Archive for the ‘Sandwiches’ Category
It operated pretty much continuously since that time, except for a few years hiatus, a move and renovation. In all its splendor today, it dishes up great home made grub for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as selling baked goods.
I went for their signature dish, a pork tenderloin sandwich. While I cannot tell you the origin of the sandwich, I do know they are unique (mostly) to Iowa and Indiana, and consist of a pounded out boneless piece of pork, usually breaded and fried. It is served on a bun, most often with lettuce, tomato, and mayo. Maybe a pickle chip or speak.
I was a bit apprehensive about going out of my way to hit the Oasis, but after my meal, I realized I would drive hundreds of miles just to have the tenderloin again. It was absolutely perfect. The breading has a nice crunch, while the pork remains juicy and nicely seasoned. Hand cut fries were my side choice, and the house baked bun was fresh and substantial enough to hold the sandwich, even if one can’t get it in their mouth!
There are quite a few Mountain View diners still in operation around the US, including five in Indiana.
I’ve driven quite a few of the major US original highways, like Route 66, and US 61, back and forth, top to bottom, but haven’t spent much time on US 40, one of the original coast to coast roads, which is nicknamed “The National Road.”
Just by spending 20 miles on it the other day, I can tell I’ve missed a great trip that I will have to do in the future, lots of old time Americana and architecture on 40. As well as the Oasis Diner.
Oasis Diner Review
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.
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 Anitas Bavarian Review
40 years ago, it was called “Bill’s,” and it was in the same location. Hasn’t changed much, same counter, same booths, now fairly worn, the faux leather brittle with age. The home-spun murals of scenes of Italy on the walls are fading.
But would the pizza hold up? Did we love it because it was great? Or because at the time, it was the only show in town?
My sophomore roommate was a guy from Chicago named Joe Szabo. Nice guy. Talented artist. Wanted to grow up to be a famous talented artist. Hope he made it.
Most college roommates experience the “either / or” phenomena, meaning that it’s pretty normal that one roommate has some money, and the other doesn’t. The cycle reverses on a regular basis.
In our dorm room, whoever had the money had the power to dictate toppings: Joe always got ground beef and diced onion; for me it was Italian sausage and sliced green olives. Neither of us minded the other’s selection.
There were a couple of great things about rooming with Joe. He had a car. And a very tasty morsel of a girlfriend. In a college dorm room, it’s hard not to become somewhat “familiar” with everything that goes on and Sara was, well (swoon).
One night Joe let me use his car (unheard of) so he and Sara could have a special “moment”. He flipped me a sawbuck, too, and said “go have a ‘za’, and take your time.
I started off down College Avenue, it was winter, there were patches of ice, I was very careful with Joe’s pride, a green Beetle. I stopped at the RR crossing for a slow moving freight, minding my own business, anticipating the ‘za, when WHAM! I got re-ended. As you probably know, the Beetle has the engine in the back, so a whack can cause serious damage.
No one was hurt, someone summoned the police, who informed me the drunk driver who just plowed into my roommate’s car was “so and so’s son”, and there was never, ever anything going to come of it.
And nothing did. I got a pizza all by myself, Joe and Sara had their special moment, and if Joe was ever pissed about the accident, he never let on.
So nearly 40 years later, I show up at Basil’s, order a medium of (my) sausage and green olive, and (Joe’s) ground beef and onion, to compare and contrast as it were, to see if this is great pizza, or just a glorified memory.
I did notice a couple things while the dude is making the pie, things that (for me) are critical for a good pie: 1) sliced cheese, not shredded, and 2) bulk sausage, pinched by hand, in nice sized pieces.
The old Baker’s Pride ovens had lost some oomph, it would take a full 15 minutes to bake, with the requisite occasional door opening, and paddle spin.
I took my hot pies back to my motel room. I tried one, then the other. Then the first, then the other. They were superb. Great melted cheese that clings to the crust, a cracker like crust, a big of tang to the sauce, and quality toppings.
Could I eat two mediums all by myself? Nah. But 40 years ago I could.
Basils Pizza Review
I’ve written a lot about ‘gas station sandwiches,” a term I use to describe the cello wrapped sandwiches, fresh or heat and eat, one finds at c-stores, gas stations, and in vending machines.
The earliest ones I remember were from a Virginia company called “Stewart Sandwiches” who sold mostly to bars, concession stands, and schools and companies.
Their “heat and eat” versions used a patented device the company provided called an “In-Fra-Red” oven (pictured), which was kind of a predecessor of microwaves being widely used. The sandwiches were placed in the ovens, still in their cello, and they took 3-5 minutes to heat.
In addition to “subs” and burgers, their version of “chuck wagon” (breaded, fried hamburger) was very popular, as was their “pizza burger.” My college roommate and I used to buy quantities of these puppies and sell them in the dorm, til the school shut us down.
Stewart operated via a franchise model, with about a couple dozen distributors around the country that established their own customers/routes. At some point (which I can’t really seem to sort out through research), Stewart faded and some of their franchisees took up the mantel – the largest being the (now known as) “Deli Express” label, a suburban Minneapolis company, which cranks out a million sandwiches a week at their Minnesota factory.
Other than “Deli Express,” “Landshire,” and Ohio’s “AdvancePierre” (who recently acquired Landshire), the segment seems to be fairly regional, with a lot of smaller manufacturers like “Mom’s” in OK and Texas.
7-Eleven contracts some of their sandwiches out to a division of Lufthansa airlines.
Although many of these sandwiches are assembled by hand in the smaller companies, automation has created mass production efficiency as seen in this video.
In my opinion, for the most part, these sandwiches are largely “OK” but usually a little spendy. If you want something quick to go and relatively “fresh” they are a handy alternative to fast food. Some are considerably healthier than say, a Quarter Pounder and fries.
I’ve written a number of pieces lately on a gas station that recently moved into my neighborhood, a smallish chain in the Midwest called “Thorntons” and I’ve sampled a number of their heat and eat products, including a burger, Pizza, chicken sandwich, breakfast sandwich and tenders.
Today I tried their “fresh” sandwiches, an Italian Footlong sandwich (sic), at $4.99, on a long roll with ham, salami, pepperoni and provolone. It comes completely condiment free, but the gas station has an amply stocked condiment ‘bar.’ I’m ok with cello wrapped sandwiches being sold ‘naked,’ too often in these products if lettuce/tomato are included, they’ve seen better days, as of course the deli meats are full of preservatives and maintain their appearance much longer than the vegetables. As far as the spreadable condiments, every person has their individual tastes, some sandwiches come with packets of mustard/mayo included in the cello wrapping.
What did I think?
It’s ok, no better or worse than any other brand. The expiration date on this one is weeks in the future, but the bread is already pretty dry, and the only flavor that really ‘pops’ is the pepperoni, and that ingredient is the least in volume on the sandwich, with of course, the least expensive meat, the processed ham, being in attendance in the largest quantity.
I added mustard and dill pickles at home, but it didn’t really enhance or detract from the experience.
Since Thorntons has extensive roller grill offerings (hot dogs, sausages, those cylinder “Mexican” things, and a fresh condiment bar along side that, I probably would have been better off to open the sandwich at the gas station and load it up with junk there.
Live and learn.
Gas Station Sandwich Primer
Fourth in a series of four. Thornton’s is a medium size gas station chain based out of Louisville. They’ve been rolling out hot snack foods at some of their stations, and I’ve tried their pizza, burgers, and breakfast sandwiches so far.
Today I picked up the “Southern Style Crispy Chicken Sandwich,” which is two of the tenders they sell as a snack offering, on a bakery bun. Half way through my chewing, I also discovered 3 pickle chips under the chicken!
The flavor of the chicken is OK, the breading is light, but not all that crispy. For some reason, despite playing with it for over 50 years, the food industry hasn’t been able to figure out how to have a crispy coating on food without it coming directly from a deep fryer (which this does not).
Like I thought on the other snacks, the chicken sandwich is a little spendy. On the upside for any of their offerings including an extensive seclection of roller grill choices, Thornton’s has an amazing array of add your own condiments, both fresh and packaged, and that’s a real plus over the competitors.
As an afterthought, I grabbed one of their “cheese bread” snacks. The packaging makes it look more substantial than it actually is (see pix below), and it rings up at $1.99. Like many of their competitors, Thornton’s cuts a slice of pizza into “cheese bread.” So the prices is 1/2 the price of their 2 slice pizza serving. While most of the condiments available for use on your sandwiches and dogs are recognizable brand names, the company’s choice for the included marinara dipping sauce is from Diamond Crystal, a diversified manufacturer in Savannah, GA, known primarily for being a supplier of ingredients and dry and liquid condiments. The sauce is heavy on high fructose corn syrup and modified food starches, if you pay attention to those types of things.
The chain also offers a free membership points system that has some pretty good incentives, both inside the stores and at the pumps. Worth a stop. Locator
Thorntons Chicken Sandwich Review
I’ve been on a tear lately, chasing down “ethnic” markets to explore new tastes and ingredients. I’m happy with my finds for Indian, Asian, and Eastern European, and this weekend, I stumbled on an amazing Italian market, Nottoli, which has imported canned and boxed groceries, an outstanding meat counter, and created in-house fresh and frozen prepared foods.
They also make sandwiches and single serving size entrees to take out. Often when you (or at least I) run into a shop like this, the prices are a little spendy, which I understand, lower volume, the need to make a profit. Not so at Nottoli – while I was impressed with the selection and quality of their products, most of their offerings are an extremely good value, and I picked up a number of Italian meats at considerably less per pound than any of the groceries in my neighborhood.
They sell prepared pasta dishes, meatballs, and sauces.Their red gravy (spaghetti sauce) is outstanding.If I make it at home, it’s a three day project, and mine can’t compete with Nottolis. I’ll buy and freeze in quantity from here on out.
I picked up a few pounds of different dry salamis, the hot Soppresata is fantastic. I also picked up some fresh “hot” Italian sausage, heavy on the fennel, and it’s outstanding as well.What I like most of all about traditionally cured meats, is they actually taste like the animal they came from, they haven’t been beat to hell by curing agents so that the true meat flavor has nearly vanished. Grabbed some tasty meatballs in sauce, too, they didn’t make it home!
If you’re looking for Italian specialties in Chicago, you can rely on Nottoli for quality product at good prices.These prices are about 1/3 of that monster “WalMart sized” Eataly downtown. They have a catering business as well, offering hot and cold trays.The take out and catering menu is posted below.
The deli is open 7 days at 8:30 AM and is just south of I-90 at 5025 North Harlem Avenue.It’s walking distance from the Blue Line Harlem Station, too!
Nottoli Italian Market Review
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’).
Chicken Strip Smackdown
Beyond being identified as an official state food, the actual ‘birthplace’ is subject to dispute, with two different bars on the bar south side of Minneapolis claiming to have originated the sandwich: Matt’s Bar, and the 5-8 Club, which are pretty close together.
Matt’s goes with the “Jucy” spelling and the 5-8 tags theirs as “Juicy.” Another significant difference is at the 5-8, you can have your choice of cheese, and at our table, at one of the suburban locations (5-8 has four outlets now), one opted for Pepperjack, and I went for blue.
We rolled in to the 5-8’s Champlain location on a Sunday just after opening bell, and there weren’t many patrons, but it was jammed by the time we left, even tho it wasn’t a big tv sports day.
Full disclosure, I was last in Matt’s about 30 years ago, my memory is that it was a damn fine burger.
5-8, despite their notoriety, was a different experience all together. Service was inattentive, the food took a long time, and it was nothing to write home (or here) about, but I am anyway. Below you’ll see a pic of my Juicy bisected, without a hope of oozing cheese. Fries were ok, rings were ok, slaw might as well have been from a food service company.
Many the burgers are different at the original location, one hopes not.
“We report, you decide.” Here’s Matt’s menu, and the 5-8’s. The map below shows the location of both Matt’s and the 5-8, just north of the Minneapolis St Paul airport and the Mall of America (shudder).
5-8 Club Juicy Lucy Review
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.