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Schweid & Sons Burger Patties Review

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Schweid & Sons Burger Patties ReviewDifferent blends of beef for burgers have been the rage for awhile.

The method not only provides distinctive flavor and texture, but also gives processors a premium product.

Until recently, you only ran into these in restaurants, unless you have an able butcher who was willing to do it for you in-house.

Schweid & Sons is a large purveyor of quality ground beef, with a meat business heritage that dates back more than 120 years. Starting in New York’s Lower East Side, eventually, succeeding generations of family members chose to focus only on ground beef, and moved to a modern federally inspected factor in New Jersey (pic below),, just five miles from midtown Manhattan.

The company has grown exponentially with the rise in burgers as a steady part of American diets.  They furnished the Five Guys chain with meat when they had just a few stores, and still do today. The serve a host of other regional chains as well as the East Coast locations of Fatburger.

Schweid has expanded to the retail market and placed their attractively packaged products in grocery stores across the country.  They have a number of different blends.

(Sidebar – I crave finding a burger in a restaurant where the meat patty stands on its own as exceptional – thinking I could do that at home has been only a dream).

I opted for their C.A.B Blend – Chuck and brisket, tho the packaging does not say what percentage. They start with Certified Angus Beef, a designation and label you’re probably used to seeing in your deli or meat counter.

The package (fresh, not frozen, tho I can’t say whether or not they were frozen in transit), contains four patties of 5.3 ounces each.  Which at my store, works out to just north of $6 per pound.

I cooked mine on the grill with a quick sear on each side then low and slow to very rare. Condiment free, I nestled the patties onto a kaiser.  You can see the thickness of the raw patty in my hand below, compared to the cooked on – very little shrinkage.

FOR MY MONEY, this is an exceptional burger. The texture is exactly my preference, and the patty tastes like beef, which you may think is a strange thing to say, but I’m a stickler for believing meat should taste like the actual animal. These are just great. Cliche, I know, but they really do taste like quality chopped steak.

There’s a whole host of frozen patties in the grocery freezers these days, some are pre-cooked, some not, some are no name, some are emblazoned with the name of known fast food restaurants.  I’ve tried most all of them and always been disappointed.  Here’s some of them.

I hope this experiment in wide spread distribution works for Schweid and Sons. I’d also be thrilled if they had some bulk one pound packages to use the product in recipe.

Here’s where you can find these fine, fine burgers near you.

Schweid & Sons Burger Patties Review

Packaging

Schweid & Sons Burger Patties Review

Patty thickness

Schweid & Sons Burger Patties Review

On the grill – rare

Schweid & Sons Burger Patties Review

Processing plant

 

 

 

 

Schweid & Sons Burger Patties Review

Schweid & Sons Burger Patties Review

 

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Boston Fish Market Review – Des Plaines, IL

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Boston Fish Market ReviewA Greek fisherman, the proprietor eventually made his way to the US, working in Greek restaurants, rising to head chef, but all the while aspiring to open his own fish market.

Eventually, it happened, and Boston Fish Market  grew and grew until it became the Midwest’s largest processor of salmon and whitefish, running through 300,000 pounds a week for their wholesale customers.

As a “market” open to the public, they have fish and seafood from around the world which they will happily sell you, provide you with cooking instructions and helpful hints for accompaniments and serving suggestions.  Even exotics.

BUT…..they are also a restaurant, serving just about anything you can think of that swims. Here’s the full menu.

Walk in the front door, and you’ll see the display case of fish and seafood for sale in front of you.  At the left end of the counter sits the cashier, order taker.  He’ll hand you a menu, you’ll make your selection (including drinks), and pay. He’ll provide you with a number table topper so the servers can deliver right to your table.

I had recently been on a tour of the Southeast which had left my affection for grouper unrequited. I kept running into restaurants who had run out. No such problem here in Des Plaines (the birthplace of Ray Kroc’s McDonalds empire, as well).

I had  a delightful plate of crispy, lightly fried grouper, on a toasted French roll, with fries and slaw.  My tablemate went for grilled salmon. Both selections were superb. They have their own secret tartar sauce recipe, it has a little kick and is really nice.

A peek at a custom feast!

 

Boston Fish is five miles north of O’Hare airport, just off Mannheim Road, the main surface street outside of the airport.  It’s 20 miles from Chicago’s loop. Market and restaurant are open Monday through Saturday, 1030A-8P.  Servings portions are AMPLE!

They are opening a second suburban location in the near future.  Go. Eat. Or take home and cook. Superb.

Boston Fish Market Review

Fried grouper sandwich

 

Boston Fish Market Review

Grilled wild caught salmon

Boston Fish Market Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Boston Fish Market Review

Boston Fish Market Review

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Outsiders Pizza Review – Nationwide Frozen Food Product

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Outsiders Pizza ReviewDo you remember when craft beer started to take off, to the surprise of the giant brewers?

So what did they do, they created spin-off “mini-companies” with new brews, and marketing them as such.  So we didn’t know that Miller (or whomever) was behind “Bob’s Garage Brew – the beer made with sink water from Bob’s house.”  Well, you get the idea.

So I stumble on this new frozen pie from “Outsider’s Pizza Company” someone I’ve never heard of, and according to the box, they are based in somewhere, Ohio.  “Interesting” I said to no one.

They had two pies in the frozen aisle, “Detroit style” and “Milwaukee style.”  I like Detroit style pizza, and to my knowledge, nobody in the segment is doing a frozen one.  None of the Detroit chains have expanded nationwide (like Buddy’s).  Little Caesars deep dish is a mass appeal version of the product, but not very true to the original.

A Detroit style pizza is rectangular, a thick crust which resembles focaccia bread, chewy, but extra crispy around the edges. This effect can come from one of two methods, running the cheese out to, past the edge of the pie and it drips down during baking making a caramelized edge. Or some places simply brush the crust with butter before baking.   Cheese.  Some apply a modest amount of sauce before baking, other insist on drizzling sauce after baking, not covering the entire surface, tho. Toppings are conventional.

IN ANY CASE, (geez, get to it, would you!!!??!)  the Outsider’s Pizza Company is like the giant beer companies microbrews – it’s actually part of the Nestle pizza line (which they acquired from Kraft) and includes DiGiornos, California Pizza Kitchen, Jacks, and Tombstone.

I’m gonna say Nestle’s frozen Detroit style pizza is a fairly good effort. Whoever comes into the market next will improve on the concept, undoubtedly.

The crust is ok, bread-like, and the edges have a modest caramelization, not complete.  I don’t care for the sauce which tastes, to me, awfully industrial, mass production. Cheese was adequate and the topping (salami) was flavorful.

Lo and behold, behold and low upon further examination, the pies are made in the same factory as DiGiornos, which isn’t even a Nestle factory, but a contract manufacturer down the street from me in Chicago.  Nation Pizza.

Here I wanted to actually be made by some “outsiders” so I could applaud their industry as a start-up.  Damn.

Outsiders Pizza Review

Baked pie, 27 minutes at 400.

Outsiders Pizza Review

Semi caramelized crust, note crust thickness

 

 

 

 

Outsiders  Pizza Review

Outsiders  Pizza Review

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Hometown Sausage Kitchen Gyro Sausage Review

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Hometown Sausage Kitchen Gyro Sausage ReviewThe ‘gyro’ is a Greek inspired sandwich, with meat (generally beef and lamb) cooked on a vertical roaster, placed in a pita, dressed with tomato, cucumber, and tatziki sauce.

Some purveyors add lettuce and onion. The word “gyro” is from the Greek word for “circle” or “turn.”

The meat is generally seasoned with salt, hot and sweet paprika, white  and black pepper, dried parsley, garlic powder, and oregano.

First developed by the Turks in the 19th century, and called “Doner Kabab” it took until 1971 for the entree to be popular in the US (primarily Chicago and New York) and til the mid 70s before a select group of companies entered large scale production.

Today, nearly any diner or local fast food place in Chicago will offer you a gyro sandwich or plate (no bread). But as much as Chicago is also a “sausage town” I’ve always been curious as to why someone hasn’t taken gyro seasoned meat and placed it in a natural casing to eat on a hot dog bun.

Inquiries to the largest gyro meat suppliers in Chicago have gone unanswered.

So I’m on one of my wandering trips last week, Southern Wisconsin, pull into the burg of East Troy and discover small processor Hometown Sausage Kitchen.

And darn if they don’t make them (gyro sausages). They run about a quarter pound each, at $9.00 a pound.

Ingredients are ground lamb and pork, water, salt, garlic, spices, red wine veingar powder, lemon juice powder, citric acid in a natural hog casing

I brought some home, par-boiled them, and finished them off on a flat top before slapping them into a substantial Turano roll with the aforementioned condiments.

Hog heaven, so to speak.

The sausage makers have perfectly captured the flavor of gyro meat. The grind is fine and the casing just sturdy enough.  These would be a great addition to any cookout.  This weekend, I will try some as a breakfast sausage, fried and cut on a bias.

Chicago sausage manufacturers are missing a bet not getting into this segment.

Hometown Sausage Kitchen is located just outside of East Troy, WI. Exit off I-43, take a right at the end of the ramp, then a left onto County Road L, and it’s about a mile ahead of you on the left. (picture below). They have a lot of spectacular, high quality processed pork products, and while they are primarily a wholesale operation, they do have retail on site, open Tue thru Sat at 9AM.  They also appear at farmer’s markets in the Chicago area.

Hometown Sausage Kitchen Gyro Sausage Review

Packaging

Hometown Sausage Kitchen Gyro Sausage Review

Two beauties ready for the flat top

 

Hometown Sausage Kitchen Gyro Sausage Review

Not as pretty as I imagined, but unbelievably delicious

building

Processing plant and retail outlet.

 

 

 

 

Hometown Sausage Kitchen Gyro Sausage Review

Hometown Sausage Kitchen Gyro Sausage Review

 

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Gloriosos Fresh Italian Sausage Review – Milwaukee, WI

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Gloriosos Fresh Italian Sausage ReviewToday I used some of their fresh Italian sausages for a home-made pizza. I only picked up two, of the “hot” not “sweet” variety, and they run about four ounces apiece at about a buck twenty per.

I have this quirk which there is no rhyme nor reason for. When I’m making a sausage pizza, I don’t buy bulk sausage, but links, strip off the casings and use hand-pulled pieces for my topping.

You don’t have to pre-cook it, but you can if you like. It cooks just fine on top of the pie in the regular baking cycle.

So I made my dough, laid on the sauce, some finely diced garlic and sliced cheeses (provolone and mozz – slices melt nicer than shreds, in my opinion).

Then I symmetrically laid out bits of sausage, a sprinkle of Italian herbs, and my personal “go-to” topping, diced green olives with pimentos.

Using fresh dough, it bakes up nicely at 500 for 10-12 minutes.

Glorioso’s hot sausage is a bit hot, it turns out. Most of the time when I select that type of sausage, “hot” means lots of fennel and Italian herbs. But this wasn’t objectional at all, had great flavor, proper about of fat and great texture.

I only bought two as I said.  I should have bought a couple dozen.

Gloriosos Fresh Italian Sausage Review

Gloriosos Fresh Italian Sausage Review

Gloriosos Fresh Italian Sausage Review

 

Gloriosos Fresh Italian Sausage Review

Gloriosos Fresh Italian Sausage Review

Gloriosos Fresh Italian Sausage Review

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New China Restaurant Review – Fox River Grove, IL

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New China Restaurant ReviewIt’s been around for twenty-five years, so it must be “good” right?  Well, at least passable. Confession. I lived in China for six years, so it’s almost always a let down for me to go to a Chinese restaurant in the U.S.  Once and a great while, in a larger city Chinatown, I can be a happy camper.

But here we’re talking the Chicago burbs, a good hour drive from the center of the city.  But twenty-five years, right?

The New China was recently remodeled, I was told, and the ambiance is pleasant enough.  Subdued tones and lighting, no blaring sports TVs (except in the bar). Service was more than satisfactory. He even pointed out by “rearranging” our order, we’d save some money. That was kind.

As you certainly know, there is no standardization in names or spelling of Americanized Chinese dishes, and the New China seems to have invented some names unique to their menu. So unless you ask, you might be surprised at what you order/receive.

I had shrimp and vegetables in a sauce.  It was more than adequate. It came with steamed rice, (plain) fried rice, soup and an eggroll.  Soup was good, eggroll was crispy and cabbage packed. Fried rice was quite a bit beyond the fried stage as you can see in the picture.  There wasn’t any meat or egg.

I’d go again, at least for takeout.  But I’d probably try some different items next time.  And it’s a little spendy for Chinese.  If you read online reviews, you’ll find people’s reactions are pretty mixed.  I don’t really have anything negative to say.

Menu is online. Carryout orders welcome. Online ordering. Not sure if they are hooked up with any of the delivery services.

New China Restaurant Review

 

 

 
New China Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
New China Restaurant Review

New China Restaurant Review

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Maders Restaurant Review – Milwaukee, WI

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Maders Restaurant Review There’s a gaggle of old-timey German restaurants in Milwaukee.  Last trip, I went to the Kegel Inn, which was excellent in every way.

This trip is was Mader’s, I daresay Milwaukee’s oldest, dating back to 1902. Very traditional menu with minor updates to woo the millenials, one would guess.

I started with the pretzel and weisswurst appetizer.  This wurst is a traditional Bavarian sausage made from minced veal and pork back bacon. It is usually flavored with parsley, lemon, mace, onions, ginger, and cardamom, but there are regional variations. In any case, it was perfect for me, flavorful, nice casing, nice grind, good texture.

Then I moved into their version of “schnitzel on a bun.” I’ll order schnitzel nearly anytime or anywhere I see it, even if some places it’s called chicken fried steak!  It was on a pretzel roll, with tomato “jam” (removed by me – too strong I thought) and accompanied by (my choice) house-made chips, which are just excellent, and accompanied by a caramelized onion and bacon dipping sauce, which is so tasty you might want to chug it.  Well,  I would, but people were watching.  The sandwich was excellent, quality meat, crispy seasoned breading, the roll substantial enough to hold anything you’d choose to load atop the patty.

Tablemate had a Reuben, to which I opined, why is that German?  She wove her own tale of its Bavarian origin, which I had to shoot down by letting her know it was invented in OMAHA.

Who cares?  Two lunches, two beverages, $33 plus tip. Free valet parking, too.

Attentive, but not overbearing service from Thomas.  Catering and event rooms on hand.

I’d go again.  I will go again.  BTW? If you’re hungry for a little more sausage, iconic local sausage maker Usingers is across the street and have a small retail operation on site.

Maders Restaurant Review

Pretzel/wurst appetizer

 

Maders Restaurant Review

Schnitzelwich and chips

 

 

 

 

Full menu online.

Mader's German Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Maders Restaurant Review Maders Restaurant Review

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Gloriosos Italian Market Review – Milwaukee, WI

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Gloriosos Italian Market ReviewSeventy-year-old Glorioso’s in Milwaukee is one of several fine Italian deli/groceries the city has to offer.

If it’s even remotely Italian, Glorioso’s has it on the shelf, in the counter or in the cooler. It’s a wonderland for foodies and cooks alike.  Naturally, I stocked up.  Sausages. Cheese. A muffaletta sandwich. So let’s talk about that.  Purportely invented a zillion years ago by immigrants in New Orleans, the “muff” is traditionally a nine inch round loaf, bedazzled with sesame seeds, with two or three types of Italian cold cuts, cheese, and topped with “olive salad” – which is finely diced vegetables and olives in oil.

The result is a messy wonderland – most people can’t eat a whole one, and happily, Glorioso’s has “halves” in their counter.

I put away more than my share, living in New Orleans, and have written about several of them. Tourists like to go to the store that is supposedly the birthplace. I prefer a dive bar uptown.

Glorioso’s could easily pass in New Orleans.  I enjoyed it. If I knew how much I was going to like it, I’d have stocked up. Only “complaint?”  A little light on the olive salad.   (I bought a jar of their mix to bring home, as well).

Scored a fantastic dry salami, “Licini Cacciatore.”  I love when processed meats actually taste like the animal they came from, and this is soGloriosos Italian Market Reviewme great pork.  BTW, the name means (Cacciatore) “hunter”  and (Lincini) Bent or pointing upwards.  It’s a very hard salami, with a robust flavor.

Their beef/pork meatballs have a great flavor, run about a buck apiece, I brought home four to try. They have an awful lot of ingredients compared to the ones I make at home, which are just beef, pork, milk, bread, fennel, parsley, garlic and basil.  Glorioso’s balls are a very fine grind, good for the mass appeal market. My own balls have a rougher texture, chewier. My preference only.

Salads, olives, meats, cheese, entrees, they are all in the counter. You can order a sandwich or a plate, pasta, panini or pizza. (They have take and bakes also).  Their full menu is below.

Staff is personable and knowledgeable about the products.

Really worth a stop if you are passing through.  Really worth being on your regular shopping route if you live there. I will be back. Often.  (I had planned on writing more, but doing this made me hungry, have to go see what I have left from my trip!)

Gloriosos Italian Market Review

Half a Muffaletta Sandwich

 Gloriosos Italian Market Review

Gloriosos Italian Market Review

Glorioso Menu – Click to enlarge

Gloriosos Italian Market ReviewGloriosos Italian Market ReviewGloriosos Italian Market Review
Glorioso's Italian Market Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Gloriosos Italian Market Review

Gloriosos Italian Market Review

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All About Cheese Curds

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All About Cheese CurdsIf you’re not from the Upper Midwest of the US or Eastern Canada, it’s possible you’ve never heard of “cheese curds.”

What are they? In short, bits of fresh, unaged, cheese, snatched from the cheese making at the earliest stage possible. They are eaten fresh, fried, atop the national Canadian snack “poutine,” and in the Indian dishes, it is known as paneer.

Fresh and fried are the way you’ll see them most often in the Midwest. I think the fresh ones are pretty much the same in taste and texture, unless they are “flavored” as some companies are busy doing (dill, red pepper, garlic, etc). Some people refer to fresh curds as “squeaky cheese” as the bits make a slight noise when you’re chewing them.

At retail, they’re sold in bags larger than you need, usually around a pound.  It’s unusual to run into smaller containers, but you may, on occasion.

When you get into the business of deep frying them, with a breading, that’s where quality, taste and texture can vary widely. Some end up like those awful fried cheese appetizers in bars, with that fake bright yellow nacho cheese crap inside.

The good ones, the really good ones, like at Milwaukee Burger Company, are offered to you with your choice of cheese, and a light yet crispy breading that may well be rice flour. They are breaded and cooked to order and are fantastic.

I picked up a mini pack of fresh, made by Jim’s Cheeses of Waterloo, WI.  Bought them at the world’s largest purveyor of Wisconsin cheeses (so they say), Wisconsin Cheese Mart in downtown Milwaukee.

White Cheddar with Peppers.  Tell you the truth, didn’t notice the word “Peppers” or would have looked for something else.  These were $3.50, so that comes out to $16 + per pound. Spendy.  But tasty.

All About Cheese Curds

Curds. Curds. Curds.

 

 

 

 

All About Cheese Curds

All About Cheese Curds

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The Cottage Review – Crystal Lake, IL

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The Cottage ReviewThe Cottage is one of those places most people would describe as a “neighborhood bar” and it fills that role nicely, perched on the edge of downtown Crystal Lake, Illinois, within walking distance of a number of residential neighborhoods.

Although a “bar,” it serves as a full restaurant as well, with a very lengthy menu and nightly specials. The specials are value priced.

What brought me in is the fact that any night of the week in this area, you can find a hamburger special, and it’s Wednesdays at the Cottage. Burger and a side, $5.  You pay a little bit more for add-ons like bacon and fancy cheeses, but it’s still a deal.

The sandwich is advertised as a half-pound, hand-pattied, char-grilled burger, and it lives up to the promo.  It’s very flavorful meat, on a bakery roll that is soft enough to be enjoyable but substantial enough to hold any toppings you desire.  Unusual for me, I ate the burger absolutely plain, I enjoyed the beef and bun so much.

I upgraded to rings for the side, and they don’t do justice as a side equal to the entree. They are a beer battered ring, which I doubt are made in-house. With so many interesting food items on the menu, the Cottage could easily do better on the rings.

Complimentary peanuts in the shell (yes, toss ’em on the floor) and tasty popcorn for every table.  Don’t see peanuts much anymore, of course. I was personally delighted.

Large outdoor seating area can be covered during inclement weather.  The Cottage is also known for having some large music events on-site, generally with rather proficient tribute bans.  Check their site for dates.

Server Ravan was spectacular.

The Cottage Review

Burger and rings

The Cottage Review

You’ll love their free nuts

 

 

 

 

 

 Full menu online. Catering menu too.
The Cottage Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
The Cottage Review

The Cottage Review

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