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Gloriosos Italian Market Review – Milwaukee, WI

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Gloriosos Italian Market ReviewSeventy-year-old Glorioso’s in Milwaukee is one of several fine Italian deli/groceries the city has to offer.

If it’s even remotely Italian, Glorioso’s has it on the shelf, in the counter or in the cooler. It’s a wonderland for foodies and cooks alike.  Naturally, I stocked up.  Sausages. Cheese. A muffaletta sandwich. So let’s talk about that.  Purportely invented a zillion years ago by immigrants in New Orleans, the “muff” is traditionally a nine inch round loaf, bedazzled with sesame seeds, with two or three types of Italian cold cuts, cheese, and topped with “olive salad” – which is finely diced vegetables and olives in oil.

The result is a messy wonderland – most people can’t eat a whole one, and happily, Glorioso’s has “halves” in their counter.

I put away more than my share, living in New Orleans, and have written about several of them. Tourists like to go to the store that is supposedly the birthplace. I prefer a dive bar uptown.

Glorioso’s could easily pass in New Orleans.  I enjoyed it. If I knew how much I was going to like it, I’d have stocked up. Only “complaint?”  A little light on the olive salad.   (I bought a jar of their mix to bring home, as well).

Scored a fantastic dry salami, “Licini Cacciatore.”  I love when processed meats actually taste like the animal they came from, and this is soGloriosos Italian Market Reviewme great pork.  BTW, the name means (Cacciatore) “hunter”  and (Lincini) Bent or pointing upwards.  It’s a very hard salami, with a robust flavor.

Their beef/pork meatballs have a great flavor, run about a buck apiece, I brought home four to try. They have an awful lot of ingredients compared to the ones I make at home, which are just beef, pork, milk, bread, fennel, parsley, garlic and basil.  Glorioso’s balls are a very fine grind, good for the mass appeal market. My own balls have a rougher texture, chewier. My preference only.

Salads, olives, meats, cheese, entrees, they are all in the counter. You can order a sandwich or a plate, pasta, panini or pizza. (They have take and bakes also).  Their full menu is below.

Staff is personable and knowledgeable about the products.

Really worth a stop if you are passing through.  Really worth being on your regular shopping route if you live there. I will be back. Often.  (I had planned on writing more, but doing this made me hungry, have to go see what I have left from my trip!)

Gloriosos Italian Market Review

Half a Muffaletta Sandwich

 Gloriosos Italian Market Review

Gloriosos Italian Market Review

Glorioso Menu – Click to enlarge

Gloriosos Italian Market ReviewGloriosos Italian Market ReviewGloriosos Italian Market Review
Glorioso's Italian Market Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Gloriosos Italian Market Review

Gloriosos Italian Market Review

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All About Cheese Curds

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All About Cheese CurdsIf you’re not from the Upper Midwest of the US or Eastern Canada, it’s possible you’ve never heard of “cheese curds.”

What are they? In short, bits of fresh, unaged, cheese, snatched from the cheese making at the earliest stage possible. They are eaten fresh, fried, atop the national Canadian snack “poutine,” and in the Indian dishes, it is known as paneer.

Fresh and fried are the way you’ll see them most often in the Midwest. I think the fresh ones are pretty much the same in taste and texture, unless they are “flavored” as some companies are busy doing (dill, red pepper, garlic, etc). Some people refer to fresh curds as “squeaky cheese” as the bits make a slight noise when you’re chewing them.

At retail, they’re sold in bags larger than you need, usually around a pound.  It’s unusual to run into smaller containers, but you may, on occasion.

When you get into the business of deep frying them, with a breading, that’s where quality, taste and texture can vary widely. Some end up like those awful fried cheese appetizers in bars, with that fake bright yellow nacho cheese crap inside.

The good ones, the really good ones, like at Milwaukee Burger Company, are offered to you with your choice of cheese, and a light yet crispy breading that may well be rice flour. They are breaded and cooked to order and are fantastic.

I picked up a mini pack of fresh, made by Jim’s Cheeses of Waterloo, WI.  Bought them at the world’s largest purveyor of Wisconsin cheeses (so they say), Wisconsin Cheese Mart in downtown Milwaukee.

White Cheddar with Peppers.  Tell you the truth, didn’t notice the word “Peppers” or would have looked for something else.  These were $3.50, so that comes out to $16 + per pound. Spendy.  But tasty.

All About Cheese Curds

Curds. Curds. Curds.

 

 

 

 

All About Cheese Curds

All About Cheese Curds

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7-Eleven Frozen Pizza Review – Nationwide

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7-Eleven Frozen Pizza Review

7-Eleven Frozen Pizza Review

A few years back, 7-Eleven made some rather dramatic decisions – to go into the hot, ready to eat food business and to replace many of the standard shelf offerings with house brand merchandise ( 7-Select).

Both moves appear to have been very successful.

With a history that dates back to the 1920s, and originally named the “Tote ‘m Stores,” the company which had started as an ice retailer, added items and stores until changing their name to 7-Eleven in 1946. Continued growth through the next few decades showed success but also added huge amounts of debt to the company, and in 1990, entered a pre-packaged bankruptcy during which 70% of the company was spun off to Japanese retail giant Ito-Yokado.

Today there are 64,000 stores in 18 countries.  Think there are a lot of them in your town?  Tokyo has 2,600!

The addition of the hot food came around 10 years ago (not including roller grill foods, which debuted earlier),  and it was a store-elective, as in order

7-Eleven Frozen Pizza Review

Grab and go food counter

to be competitive, outlets were required to purchase Turbo Chef ovens (retail between $7-$10,000) which can cook a frozen pizza in 90 seconds. Pizza was followed by baked snack offerings like wings and tenders.

Pizzas are sold by the slice or whole and with promotional prices as low as $5 for an entire pie.

The pies are also available in the frozen foods cooler, competing with national brands. There are (that I have seen) three varieties, Supreme, Pepperoni, and Cheese.  These retail for between $5-6.

They are a “medium” thick crust pizza and are reminiscent of brands like Tony’s, and Red Baron, which shouldn’t be surprising, as the frozen pizzas are manufactured for 7-Eleven at a Schwan’s plant.  The plant (pictured below) is in Sydney, OH, about 60 miles NW of Columbus.

It’s a mass appeal product, nothing too extreme in flavors,  but if you’re paying around  $5, it’s a good value.

I’ve only had them a couple of times, in both incidences, I distinctly remember occurring because I was too lazy to go into a big grocery.  I guess that is one thing 7-Eleven is counting on.

Aoubt 15 minutes at 425 and they are ready to go.  Other house brand products I’ve tried in the past, include the meat snacks (their version of a Slim Jim), heat and eat burgers, and fresh sandwiches (which at least in the Pacific NW are made by Lufthansa’s catering division in Seattle).

If you’re outside of the U.S. in one of those 18 countries that 7-Eleven has stores, take a peek in one, they have some fun stuff. Particularly in Asia!  The Japanese parent has some marvelous department stores across Asia as well, operating under the names of Seibu and Sogo. (The Sogo in Hong Kong has an amazing food court/grocery on the lower level).

7-Eleven Frozen Pizza Review

Packaging

7-Eleven Frozen Pizza Review

Out of box

7-Eleven Frozen Pizza Review

After baking (and re-arranging toppings!)

7-Eleven Frozen Pizza Review

Sydney, Ohio Factory

 

7-Eleven Frozen Pizza Review

7-Eleven Frozen Pizza Review

 

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Impossible Burger Review

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Impossible Burger ReviewSo there’s this Stanford professor, Patrick Brown, B.S., M.D., PHD, who decides in 2009 to take an 18-month sabbatical in 2009 to study “eliminating industrial animal agriculture” (fancy words that basically mean big time animal raising for food).

He is of the school that believes the industry is doing major damage to the planet. He hosts a few seminars on his findings, the world kind of doesn’t take notice, but convinced he’s onto something with the idea of replacing animal protein with that derived from plants, he starts “Impossible Foods” in 2011 at the age of 57, apparently aiming to be the Colonel Sanders of the industry segment.

Armed with $400 million in venture capital (seriously!) he sets out to create first of all, a “burger” that duplicates the appearance, texture, and taste of a ground beef hamburger, but using entirely plant-based components.

A restaurant or two pick it up and the product meets with moderate success, initially. Here’s what struck me about its “overnight success.”  These guys found the best PR/Marketing company in the world, apparently, cause try as you might, it’s pretty damned difficult to find a BAD review of the burger.  “Tastes just like hamburger.” “It even bleeds.” Blah blah blah.  They launched a campaign equal to the one some years back for the much ado about nothing “Umami Burger.”

Full-scale production, widespread distribution, buckets of venture money, it looks like the Impossible Burger is here to stay.  So far the pitch has been you’re gonna help save the planet, rather than get healthier.  Maybe that message is somewhere and I just haven’t seen it.

The company had a victory this week in having the product certified as Kosher.  Also this week at the National Restaurant Show, they debuted a line of breakfast sausages.

They chose White Castle as the outlet for one of their first mass production deals. Curious since it’s not a national chain, isn’t really known for launching new products, and already has their own vegetarian patty on the menu, which I tried a couple years ago.

The White Castle product is “slider size” and is marketed as being topped with smokey cheddar cheese, pickles and onions. For some reason, at my White Castle, they didn’t think I deserved the topping or were hell-bent on saving a nickel that day, so mine was plain. Actually, that’s alright, it gives one a better sense of the product on a stand-alone basis. (Adding junk on top of a burger can make just about any meat patty ‘better.’ just look at the success of In N Out).

My take?  I don’t think it’s a mass market product.  Not that many people are willing to change their habits (obviously) to save the planet.  It probably appeals to devout vegetarians who think they miss the taste of beef or just want some variety (a complaint I hear a lot from vegetarians), but I don’t think it is going to get that many beef-a-holics to change their eating habits.

It looks like ground beef. It has an aroma and taste that will REMIND you of ground beef. (To me it tastes like inexpensive ground beef blend, a fatty 77/23 or so).  The texture they are going to have to work on, as well as a binder. Fat holds ground beef together, and the Impossible Burger crumbles, at least in the White Castle version.

I wish them success.  Great to see an old geezer (as I am) like Brown do a big-time start-up, and get that kind of financing, especially since it’s an industry he doesn’t have experience in.

I don’t know whether they are selling the product in bulk yet, like at groceries. Someone told me it’s at Whole Foods, but I haven’t verified it.  It is in a lot of restaurants tho, and the company provides a locator so you can track down an Impossible Burger near you.  I’m sure chefs are being creative with ingredients and presentation.

Impossible Burger Review

Two Impossible Burger Sliders Dissected.

 

 

 

 

 

Impossible Burger Review
Impossible Burger Review

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Quijote Brand Chorizo Review

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Quijote Brand Chorizo

Quijote Brand Chorizo ReviewThere are many varieties of chorizo sausage in the world.  I prefer the Spanish version, which is an ‘eating’ sausage, fermented, dried, smoked, ready for slicing.

It’s made from pork, fat, and a heavy dose of smoky paprika, along with a few other spices. It’s much milder than “Mexican chorizo” which incorporates chili peppers and is removed from the casing before frying in a skillet, being mashed, and taking on the appearance of finely ground beef.

I don’t see the Spanish variety in stores very often, so when I do, I pick it up. Driving across the Deep South last week, I stumbled onto a display of product in a grocery store, made by Elore Enterprises Inc., a Miami company located near MIA and five miles west of Biscayne Bay (pic below).

It’s very smoky and has the requisite firmness.  These particular sausages are about three inches long and 3/4 inch in diameter.  “Fun size” my daughter would say.

If you want a change of pace in a nice, firm, slightly spicy, slicing “salami” – you should give this style a try.

Quijote Brand Chorizo Review

 

Quijote Brand Chorizo Review

Miami Plant Location

 

 

Quijote Brand Chorizo Review

Quijote Brand Chorizo Review

 

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Suncrest Farms Ham Review

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Suncrest Farms Ham ReviewI’m crazy about “real” ham. Earthy, cured, smoked, taste and feels like it came from an actual animal. Meat should taste like it came from an animal.

Reality? I’ll eat almost any ham, but I like the real stuff the best and have been known to go on long drives in the Carolinas, Kentucky, Missouri and other places in search of small processors.

Or just stumbling into local groceries in those regions.

I found some good ones last week in North Carolina, “Suncrest Farms.” In addition to being top quality, it’s more ‘value priced’ than most competitor packets. Especially cool that they have “biscuit slices” in a one dollar package.

Just what you need to satisfy a quick craving. As it is both cured (salt, sugar) and smoked, it doesn’t require refrigeration bfeore it’s opened. You can haveSuncrest started in the mid 90s and has grown incrementally in revenue and facility size.  They now top 100,000 square feet of production and storage space in Wilkesboro, NC.  A pic of their factory is below.”Country ham” is a cure method involving primarily salt and time. “City hams” are cured with more sugar, and less smoke, a milder flavor.

Country ham is fairly salty.  Soak in water ahead of cooking (15-30 minutes) or simmer in water before pan-frying, that’s my method. Great for eating, sandwiches, seasoning in dishes.

Sadly, the company does not have an e-store on their site, or a locator.  Nor is it available on Amazon.  Too bad, cause it’s delicious. I’m going to have to plan a stock-up trip again soon!

Suncrest Farms Ham Review

Slices after pan fry

Suncrest Farms Ham Review

Close up. Note nice muscle grain.

Suncrest Farms Ham Review

Suncrest Farms factory

 

 

 

 

Suncrest Farms Ham Review

Suncrest Farms Ham Review

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Johnsonville New Orleans Smoked Sausage Review

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Johnsonville New Orleans Smoked Sausage ReviewThe full name of this product is “Johnsonville New Orleans Andouille Recipe Smoked Sausage.

In its original form, Andouille is a pure pork sausage that originated in France.  It is comprised of organ meat in a natural casing, with seasonings and wine, and then smoked. It is gray.

The first time I ordered it in Paris, I was quite surprised, the innards are quite rough cut and very identifiable. A bit shocking for a boy from a small town in Minnesota.

The French Acadians brought the sausage recipes to South Louisiana, where it kind of got jumbled up with the Creole cuisine influence already in the area. The recipe changed to a much finer grind, pure pork shoulder (no “bits”) with garlic, onion and wine for seasonings, stuffed into a natural casing and double smoked.

The Johnsonville product in no way resembles Louisiana Andouille, and the Cajuns (Acadians) never settled in New Orleans anyway.

So there we are.

Johnsonville is the largest sausage company in the US, measured in dollar volume, and their products are sold around the world.  They are based in Sheboygan Falls, WI and their giant plant (pictured below) is nearby and has the capacity to slaughter over 3,500 pigs daily.

Their “New Orleans” sausage if pork and beef, water, a mess of seasonings, all the usual preservatives and the dreaded corn syrup. You can taste the sweetness in the sausage. There is a tiny bit of “heat,” although true Cajun and Creole dishes are not known for that quality.

The meat slurry is stuffed into a collagen casing. Collagen is made from various animal parts, skin, tendons and such, and was designed to emulate the natural casings (hog and sheep intestines) used in many sausage.

I don’t know Johnsonville’s smoking process.  With that amount of production, I’m sure it’s massively efficient, which means, not a natural wood fire like smaller producers still use, but rather a liquid smoke “shower” within the smoking unit (oven).

It’s a good product for the mass market, of course, and that is what its designed for.

I do mine in  a cast iron skillet. Putting a little “char” on them further imitates a natural casing (to me). You can see one problem is collagen casings split open, so some flavor escapes.  Since they are smoked, you don’t have to “cook” them, just heat them anyway you prefer.

I hardly ever buy Johnsonville, rarely on sale and always 25-30% more than at least one competitor in any given week. Especially their fresh sausages.

Johnsonville New Orleans Smoked Sausage Review

 

Johnsonville New Orleans Smoked Sausage Review

Wisconsin Plant

 

 

Johnsonville New Orleans Smoked Sausage Review

Johnsonville New Orleans Smoked Sausage Review

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Pizza Sauces Compared – Home Cooking

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Pizza Sauces Compared

It literally took me decades to figure out how to make a great pizza at home. Now I prefer my own to nearly any pizzeria.

You have to pick and choose your ingredients, there are so many options in a standard pie, flour, sauce, cheese, meats, veggies.  I’m really picky about Italian sausage and pepperoni brands.

I started making crusts at home, it’s very easy, here’s the ingredients:

  • 2 t yeast (jars work better for me than packets)
  • 4 t sugar
  • 1 T salt
  • 4 C flour (the best is designated as “00” which is used in Italy. Find it at good food stores. King Arthur sells a version, too) but almost any white flour will do.
  • 1 C + more, water water, warmer than your finger
  • 1/2 C EVOO

Eight minutes in the Kitchenaid, a  couple of rising periods, voila!  But you know what? Here’s a shortcut.  BUY THE DOUGH!  Most big groceries and WalMart have it for sale now, around a buck.

For quite a while, (when I don’t make my own from garden tomatos) I was using Contadina, which comes in a squeeze bottle, very convenient, and no waste, because it keeps.

I’ve previously tried Cento, which was satisfactory, pure, simple ingredients and it’s not annoyingly sweet (just a personal preference).  Pastorelli, a local Chicago brand, is outstanding. Also not “sweet” it’s a little thicker, heartier than most brands. I tried one from Italy, Mutti brand, that was very pure and very thick.

This week I was on to Dei Fratelli, made by the Herzel Family Farms in Northwest Ohio.  They’ve been in the biz since the 1920s.  Again, a thicker one, kinda of sweet.  Upside of both Pastorelli and Dei Fratelli is they offer a smaller size, perfect for one large pie. (Mine are rectangular, the size of a large cookie sheet).

Do I have a favorite? Well, I like to support hometown companies, and all things being equal, I’ll go with Pastorelli every time.

Pizza Sauces Compared

My pie

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Food Club Brand Spanish Olives Review

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Food Club Brand Spanish Olives Review

Food Club Brand Spanish Olives ReviewIt’s hard to explain this company, you practically need to use Ancestry dot com to understand the hierarchy, but I’ll give it a shot.

Food Club is one of dozens of brands of a privately held Chicago company called Topco Associates LLC.

–Topco is a co-op. That is, it is owned by its “members.”

–It’s membership is comprised of grocery store companies and grocery distributing companies co-ops, which in turn, are owned by their member grocery store chains.

Topco started in 1944 as a way of establishing a reliable pipeline of grocery goods to stores, after the shortages left by the war. They have since grown to have hundreds of brand names, all across the grocery segment, fresh and frozen foods, jars and boxes, baby stuff, healthy stuff, with a brands you are familiar with including Food Club, Sure FIne, East, Buckley Farms, Papa Enzos, Cape Covelle. They also have a “Premium” line, a “health and wellness line” and a “Basics” line where the products mostly are labeled “Valu Time.”

Remember when “generics” first hit the grocery stores? White packaging, black block letters – “OAT CEREAL” and such.  Today “generics” (store brands, really) make up a huge percent of a store’s inventory and are very often made by the largest manufacturers in the country, the ones that make the brand names you trust.  ALDI stores is a master of this segment, having products made to their specifications by major processors, and putting a brand name label of their own on the product.  I’ve reviewed a ton of Aldi products on this site.

All these types of products are generally considerbly less money than the brand names, and are on the shelf right next to the majors so you can compare. Yeah, I don’t get why Oreos would want fake ones right next to them on the shelf, but it is what it is.

IN ANY CASE, today it’s about Food Club brands Spanish Olives with Diced Pimento and “Olive tree.” Now that last item is intriguing, you have to admit, it’s going to be the perfect coat rack companion to my pizza box “doll house tables.”

These are Manzanillo olives from Spain. Processors pick at different times in the season depending on the size they desire, these are early, the smallest.  I’m an olive snob.  I’m always eating them and once a year, I cure them myself at home, purchasing raw olives and going through the painstaking and lengthy process to cure them naturally (in a brine).

Large olive producers can afford to wait around, so the natural bitterness of the fruit is removed from the olive with a lye bath. Yes, lye.

As far the Food Club product? Whatever process they’ve used has caused the fruit to be too soft.  The brine is fine, and these would be ok to finely dice and use in whatever recipe you use diced olives in, but they aren’t fun to snack on.

The upside? They were only 99 cents.  Probably less than half the price of competitive brands.

So there you have it. Yes, I did dice them.  Put them on an Italian hoagie (sub, grinder, torpedo, hero, poorboy, poboy)  where they worked just fine.

 

 

 

 

Food Club Brand Spanish Olives Review

Food Club Brand Spanish Olives Review

Topco Associates

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Dr Oetkers Chocolate Mousse Mix Review

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Dr Oetkers Chocolate Mousse Mix ReviewI don’t remember the first OR last time I had chocolate mousse. I dare say it’s more than a half century ago.

When we were kids, it was the ultimate luxury in dessert after a fancy meal out, which generally meant some holiday in a hotel dining room. As for the last time, had to have been on the cusp between teen and “adult” trying to impress some young thing out for a first dinner date.

Her name was Nancy and the (hotel) restaurant was called “The Black Bear.”

All I really remember about it was it was incredibly chocolately, incredibly sweet, with an “air-like” quality.

So wondering through the “foreign foods” aisle at one of the local grocers the other day, as I am apt to do, I spotted Dr. Oetker’s Chocolate Mousse Mix in a box, with the simplest of instructions, add a cup of milk, and stick your electric whippy dip on high speed in there for five minutes, spoon into ‘dessert cups.’

I could handle that.  I was familiar with the brand, which started as a baking ingredient company in Germany in the 1800s. Makers of yeast and such. Today they still crank out all manner of powdered baking aids, yeast, baking powder, icings, flavored sugars, and for some inexplicable reason, have expanded into frozen pizzas.

I recall trying one, but apparently it wasn’t memorable enough to write about.

Anyway, I decided this weekend to venture into the world of instant chocolate mousse.  Would it remind me of the childhood delight? Is it different than instant pudding?

Sadly, the answer to both questions is no.  It was easy to make.  It did taste chocolately (s in a pudding sort of way, a little thicker, denser perhaps, but nothing to serve your in laws and expect compliments.

It might be better as an ingredient in something.  Brownies? Cake?  Leave it to your imagination.  I think it was two bucks.

Dr Oetkers Chocolate Mousse Mix Review

Whip! Whip! Whip!

 

Dr Oetkers Chocolate Mousse Mix Review

Not my pic. My cups were a mess!

Dr Oetkers Chocolate Mousse Mix Review

Dr Oetkers Chocolate Mousse Mix Review

 

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