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Paradise Pup Review, Des Plaines, IL

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A Chicago legend for decades, this suburban hot doggery shines when it comes to the basic Chicago fare of dogs, burgers, sausages, crinkle cut fries, shakes and the like. Cash only, order from the counterman (who’s extremely patient, even with newbies) and wait for your delish food to be cooked to order. There are a couple of tables outside, or you can grab yours to go.  Limited parking, too, so squeeze in tight.

It’s not far from O’Hare if you have time to kill, and also close to the massive Des Plaines casino.  Also nearby you’ll find (for a limiited time, they are tearing it down), a replica of the very first McDonalds built under the Kroc empire.  Pup’s menu.

The food is exceptional, hot, cooked to order, quality ingredients throughout.

 

Paradise Pup Reivew

Paradise Pup Review

Burger and Cheese fries

Paradise Pup Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Paradise Pup Review

Paradise Pup Review

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Harolds Chicken Shack Review – Chicago

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Harold’s Chicken Shack is a Chicago legend. Iconic to all who live on the South Side of the city, after 5 decades, Harold’s has spread to the burbs and even a couple of out of state locations.  On the menu? (Below) Fried chicken, wings, shrimp, catfish and assorted sides.

I went with a combo plate, catfish and perch, which came with fries, slaw, and white bread. All of it was excellent, and prepared to order, so it was fresh and hot. I noticed the fish and chicken have a different batter, with the former being more corn-mealy which was fine with me.  The fish batter was crispy yet light, and the fries were done perfectly.

You can order by the plate, quantity or individual piece.

Seems like there are abour 40 Harold’s locations, according to some online information. They deserve all the success they can achieve. Great product, great value.

The Schaumburg location has limited seating. Counter and a few four tops.

Wanna check out the competitor? Frank’s Chicago Shrimp is the main one.  The main thing I like about Franks is you can order by the quarter pound, and really mix things up!

 

Harolds Chicken Shack Review

Fish combo plate

Harolds Chicago Shack Review

Full menu

Harold's Chicken Shack Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Harolds Chicken Shack Review – Chicago

Harolds Chicken Shack Review – Chicago

 

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Bosco Sticks Review

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Bosco Sticks ReviewI have to admit it, I’d never heard of Bosco Sticks until I saw a recent poll proclaiming they were the favorite hot lunch food of school children these days, surpassing even the terrible pizza found in school lunchrooms.

Now owned by Tyson, Bosco sticks were created by a Michigan pizzeria, spread to local schools, and as they say, the rest of the story is history.

Spoiler alert: to my taste, and I imagine most adults, these are awful.  They are a baked four inch long flavorless breadstick, stuffed with flavorless mozzarella cheese. They are high in carbs and fats.

But apparently demand is such that Tyson offers them in different sizes, made with different types of flour and with different stuffings. Here’s the complete product line rundown.

I purchased them at Walmart. I baked two. The rest are doomed to spend eternity in the freezer. Sorry folks.

School lunches are sure different today then when I was a sprout, and we had a bunch of professional lady cooks in the situation, whipping up lunch from scratch every day.  Not that my family could afford it, I think it was 35 cents in grade schools.  Yes, we were strictly members of the brown bag bologna sammich crowd.

Bosco Sticks Review

Unbaked

Bosco Sticks Review

Baked

Bosco Sticks Review

Cross Section

 

 

 

Bosco Sticks Review

Bosco Sticks Review

 

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Bob Evans Hot Sausage Review

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Bob Evans Hot Sausage ReviewI rarely purchase pre-made breakfast sausage; it’s expensive and the available flavors are not always to my liking. Usually I just buy ground pork, which is always very cheap, and season it to my liking.

But this week I grabbed a one pound chub of Bob Evans “Hot.” Bob Evans starting making sausage on his farm in Ohio in 1948, which he’d use at a little 12 seat diner he owned in a nearby town. People liked his sausage and he tried to to sell it to other restaurants, but they weren’t having it.

Some friends talked him into expanding, and the original restaurant today seats 135, and the chain bearing his name recently sold to a private equity group for more than $500 million.

The grocery food company remained on its own after the sale, and made a few small acquisitions to add side dishes to their line of foods.

It’s recently been announced the food company has been sold for $1.5 billion to Post Group, the cereal company. As of October 2017, the deal has not closed, but that’s not unusual. These things take time.

Below is a picture of the chub, the raw product, and the finished. The ingredients are only pork, water, and some minor spices. I weighed it raw and cooked, and the weight stayed the same. No ½ deep pool of fat in the skillet!

Anyway, I liked it. It’s made in the factory in Ohio (pictured). But it’s still spendy. If I could figure out the ratio of herbs and spices, I’d make my own. Until then, I’ll keep buying this one!

Find the sausage and side dish products here:

Find the closest Bob Evans restaurant.

Bob Evans Hot Sausage Review

Bob Evans Hot Sausage Review

Bob Evans Hot Sausage Review

Bob Evans Hot Sausage Review

 

 

 

 

 

Bob Evans Hot Sausage Review

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Random Meat Sticks Review

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Random Meat Sticks ReviewWhen I go on my drives, seeking out great dogs, burgers, and pizza across America, my in-vehicle snack food is frequently meat snack sticks, like Slim Jims. I can’t even begin to fathom how many brands and variations there are of this popular snack food.  Ingredient and cost wise, they span the whole spectrum from crap to gourmet.

I don’t have a “regular brand,” I guess other than I seem to end up with Slim Jims the most often, simply because they dominate the shelf space. My criticisms of Slim Jims are two:  1) mechanically separated chicken, and 2) there is an oiliness to the product.

While I also can’t verify this fact, it appears Slim Jim is America’s oldest brand in the genre, being introduced in 1929.  Of course (at least in my opinion) it wasn’t an off the cuff lightbulb idea for a new product.  I believe America meat snacks are based on the German-Austrian snack Random Meat Sticks Review“Landjaeger.”

That snack has been around “forever” usually a combination of beef, pork, lard and spices, and cured through a heavy smoke process.  It is popular with hikers, hunters, and the military as it keeps a long time without refrigeration.

So this trip, seems my mouth bumped into a Slim Jim’s, one from Klement’s of Milwaukee, a Jack Link’s and a local product from a butcher in Solon, IA.

You need to know off the top I’m always kinda partial to Link’s, because it was a local company when I was growing up, and I really like their peppery steak sticks. Regardless of its geographical heritage, I do like Link’s meat snack sticks. I don’t venture into flavor land tho.

The original is salty, smoky, and has a good texture, requiring you to actually chew.  Links has entered the refrigerated sausage market, not crazy about that product.  If you ever find yourself rolling through Minong Wisconsin, the local grocery serves as a Jack Link outlet store. Some dandy deals.

Random Meat Sticks Review

Ruzicka’s Solon IA

Klement’s is an old timey Milwaukee sausage company and I’m a fan of many of their products.

I hadn’t seen their meat snack sticks on the grocery station circuit before and ran into them in Ronald Reagan’s hometown.

No connection, I’m sure. While the Klement’s product smelled great, so I thought it had great potential, upon the first bite, I said to myself “no way.”  The texture is awful, and by awful I mean, not very firm. It’s almost mushy. And I bought two, what do I do with the other one?  Anyway, so I won’t be picking those up again, or at least not until I forget I didn’t like them.

Finally,  in search of an entirely different product, I ran into a little butcher in the small burg of Solon, Iowa, and he had his own variety. They were superb, meaty, smoking, chewy. Ruzicka’s is a butcher, locker plant, state inspected processor and caterer. Great ambition, small shop, great products.  Yes, they’ll grind up your deer, cow or hog, too. Ruzicka’s is apparently famous for their Jalapeno Salami, and they’ll ship that to you.

Random Meat Sticks Review

Ruzicka’s Meat Sticks

Random Meat Sticks Review

Klement’s

 

Random Meat Sticks Review

Slim Jim Original

 

 

 

Random Meat Sticks Review Random Meat Sticks Review

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Hamburg Inn 2 Menu Iowa City IA

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Click to view larger image.

 

Hamburg Inn 2 Menu Iowa City IA

 

 

 

 

Hamburg Inn 2 Menu Iowa City IA

Hamburg Inn 2 Menu Iowa City IA

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Middendorfs Seafood Menu New Orleans

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Click to enlarge!!!  Go for the paper thin catfish filets. You won’t regret it!

 

Middendorfs Seafood Menu New Orleans

Middendorfs Seafood Menu Prices

 

 

 

Middendorfs Seafood Menu Prices New Orleans

Middendorfs Seafood Menu New Orleans

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Corky’s BBQ Frozen Pork Meal Review

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Corky's BBQ Frozen Pork Meal ReviewWhile there are a multitude of styles of “BBQ” in the US, it’s generally thought that the top three are Texas, Memphis, and Carolina.

As a result, many BBQ restaurant chains have been spawned in those areas, including the mini-chain of Corky’s, born in Memphis, five minutes from Elvis’s house.

Corky’s opened the doors in the 1980s, and has spread throughout the metropolitan area and a few neighboring states.

Fairly standard fare on the menu, brisket, pork, ribs, chicken, and a few local preferences, catfish, spaghetti and more.

You can buy Corky’s grub online by the pound, and have it shipped to you, or bump into it, like I did, at WalMart. So add Corky’s to the list of restaurant branded foods that will eventually occupy every grocery shelf and freezer. That’s what the experts predict, anyway.

The 12 ounce sliced pork dinner comes with beans and applesauce. Prep is a couple minutes in the microwave or 30 minutes in the oven. I chose the latter. Given the choice, I always choose the latter. (I have this quirk, with no scientific evidence, I think microwaves tend to break down the muscle in meat, and I don’t like the resulting texture).

So thirty minutes later, out of the oven, and I tackled the beans first. They’re good. I was expecting more brown sugar taste, it wasn’t there, and for me, that’s a good thing. The have a slightly smokey flavor with is an added ingredient, not part of the process. There’s no obvious evidence of the other ingredients, meaning, you don’t see chunks of bacon and such.

On to the meat. I like pulled pork, I make it myself at home, so easy in the crockpot, throw it in before leaving for the plant, ready when I get home. This is shoulder meat, which is the right choice for pulled pork, at least most ‘experts’ say so. There’s a modest amount of sauce in the meat tray.

And the meat is restaurant perfect. Irregularly sized bits of pork, nice smoke, great texture, (which I don’t think I would have got in the microwave), mild sauce. More than an adequate amount to satisfy more appetites. I wish they sold it on its own in the grocery, by the tub, I’d be a customer. Well, maybe they do, and I’m just not aware. (You can buy it all by its lonesome online, in 3 or 6-pound tubs). It’s a little too spendy for me but at least shipping is included.

I even like the applesauce, which isn’t really a sauce, but chunks of apple “sauced.” Does include high fructose corn syrup as an ingredient in that, not sure that’s necessary.

Dinner clocked out at four bucks. Worth it, I think. I’d do it again. I will do it again.

Other varieties are available as well.

The company is obviously serious about cracking the grocery segment, as they didn’t sub the product out to some other manufacturer, but have their own USDA inspected plant in Memphis. (pictured below).

Ingredients: Bar-B-Q Pork Shoulder, Apple Filling (Prepared With Sodium Sulfite And Calcium Chloride), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Water, Sugar, Modified Corn Starch, Contains 2% Or Less of The Following: Lemon Juice, Apple Juice Concentrate, Potassium Sorbate (As A Preservative), Cinnamon, Salt, Citric Acid, Nutmeg. Baked Beans (Prepared Navy Beans, Water, Sugar, Brown Sugar, Corn Syrup, Salt, Food Starch-Modified, Bacon, Dextrose, Spice, Caramel Coloring, Onion Powder, Hydrolyzed Corn Protein, Natural Smoke Flavor, Garlic Powder, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Natural Flavorings, Seasoning (Brown Sugar, Mustard, Dehydrated Onion, Green Bell Pepper, Spice)) Bar-B-Q Sauce (Water, Tomato Paste, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Molasses, Distilled Vinegar, Brown Sugar, Salt, Worcestershire Sauce (Distilled Vinegar, Molasses, Corn Syrup, Water, Salt, Caramel Color, Garlic Powder, Sugar, Spices, Tamarind, Natural Flavors), Cayenne Peppers, Natural Smoke Flavor, Dehydrated Onions, Soybean Oil, Dextrose, Dehydrated Garlic, Spice And Spice Extractives, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Benzoate, (Preservatives), Guar Gum, Ascorbic Acid.

Corky's BBQ Frozen Pork Meal Review

Out of the box

Corky's BBQ Frozen Pork Meal Review

After heating

Corky's BBQ Frozen Pork Meal Review

Factory in Memphis

Corky’s BBQ Frozen Pork Meal Review

Corky’s BBQ Frozen Pork Meal Review

 

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Lake Geneva Country Meats Review, Lake Geneva Wisconsin

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Lake Geneva Country Meats ReviewI have been known to take road trips in search of small producers of processed pork products, especially hams. Jumping off the interstates, traveling back roads, stopping in diners to inquire about local products. Never disappointed.

The other day, I had been to a “pick your own” tomato farm, had a bushel of the beautiful red fruit, stopped at a great bakery and scored a loaf of rustic bread, so I knew I needed one more thing, some bodacious bacon to make BLTs (I had lettuce in the garden at home).

And with great delight, I happened upon Lake Geneva Country Meats, on State Road 50, a few miles east of the beach in Lake Geneva, WI.

The establishment is a large store of meats butchered and processed on the spot (factory/store picture below), dozens of kinds of sausages, hams, chops, beef, as well as specialty grocery items. It’s a modern, spacious, sparkling store, with friendly and knowledgeable help.

I scored the bacon, as well as an outrageously good ham steak. Both products were nicely cured with seasoning and just the right amount ofLake Geneva Country Meats Review
smoke. The thick cut bacon had great flavor and was very meaty.

Products are a little bit on the spendy side, but I’m good with that, to get diligently prepared products that actually taste like the animal they come from. I’m a snob about that. So much of the mass produced pork product in groceries these days doesn’t resemble actual pork in either taste or texture.A real disappointment.

Lake Geneva Country Meats is open from 8 AM Monday through Saturday.

Most importantly, pay them a visit. If you can’t, follow them on FBTwitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+. They have regular specials with good discounts. They sell some house-made rubs and spices on their website as well and there are some good recipes.

Family owned since 1965. P.S. The char on the ham? No, I didn’t burn it. I like it that way!

Lake Geneva Country Meats Review

Prepared Bacon

Lake Geneva Country Meats Review

 

Lake Geneva Country Meats Review

Reward! Ham & Eggs!!!

Lake Geneva Country Meats Review

Store Front

Lake Geneva Country Meats Review

State of the art plant

 

 

 

 

 

Lake Geneva Country Meats Review

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Rosie OHares Review East Dundee, IL

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Rosie OHares ReviewBrittany (n.) a region in France; a region in England; one of the best restaurant servers in Chicagoland.

Yes, I’m going with the third meaning here. A friend and I rolled into Rosie O’Hare’s, an Irish themed eating and drinking establishment overlooking the Fox River in East Dundee, IL.

I must have driven by this place a thousand times and never given a thought to stopping by – thinking it more bar than restaurant, but my pal Tom (maker of fine streaming children’s videos, buy them here) suggested we give it a shot.

I’m glad we did. There are three elements that make or break any restaurant experience, food, ambiance, and service. We hit the trifecta at Rosie’s.

Our server, Brittany, is one of those (rare, these days) people who understand being “hospitable” is a big part of the hospitality  industry. She gave us a warm welcome like we had been lifelong customers and provided excellent service throughout our stay, with just the right amount of inquiries as to our needs during the meal.

I went with the black and blue burger, described as ½ lb of fresh  ground black Angus Beef with lettuce, tomato, and onion. It was cooked to my direction/satisfaction, and is served with chips and a handsome pickle spear. Tots or potato salad available for a small upcharge, and if you’re a regular reader, you know I’m a fiend for tots. Always.

You also know I take apart burgers on occasion to check out the components, and this hand-formed burger was flavorfulon its own and the vegetable condiments were ample and freshly cut.

The bun was bakery soft, fresh, but substantial enough to hold the toppings.

Tom went with the corned beef sandwich, which Brittany was good enough to explain when he inquired about it, that it wasn’t the usual thing with thin-sliced deli meat, but rather thick-ish slices of  brisket, with corned beef seasonings and slightly smoked.

It comes on grilled rye, with a side of horseradish, should you desire. It was spectacular. Sorry I didn’t get a pic of it.

There’s a big smoker out back, which they deftly use with frequency including their weekly Saturday nite special of prime rib.

Friday fish fry, or course, and Sunday brunch.

We sat outside, overlooking the river, tables are ample sized with large sun umbrellas, if that’s your thing.

Rounding out the menu are small plate appys, specialty burgers,salads, sandwiches, wraps and “Henny Penny Broasted” chicken.

Full bar, and extensive domestic, imported, and craft beer selections.

So, to recap? Great food, pleasant surroundings, and Brittany.

A perfect day.

Rosie OHares Review East Dundee, IL

Rosie OHares Review East Dundee, IL

 

 

 

 

Rosie OHares Review East Dundee, IL

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