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Archive for the ‘Other’ Category

Tarzana, CA – Morts Delicatessen

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.

Mort's Delicatessen, Encino, CA

Mort's Delicatessen & on Urbanspoon

 

Morts Tarzana

Cincinnati, OH – Jean Robert

(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's Table Cincinnati Review

Jean-Robert's Table on Urbanspoon

jean robert cincinnati

Portland, OR – Caro Amico Reprise

I’d always meant to get to Caro Amico with Mrs. Burgerdogboy for a romantic dinner;   we thought it might be great because we had enjoyed their food via Delivered Dish (www.d-dish.com)  and its position, on a hillside overlooking the river, might have made for some dreamy views.

We never got there as a couple, but I was spot on about my feelings with regards to all the rest, as evidenced by this report from a recent visit.

Cara Amico Portland“We loved the place, liked the big windows, the view and fantastic atmosphere; the service was great, the waiter friendly.

We started with the Caesar with prawns, which was romaine lightly dressed with olive oil, rather than a typical Caesar dressing, and the prawns were warm with a hint of garlic flavor.  The entire salad was generously dusted with Parmesan and finely chopped croutons.

For our mains, he went with Chicken Parmesan, one of his favorite meals, which was a large plump breast, very juicy, served with a colorful array of sautéed veggies, and penne with marinara.    The breading on the chicken was light, not overbearing, and the breast may have been brined ahead of time for extra flavor.

Cara Amico

Chicken Parmesan

She opted for the Canzano Calzone, stuffed with chicken, bacon, green peppers and pepperoncini.   The crust was thin and crisp, and the marinara was some of the finest she had ever consumed.  She would have liked a bowl of it all on its own, she said.

For dessert, we went with the dense and delicious cheesecake, topped with whipped crème and a raspberry sauce so yummy she wanted to lick the plate clean.

Often overlooked by locals, even though it was Portland’s first Italian restaurant, it continues to please on every level.”

Previous review.

 

Cara Amico

Caesar with Shrimp

Caro Amico Italian Cafe on Urbanspoon

 

Caro Amico Portland

Fear/Loathing/Loving the Letter “T” / And Texas Toast

When I was living in China, it didn’t take long for me to figure out the Chinese have a deathly fear of the letter “T”.   I learned this watching their television news, every time Taiwan, Tibet, or Tiananmen would come on the news, the story would be bleeped out.  See what i mean?

Last week, I figured out that I LOVE foods with a “double T”.  This will greatly simplify my life going forward, as I can focus on eating the things I love,  Tater Tots, Tongue Tacos, Texas Toast, Tuna Tartare, Truffle Toast,  and there must be more.    Fast food chicken outfit Zaxby’s includes texas toast with every order, worth a stop on its own!

Cool.  No longer will Mrs. Burgerdogboy and I  have to order an entire side of a menu (and we have!) , we can just skip straight to the T’s!

Chicago Suburban Theater Chain – Classic Cinemas

What am I doing reviewing a chain of movie theaters?   Just letting you know how impressed I was  with this operation.  For first run movies, value pricing, clean facilities, enthusiastic employees, reasonable concessions, this family owned chain of theaters in suburban Chicago is just the ticket for your night out.  Classic Cinemas 13 theaters are strategically located across Chicagoland, and the company has been around since starting with one theater in 1978.

A first run movie will cost your $5 all day Tuesday,any day matinees, if you’re a kid or over 60.   Most other times it’s just a couple bucks more.  Here’s the rub.  Ready? Wait for it.  Free refills on popcorn and soda.  Wow.

I’ve been out to a movie in other cities and the evening has cost me over $50, each.  Today, first run movie, soda, corn,  less than $20.  The movie?  Bill Murray in St. Vincent.  Superb.

Classic Cinemas Review

Theater Locations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.classiccinemas.com/

Butterball Turkey Reviews

A registered trademark since 1940, “Butterball”  came into wide use in the 60s by Swift & Company and the brand was eventually spun to ConAgra.  Today the line of fresh and frozen turkeys and a host of turkey derived products is owned by Kansas based Seaboard Corporation, a diversified multinational, that also operates other food companies like Prairie Fresh pork products, heat and eat pork products featuring Sweet Baby Ray’s sauces, and Daily’s processed pork products, like bacon, hams, and sausage.  Vertically integrated in the pork business, Seaboard owns their own kill plants, processing 19,000 hogs daily at their Guymon, OK location.

Today Butterball, based in North Carolina, sells over a billion pounds of turkey annually, which includes the processed products, like hot dogs, sausage, cold cuts, bacon, and ground turkey.  (Do you realize that a billion pounds translates roughly into 66 million turkey legs?  Who knew there was enough Renaissance Fairs to handle all that product?)

One such product is a heat and eat meal, “Everyday Chef Selects” Turkey Breast and Gravy.  This 15 ounce package can be heated as a boiling bag or 5-6 minutes in the microwave, and seems pretty straightforward on the ingredient side.  According to the package, this product is put together at Smithfield’s  RMH Foods plant in Morton, IL, USDA establishment 17789B (pictured below).

The most important thing about the ingredient list is that it does NOT include the phrase “may contain a solution of XX %……To me, brine injected beef, pork, and poultry has the most horrible texture.  I just can’t stomach (or chew) it.

So I went with the boiling bag heating option, simmered for about seven minutes (after bringing the water to a boil).  I was pleased to open the bag and find actual ‘chunks’ of turkey muscle meat, and not “chopped, pressed, and formed” slices.  Whew.  This product is good, surprisingly good.  And for the single person or couple that can’t or doesn’t want to shell out $25  – $30 for a whole turkey,and go to the hassle of fixing a huge holiday meal, this is a good solution.   Product plated, pictured below (mashed potatoes not included in package).  I generally don’t enjoy reheated poultry of any kind, but this product doesn’t give you that tactile/taste sensation. I’d buy it again.  I might stock up if they can be frozen.  Time to make a call!

The only exception I take with the packaging is that it suggests it serves “three.”  Doubtful.

There’s probably not a person in the country that doesn’t know you can contact the Butterball Hotline (1-800-BUTTERBALL) (800-288-8372) during holiday periods, or check their website for everything you’ve ever wanted to know about cooking a turkey.

 

RMH Foods Butterball Plant

RMH Foods, Morton, IL

 

Butterball Heat and Eat  Review

Consumer Packaging

Butterball Heat and Eat Review

Cooking Bag

 

Butterball Turkey Review

Plated

 

 

 

 

 

Butterball Turkey Reviews

 

Ethnic Gourmet Frozen Entrees Review

“Ironically” –  where I fell in love with Indian food was when I lived in China for six years.  It was available in abundance, and especially on the little island I lived on in the South China Sea.   We had a couple of Indian restaurants there, my regular stop was “Toochtka’s”, run by Malloy, hiding from his Philippine wife, and sidekick Bgosh, trying to save money for some schooling somewhere.

I was particularly fond of their garlic naan and a mess o chicken tikka, boneless pieces of chicken, marintaded in spices and yogurt, and cooked to a turn in an outdoor tandoor oven until it has a nice crispy char on the edges.  I also like saag paneer, the Indian version of creamed spinach with hunks of homemade Indian cheese (recipe).

Wash it down with a Kingfisher beer.

They’d always over serve me  because I was such an incredibly nice guy big tipper and I was a regular.  Except when I was irregular.   (I would sometimes travel for weeks at a time for work, living in hotels in China, across Southeast Asia, Turkey, South Africa.  But I’d always return to Toochtka’s when I’d return to the island).

I  knew I would have to enjoy it while I could, because there was a huge banyan tree growing in the middle of the restaurant that would take out the building at some time, and the Chinese would have thought it would bring terribly bad joss to chop down the tree.  So it would stay, the restaurant wouldn’t.

In any case, this post is about some heat and eat Indian food I saw at the market this week,  the chicken tikka, spinach, rice, and naan.  The packaging and colors were similar, so I thought it was all the same manufacturer, but it wasn’t, two were from the Hain-Celestiral tea people, a brand called Ethnic Gourmet, the other, Tandoor Chef, was from a New Jersey company called Deep Foods.

The only thing “wrong” with these products is there simply wasn’t ENOUGH!   I love this stuff!   I guess this was about $8, which is a little steep for a single meal, but not only will I buy it again, I may just stock the freezer.

Ethnic Gourmet Revue

ethnic gourmet frozen entrees

Ethnic Gourmet Frozen Entrees

Odoms Tennessee Pride Sausage Gravy

Odom's Sausage Gravy ReviewPicked this frozen packet up on a whim.  Now part of the food giant ConAgra, which was started in Nebraska in 1919 by four farmers who merged a few small town grain elevators.  Today ConAgra does $14 billion a year, with oh so familiar brands:  Hebrew National, Hunts, PAM, Jiffy Pop, Peter Pan, Banquet, Bertolli, Parkay, Wesson, Libby’s, Marie Callenders, Slim Jims….. and Odom’s Tennessee Pride.

This frozen packet can be heated in the microwave in seconds, ready to use a side or ladle over your momma’s home made biscuit recipe.

Ingredients include water, flour, spices, corn syrup, milk, MSG,  pork. sugar and more stuff.

Hard to find the bits of sausage in this gravy, and it could use more pepper for my taste. It’s rather gelatinous in texture and kind of a funky color.  I guess it serves a purpose, fast and cheap if that’s what you’re looking for.   Fast and cheap doesn’t suit me for gravy.  Wives, yes. Gravy, no.  I’d rather take the time to make it.

Pick some of this up only  if you’re desperate.  (I added the black pepper here).

Odom's Sausage Gravy Review

 

 

 

Odoms Tennessee Pride Sausage Gravy Review

Matt’s Zion Cookies Review

Matt's Fig BarsUntil the late 19th century, physicians thought most physical maladies were related to digestion, and recommended daily doses of biscuits and fruit.  A Philadelphia baker,  Charles Roser, invented a machine and process that would insert fig filling into a pastry dough.   Kennedy Biscuit Company, out of Cambridgeport, Massachusetts, purchased the recipe and began mass production in 1891.  The name “Newton” was taken from the nearby town of Newton, MA.

Kennedy Biscuit developed a relationship with New York Biscuit Company, and they merged to become Nabisco, and shortly thereafter trademarked the name “Fig Newtons.”   Now stuffed with different fruit fillings, Nabisco recently dropped the word “Fig” from the name; the cookies are now known just as “Newtons” and are sold in 12 oz packages as well as individual snack packs.

Whew.  That’s a lot of words just to tell you I like Fig Newtowns and tried a different brand this week.  Nabisco’s run between $3.50 and $5.00 for the 12 oz packages.  Imagine my delight to find a local Chicago brand, “Matt’s Zion,” selling for about three and a half bucks for a one and three quarter pound package!

Matt’s cranks out 20,000 pounds of different kinds of cookies every day, at their factory in Wheeling, IL.  They’ve been doing it since 1980.

I picked up the raspberry ones, and the ingredients are thus: Figs, corn syrup, unbleached wheat flour, sugar, flaked corn, baking oil (palm, soybean, canola), corn sugar, salt, baking soda, citric acid, vanilla, natural flavor & color.  That’s about as pure a recipe as one can find for shelf-stable baked goods.  They use all natural ingredients, and their cookies are Kosher Pareve.

These are damned good, and a great value.  Nice consistency on the fig paste, and great natural raspberry flavor.  Find some if you can.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matt’s Zion Cookies Review

Chicago Fire Mexican Casserole Recipe

A Chicago fireman taught me this, he used to make it for his station mates when it was his turn to cook.  There’s really nothing “Mexican” about it, it’s just what he called it.   It’s fast, filling, and covers the food groups.

Ingredients

  • 2 tubes Pillsbury Crescent Rolls (don’t try generic, trust me)
  • 2 Cups cooked chicken, chopped in bite-sized pieces
  • 1 Can Cream of Chicken Soup (do not dilute)
  • 1/2 C sliced jalapenos
  • 2 C your choice cheese (if you use ‘taco-seasoned’ cheese, it is “kinda” Mexican).

Prep

  • Pre heat oven to 350
  • Spray non-stick in a 13X9 baking pan
  • Unroll the crescent rolls, place flat on work surface.
  • On each piece of roll, put a dollop of soup, some jalapenos, chicken and cheese
  • Roll them up and place them symmetrically in the baking pan
  • Drop teaspoons of the soup between the crescent rolls
  • Cover with cheese and decorate with more jalapeno slices
  • Sprinkle paprika on cheese for browning if desired
  • 45 minutes in the oven will do
  • Place under broiler last couple minutes if you are so inclined

Will make 6-8 servings. Easy peasy!

Mexican Casserole Recipe

“Mexican” Chicken Casserole Recipe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mexican Casserole Recipe

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