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Posts Tagged ‘Poutine’

All About Cheese Curds


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


Grandmas Saloon and Grill Poutine


Grandmas Saloon and GrillMy home town, Duluth, Minnesota, is a couple hours from the Canadian border, and heavily dependent upon Canadians for its economy – shopping, medical care, and  tourism.

In all the decades I lived there, Canadians were welcome, and even when exchange rates weren’t favorable for the neighbors to the north, Duluth merchants happily accepted the currency at par.

The one thing the city never did do was feature “Canadian cuisine,” (or beer) but in the past few years, that’s started to change, with a number of restaurant offering the national snack of Canada, poutine, and also a new addition that offers Montreal Smoked Meat, another Canadian favorite.

Now it’s time for long term restaurateur Grandma’s Saloon and Grill to add their version of poutine, as an LTO. Sold as an appetizer on the “Northern Comfort” menu, Grandma’s takes crispy fries, tops them with deep fried cheddar curds from Kaufhold’s of Ellsworth, WI, and adds their house made gravy.

Grandma’s fries were hot, crispy and seasoned perfectly, the house made gravy perfect.  A problem? Only slight.  On most poutine, the cheese melts into the fries and gravy for a depth of flavor.  Deep fried curds don’t melt!



Grandma's Saloon and Grill on Urbanspoon

Grandmas Saloon and Grill


Duluth, MN – Canal Park Brewing Review


A year old, operating kinks worked out, Canal Park Brewing has  great beer, updated menu adds spot on poutine. Menu.

Canal Park Brewing Review






Canal Park Brewing Company on Urbanspoon

Canal Park Brewing Review


Duluth, MN – Pak’s Green Corner (Review)


What do hot dogs, steamed dumplings, curry, poutine, cous cous, burgers, penne with meatballs have in common?   Not a thing.  But you can enjoy all of these “world foods” and much more at Pak’s Green Corner at 40th and Grand in Duluth.

Open only a couple of weeks, for lunch and dinner six days, and later on Friday and Saturday, Pak’s hopes to have something to satisfy nearly everyone, and serve it fresh and fast.

Kawikamedia and his burger posse were some of the first customers, and Kawikamedia went with the burger (“Hot dish sandwich”), ground beef, corn, bacon, taters, gravy, open face……..and an order of the poutine, Canada’s traditional snack food (Canada is practically next to Duluth, it’s a wonder you can’t get this everywhere!).  Poutine is fries with cheese curds and brown gravy, and Pak’s gets it right.

You’ll find more info on their Facebook page.  Full menu and another review here.

Pak's Green Corner Duluth Minnesota


Pak's Green Corner Duluth Minnesota

Hot Dish Sandwich (Open Face Burger)


Portland, OR – Sunshine Tavern


Sunshine Tavern Pepp Pizza

Had a great time at a private fete at Sunshine Tavern in Portland on Saturday afternoon. I’m sure I will return, it’s a menu made just for me!

We were served a wide variety of dishes, and overall my favorite was Sunshine’s take on the national dish of Canada, poutine. Sunshine’s version adds Italian pork sausage to the gravy, and it was absolutely superb. They have mastered the art of keeping hand-cut fries very crisp, even when bathed in gravy, no easy feat!

We had a couple slices of pepperoni pizza, and that was grand, for my likes, as you know, are cracker thin crust, and Sunshine’s fit that description, crispy on the edges, chewier working inward. Loved it.

Finally, we had bits of the fried chicken sandwich, and washed it all down with slushee margaritas (wow!).

Looking foward to heading back for brunch and dinner items, including their burger, pork belly sandwich, chicken and waffles, and their biscuits and gravy, which features the same Italian sausage gravy as the fries!  Sunshine will be one of my new regular hangouts, no question!

Sunshine Tavern Cheese Fries w/ Gravy

Sunshine Tavern on Urbanspoon


Portland, OR – Deschutes Brew Fest / Food Cart Bonanza


Once a year, the little brewer from Bend who could, closes off the street in front of their Pearl area brewpub, and serves up samples of their beers, along side samples of a dozen or so Portland food carts.

I have a little bit of an opinion about microbrews….. being a spoiled American occasional beer drinker.  I think one day, in the distant past, a batch of beer went bad somewhere, and the brewers didn’t know what to do with it – too expensive to serve to hogs or toss out, they decided to assign in a special name, charge more money, and voila!  the microbrew industry was born.

But this blog isn’t about beer, is it?

$5 got one into the brew fest, and gave one the opportunity to sample one beer, and one food.  $25 gained you entry and 7 samples of same.  Vendors were, for the most part, lackadaisical about collecting the beer “tokens,”  so the $25 we spent initially ended up being more of a “donation” (I doubt this is designed to be a profit making event, especially as they closed the doors to new entrants rather early in the evening).    In any regards, one could really sample as much beer and food as they wanted to, was my point.

Among the food carts present were old favorites like Garden State, Whiffies pies,and Grilled Cheese Grill.  Mrs. Burgerdogboy, Burgerdogboy’s spawn (and appendage) and I, with a wide variety of personal tastes, to to sample most everything presented.

Pyro Pizza won me over with their charred, bricked oven slices of Margherita Pizza.  Pyro is regularly at 12th and Hawthorne, so if you are heading over to the Hawthorne Street fest this weekend, check them out.  I am gonna look forward to trying their pepperoni pie, which the menu touts the meat from local sausage mogul, Otto’s.

Next up for me was the poutine, Canada’s national dish, fries smothered in brown gravy (they offered a choice of meat gravy or vegetarian) topped with fresh cheese curds.  Potato Champion, a cart usually parked at SE 12th and Hawthorne, dished these babys up in generous quanity, and the fries were quite tasty, tho the speed at which they had to deliver the product probablycut down on the experience a bit.  I’ll give them a shot at their home base, regular readers know how much I like poutine!  You might consider trying the poutine burger at the Savoy.

The Flavour Spot was offering up waffle sandwiches, with your choice of sausage innards or a maple pecan butter concoction, we tried the sweet but not the savory, and it was dandy.  The Flavour Spot has a couple of locations, their original is on North Lombard   This is also a menu I want to examine in greater depth.

Mrs. Burgerdogboy, a lover of all things porcine (and Korean), gave 3 thumbs up (yes, I married her in spite of that physical anomaly), to Slow and Low’s Pork Belly Sandwich with kimchi mayo. You can find Slow and Low on E Burnside.

I wasn’t so excited about the brisket and mozzarella fried pie from Whiffies. Both the filling and the crust were lacking in any kind of discernable flavor The Mrs liked the spicy garlic pork curry on rice from Mum’s Kitchen, who hangs their hat (and some South African Indian delicacies (ever been to Durban? These folks obviously have!) on N Vancouver.

And what did Burgerdogboy’s spawn and appendage say to all this? (mfmfmsmsmwwio) (sound of chewing).

Portland is food cart heaven. Aren’t we lucky to have this wide variety of cuisine, all priced inexpensively?

But if you have a craving for plain old dogs and burgers, check out our store, purveyors of all things burger and–dog related, from meats, to buns, to dozens of condiments!

Pyro Pizza

Pyro Pizza

Pyro Pizza (Food Cart) on Urbanspoon

Potato Champion (Food Cart) on Urbanspoon

Whiffies Fried Pies (Food Cart) on Urbanspoon

Slow & Low (Food Cart) on Urbanspoon

Mum's Kitchen (Food Cart) on Urbanspoon


Hood River, OR – Passport Pub & Cafe


Wandering through the Gorge this weekend, on the way to Washington’s wine country, we were hungry a mere hour or so into the drive.   So we exited at Hood River to see what was afoot in the way of lunch, and parked on the main drag in front of the Passport Pub and Cafe, with the idea of walking the street til we found an establishment that suited us.

However, glancing at the menu at the Passport proved all the decision making power we needed, and we sidled in and sat at a table in the window overlooking the street.

All signs seem to indicate this was a rockin’ place at night, with the usual selection of potables on hand, as well as a wide variety of absinthe, which will make anyone crazy.

During the day – local drinkers, bar food, and fresh, made to order crepes, of both the sweet and savory varieties.

Mrs. BDB went with a ham and cheese crepe, which was truly excellent.  She ventured into the specialty drink menu for her beverage and came up with a “Gingertini”, vodka, ginger, and San Pellegrino Lemonade, which was bracing and refreshing at the same time.  It may be her new favorite drink.

I went with a cheeseburger, more out of habit than desire, but did score a side of poutine, which we shared. Poutine, truly the national dish of Canada – I have written before about my affinity for this basket of deliciousness, and Passport’s offering endeared me for all the wrong reasons.

It’s their own variation, but I loved it.

The cheeseburger was ok, standard bar food, nothing out of the ordinary, but did the trick for me.   Hood River is a diner’s paradise, on a small scale, and worth a stop if you are transversing the Gorge in either direction.

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Passport Pub & Cafe on Urbanspoon


Portland, OR – Savoy Tavern & Bistro


savoy PNG

This happened to be next door to the Scandinavian restaurant I hit the other day, so I thought I’d take Mrs. BDB out on the town and try it out.

I had perused the menu the other day while waiting for my lunch partner, and I was really excited that they had one of my favorites, poutine, which I have written about here before.   For the few of you that haven’t heard, poutine is pretty much the national dish of Canada, consisting of french fries, covered in brown gravy, and topped with cheese curds.  The menu has a distinctly “Wisconsin” feel to it, and only in Portland could you find a Wisconsin-specific restaurant.

The inside is shiny and techy, with an open kitchen and metal trim.   There are separate seating arrangements in the bar area, and in the open kitchen part.   We chose the latter, a table for two by the window, sat down, perused the menu, and the daily specials.  Each day, the Savoy features a special cocktail, salad, soup, burger, and dessert.

Today’s burger was the BB King, a monster with BBQ sauce and other trimmings.   They offer a number of interesting appetizer plates, and a heavily-discounted happy hour menu from opening (5pm) until 7pm.

I was curious that some of the offering and table treatments were very similar to Broder, next door, and wondered if it was common management, but didn’t ask.

We started with a smoked trout appetizer, which came with large pieces of rye crisp, a horseradish sauce nearly (if not) identical to Broder’s, a few gherkins, and some pickled onions.

Mrs. BDB went with the pork chop, greens of the day (sauteed escarole – very tasty) (escarole is a green, a type o endive)  and “deviled’ mushrooms, sauteed with some nice herbs and spices.

I went for the Cheesehead burger, which was so new, the waiter had to check the menu to see if I was saying it right.   I knew when I saw it on the menu that I would skip the poutine tonight, even tho people on line praise it, for the Cheesehead burger was like having poutine on a bun, so it was a slam dunk choice for me.  A third pound Cascade beef burger, brown gravy, cheese curds, house-cured pickles, on a lightly grilled sesame brioche.   Fries, rings, or salad came with it, I chose the rings.

The burger was fabulous.  So fabulous, I ate it disassembled, as if it was a multi-course meal, eating the curds, gravy laden burger, and bun separately.   For me, the pickles were over the top, nicely dilled, great crunch.   The curds didn’t disappoint, and the meat patty itself reminiscent of  a fine chopped steak.

The rings were fine, but not up to the standards of the other things we dined on. They had a nice flavor, and a nice crunch, but were a tad oily. Seeing plates of fries at tables around me, they would have been a better choice.

Service was good but uneven, better at the beginning, less great as the place filled.  We didn’t save room for dessert (tiramisu, creme brulee, house made gelato), and there were quite a few people waiting for tables by then, so I was feeling like we should vacate, anyway.

Mrs. BDB had a cosmo or six, the bill for two drinks, appetizer, two entrees landed at $52.00.  I had heard elsewhere the cosmos were good, and Mrs BDB concurred.

There are so many things on this menu that I like, I am sure we will be back.  For one thing, on Friday nites they feature a Wisconsin fish fry, walleyed pike, which is a grand fish no matter how it’s prepared.   On Sundays they feature a special fried chicken.

I’m also sure I’ll be back to just graze my way through the appetizer one night.

By the way? If you’re looking for poutine in PDX, check out

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savoy1 PNG

Savoy Tavern & Bistro on Urbanspoon

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