Archive for the ‘Sausage’ Category
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
“Fresh Thyme Farmers Market” is a relatively new chain of grocery stores in the Upper Midwest. I’ve heard it described as “Trader Joe’s meets Whole Foods.” I guess that means the focus is on “natural” and “organic” mixed with some interesting items (imports) like Trader Joe’s stocks.
The chain is the brainstorm of the former CEO of Phoenix based Sunflower Farmers Markets, which was founded by the originator of the Wild Oats chain, which was sold to Whole Foods. The start-up is being financed by the giant Meijer grocery, out of Michigan, and has a goal of having 60 stores by 2020.
Fresh Thyme Farmers Market (not sure what happened to the apostrophe) stores are larger than Trader Joe’s, but smaller than most Whole Foods. They have a very large selection of fresh produce, and the one I was in had a hot foods counter (pizza, sandwiches) and a deli counter. This location the deli meats were exclusively from Boar’s Head, which is a respectable company, but in my own personal opinion, not the best in the segment.
To me, the store appears to have better value pricing than either TJs or WFs, and the day I was in, weekly specials included a pound of Thai (pond raised) shrimp for $3.79, and house made sausages in many flavors at $2.99.
I go to these kind of specialty stores for a few reasons: looking for unknown (to me) ingredients to try out, house-made specialties, and unusual imports. So I bought the shrimp, sausage, some produce, and a frozen pizza imported from Italy, which I hope is as good as the imported pizzas at Trader Joe’s. I’ll let you know. My opinion, the frozen pizzas at TJs from Italy and France are far superior to almost all American brands.
The stores are immaculate, open early and late, and the personnel are courteous and informed. I’ll stop back from time to time, for sure.
Store locator. (Photos from the company’s website and copyright their respective owners).
Fresh Thyme Market Review
They had peanuts on the table, and she got a huge kick out being able to throw the shells on the floor…. being messy on purpose!
I liked the thin crust pizza (OK, and the peanuts, too), the restaurant uses fresh made Italian sausage, and whole milk mozzarella, which gives the cheese a nice stretchiness quality. They had a smattering of herbs which I find pleasing, as well.
The original location was overlooking serene Lake Zurich, IL, but that location burned down in 2004. They moved up the road inside the arcade building at a mini golf, and I stopped in there once or twice over the years, but only for take out.
Finally they moved to their present location, on Highway 14 in Palatine, into s cozy building that was previously another pizzeria, which I can’t remember the name of. It’s smaller than the original location, but a warmer decor, and they offer their entire lengthy menu of pizza, sandwiches, and entrees, along with a full bar.
JJ Twigs is known for their unique “double decker” pizza, which is two fully topped thin crust pizzas, one atop the other, sealed together with a thick hand-turned outer crust. I’ve never tried it.
I had my “usual,” a thin crust sausage with green olive, and double cheese. And it was fabulous. Chased it down with an Italian beef, (and a shot of insulin) but took most of both home, of course. The pie is every bit as good as I remembered, and I’d stop by more often, but it’s quite a hike for me.
They have quite a few TVs as well as a separate room, JJ Twigs would be a fun place to have a small party or catch the game.
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
Seems that Milwaukee’s Palermo Pizza, which has been around forever, took a tip from the brewers, and have rolled out (I think) six new ‘brands’ over the past two years. I’ve tried a bunch of them, including their Classic, Sasquatch (available at WalMart only), P’Mos, and the Screamin’ Sicilian. I had mixed feelings about some of them, but I continue to buy Screamin’ Sicilian, because I like the amble toppings.
Urban Pie is their latest offering, and they come in four different varieties, “styled after” specific neighborhoods in the U.S. I chose the “Mission District,” which boasts Uncured Pepperoni. Chicken Sausage, Roasted Red Bell Pepper Sauce, Tomatoes, Basil, Green Peppers, Onions, Crimini Mushrooms. and a four cheese mix – Romano – Mozzarella – Parmesan – Provolone.
That’s a pile of ingredients for my personal tastes, I like a couple-three toppings at most, and my personal preference is a cracker thin crispy crust. But surprise, I liked this. The crust is about the thickness of what some shops call “hand-tossed,” but it’s flaky – almost like a matzoh flour, unique, I think, in the frozen pizza biz. Good show.
The “Little Italy” has pesto, fresh mozz, and tomatoes. “Lakeview” is chicken sausage, roasted yellow peppers and spinach. “Northend” is a mushroom and truffle pie, with a three cheese combination, including Asiago.
Urban Pie has a locator on the top, right hand side of their site. At the bottom of this post, you’ll find the ingredient panel from the package. That’s alotta stuff!
Urban Pie Pizza Review
Suzy Applebaum introduced me to the Green Mill; we were both employed at KSTP in Minneapolis- St. Paul, and I had asked her to go to lunch. She suggested the Green Mill. At the time, it was a small bar on Hamline Avenue in St. Paul that specialized in deep dish pizza. It had opened in the 30s as a soda fountain at the same location.
I had a monster crush on Suzy, who hailed from a local grocery store dynasty family; if I knew then I was going to spend the rest of my life obsessed with food, well, I might have wised up and pursued Suzy with vigor, but I knew I was outclassed from the get-go.
The legend of the local bar with great pizza grew, and today, there are 27 locations across the Midwest, serving a full menu in addition to their pizza.
There was one other significant event in my life that took place at a Green Mill, the rehearsal dinner for my wedding. It was at the Uptown location on South Hennepin in Minneapolis, and no, it wasn’t my selfish love of pizza that made that event happen there, but was rather my mother’s choice. My mother loved to go with me to places that were “on the wrong side of the tracks”, and it was “our thing” to explore someplace new every time she came to the Twin Cities when I was living there.
As with most successful pizzerias, Green Mill has launched a frozen pizza line, and they are being made and distributed by a Minnesota pizza manufacturer, Bernatellos. Minnesota somehow became the frozen pizza capital of the US, with a gaggle of brands being made across the state: Jeno’s, Totino’s, Roma, Red Baron, Freschetta, Tony’s, Giovannis, Kettle River….I’m sure I’m forgetting many, but you get the idea.
I purchased the “Thin and Crispy” style with three meats, sausage, pepperoni and bacon. It’s a 15 ounce affair and was priced at 2 / $11 or .73 per ounce, and that’s steep for a frozen pie.
The three pix below represent the box, note the “authentic restaurant-style flavors” (boy, that’s as vague as can be, isn’t it?); the unbaked pie is kind of a misrepresentation, I pushed all the included pepperoni to one side of the pie. The last picture represents the baked pie, 10 minutes at 425.
The picture of the cooked pizza kind of tells the whole story, when you note the “glistening” on the surface. This is a fairly greasy pizza, and the ‘cupping’ and slight char on the pepperoni indicates a high fat content (which would explain some of the oil). The pork sausage is realtively unseasoned. It’s a crispy crust, pleasant enough, nice herb treatment, including fennel. Tomato sauce on the sweet side.
The ingredients list doesn’t include a whole lot of preservatives, these are pretty pure ingredients. The flavor is simply not to my taste, but it might be perfect for you!
Frozen Pizza Review
Heading down Gregg Street from the Interstate, I perused my BIG choices – Burger KING, home of the WHOPPER, BIG John’s Feed Lot, GREAT Wall, and then I spotted it – BIG Al’s and Son Bar-B-Q.
I was greeted by an amiable server, and told the “rules” for dining at BIG Al’s. Proceed to the counter/serving station, choose the lunch plate or the BIG platter, and depending on whether you choose the lunch plate or BIG platter, you have a choice of two or four meats, or any combination thereof. Pulled pork, my personal favorite, is seldom on the menu in Texas Q restaurants, so the choices were sausage, brisket, chicken,ribs, and/or “bodacious” ham. I eschewed the ribs and chicken and loaded up on the other three. At $8.95 for the BIG platter, I got to choose three vegetables (green beans, collard greens and corn on the cob won out), received a thick slab of Texas toast (BIG), ample amounts of butter, a choice of peach, apple, or cherry cobbler, and a BIG drink. Dave Thomas wudda been proud.
My amiable server continued to provide me with BIG service throughout the meal, refilling my iced tea without being asked, and continually reminding me to save room for a BIG serving of home-made ice cream, which they whip up every morning. He also extolled the virtues of other things on offer, which he encouraged me to try next time. Among which was a BIG serving of Steak Fingers, which, according to my server, were MUCH better than Dairy Queen’s!
The brisket, sausage and ham were superb. That dry-rub slow smoking process that Texas Q is famous for. While most Texas Q’s don’t offer sauce (and the meat doesn’t need it), BIG Al’s had a choice of several one could use as accompaniments. I passed on them. I like to taste the BIG flavor of the meat.
As my eyes started to glaze over, and the ice cream was starting to melt, I put a BIG bill on the table and motioned for the server to come over.
He said, “What, you want some change?” And I said, “No, that’s for you.” His reply was “I don’t need that much!”
I said, “You may not need it, you may not want it, but you did earn it, BIG time.”
BIG Al’s is open for lunch and dinner most days, if you find yourself in BIG Spring. 1810 South Gregg Street, (915) 267-8921.If you find yourself there without a car, and call the restaurant, BIG Al’s will send somebody to pick you up, so you can enjoy the BIG platter, and BIG Texas hospitality.
Update: Big Al’s is formally known as Al & Son’s BBQ
Big Als BBQ Review
Here’s one of those “best places in town” as touted by local media. I guess when you live in the town that Pizza Hut started, it doesn’t take too much of an effort for people to think you have a “good” pizza.
I had been itching to get here, because I had heard about the “coney island pizza,” thinking, wow, two of my favorite things, coney island hot dogs, and pizza, combined! This will be GREAT!
I ordered two small pies to go, the coney island, and the all meat, because I was hungry for pizza, and got the meat one as a back-up in case I didn’t like the coney pie.
The coney is topped with hot dogs, hot dog chili sauce, diced dill pickles and onion, and a swirl of yellow mustard.
Conceptually? Interesting. Reality? YUCK!
I tried one bite. Ewww. Tried rolling the slice, and pretending the crust was a hot dog bun. Ewwww. Offered the remaining pie to two homeless guys, they passed.
So I opened the meat box, and one couldn’t complain about the quantity of toppings. One could complain about the quality, however.
Nothing disturbs me more than picking up a slice, and having the entire top, cheese and toppings, slide off the crust into the box. OK, there’s one thing that disturbs me equally, as much, picking up a slice, and having all the toppings roll off into the box. Such was the case here. The sausage was akin to “Sysco Meat Crumbles #2” or some such. Lifeless, tasteless, and looking suspiciously, all by their lonesome in the box, like something a furry big eared animal might leave behind.
I’ll post a video later. For now, these pics, the coney and the meat pie. I always try to find the good in a place, and I thought a hand-tossed crust might be Knolla’s redemption, but even that fell flat. Lifeless was a word I used above, and I’d say it again about the crust. It just didn’t have any pizazz at all. A floury taste. Maybe they didn’t proof it.
The location I was at, pure carry-out, except one table in front, for two. They were very busy. Somebody obviously likes these pies; just not me.
I’m not posting a map, even. They have four or more locations. You can avoid all of them of your own volition.
Knollas Pizza Review
In the U.S, the term “Italian Sausage” refers to an uncooked pork sausage, seasoned with various herbs and spices. You’ll see them labeled at “hot” or “sweet” (also sometimes mild). The primary difference is the “hot” may have some red pepper flakes added, or in many cases, a dose of fennel seeds. I must prefer the “hot” variety.
StoneRidge sent along some of theirs for me to try, their recipe is (thankfully) very basic, and ingredients include: pork, water, salt. spices, pepper, dextrose, paprika, fennel, BHAk BHT, in a natural hog casing. Although it is not required, I par-boil the sausages, prior to putting them to saute in a cast iron skillet, on a grill, or on the grill. As these are in a natural casing, and you’ll want to retain all the flavor and juices, low and slow is the key to cooking, otherwise the casing may burst, and you’ll lose all that deliciousness inside.
Today I’m using them in a spaghetti sauce, actually burning up canned tomato sauce I made last fall, have to use up the inventory before the tomato season starts for this year. My sauce is very basic, onions, garlic, cooked down tomatoes, basil, oregano, fennel and red wine. Cook for a day or two and reduce by half.
After the fry pan, I’ve sliced the sausages on a bias (angle) just for aesthetics. You can incorporate the sausages into the sauce, or serve them whole as a side dish. Even better? Throw them on a firm hoagie roll, add a dollop or two of sauce, and melt some provolone or mozz over them.
I am very particular about my Italian sausage, and StoneRidge makes some of the best I have ever had, and I will be a regular customer; I can purchase them online and have them shipped right to the kitchen!
If I run out of my own ideas, I know I can pick up some pointers from StoneRidge’s Pinterest site.
StoneRidge Italian Sausage Review