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Archive for the ‘Other’ Category

Being Chicken in Kingman

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I have been in this shitty motel before on some other lost weekend.    I’ve made my way down here on some “public conveyance” from which I was ejected a couple hours ago, fifty miles down the road.

My crime?  Drinking on the conveyance, which would amuse a lot of people , including the person responsible for me being on the road.  I also made a fuss because someone stole my Nikon.  So there will be relatively few fotos from this leg of the  trip.

I’m farther east than I planned, as I am currently on a sabbatical/walkabout, and planned to enter Mexico somewhere in Cali.  No matter, Arizona is just as good.

It’s ironic, on my last great bus hobo trip, I felt that an awful lot of the passengers had just gotten out of some hospital or institution and really had nowhere to go.  Now people look at me like I’m that person.

I think I’m too old for these kind of changes.  Yeah, yeah, you’re only as old as you feel, well, fuck, I feel 120 after the last couple weeks.

I don’t mind Kingman, it’s a shadow of its former self, (me, too)  but is a stop on old Route 66, and there’s a lot of interesting retro architecture and some restaurants that date back to the day.  I had hoped to visit one of those restaurants, but I ‘m in too pissy a mood, so I walked down the street, got some Popeye’s to eat in the room.

I saw a documentary recently about a guy who tried to “live” off Craigslist for 30 days.  He’d get around by using ride share ads, meet people to crash on their couches and so on.  That seems really cool, plus he got to meet a dominatrix!  The last time I went hobo-ing around the country, I tried to live on $10 a day.  The whole craig’s list angle might make it easier.

But the trip overall will be harder, as last time, I knew that whatever hardships I endured, there was a nice home and loving family waiting for me at the end.

Not this time.

Popeyes Chicken

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Otto and Anitas Bavarian Review, Portland, OR

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I’ve lived a lot of places in my life, but nowhere til now where you could imbibe in multiple versions of a schnitzelwich! And despite my world travels, I don’t think I ever recall seeing “dill pickle soup” anywhere – where has this been all my life?!?!?

Otto and Anita’s, a smallish place (but the sign says they can host parties, meetings, receptions of up to 40!), in Portland ‘s Multnomah Village, caters to person craving modest German/continental fare – from schnitzels to sausages to Dover sole.

Pleasantly decorated thematically, the affable servers meticulously explain the menu choices, describe the daily specials, and serve your food in a pleasant and efficient manner. The traditional cuisine has not been “Americanized” per se, and is very reminiscent of similar dishes I have enjoyed in Germany and Austria.

For no particular reason other than enjoying my wife’s company, I took Mrs. BDB to lunch at Otto and Anita’s, and we whiled away an hour or so with a midweek noon sojourn.

She started with the dill pickle soup, which I happily finished (I love this stuff, quick, somebody find me the recipe!), and had the lightly sauteed Dover Sole Almandine, and I went straight for the schnitzelwich, on a very nice crusty French, with kraut, cheese, mustard, but sans sauteed onions, as I wasn’t in an onion mood. My plate had a mound of traditional German potato salad, which was sweet and tangy at the same time. Next visit, I will enjoy plowing through one or more of the spaetzle offerings as a side.

Mrs. BDB’s plate was too much for her to finish, and I had a few bites, the sole was flaky, lemony, with a light batter, pan-fried. Very nice.

My sandwich was good too, with the pork cutlet also lightly fried, a tangy mustard, and the bread was wonderful, I couldn’t finish the bread, but didn’t leave a single morsel of the cutlet behind.

Offering something for everyone, in addition to the traditional German fare, Otto and Anita’s has a few steaks, some salmon dishes, a bevy of salads, a kids menu, and a host of appetizers and small dishes. A lot of menu for a small place.

I’ll be happy to go back, I have my eye on their burger (of course), french dip, and traditional desserts.

Otto and Anita’s is open for lunch Tues- Fri, and dinner Tues-Sat, at 3025 SW Canby, just off Capitol Hwy in Multnomah Village.

Otto and Anita’s menu is online.


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Otto and Anita’s Bavarian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Otto and Anitas Bavarian Review

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Chicken Strip Smackdown in the South

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Swinging thru the South, seemed like a good time to do a “compare and contrast” on chicken strips, or fingers, tenders, or whatever you call them.  I would have preferred doing a compare and contrast on bacon strips, but that would make Mrs. BDB unhappy, unless she was co-judging.  Next trip.

She’s not a chicken strip gal, though; she says a true gourmand/gourmet would only eat the dark meat of poultry, so I’m just some trashy white meat eater with chicken and turkey.   But that’s why we’re together and so compatible, together we can polish off a bird with no leftovers, except enough for her to crank out her fantastic home-made soups!

I think I’ve covered the tender spectrum, pretty much, KFC, Popeye’s,  Zaxby’s,  Chester Fried, Bojangles.  I didn’t go to Chick Filet because it was a Sunday when I passed one, and they aren’t open on Sundays.   I didn’t get to a local favorite in New Orleans “WOW” (World of Wings) because of timing.

So here’s the rundown.

Although I recently crowed about liking Bojangle’s breakfast, I didn’t think their chicken was on a par.  The strips were small(ish) and with no distinguishable seasoning.  They come with a little pot of Honey Mustard sauce, and a biscuit.  My recollection is it was north of $5 for the 4 strip box, and most chains the price is about the same.

I mentioned World of Wings (Wow Café) .  This was a start-up from New Orleans, I first went when there was one location, and now they are spreading across the country, but not as fast as another Louisiana start-up, Raising Cane’s, which is rubbing up against national penetration.  What I liked about WOW was you could have your wings/tenders TOSSED in a selection of sauces, as well as get a wide variety of dipping sauces.  Not sure if they still do it that way, but I liked mixing up my order, with half on the buffalo side, half with some variation of Thai Peanut.

Then of course, there is Popeye’s, another Louisiana creation, and really the only nationwide contender to KFC.   It’s our go-to chicken place most often, I’d say, as both me and Mrs. Burgerdogboy like their chicken, the spices, and she especially digs the red beans and rice side dish.  Superb.  I like their LTO’s, too, from time to time you can get a piece of catfish or some special shrimp prep.  If you don’t know about the genius that started Popeye’s, Al Copeland, you should look up his story sometime.  Smart dude.  Dead.

Zaxby’s was started in Statesboro, Georgia, and today has over 500 locations.  It’s a chicken finger centric menu, but with a more inviting dine in atmosphere, a variety of sauces, and a fairly large offering of sides and extras.   Deal clincher for me?  A piece of Texas toast in every pack.  The chicken is good, the fries are crinkled, and the Zak sauce is some pink mayo slightly spicy thing.   One day, someone will invent a truly “secret sauce.”  I’d be a regular if there was one nearby.

Zaxby’s menu is online.

Chester Fried, or as I call it, “gas station food”, but in the deep south, they often refer to these counters in gas stations as “fry delis”, and they offer breakfast sandwiches, chicken, fish pieces, sometimes shrimp, sometimes BBQ.   It’s often cooked on site, independently, or connected to a marketing affiliation agreement with a company like Chester Fried.    What I like about these places is you can order by the piece, and I was in the mood for 2 strips, and one honking big piece of catfish.  And that’s what I got, for less than $4.  No fancy sauces or preparations here, it’s down and dirty food on the run.  And damned good.  Previous story on chick/Chester Fried.

KFC?  Consistent with the chicken, but the rest of the menu seems to vary regionally.  I do like the outlets that have a buffet, but that seems to be a phenom of KFC in the Deep South, only.

Verdict?   I’ll remain a loyal customer of Popeye’s but wait eagerly for times I can get back to Zaxby’s. (Unless Mrs. BDB is cookin’).

Bojangle's Chicken Strips

Bojangle’s Chicken Strips

Chester Fried Chicken

Chester Fried

 

KFC Strips Meal

KFC Strips

 

Zaxby's Chicken Strips

Zaxby’s Chicken Strips

 

Chicken Strip Smackdown

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Missing My Foodie Companion

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deal2There’s a phrase from an old song my pals and I bandy about on occasion “Do you know what it’s like to miss New Orleans?”   Well, I surely do.

The question I ask myself over and over again these days tho, is “Do I know what it’s like to miss my ex best foodie friend?”

The answer to that is I surely do, as well.

For the past eight years, I’ve had a best pal who has shared almost all of my food adventures, whether it’s been eating in a new restaurant, going to a YELP event,  shopping at obscure markets and discovering treasures, cooking meals together, cooking for each other, and on occasion, feeding each other.

My foodie partner tired of my somewhat pedantic approach to cuisine.   She wanted to sample more of life, try different things, and she thought that would have been in conflict with our partnership agreement, so she exited.

We weren’t Siskel and Ebert by any means, but we were tight for a long time.

I was sitting in the bathtub today, something I rarely do on my own,  thinking about her, tho I must confess barely an hour goes by that I don’t think of her.  We used to sit in the tub together sometimes, and once we even had a dinner of Thai noodles in a hotel bathtub.  That’s a picture I’ll never forget.

So now I am wandering the highways and byways of the planet on my own, and she is out drinking in as much life as she can, as fast as she can.   I’m winding down, while she’s winding up.  I understand that.

But it doesn’t mean there isn’t a void in my life.

It only appears to the outside world our link is broken.  In my heart, it’s like an old Chinese saying I once told her, she’s the kite, I’m the string, and even though she may soar above the clouds, and I can’t see her, we will always be connected.

 

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Ore-Ida Country Style French Fries Review

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Ore-Ida French FriesStarted in 1952 in a small town on the border of Oregon and Idaho by local entrepreneurs the Grigg Brothers, Ore-Ida has become one of the largest processors of potatoes in the world.  Inventors of the tater tots.  Sold to Heinz in 1965.

They currently make about 50 different types and sizes of frozen potatos, and I picked up the “Country Style French Fries”, which are touted to be lightly seasoned with skins.

I rarely buy frozen (or any kind) of fries anymore, but was in the mood to try these.  I do love the tots, always my first choice on menus that offer a choice of  ‘taters.

These were OK, whatever the ‘seasoning’ is, I couldn’t taste it.  One of the ingredients on the bag is “potato flour’, and I have no idea what the purpose of that is.  Besides potatos and oils, the other ingredients are salt, flavorings and color.

There was a story in the last couple days that McDonalds is dumping Heinz Ketchup after a 40 year marriage.  That must be a chunk of revenue.  Maybe they can start packing ketchup packs with the Ore-Ida fries?  It’s funny that as long as they have owned it, there has been no (that I am aware of ) cross promotion between Heinz and Ore-Ida.  Why not a special “French Fry Ketchup”.  Certainly a better idea than when Heinz put out ketchups in funky colors!

Remember this commercial for Heinz Ketchup, behind the talented Carly Simon tune?  The point was it was so thick, it took forever to come out of the bottle.  Apparently something has changed, as it runs out like water now.  It’s a shame that’s changed.

 

Ore Ida Country Style Fries

Baked 22 minutes, 425

Ore-Ida Country Style French Fries Review

 

 

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El Gaucho Steakhouse Review

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I tweeted something about El Gaucho this morning, and they retweeted it, of course.  It got me to thinking about why I like El Gaucho. Why go to a regional steakhouse in cities (like Seattle and Portland) that are chock-a-block full of the national chains like Ruth’s Chris and Morton’s, and local old-timey favorites like Ringside in Portland?

The answer, for me, is rather simple:  El Gaucho approaches steak with  value propositions on every level – quality, preparation, ambiance and service that is unequaled on every level.

They have combined the best of “old-world panache’ with modern service.

I’m particularly fond of El Gaucho for their offering of two very traditional menu offerings that are seldom found anymore, table side preparations of  steak tartare and chateaubriand.

Restaurants seem to shy away from steak tartare these days, probably because it’s raw beef and some perceived potential for liability (rubbish).  The traditional dish has always been prepared at tableside with egg, capers, onion and seasonings to taste. They mix it, offer you a taste, and you can correct to your own palate. That’s service. Served with toast points.

(I previously did a mini-post about this dish a couple years ago).

Chateaubriand, the elongated beef tenderloin from which filet mignon steaks  are cut, is one of the ultra-premium cuts of beef available today, and is the perfect selection for two or more diners.  It was first served to Napoleon, and is traditionally accompanied by a rich Bernaise sauce, silky, buttery with a touch of tarragon.

The atmosphere at El Gaucho is dark, but warm and inviting, perfect for a romantic interlude or discreet business event.  Classic cocktails are artfully mixed by the competent drink masters tending bar.

My only regret about El Gaucho is that they haven’t expanded beyond the Pacific Northwest.  One can always dream. Dinner menu.

(This photo from El Gaucho’s Instagram site).

El Gaucho Steakhouse

 

 

 

 

 

El Gaucho Steakhouse Review

 

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Fresh Grill Beaverton Reviews

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 There’s another new burger in town, and you say, so?  The latest entry in the new segment of “not fast food – good food fast” are the burgers, chicken, and salads at Fresh Grill, in the out lot by Best Buy and Burlington Coat Factory, across 217 from Washington Square Mall.

When you start with fresh ground beef from Fulton Meats, and daily deliveries of great rolls from Portland French , it’s hard to go wrong.  When you add “cooked to order” and “secret seasonings”, you’ve got it made.

Veteran Portland restaurateur Jerry Pardo gets it right, and I’m predicting you’ll start to see this concept spring up faster than you can say “Five Guys”, cause he has them beat, hands down.

Today, my 3rd visit, I had the Greek burger, great seasoned beef patty with feta, olives, and roasted garlic.  Along with shoestrings, a fantastic meal.  Mrs. BurgerDogBoy had the club with sweet potato fries, and was all grins.  I like that at the counter when you order, they have the patter down to a science, like “pink or not pink.”  Add hand-dipped shakes, smoothies, and espresso drinks – what’s not to like?

I’ve got the menu posted on this site,  drool over your selections prior to your arrival.  Since the food is cooked to order, call ahead if you are in a hurry.

Bottled beer, glasses of wine,  and milkshakes available as well, but not mixed, as far as I know.

Will I be back?  Weekly, dude.

Fresh Grill Beaverton Review

Grilled Chicken Salad

Fresh Gill Beaverton Review

Burger w/ Blue Cheese

 

Fresh Grill Burgers & Fries on Urbanspoon

 Fresh Grill Beaverton Reviews

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Grandmas Saloon and Grill Poutine

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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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The Varsity Reviews – Atlanta, GA

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The Varsity AtlantaAlthough I had heard about it for years, in all the times I have been to , I had never made time to visit the Varsity. I was there last week, and oh, so many years wasted.

For the unwashed, the Varsity is the world’s largest hot dog stand. Covering two acres in downtown , with parking for 600 cars, and seating for 800, the Varsity has been dishing up dogs, burgers, fries, rings, and their famous “Frosted Orange” beverage since 1928 under the watchful eye of Frank Gordy and his descendants.

Initially operating under the name “The Yellow Jacket” Gordy served hot dogs and bottled Coca-Cola (what else in ?) to Georgia Tech students. Not wishing to limit his clientele to one particular school, the name change came shortly thereafter, along with the move to the present location.

When you sidle up to the counter, and hear the famous cry from the clerks: “What’ll ya have, what’ll ya have?” it helps to know the proper retort. There’s much more, but this will get you past the basics of ordering:

  • Hot Dog: Hot dog with chili and mustard
  • Heavy weight: Same as hot dog but with extra chili
  • Naked Dog: Plain hot dog in a bun
  • MK Dog: Hot dog with mustard and ketchup
  • Regular C Dog: Hot dog with chili, mustard and ketchup
  • Red Dog: Ketchup only
  • Yellow Dog: Mustard only
  • Yankee Dog: Same as a yellow dog
  • Walk a Dog (or Steak): Hot dog to go
  • Steak: Hamburger with mustard, ketchup, and pickle
  • Chili Steak: Hamburger with Varsity chili
  • Glorified Steak: Hamburger with mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato

There are 5 locations these days . But the original is the place for the complete Varsity experience. Bring the kids, but not much money. A meal at the Varsity is well under five bucks. Unless you order like I do.

The Varsity on Urbanspoon

 

varsity atlanta reviews

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Portland, OR – Wagsys Hot Beef Sandwiches

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Wagsy's Hot Beef Sandwiches

( 5th and Oak St., downtown Portland, OR)

I’ve been blessed to have lived in some of the great food cities of the world; and there’s always at least one local favorite I miss when I have moved away from those burgs – Italian beef from Chicago, po-boys from New Orleans to mention two.

Heating roast beef correctly in au jus is an art form, if the temp is just a 1/10th of a degree too hot (it seems to me) it’s easy for your beef to end up curled and chewy.   Many in Portland have tried to master the art of the basic dip sandwich, purportedly invented in Los Angeles at either Cole’s or Philippes, both of whom claim bragging rights.

In both Chicago and New Orleans, who has the best beef dip (respectively, “Italian Beef” or “Roast Beef Po-Boy”) can lead to heated arguments, if not downright brawls.

In Portland, there can seem to be no question, the title goes to  “Wagsy’s Hot Beef Sandwiches”, a cart at SW Fifth and Oak.  I’ve tried the rest, and now I’ve found the best.

These guys have created a menu based around different variations of beef dip, and after the first bite of the “Chi-Town”, I was hooked.   An ample quantity of quality, thin-sliced roast beef, on very fresh bread, served “wet”, and in beef dip terms, that means the loaf is dipped in the au jus slightly for a taste and texture sensation.

The home town version in Chicago is highly flavored with garlic and herbs, but Wagsy’s have toned this down, I suspect, for a wider audience, and for my palate, it’s just perfect.

For five bucks, it’s a very filling sandwich, and it comes with a small ramekin of a vegetable medley (giardiniera) which you may dress the sandwich with if that’s your preference.

A nice finishing touch is provided with a wet nap and toothpick taped to the sandwich box.

Wagsy’s offers some other interpretations of the dip, a Philly style, and a BBQ one, as well as a veggie choice.

Good job guys.  You’ve a winning combination.  I can easily see a leap to multiple city brick and mortars in your future.  Find Wagsy’s on Facebook, too.

Wagsy's Hot Beef Sandwiches

Wagsys Hot Beef

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