Archive for the ‘Hot off the Grill’ Category
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Garlic Summer Sausage from one of my favorite meat processors, Klement’s of Milwaukee. I enjoyed the product, and it was at a deeply discounted promotional price, which was even better. Today I was zipping through Aldi’s for staples, and noticed they had a garlic summer sausage as well, and fairly inexpensive. Their in-house brand name is Simms. Many of their other processed meat products use the brand name of ParkView. Not sure why the distinction.
This product is made for Aldi at Abbyland Foods, (USDA est. 1633) in Little Chute, WI. Little Chute is almost dead center of the state, halfway between Chippewa Falls and Wausau. They kill cattle and hogs up there in Little Chute, make a gaggle of processed smoked and fresh meat, and still find time to run a truck stop, c-store, and a couple restaurants. Abbyland started in 1977, and today has over 1000 employees and sends product all over the USA. Google Earth pic of the plant, below.
Besides the value pricing, what I liked about this sausage was the garlic was more pronounced than the Klement’s product, but they are both good. Either one of these brands are much better (and considerably cheaper) than Hickory Farms, scourge of every shopping mall in the land at this time of year. Ingredients with the Simms are straightforward, pork, beef, salt, and the list of the “less than 2% stuff.” (Various flavorings and preservatives). It’s a fine grind in an artificial casing. Nice flavor and texture.
Simms Garlic Summer Sausage
Jack’s is one of those former little brands, started as the food equivalent of a garage band, in Little Chute, Wisconsin (outside of Appleton. Near Neenah. Kinda by Menasha. Before you get to Green Bay). Started in 1960. Grew around the state, then the region, bought by Kraft when they were rolling up frozen pizza brands, and then Kraft spun off their pizza division to Nestle. I can’t say why. (Jack’s, DiGiorno, California Pizza Kitchen, and Tombstone are all part of this group.)
Jack’s sits in the ‘value category’, you’re probably not going to pay more than $4, and often they are on sale at 3 or 4 for $10.
Jack’s doesn’t list the ingredients on their website, but there is a mess of them, including my least favorite “….mechanically separated….. bird of some kind.” The company says one of their points of pride is ‘real Wisconsin cheese.’ I would think the Swiss owners would have something to say about that, but I guess not. Nutritional info says a serving size is 1/4 of the pie, for 380 calories, 160 of them from fat, and 37 grams of carbs. Seems low, but it is an ultra-thin crust.
The brand is kind enough to have the warning “do not eat without cooking.”
Directions call for 11 – 13 minutes at 425, center shelf. The pie curled in the oven. Not sure why some frozen pizzas do that and others do not.
Crust: ultra thin, cracker like
Sauce: a little towards the sweet side, but ample
Cheese: a fair amount, good flavor, nice “pull”
Pepperoni: not bad
Sausage: very small bits, no flavor at all. I’d prefer larger pieces and a little fennel and/or garlic.
Verdict: To my unsophisticated palate, most of the brands in the ‘value pricing category’ taste about the same. With the exception of the “ultra-value” like Totino’s or Jeno’s,which you can sometimes find for 10 / $10 – and they are truly awful. Would I buy this one again? I’d probably keep a few around if I ran into another 3 or 4 for $10 deal. Product locator.
After a year of extensive study (there are a lot of frozen pizza reviews on the site), my favorites remain Chicago’s Vito and Nicks II, and the Screamin’ Sicilian Brand from Milwaukee manufacturer, Palermo.
We’ve talked about value and ultra value here; I think there needs to be an ultra premium category of frozen pizza. Probably in the $12 – $15 range.
Below is the publicity photo from Jack’s website, and my photo of the pie just out of the oven. Waddya think? Do they look the same?
Jacks Pizza Review
(THIS BUSINESS IS NOW CLOSED).
I love story tellers. I like to tell stories, too. I’m not so good at it. but I know someone who is.
At the opposite end of the spectrum of my likes and dislikes are words used in cuisine reviews these days – like “fusion”, or “mash-up”. and this prejudice probably comes (as I date myself) from the days when I first started experiencing “nouveau” or “California cuisine,” which were code words for “little tiny portions that we are gonna make you really pay through the nose for.”
But when I raise the topic of words I don’t like to use in my writing, Mrs. BurgerDogBoy gently prods me and sez “But, BurgerDogBoy,” those are words and phrases that people have come to expect when you are talking about something new!” And I reply (grumble, grumble), and continue to look for new ways to describe food innovation.
But proper, descriptive words and phrases escape me when it comes to trying to define one of the newer efforts in Portland’s food cart scene – the tale of Budd and Grae Lewis with their “Domo Dogs.” I first encountered them, but didn’t have a chance to try their product, when they started selling their innovative ‘tubular nutritional delivery vehicles” (that’s what franks are called in the trades these days), in front of the Asian hypermart, “H-Mart” (Open 365 day! their banner proclaims!) on 99w, in Tigard.
The Domo Dog people have since journeyed to a number of other locations, seeking out their own slice of food-cart nirvana. That having eluded them for now, you’ll catch them at various special events and neighborhood festivals. Mrs. BurgerDogBoy and I caught up with them last nite at “Last Thursday” in the Alberta Street neighborhood.
What does this have to do with me loving story-tellers? Simple. Budd Lewis is one story-teller extraordinaire. As you are waiting for your order, one can easily nudge Budd into a tale from his most extraordinary life – whether that yarn is one from his days of working for film icons Roger Corman or James Cameron, shooting beloved national television commericals, or weaving a tale of of audio suspense, like this one, his recent saga of a Halloween night in his home town of New Orleans, .
Budd, with a gravely, passionate, accented voice, straight out of the heart of Acadiana, weaves a story with the same panache and finesse he puts into creating his very special treats, Domo Dogs, which he has named “Japanese Fusion Hot Dogs.”
What exactly does that mean? In all cases, it means he starts with a quality, hefty, sake-steamed sausage, finished off on a grill, before placing it in a high-quality toasted bun.
In the case of the “Major Domo”, the sausage is topped with teriyakai marinaded onions, ponzu-mayo, sweet chili sauce, and flaked seaweed and sesame seeds. You know the joy of biting into a great hot dog on the 4th of July, with all your favorite toppings, crisp and fresh? Compared to that, the Major Domo is like biting into Cirque du Soleil, and having astonishing performers dance around your taste “budds” such as you couldn’t even having imagined before your first bite! In the case of the Domo Yaki, starting with the same steamed sausage and bun, but topped with daikon sprouts, coconut cream peanut sauce, and teri-mayo, it’s like sitting in same said performance, experiencing all the joys and wonders in front of your eyes, and having a parade of concessionaires selling sweet desserts, dump their trays accidentally onto your face; you, slowly, deliberately, licking their wares of your face until you just can’t eat any more. Order your dog “half and half” and experience “dinner” at the Major end, turn it around, and get your “dessert” with the Yaki end, at least that’s how Grae Lewis first described it to me, and I can’t take exception to her own description. In the European tradition, these opposites would come from the ‘sweet or savory’ selections of edibles.
As interested as the Lewis’ were in my reaction, Mrs. BurgerDogBoy was watching me intently as I took my first tentative bites. She knows I’m not much for food innovation, and she would describe me as a food purist and/or snob. (OK, yes, you’re right, she thinks I am a snob about a lot of things!) (But loves me in spite of that, so pfffffffffffffffffffffft). (Further update – actually along the way, we discovered she never loved me!).
loves me the most when I flash a smile that goes from ear -to-ear, and that’s what she saw on me last night, with each bite of my dog.
So what’s with the title of my post? Domo Dogs are worth beating a path to Budd and Grae’s door, wherever they set up (and you can find out where they will be on their FB page), but while you are waiting for the circus in your mouth to launch, get Budd to weave you a tale of wonder and awe from his most astonishing life; or a story that starts with you asking a traditional Southern Louisiana question, “how’s your mama and them?”
You’ll be spellbound, literally, as your ears feast on his wonderful stories, and your mouth screams with excitement as you bite into a Domo Dog.
These fine people deserve all the accolades and success that Portlandians bestow on the real winners of our creative food cart culture. And when their success, dogs, and special sauces are everywhere across our great land, you’ll be able to tell your children that you stood in line for a Domo Dog, ‘back in the day’, and when Budd himself was weaving tales, and tending the grill. And you heard it here first: hot dogs will be the next national ‘craze’, pushing “gourmet burgers’ to an also-ran category. Trust me on this.
(Postscript) Occasionally, Mrs. BDB reads one of these and points out things I miss. That’s her job. She reminded me last night that ‘less adventurous’ diners should note that Domo Dogs also serves some “American Style” dogs as well! They have a bona-fide chili dog, for example, and also offer an all beef dog with your choice of condiments! My apologies to all for not remembering to include these important facts – the Domo Dogs has something for everyone!
Portland Food Carts
Bada bing! Mort’s has been around so long, I am sure they catered to Moses at some point.
Tucked in a strip mall, at the back of a grocery store parking lot, Mort’s is a full-service traditional delicatessen (restaurant and meat counter) with an attached bakery.
This used to be a regular haunt of mine when I lived in the ‘hood, and I don’t get back there often enough, tho this trip, I managed to squeeze out two visits, once for a sandwich, and another time to load up on hard salami and ham to tote home.
A plain, lean, over-stuffed corned beef sandwich is an item that is (surprisingly) difficult to find (prepared, that is) in my town, so I welcomed the chance to grab one to go at Mort’s.
It didn’t disappoint.
Mort’s menu is online. When traveling the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles, check out Mort’s sometime. On the other coast, in New York, be sure grab a sammich from the Carnegie Deli - they also distribute their beef rounds to selected groceries.
A few weeks ago, I made frankfurters at home, I usually do this once or twice a year. The recipe is rather simple beef and pork on a 2/1 ratio, paprika, black pepper, celery seeds, garlic powder, dry milk powder, ground mustard, white pepper,coriander, and salt. You process this all, adding ice cubes slowly until you get a slurry of meat product which can easily slide into the casings, natural or not, your choice; my preference is always natural. You can refrigerate them to consume in the next week, freeze them, or smoke them and then freeze.
Well, I was a little ambitious on the meat, and had a lot left over that I froze in one pound packs, and have been using for various things. Wednesday is my hamburger day, and I didn’t feel like going out, and had no pure ground beef in the house, so I used a pound of the weenie mixture and shaped it into three patties.
Because of the content, the patties carmelized a little in the pan, and the distinctive color is a result of the spices. You’ll note from the pic of the sliced burger, that this is beyond a fine grind, and so the patty tends to be chewier, lacking the air pockets you find in most ground meats.
But for me, flavor was excellent, and I dressed them with dijon/mayo mixture and dill slices. I’ll make them again, and maybe not only when I have left over frankfurter meat!
Some people say “eat where the cops eat.” I say “eat where they take senior citizens, it’s bound to be ok and a good value.” OK, I don’t say that, and I wouldn’t really hunt that kind of place down, probably means no salt on the tables, and no deep fried food or gravy on the menu.
But I was driving through Wilbur, Washington (I can never say or hear that word without thinking of “Willllllllllllllllllllllbr” being whinnied by Mr. Ed).
And but what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a half-burnt out neon that said “Billy Burger”. Slam on brakes, skid across gravel parking lot, come to rest right in front of the county sheriff getting out of his car….wow, cops AND seniors (a senior bus was there, and the place was aflurry with blue hairs). (When they weren’t waiting in line for the bathroom) (Note to self, pee on seat.) Wilbur is known for more than Billy Burgers, it being the center of a recent spate of crop circles, hopefully formed by extra-terrestrials. As such, Billy Burger promptly added the “Alien Burger with Invasion Fries” (bacon, Swiss, grilled mushrooms and mayo, lettuce and tomato) to their menu. But I went with the namesake “Billy Burger” (double meat, Swiss, mayo, relish, pickle, lettuce, tomato, onion). The patties are pre-formed, taken from the meat cooler next to the griddle, dropped on to sizzling stage, smashed once, flipped. Cooking doesn’t take long, and cook moves the patties to a slightly buttered, grilled Franz bun, before adding the condiments. (Did you know Portland’s Franz Bakery invented the hamburger bun? So who else would you pick for a supplier in the Northwest?)
Fry choice is varied, some at extra cost, standard frozen fries, fresh cut, fajita fries, tots, rings, fried cheese or mushrooms. I opted for tots, which the cook took from the freezer in a preportioned serving size baggie, and dumped them into the fryer until they were crispy brown.
To keep your attention while you are waiting on your burger, Billy Burger has one of the largest collections of salt and pepper shakers I have ever seen. I have a gaggle of them myself, but these put my set to shame!
I collected my brown bag and moved to one of the picnic tables outside, next to the sheriff’s car, and within eyesight of the senior bus, so I could catch all the action! And the burger? Nice. Juicy, crispy edges, like Fatburger. Quality condiments, couldn’t finish it all. Tots extra crispy, to my liking. Diet soft drink to wash it down.
Great burger, sunny picnic table, and a view of all those blue-haired hotties. What a day. Whether you’re in the mood for crop circles or onion rings, meander on up to Wilbur for a Billy Burger.
Billy Burger Review
Over the past month, there have been more readers of this site from Urbana than any other Illinois city! When was the last time you beat out Chicago for anything? Keep reading, and feel free to send in your pix and pithy reviews of burgers, dogs, and pizza! Thanks again!
“Polish” Sausage is the Americanization of a smoked beef / pork sausage from Poland that is commonly called kielbasa. The American version is generally milder than the original, depending on the manufacturer. Many Chicago companies call their polish sausage “Maxwell Street” (style), as an homage to a sandwich that was commonly sold to the immigrant settlers in one of Chicago’s oldest neighborhoods, Maxwell Street, a major east-west thoroughfare; a lot of that area now is home to the Chicago campus of the University of Illinois.
Back in the day, Maxwell Street was home to a large open air market, where one could buy nearly anything, legal, or illegal, and the Maxwell Street sandwich was common fare in the market – a grilled split sausage, with grilled onions and yellow mustard, served on a bun, sport peppers on request. Today’s “New” Maxwell Street market is a very vibrant giant flea market, held on Sunday’s year round, with a decidedly international flair.
Bobak’s, a Chicago area sausage maker, has been around for more than fifty years, and makes all manner of smoked and fresh sausages and deli meats, as well as operating a large grocery with their own products and imported European groceries. The grocery, pictured below, is at 5275 S. Archer Ave.
(Got a craving for Chicago foods? Get hot dogs, pizzas, and more delivered to your home!)
Bobak’s appears to share a production facility with another Chicago brand, located on the West Side. Based on the low double digit number assigned to the plant by the USDA, this plant, in some form, has been around a very long time, and probably dates back to stockyard days.
The Bobak Polish come in to different lengths, 8″ for buns, 12″ to heat and eat as a dinner sausage. It has a very mild flavor, and the bun length ones have a great ‘snap’ and a nice smoke. Ingredients are: Pork, Beef, Water, Corn Syrup, Potassium Lactate, Sat, Natural Flavors, Sodium Phosphates, Dextrose, Sugar, Sodium Diacetate, Garlic, Sodium Erythorbate, Sodium Nitrite.
The bun length ones are five to a 14 ounce package, I paid around $4.00, which is a good value, but that was a sale price. I prefer my Polish on a bun with kraut and yellow mustard. When I used to travel to Poland on business, the local employees would treat me to a sausage soup, which was absolutely terrific. (Polish soup recipes).
Bobak Polish Sausage Review
(From our travel archives) Every time I go to Cincinnati, I just want to hit the chili dog stands. There are hundreds of them, and I’ve written about them before in this space. This trip, we skipped the hot dogs in favor of the hottest new places in town – Jean Robert at Pigall’s.
This essay could be subtitled, “the case of the chef that skipped,” for Jean Robert Cavel was formerly the chef at the five star Maisonette, one of the most well known eateries in Cincy. Classy but unpretentious, Jean Robert has the city talking – and eating. The restaurant offers creative, but not outlandish preparations of classic French cuisine, and seafood choices dominate.
Diners have two choices of prix fixe menus – a three course selection at $75 each, which does not include beverages, or a five course experience at $140 per person, which includes wine with each course.
The restaurant is comfortably appointed with woods, chandeliers, and neutral tones. The room gives an airy, not crowded feeling. Service is attentive but not overbearing.
I opted for the three course plate, as our host had specific wines that he wanted us to try. I started with an interesting twist on my old favorite of escargot, which was served in a slightly sweet “savory” sauce, much akin to Emeril’s version of barbecued shrimp. From there, I moved to veal medallions, which the server suggested be served at medium rare, and it was some of the best veal I have ever tasted.
While my fellow diners opted for desserts on the sweet, but heavenly side, I opted for Jean Robert’s cheese plate, which presented six contrasting cheeses splayed out in order of sharpness.
Jean-Robert at Pigall’s was named one of the top 75 new restaurants in the world by Conde-Nast, just six months after opening. That was two years ago. I’m sure a repeat visit by the judges would find it the same. A wonderful experience.
Dinner, Tues-Sat. Jean Robert at Pigall’s is located at 127 W. Fourth St. Cincinnati, OH 45202. 513-721-1345 . Proper attire required.
jean robert cincinnati