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Archive for the ‘Hot off the Grill’ Category

Cento Pizza Sauce Review

Cento Pizza Sauce ReviewI’m always scouring the grocery shelves for pizza ingredients I haven’t tried before;  this week it is Cento brand.  I have previously tried a number of competitors, including Pastorelli, Mutti, and one of my usuals, Contadina in a squeeze bottle.

Cento was founded in 1963 in the city of brotherly love, initially as an importer of Italian products.  If you’ve never cruised the old-timey Italian restaurants in Philly, you’ve missed out.  About 20 years later, they started putting out products under their own name.  They have a very deep line of tomato products, whole, crushed, seasoned, paste and so on.

On the website, they tout their tomato products are fresh picked from the vine, and some are the highly regarded San Marzanos from Italy, but there is no reference to whether this includes the pizza sauce.  The ingredients on the sauce label are straightforward: water, tomato concentrate, olive oil, salt, basil, black pepper, garlic powder.

I like it for two reasons, it has a slight acidic taste (which is natural for tomatoes), is not cloyingly sweet like many competitors who add sweeteners to their recipe, and it has a heft/thickness that appeals to me for putting on my pies.  More appealing than the watery  sauces.  Objection?  It’s a 15 oz can, which is way more than one needs for a single pizza, maybe they could do the squeeze bottle thing like Contadina?  Then I’d be a regular.

Cento pizza sauce review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cento Pizza Sauce Review

Our Farm Brand Bacon Review

Our Farm Bacon ReviewSpoiler alert. Worst. Bacon. Ever.

Bacon and bacon flavored items are everywhere these days. Bacon salt, bacon mayo, bacon soap….you name it, it’s probably available.  It’s clear that we love bacon. Americans eat bacon an average of 18 times each year, for a total of 5,608,654,506 pounds annually! Yes, that’s BILLION.   62% of restaurants have bacon on their menus.  People over 34 eat more bacon than those younger than 34. (Curious).

Oscar Mayer is the number one brand, with Hormel Black Label in the # 2 slot.

“Our Farm” brand falls into the value pricing category, it’s made by Fresh Mark, Inc. of Ohio, who does a lot of private label packaging and also sells “Superior” and “Sugardale” brands. It’s processed at USDA establishment #31.

“Our Farm” is more fat than meat, considerably more, and it seems to be a common complaint by consumers, at least on one website.

I can’t recommend that you buy this product if you are planning on serving bacon as a side, or using it on sandwiches, but if it is on sale cheap enough, it would be OK for seasoning soups or other dishes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bacon trends report from the Pork Board.

 

 

Our Farm Bacon Review

Our Farm Bacon Review

Walmart Sub Review

Walmart Sub ReviewI  Grabbed a Walmart sub on the way out of the store the other day.  They are generally in a case up by the service deli, and there are several varieties; the label says  they “Made Fresh in Store.”

I opted for the “Italian Hero,” a “fresh baked rustic French loaf piled high with salami, pepperoni, hot ham capicolla and provolone cheese.” (Note, it wasn’t piled THAT high).  It also has lettuce and tomato, and there are squeezy pouches of mayo and mustard in the wrap.   Those eight sandwich components are made of (drumroll)… of over one hundred separate ingredients, according to the label (pictured below).

The sandwich costs  $5.48, or $5.15 per pound.  If you think weight equals value, note that there are heavier weighing sandwiches in the case for the same price.

What did I think of it?   It’s ok, I guess.  I can’t compare it to Subway, as I haven’t been in one for a really long time, don’t really care for them.  The meat in this sandwich has a nice little kick to it, some good flavor, but the moisture content of the vegetables plays hell on the bread, depending on how long the sandwich is in the case (mine was apparently there awhile).  I had no objections to the bread, whatever, tho I noted other sandwiches were on a “cheesy bread,” and I would prefer that.

I think the sandwich could be improved by wrapped the lettuce and tomato OUTSIDE of the bread, like the did with the condiments.  Wouldn’t seem to increase production time or costs, if they really are made in the store.

And I’d like a pickle, please.

 

Walmart Sub Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walmart Sub Review

Sals Pizza Coupons

Sal’s Pizza Coupons

Here are some Sal’s Pizza Coupons from Algonquin, IL.   I love Sal’s.   The coupons were a mail item, but they do not say whether or not they accept anything but originals.  Should be ok.  If they are not, it’s not my fault. LOL . Click on image for full size.  Sal’s Review.  Sal’s Menu.

Sals Pizza Coupons Algonquin

Burger King Yumbo Review

Burger King Yumbo ReviewI don’t get into Burger King very often – maybe once every five years or if there’s something new I think I should try.  (I owe that to you guys, of course, I try things so you don’t have to).  I don’t know when they lost favor/flavor with me, I used to be a semi-regular.

Eschewing my favorite local burger place tonight, I zipped through BK for the 2 / $5, and opted for the “Yumbo” ham and cheese, and the “Big Fish.”

Burger King started in Jacksonville, FL, in 1953, after the founder checked out the original McDonalds in San Bernardino, CA.  The distinction became the “Insta-Broiler” which gave the burgers a charcoal like appearance and taste.  The company grew, added  franchises, and stumbled a bit in 1959, and the Miami franchisee bought the rights to the company and continued to grow it.  Since then it has been through a dozen or so owners, and is currently held by a private equity group based in Brazil.  It’s had Mexican, British, and other owners, including Pillsbury for awhile.  The most recent move of the Brazilians (in partnership with Warren Buffet) was to acquire Tim Horton’s, the mega chain in Canada. The goal of private equity owners is always to boost ‘value’ and the easiest way to do that is to buy increased revenue/cash flow by acquiring another company (regardless of the reasons stated publicly).  Then they flip to another private equity group or dump the company on the public markets, take their gains, and move on.

I digress.

Confession:  I like fast food “ham” and “fish.”  Much preferred to the mass market fast food burgers, in any case, even tho the “ham” is never “real” (except in the case of Bojangles).  Among “fake” hams, I like Arbys Jr, for a buck.

I like the fish because they are cooked after you order, so it’s hot and “fresh.”

Burger King Yumbo

BK’s  “Yumbo” marks the return of a sandwich first offered decades ago; the company describes it asslices of savory black forest ham, topped with American cheese, crisp lettuce, and creamy mayo, all served  heated on a toasted hoagie bun.”  Mostly accurate with the exception (in my sandwich) is the lettuce wasn’t crisp, and the final stage of preparation is microwaving, which kind of takes the body out of any sandwich.

Burger King Big Fish

Their “Big Fish” carries the following description:  “Our premium Big Fish Sandwich is 100% White Alaskan Pollock, breaded with crispy panko breading and topped with sweet tartar sauce, tangy pickles, all  on top of a toasted Artisan Style bun.”  Again, mostly accurate.  It’s difficult to tell the breading is panko, as panko crumbs are usually larger in size;  Wendy’s had a good panko fish LTO a few years ago.  In any case, I judge it to be slightly better than McDonalds, for more personal tastes, McDonalds fish has always seemed to me like a tartar sauce sandwich on a bun with a fish taste. Seriously overdoing the tartar.

In the case of both (and any sandwiches ever, anywhere), I think shredded lettuce is a distraction.  Bring on the whole leaves, if  it must be a component.

I added fries, and my 2 /$5 deal ended up in the $8 range.  BK says their fries are “More delicious than ever, our signature piping hot, thick cut Salted French Fries are golden on the outside and fluffy on the inside.”

I never got to try BK’s “Satisfries” which they dumped after only a year.  The current product is an extruded fry (not cut from real potatoes, but a mashed potato slurry put through a mold, frozen, then fried), which I have never really cared for.  I like fries with a little “bite.”

But I realize BK is not in business just for me and this type of fry is very popular with the masses, and most people don’t know the difference.

BK’s 2 / $5 deal currently includes a mix and match choice of the fish, ham and cheese, original chicken, and the 530 calorie Big King.  Not sure if the offering is permanent or limited time.

Their “dollar menu” has fine print that says “starting at one dollar.”  Most items are more.

Recommendations?   BK’s fish and the ham and cheese are a nice respite from burgers at the big chains.  I like that BK toasts buns.  I’d do them again, but with the shredded lettuce, avoid eating while driving!  BK App/Locator.

Hungry for some really great ham?  Check this out.

Burger King FIsh Fish Review

Big Fish

 

Burger King Yumbo Reivew

BK Yumbo Ham & Cheese

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Burger King Yumbo Review

Burger King Yumbo Review

GrubHub Review

GrubHub ReviewGrub Hub, a restaurant delivery service, started in Chicago in 2004, and through a series of acquisitions, has become the nation’s premier restaurant delivery company, representing eateries in 800 US cities and London, England.

They own a few other sites, seamless.com, allmenus.com and menupages.com.

About 30,000 restaurants are represented in their online and mobile apps. Peruse the choices available in your area, order food, pay, wait for delivery.

The operation hires car and bicycle delivery persons, who use their own vehicles and are compensated from delivery fees (paid to GrubHub by restaurant ‘partners’), with a minimum guarantee.  I wonder how their income compares to Uber and Lyft drivers?  Will services like GrubHub be hurt if Uber goes big into delivery?

There are a lot of competitors in this segment, I’ve used a number of them, with Delivered Dish being the one I have the most experience with (and absolutely no complaints).

The other day, I tried GrubHub for the first time, I have looked at it before, but in the area I am ordering from, they didn’t have a very deep selection of restaurants, and they ones they do have, I could just as easily call direct and save a few bucks. Though I do prefer ordering online, as there seems to be less mistakes made in orders, in my experience.

How it happened that I did try GrubHub was that I was sitting around, bored to tears, playing with my phone and looked at their phone app.

Low and people, and totally weird, there were different restaurants offered on the app than I had seen on the website. My first thought was they had added these restaurants, but checking the website, the ‘new’ ones still weren’t listed.

Intrigued, I ordered a pizza through the phone app, paid, received an estimated delivery time about an hour ahead, and waited for the delivery dude or dudette, who, in reality, showed up ahead of the scheduled time.

My ‘feigned consternation’ about the different listings motivated me to inquire (via Twitter) to GrubHub and ask “what the deal was?”

Which led to a series of D.M.s that didn’t produce a satisfactory answer, the end result of which was that the listings should be the same on both sites.

One clue was produced, however, as to why the difference may occur. Apparently, their algorithms treat searches differently, depending on whether or not you enter your address for a search, or allow your geolocation software take over. Not sure why.  If there’s a problem here, it might be because we have all experienced the inaccuracies of online mapping at one time or another.

So woe be to the restaurant owner which might actually be closer to you than one the software picks.

As part of the relationship, GrubHub provides research to restaurants, information that they glean from their customers ordering habits, including food trends, time of day, price point averages and so on. Pretty valuable info, actually.

In theory, GrubHub’s ad budget should increase local restaurant sales, and their in-house technology should improve restaurant operations. They don’t seem to have a very high turnover of restaurant customers, so most must be satisfied with the service.

As was I.

I’d use them again, but I would hope there would be more restaurant choices in my area in the future, and synchronization of the listings between the site and app. I also noticed they list at least one restaurant in my area that has been out of business for some time, which indicates there might not be enough follow up between the sales staff and partner restaurants.

Of course, since GrubHub deals with thousands of restaurants and as many delivery people, your results may vary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GrubHub Review

Texan BBQ Algonquin Reviews

Texan BBQ Algonquin ReviewI was in this place once 25 years or so ago;  they’ve been around for about 30+ years in this distant Chicago suburb.   It’s fairly standard barbecue fare (for the midwest) offering a full menu, including pork and beef ribs, turkey, sausage, chicken, brisket and additional, non-smoked fare like burgers, chicken fried steak and the like.  Standard sides are beans, slaw, and a choice of potato.  Food is available on plates, with one, two, or three meats, or as sandwiches.

Meats are cooked in house on a hickory fire.

Order and pay for your food at the counter when you walk in, have a seat and your meals will be brought to you.

The have a ‘sauce bar’, where you can fill ramekins of “mild,” “hot,” or “spicy” sauce, but they all tasted exactly the same to me.   We had the ribs/chicken combo, the chicken fried steak, and an order of rings.

The chicken fried steak was  a large serving, two pieces, with gravy and biscuits and the aforementioned sides.   The menu had stated each entree came with Texas toast and pickles, but no such luck today. Biscuits were the order of the day, instead.   If you’re a regular reader, you know how much I go for Texas toast!

Was it great?  Not really?  Worth a drive?  Not really.  A good value?  Not really.   It’s one of those times where as cliched as it sounds, “it was what it was.”  But to last over 30 years, he must be doing something right.  The Texan BBQ also caters.

Texan BBQ Algonquin Review

Chicken Fried Steak

 

Texan BBQ Algonquin Review

Ribs & Chicken Plate

 

Texan BBQ Algonquin Review

O Rings

 

Two entrees, plus tip, $35.

Texan Barbeque on Urbanspoon

 

Texan BBQ Algonquin Reviews

DeLish Hot Dog Puffs

DeLish Hot Dog Puffs(Good &) deLish is one of Walgreen’s food brands, along with Nice!  and a couple others.  They have a lot of heat and eat foods in their coolers these days, including burgers, sandwiches, pizzas and appetizers.  I’ve tried the burgers and the pizza.

These hot dog puffs come in a pack of 8 for $2.50 6.4 ounces), on the shelf next to them were boneless wings and spanakopita.  The selling points on the package here are “no preservatives, artificial colors, flavors or high fructose corn syrup.”

They are further advertised as “uncured beef mini franks wrapped in a flaky butter puff pastry.”

Ingredient list:  Puff Pastry , (Enriched Unbleached Wheat Flour , (Wheat Flour , Malted Barley Flour , Niacin , Reduced Iron , Thiamin Mononitrate , Riboflavin , Folic Acid) , Butter (Pasteurized Cream) , (Beef , Beef , water , Contains Less Than 2% of the Following , Contains Less Than 2% of the Following) , (Allspice , Celery Juice Powder , Evaporated Cane Syrup , Garlic Powder , Ginger , Honey , Lactic Acid Starter Culture (Not from dairy) , Mustard , Nutmeg , Onion Powder , Paprika , Pepper , Sea Salt).

Celery juice is the “new MSG” doncha know?   Wish they didn’t have cane syrup and honey in them, but oh well.

deLish hot dog pubbsInstructions call for 18-20 minutes in a pre-heated 375 oven.  After 18 minutes, they were only at the soggy dough factor. (Left).  So I tried for another ten minutes (28 total).   Then another five minutes.  I’ve heard of “your results may vary,” but this seems a little extreme!  After 32 minutes they had (sort of) crisped up and were showing signs of their advertised “flaky pastry.”  But they certainly don’t look like the ones on the package but that’a a curse of our society in general, things are just not like they are advertised (including people).  *Yes, my  $7000 oven is calibrated).

Fortunately I had made a couple of gallons of chicken and dumplings today, so I wasn’t going to starve.

I waited a few minutes before sampling to see if that mattered.   It didn’t.  The franks have good flavor, but the ‘blankets’ never got crispy.   So I’ve tried ‘em, won’t buy them again.

BTW, you know a frozen pasty that really rocks?  Try Trader Joe’s Chocolate Croissants. Really.

According to the USDA establishment number on the package ( 31924), these babies are made for Walgreens by Pegasus Foods of Los Angeles. Pegasus says they make premium ethnic, Mediterranean, and gourmet food of different ilks. They apparently do a large contract manufacturing business, in addition to Walgreens, they work for Cinnabon and Melrose Kitchen.

They started in 1998 as a contract manufacturer specializing in filo dough products.

And now you now “the rest of the story.”

DeLish Hot Dog Puffs

Unbaked

 

deLish Hot Dog Puffs

Out of the Oven – 32 Minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DeLish Hot Dog Puffs

Memphis, TN – Dyers (the Legend)

Since 1912, Dyer’s has been serving up legendary burgers in Memphis, choosing deep frying as the cooking method. It’s always been purported that the secret to the “good taste” is the fact they have never changed the cooking oil since they opened – but strain it nightly. On the surface, some people might be put off by the sound of this, it’s really not as dramatic as it sounds, potato chip factories to it. On a regular schedule, chip factories vacuum the oil out of their fryers, filter it and put it back it, topping off with “new”. In that situation, about 1/3 of the oil used goes out on the chips daily. Some percentage of Dyer’s does as well.

I thought it would be MUCH cooler if they actually had this bubbling mass of dark oil that they had NEVER removed from the fryers, and one day, Geraldo went down there and emptied the vats, to find Jimmy Hoffa, the Ark of the Covenant, and planes that had disappeared from the Bermuda Triangle! Now that would be great!

Some people probably tout the experience of going to Dyer’s as excellent because it enabled them to escape Memphis’ panhandlers for a few moments of solitude.

I walked in, was surprised at the cheeriness and decor (reminds me of a Johnny Rockets, actually), I was expecting dark and oily interiors, like the barbecue places in Lockhart, TX. But alas, apparently Dyer’s had moved numerous times before landing in touristville, Beale Street.

No matter. The menu is straight-forward, burgers, dogs, shakes, fries, rings, and the young waitpersons pretty enthusiastic, all things considered.

I went for the single with cheese combo, which comes with fries and a drink. Instead I got a double plain, by mistake, but it was the server’s fault, and I wasn’t charged with the double. I probably shouldn’t have cheese, anyway.

The fries were excellent, too good in fact, best I have had on this road trip.  The burgers come standard with mustard, pickle, and onion, and you know I’m all about that combination, so they had me for that.

I don’t know that the average palate  (like mine) could tell that these patties are deep-fried, they aren’t dripping with grease, and, I suspect, the baptismal dip into the hot oil probably seals the meat.  You could tell that oil was nearby tho, due to the shimmering spots on the bun (pictured).  I thought that was kinda cute, actually. It’s a good burger, thin and crispy, flavorful meat, all on its own.

Belly full, tee shirt in hand, I emerged back into Memphis’ Disneyland for the Homeless (even Bourbon Street in NOLA isn’t this bad), and was content to know another legendary burger had been checked off BurgerDogBoy’s “Burgers I Must Have Before Dying, or Where I’d be Happy to Die Mid-Bite!”


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Dyer's Burgers on Urbanspoon

 

dyers memphis review

Grandmas Saloon and Grill Poutine

Grandmas Saloon and GrillMy home town, Duluth, Minnesota, is a couple hours from the Canadian border, and heavily dependent upon Canadians for its economy – shopping, medical care, and  tourism.

In all the decades I lived there, Canadians were welcome, and even when exchange rates weren’t favorable for the neighbors to the north, Duluth merchants happily accepted the currency at par.

The one thing the city never did do was feature “Canadian cuisine,” (or beer) but in the past few years, that’s started to change, with a number of restaurant offering the national snack of Canada, poutine, and also a new addition that offers Montreal Smoked Meat, another Canadian favorite.

Now it’s time for long term restaurateur Grandma’s Saloon and Grill to add their version of poutine, as an LTO. Sold as an appetizer on the “Northern Comfort” menu, Grandma’s takes crispy fries, tops them with deep fried cheddar curds from Kaufhold’s of Ellsworth, WI, and adds their house made gravy.

Grandma’s fries were hot, crispy and seasoned perfectly, the house made gravy perfect.  A problem? Only slight.  On most poutine, the cheese melts into the fries and gravy for a depth of flavor.  Deep fried curds don’t melt!

 

 

Grandma's Saloon and Grill on Urbanspoon

Grandmas Saloon and Grill

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