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StoneRidge Meat Snack Sticks Review


StoneRidge Bratwurst ReviewAn affinity for all things butchered and old world sausage making brought together the principals that started StoneRidge Meat and Country Market, now known as StoneRidge Piggly Wiggly.

Located in mid-Wisconsin, thirty minutes west of the Fox River Valley, the market serves grocery shoppers and sausage aficionados from a wide radius. Why sausage lovers? StoneRidge has built a superb in-house meat department, specializing in a wide variety of cured, uncured, and flavored meats, and are particularly known for their dozens of bratwurst flavors.

StoneRidge produces a widely-enjoyed meat snack sticks, also made in flavors, including original, pepperjack, habanero, honey BBQ, teriyaki and more. I tried out their .Bacon and Cheddar variety.

I think that a Philadelphia entrepreneur, Adolph Levis, who had built a business selling specialty foods to bars and delis, is credited with ‘inventing’ the beef snack stick in the 1940s, though I believe it was probably inspired by the German snack “Landjager.” Levis thought America was in need of a portable, ready-to-eat version of sausage.

There are certainly companies much larger than StoneRidge that make beef sticks, but probably none that produce a product of this quality. The “big guys” tend to have “mechanically separated poultry” as a prime ingredient, but in the StoneRidge variety, you’ll find beef, pork, and flavor seasonings. Period.

What I liked about the StoneRidge product is the distinct flavoring, a coarser grind than most competitors, meaning there’s no doubt in your mind this is a real meat product.

There are a lot of other reasons to enjoy StoneRidge snack sticks:

  • They are extremely portable – take hiking, camping, tailgating,   have in your office drawer, or the kid’s school lunches.
  • They are a high protein, low carb snack.
  • They are gluten-free.
  • Ounce for ounce, they are one-third the price of beef jerky.

Great taste. Good value. Get yours at your local grocer, or browse the online catalog and order direct from StoneRidge.  While you’re waiting for your package of deliciousness to arrive, follow StoneRidge on Twitter and Facebook.

StoneRidge Bratwurst Review

        Bacon & Cheddar Meat Snack Sticks






StoneRidge Meat Snack Sticks Review


Muffaletta Sandwich Review


Muffaletta Central GroceryOriginated by immigrants in New Orleans, the muffaletta is a large sandwich on a round loaf, with salami, mortadella, ham, mozzarella, and olive salad.

Tho the recipe for the ‘salad’ can vary, it is generally made up of diced olives, celery, cauliflower, carrots, oregano and garlic, marinaded in olive oil.

It was designed to be a “full meal” working man’s lunch.

By any account I’ve ever heard or read, the  sandwich originated at Central Grocery, which is still in business, and still peddling the sandwiches to long lines of tourists in the French Market area.  They are sold in halves (around $9.00) and whole (around $18.00).  A quarter of a sandwich is an ample enough serving for most folks. Central is also a great place to buy imported Italian foodstuffs.

Locals all have their favorites at different locations around town, with many votes going to the ones at the Napoleon House in the Quarter.  Some think the sandwich should be served warm, some say cold.  There are also different ways to spell it.

I’ve enjoyed them all over the city, and personally, I like the ones at Cooter Brown’s, a college bar at the end of the St. Charles streetcar line. Cooter’s has 400 different beers in bottles, and 40 on tap, plus some of the least expensive oysters in town.  I’ve included their full food menu here.  Cooter’s is strictly self-serve, at the bar, for oysters, and food.  No servers.

The reason I like the Cooter’s muff is they are more generous than most with the fillings, and their olive salad is more “olive-y.”

Last week, I had a half at Central Grocery, and a half at Cooters.  Both were delicious!  (I got the fries at Cooters – in many parts of the country, this style is called “cottage fries).”

Cooter Browns Muffaletta
Central Grocery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Muffaletta Sandwich Review


George’s Review – Indianapolis


George's Neighborhood Grill ReviewGeorge’s is a friendly bar and grill, located on the northeast side of Indianapolis, just off the 465.  The feature a large selection of craft beers, and an amped up menu of bar fare, including appys, pastas, salads, sandwiches, entrees, pizza, and desserts. Something for everyone.  Check out the loaded waffle fries for a different appetizer experience, with crumbled bacon, sour cream, cheddar and mozzarella cheeses and scallions.

One of our at-large reporters, Southside Bob, stopped in to George’s for a slice of Coconut Cream Pie and reported it superb. Over a dozen beers on tap, including domestic, craft, and imports, some rotating regularly.

Open daily at 11 AM. George’s complete menu, and directions

George's Neighborhood Grill








George’s Review


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

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