Archive for the ‘Pizza’ Category
Started in 1943 by 17 year old Ingvar Kamprad, IKEA has grown to become the world’s largest furniture retailer. The name is an acronym for the founder’s initials, plus Elmtaryd (the farm where he grew up), and Agunnaryd (his hometown in Southern Sweden). The stores are massive, have nearly everything one would need to furnish a home, and many of its wares need to be assembled by the purchaser.
As of January 1 of this year, the company operates 349 stores in 43 countries around the world, generating over $23 billion in sales annually. Media reports have speculated that IKEA is the world’s largest consumer of wood.
Many of the stores feature one or two cafes, both self-serve style, one with complete meals of a Swedish influence, the other featuring hot to go snacks at bargain prices.
You can drop off your rugrats at the front door at their in-house daycare center, and stop for a bite to eat halfway through your excursion, in case you just can’t make it another step without eating some meatballs and lingonberries.
The foodatorium near the exit is in the midst of a mini-grocery featuring Swedish foods; in addition to frozen meatballs, you’ll find all manner of fish products, and berry spreads, among other choices. The ‘to go’ counter has bulk cinnamon rolls, hot dogs, and pizza slices, featuring “meal deals”. For a little more than a couple bucks, you can get two hot dogs and a soda, for instance. Yogurt cups and cones are also available. Once again, IKEA figures they have to take care of customers, and sells these snacks so you have enough energy to get to your car miles away in the massive parking lot.
I haven’t been in to an IKEA for quite awhile, tho Mrs Burgerdogboy and I used to enjoy an outing on occasion. We purchased kitchenware from time to time, and a couple of those giant repro prints they feature. I especially liked one we picked up that was a shot from Amsterdam, and it reminded me of a past Valentine’s Day excursion we took to the land of tulips.
I stopped in the store today because I needed a kitchen tool I knew they would have, and grabbed a slice on the way out; like the hot dogs, the pizza combo offers a slice and soda for a little more than $2.00.
It’s a heavy on the cheese and herb affair, not bad, not great. I almost couldn’t choke it down after the guy in line in front of me squirted about a quart of ketchup on his. Ugh.
Hot dogs solo are often just 50 cents. Worth a trip in, if you skip the store, and go right from the entrance to the snack shop by the exit. You can make your Swedish grocery shopping list online before you make the trek.
One of my mother’s hobbies was grocery shopping I think. Started around the Cuban missile crisis and built from there – eventually there was enough canned, boxed and frozen goods in our basement to last through a zombie apocalypse. I guess I picked at least part of the habit up, but I’m more fascinated by “looking” rather than shopping. I read a lot of labels. Not sure why.
I am prone to picking up things I haven’t seen before if they are of mild interest. Impulse grocery shopping, I guess. Particularly at WalMart, which I have to do on my own, because Mrs. Burgerdogboy refuses to cross their doorstep. Not sure why. Don’t think it’s a political protest. She may feel it’s “beneath her”, which would be hilarious as she has no problem stocking her wardrobe at Goodwill. Now that creeps ME out for sure.
Today’s score was a pepperoni melt in a pretzel roll. $2.48. According to the USDA label, it was made in Valencia, CA, by a company called “Better Bakery” and apparently ‘pretzel sandwiches” are their specialty.
The packaging describes the “sandwich” as “sliced pepperoni, mozzarella cheese, and pizza sauce, hand rolled into a soft pretzel bread sandwich.”
Nuke or conventional oven at 350 for 20 minutes. If you’re a regular reader, you know I always opt for a conventional oven heat, it’s just my thing.
It’s a nice roll, tho I wish it somehow could have a crispier exterior. As for the innards? Really don’t taste like anything. I can’t say if it’s comparable or better than say, a hot pocket, cause I’ve never been brave enough to try one of those.
It’s 10 oz of sandwich, so it’s a better value than most pre-prepared store sandwiches. Would I buy it again? I was drunk, and there wasn’t a nearby White Castle.
Pepperoni Pizza Melt Review
Defined by their exotic-themed cocktails made from rum, Cantonese inspired food, and adorned with South Seas island decor, the first tiki bar in the U.S. sprouted in Los Angeles in 1933. Ernest Gantt created “Don the Beachcombers” as an homage to life in the tropical Pacific Islands. A few years later, at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, the other iconic bar of the genre, “Trader Vics”, was opened by Victor Bergeron.
The format spawned other outlets and imitators, and was largely in favor in the US until the late 1960s, when the concept fell out of popularity for several decades. Independent operators, looking for new concepts, revitalized the idea in the 1990s, and both of the original bars started reinvigorating their own brands. Today, there are innovative tiki bars across America, and in Northeast Minneapolis, Psycho Suzis Motor Lodge sprouted in 2003. With three differently themed bars on the premises, and a raft of signature cocktails, PSML offers you and your pals an afternoon or evening away from Minnesota’s tundra landscape.
Veering away from the traditional Cantonese inspired food menu, Psycho Suzi’s food offerings lean more towards the traditional bar cuisine Minnesotans are used to – appetizers, wings, pizza, sandwiches and burgers. Saturday and Sunday middays sees brunch entrees added to the choices, like biscuits and gravy, or chorizo benedict.
Pizzas come in two crust varieties, a deep dish, or a hand-stretched thin crust, about the thickness of your standard Pizza Hut pie (for comparison purposes only). Toppings are plentiful and high quality. The fennel sausage is a delight.
Psycho Suzis is open until 2AM daily.
Psycho Suzis Review
It’s always difficult to find the true origin of a local favorite; I don’t think anybody has ever established where the first Coney Island style hot dog was created….or the first pizza place in the U.S……who created the Jucy Lucy in Minneapolis, the Italian Beef in Chicago, or the muffaletta in New Orleans. Lots of places claim to be first in each of these categories.
The same goes for “Montreal Smoked Meat,” a favorite in the Quebec city, similar to pastrami, but slightly different. Montreal Smoked Beef is prepared by salting and curing beef brisket with spices for a week, then hot smoking it before steaming it just before serving. The brisket is thin-sliced and usually served on rye bread with yellow mustard. There are many different claims as to who originated the dish which was first offered up North around 1910.
Less than three hours from the Canadian border, the Twin Ports of Duluth-Superior (MN/WI) have been a hot destination for the neighbors from the north for decades and decades, who visit for vacations, shopping, and healthcare. Yet there has never been a local restaurant that serves Canadian specialties; it’s kinda hard to even find Canadian beer. Until now.
Located in Superior, WI, Shorty’s Pizza and Smoked Meat recently opened to offer the Twin Ports Montreal specialties and other U.S. and Canadian favorites, including poutine, nearly the national snack dish of Canada. Poutine is a bowl of fries, dotted with quality cheese curds, and smothered with brown gravy.
With all new construction and equipment, including 16 drink stations, the owners have made a big investment in the North end of Tower, and a commitment to “doing it right.”
“Montreal style” pizza is a slightly thicker crust and New York cut, something Northern Minnesotans aren’t used to. Big hunks of fennel sausage decorated the pie, which was also ordered with pepperoni and onions.
The Montreal smoked meat sandwich was moist and full of flavor, as was the caraway rye it rested on. Sandwiches are served with a pickle spear and slaw.
No complaints on the poutine, either,with ample-sized curds and house-made gravy.
On the beverage side, Shorty’s offers craft, domestic, and imported beers. Including a Canadian one or two. Cocktails are available, and Jaeger mixes are featured.
Shorty’s is located on Tower Avenue in downtown Superior, and is open at 11 AM daily, with menu specials and a soup of the day Monday through Friday.
Photos copyright 2014 Kawikamedia.com. Used with permission.
Shortys Pizza and Smoked Meat Review
With a name that is synonymous with Chicago’s “Little Italy” neighborhood, the seven location Taylor Street Pizza in Chicago’s NW suburbs has a rep to live up to.
Primarily a delivery and carry-out operation (with dine in available at the Elgin location), Taylor Street offers thin, double dough, and deep dish pies, as well as standard Chicago fare like calzones, Italian beef, hot dogs, ribs, fried chicken, and a host of appetizers/sides.
I was motivated to try it today as I had a $10 coupon from Restaurant.com, and I’m usually ready to try a new pie purveyor, especially when I am passing through Chicago, a city that has so many great pizza places.
My usual order is a thin crust, Italian sausage, green olive, and extra cheese, which was the choice today, as well. A 16″ pie with the three toppings came to $12.30 after the coupon. Spoiler alert: Taylor Street carries Pepsi products.
It took less than 25 minutes to be ready, and came out of the oven piping hot just as I arrived. Aesthetically, it was a work of art. Taste wise, for my pizza palate, it was perfect. Flavorful sausage, mild sauce, a sprinkling of herbs (such a small thing always makes a pizza special to me). The crust was crispy on the outside, and chewy as you worked your way in, as it should be. Excellent “pull” on the cheese, and best of all, cheese, toppings, sauce all adhered to the crust nicely.
Taylor Street will be one of my “go-to” places when I’m in Chicagoland, for sure.
Taylor Street Pizza Review
From the oven of a small town pie shop in Mystic, Connecticut, comes this frozen version which their publicity states is made from the same ingredients and in the same manner as the restaurant pizzas. Many people became aware of this pizzeria from the Julia Roberts vehicle, “Mystic Pizza.”
The pies have been available in the Northeast for some time, and are now working their way across the country, making it as far as Minnesota (Whole Foods) and Wisconsin (Woodmans). Locator here.
I picked up the Italian Sausage variety, 22 oz for about seven bucks. 15-20 minutes at 400 are the baking specs. Mine came out at 16 minutes.
I am a bit conflicted as to how to describe this pizza, other than to say it’s “ok.” When I took it out of the box, frozen, it had a definite pizzeria aroma to it, but unfortunately, that didn’t come through after baking.
The crust is good, doughy, thicker than I like but enjoyable. The illustration on the box shows a smidgen more cheese than the actual product. The sauce is very mild, as is the Italian sausage, which surprised me. It’s a pure pork product, with seasonings and spices added, but it could actually pass for a beef sausage, almost. Needs more fennel and garlic.
Would I buy it again? If it was on sale, probably. I remain convinced the frozen pie that I have had that most closely resembles one that comes out of the oven in a shop, is Chicago’s Vito and Nicks II.
Postscript: I started ‘picking’ at the pie in the end, and when I peeled the toppings (cheese, herbs, and sausage) off the crust, and consumed it that way, I quite liked it. So if they came out with an ultra thin/crispy crust, I would probably be a regular.
Mystic Pizza Frozen Review
One of the brands from Minnesota pizza manufacturer Bernatellos, the Bellatoria Ultra Thin Sausage Italia promises ”Italian sausage is piled on top of Mozzarella, Asiago, and Parmesan cheese with a rich Italian sauce on a crispy Ultra Thin Crust.” A friend of mine had tried this and described the sauce has being “slightly off.” That wasn’t my experience, but nor did I find it to be a “rich Italian sauce,” but rather plain. I also couldn’t distinguish between the Italian sausage and the regular sausage, and the chunks were smaller than I prefer.
The crust lives up to its billing, and is thin, crispy and falls into the ‘cracker-like’ category, a favorite with most Minnesotans.
I’d buy it again, if it were on sale.
Bellatoria Ultra Thin Pizza Review
Surely you’ve purchased hot crispy food for take out, gotten home, opened the box, and whatever crispiness was present at the shop has disappeared completely – you have a limp, soggy pizza, or onion rings, or french fries. This is due to the heat from the food creating steam inside the box and having nowhere to escape. It’s one of my rituals to always punch a hole or two in the box before i leave the shop, and this helps eliminate some of the problem, but not all.
Now comes a company from India called VENTiT, which has perfected box manufacturing technology to assure delivery of a crisp product. Their invention assures integrity of the product inside as well as the container. The boxes are currently available only in India, and U.S. pizza delivery chains should take note.
The VENTiT packaging provides for a series of strategically placed openings throughout the box, and tests have shown product actually remains hotter than in conventional packaging, while allowing for steam to escape to the outside, but not allowing any possible contaminants in to the box.
Here’s a video that demonstrates the process.
I’ve written often in the past about the plethora of frozen pizza brands manufactured in Minnesota and Wisconsin. There’s Totinos, Jenos, and Red Baron, Tony’s, Freschetta, Roma, Bellatoria, Brew Pub, Orv’s, Palermo’s, and many others that have reached national and super-regional distribution status. In addition to these, there are a host of smaller manufacturers which only distribute “close to home”. One such company is Kettle River Pizza, in tiny Askov, Minnesota, which puts out their pies to restaurants, bars, groceries and c-stores in parts of Minnesota.
Started in 1986, and purchased by new owners in 2002, who upgraded facilities and capacity, Kettle River make over a dozen different varieties of frozen pies, in 7″, 9″, and 12″ sizes.
I ran into one in a C store the other day, and it was the 4 Meat style (beef, sausage, c-bacon and pepperoni), at 22 ounces for $8.50. That’s a hefty price for frozen pizza, but I chalked it up to C-store pricing, it’s probably a couple bucks less in the grocery, which would make it market competitive in the premium frozen pizza segment.
Instructions call for 10-15 minutes at 375, and the label cautions best results are achieved with a 30 minute thaw prior to baking. Don’t think I have seen that instruction on a frozen pizza before, but I complied.
Minnesotans love their thin crusts, and Kettle River falls in the “not thick, not thin but in-between” category, is crispy around the edges and chewy as you work inward. It almost reminded me (in a good way) of matzoh dough, for the way it puffed up in places during baking. Kettle River has a cheese blend, of some whites, and some yellows. At least some of the topping meats were Hormel product, as their logo adorns the label.
The sauce is mild, and I am fond of the sausage, which is good-sized and flavorful. If you’re a frequent reader, you know I often take exception to frozen pies that have those tiny sausage crumbles, just a personal preference. Toppings on Kettle River are on the generous side.
But what really makes the pie is the quality and quantity of cheese, which melts and bubbles well, and covers the circle edge to edge well. It’s a good product, and the owners should be proud of their efforts.
In my off-line life, I have some knowledge of food industry mergers, and while I have never seen a smaller company gobbled up because of their recipe or quality, but rather for market share or distribution area, if the big guys ever started going out shopping for quality recipes and processes, Kettle River would surely be a target. If their products were distributed in my area, I’d be a frequent customer. Here’s a product locator, to help you find them near you.
Kettle River Pizza Review
Sam Rosati, son of an Italian restaurant immigrant, opened his first Chicago restaurant in 1927, serving pizza as an appetizer. Decades of success later, the next generation took over to focus on pizza, and opened multiple stores and started franchising, with an emphasis on the Chicago suburbs. 150 + stores later, in Illinois and six other states, Rosati’s focus is on Chicago thin crust pizza, with fresh ingredients, including dough made daily, a proprietary sausage recipe, and baking on traditional deck ovens, instead of the speedier conveyor methods.
Most Rosati’s have a smaller footprint, with an emphasis on take out and delivery, although some have dine-in areas. I recently met one of their delivery guys who had been working for the same store for over 25 years! Wow. Hard for me to focus on anything for more than 25 months!
Rosati’s has a pretty deep menu, in addition to pizza, they offer sandwiches, pastas, dinners like fish and chicken plates, and catering services.
One thing I like about Rosati’s is their value-pricing. They are less expensive than other local chains. Plus their killer sausage.
Rosati’s Pizza Chicago Review