts made from American Kobe Beef and Kurobuta Ham. The product descriptions on the website don’t include any additives.

The end result of my decidedly unscientific study of the Wal Mart deli counter is that I will keep going to traditional delis and better groceries and paying 2x the cost of Wal Mart’s deli selections if I want a product that consistently satisfies me for appearance, flavor, and texture.

Afterthought:  I found this product acceptable for use as filling for a “French Dip” style sandwich.  The hot “au jus” takes it to the tolerable level.


Charleys Pride Roast Beef Review








Charleys Pride Roast Beef Review


Hormel Deli Roast Beef Review


Hormel Roast Beef ReviewI’ve been trying out a lot of deli meats, lately, mostly pastrami and corned beef. I’m a fairly big snob / choosy about what I buy, eschewing the more inexpensive brands, which tend to be what I refer to commonly as “chopped, pressed, and form,” meat and other additives reconstituted to resemble roasts.  I much prefer companies that use whole muscle meats for their deli offerings, like NY’s Carnegie and Chicago’s Vienna Beef.

Today I picked up a pound of Hormel Roast Beef ($6.99 a pound, Wal Mart), and upon investigation of the packaging, and noting the USDA establishment number (15835), I find this product is produced and packaged for Hormel by a company called  Dan’s Prize, in Long Prairie, MN.  Dan’s Prize was started in the 80s; Long Prairie is in the middle of the state, about 3.5 hours NW of Hormel headquarters in Austin, Minnesota.

The taste and texture of the meat is acceptable, and my only red flag is the printing on the front of the package “contains isolated soybean proteins.”  Upon further investigation, this is a powder used to emulate flavor in food products, and are a highly concentrated form of protein.  They were developed nearly 80 years ago for industrial purposes, mainly as (wait for it) adhesives for paper coatings.  Yum.

If you choose to shop the deli counter at most Wal Marts, your brand selection is pretty narrow.  Most of the product is Prima Della (Wal Mart’s house brand) (also made by a variety of contract manufacturers), at the store I stopped at today, in addition to the one Hormel product, there were about half a dozen Sara Lee deli meats.

They don’t stock any of the premium national brands at the service deli, however you may find some pre-packaged items elsewhere in the store.

Would I buy the Hormel beef again?  Well, most likely, it’s a fair price, and as I said, the taste and texture are palatable. And who can’t use a little more paper coasting adhesive in their diet?  Pix of Dan’s Prize factory below.

Hormel Deli Roast Beef Review


Hormel Deli Roast Beef Review






Hormel Deli Roast Beef Review


Klements Corned Beef Review


I have been oKlement's Corned Beef Reviewn a mission lately on corned beef and pastrami, haven’t I?  Last week, it was WalMart’s house brand, and I’ve previously covered Dietz & Watson, Vienna Beef, and others.  This week, it’s up to sausage town Milwaukee, to cover one of their iconic brands, Klement’s, which was on sale at one of my local groceries for $6.99 a pound, almost half the price of national brands.

Klement’s is full of rich flavor and has a fairly nice texture/chewability.

Ingredients and nutrition are not found on the Klement’s site, unfortunately.

The product is showing a little of that iridescent one occasionally sees on sliced meat, which naturally occurs when the iron in meat comes in contact with a knife or slicer resulting in a slight oxidation.  The sharper the knife or slicer, the more brilliant the colors.

Klement’s can go on my ‘regular’ list, especially when it’s at this price point. Chicago’s Vienna Beef remains my number one choice, preferred for its texture.

I’m working up to trying to make corned beef and pastrami at home; any suggestions would surely be appreciated.  If you have a craving and want to order quality corned beef or other meat products, just click over to our Amazon shop.

Klement's Corned Beef Review



Klements Corned Beef Review

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