Tuesday, August 31, 2010
I came across this dessert strolling through the aisles at Hy-Vee. Choco Roll, What a Sweet Taste. As evidenced by the packaging, it is taro flavored.
What exactly is taro, you may be asking yourself. It's one of the earliest cultivated plants, and now primarily cultivated in southeast Asia and Africa. It is considered a staple in the diets of African, Oceanic, and Asian cultures. It was popular by the early Romans, who used taro like we would use a potato, but after the fall of the Roman empire, the taro virtually disappeared from use in Europe, though it's starting to make a come back. It's a root vegetable, but also has very large leaves as well. In the USA, we are probably most likely to see taro in one of two ways--in chinese cooking, and in taro chips.
The Choco Roll is made in Taiwan, with most of the writing on the packing written in Chinese. This makes it difficult to read much of the box including the description of the product. The box, though, makes the product look fancy, like you're going to be getting a quality product, which is exactly what the manufacturer wants you to believe.
Inside the box, you will find seven individual packages, packaged in yellow and gold, again to demonstrate the upscale quality of the product. This makes it easy, too, to use with a table setting for a special occasion, putting one individually wrapped piece of candy by each place setting. Thus, you are placing an after dinner dessert/candy by each place without diminishing the overall effect of an elegant table setting. However, be prepared for a lot of confused people wondering what it is.
Upon unwrapping the choco roll, you are faced with a white chocolate coating, wafer, tan middle with purple specks—not all purple like the box would suggest. The least flavorful section is the middle (presumably this is the taro flavor here, so don't expect to know what taro tastes like upon eating one of these), with the wafer being the most overpowering taste, followed by the white chocolate coating. The taste is similar to the piroutte wafers, but it is wider round. With it not being overly sweet, this makes it a good anytime treat, or with after dinner coffee.
Monday, August 30, 2010
First off, it was a Friday evening, and even at 5:00 pm, this place looked busy, with the parking lot full, so I pulled into the first empty spot I found along the road. There were a few empty tables when we got there, but not many. And a couple of our group had gotten there first and pulled some tables together for us. We weren't the only large group that had chosen Beetles as the place to go to meet. It was loud inside with the place nearly full, making us wish we had grabbed some tables outside on the patio instead, but by that time, most of the tables on the patio were spoken for as well.
The waitress was very attentive to the people arriving, making sure that she stopped back every time some one new came in to see what they wanted to drink, as well as coming back often to see if anyone wanted anything else. When it came to delivering the food, with seven of us getting food, there was one mistake on the plate. However, the waitress was the one who recognized the mistake before she even set the plate down in front of that person. Mistakes can and do happen anywhere, and I feel that it's not the mistake that should be remembered, but how the mistake is handled. In this case, the waitress very quickly went and fixed the mistake, which really impressed me.
I ordered the fire pit burger, which likely is a new item on their menu, as it is not listed on their website menu. Their burgers are 1/2 pound, and come with onions, tomato, lettuce, and pickle on the side. My fire pit burger had pepper jack cheese and a chipotle sauce. I don't think it had jalapenos, which for a fire pit burger, I would have thought them necessary. But I digress. The burger, for some, may have been spicy. I was even asked by one of my colleagues if it was spicy. For me, it was a little bit spicy, perhaps a little bit spicier than what is considered spicy by the national chain restaurants. It was not over-the-top spicy like you can get at some ethnic restuarants. At least you could taste the spiciness, and I compared it to the spiciness of the Fudge Tree's jalapeno and kicking and screaming fudge that we had sampled recently to paint an example of it's spiciness. Overall, it was a good burger, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. For $.50 more, I replaced my regular fries with sweet potato fries. While I appreciate the fact that Beetles has sweet potato fries, I wasn't as impressed by those as some other places that have them. The mere fact that there was one thing about the experience (two, if you count the noise level, but I can hardly fault the restaurant for that) that I was disappointed in isn't going to diminish the overall satisfaction, and I have since changed my opinion about Beetles, and would consider coming here again.
Friday, August 27, 2010
We parked in the parking lot behind the restaurant, where other than the patio with a few tables, there wasn't a lot to indicate there was a restaurant in the vacinity. In fact, even once we got to the door, La Mie isn't marked, and you might miss it if you're looking. Instead, the door says La Jardin, which is the French dinner restaurant, and it has its hours listed as opening at 5 p.m. Therefore, you might overlook this place without even trying to open the door.
By walking in the back door, you are entering the restaurant from the back, and you have to walk through the dining area, an area that is cramed full of tables, which makes walking difficult without bumping into someone's chair. In fact, once we had found our table and sat down, I was on the side of the table next to the walkway, and I was bumped into several times, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
If you had entered the restaurant/bakery from the front, you would have been greeted by two square tables filled with a large assortment of patisseries and baked goods. There was also another counter of bakery items, which is where you head to place your order. Behind the counter, you will find a large black board with the eatery's menu on it, with no descriptions of what you'll be ordering, so unless you have a good idea of what they serve and what comes on something, you may be in dire straits.
After ordering, you continue to move down the line to the cash register, where you pay for your order ahead of time, and then you can go and find your table, and they will bring your food out to you.
My wife ordered the smoked salmon omelette, which came with toast (even though you're in a bakery, you apparently don't get to chose what kind of toast you get because they didn't ask). This was toasted a little too dark for her taste, and she resorted to having to scrape the darker areas off of it. The omelette was made from egg whites; however, any health benefits from that was probably negated by the creme fraiche served on top.
I ordered the bacon "tuskagee" tartine. A tartine is an open-faced sandwich, and the tuskagee sandwich was devised by airmen serving in WWII from Tuskagee, Alabama. While not my absolute favorite breakfast item, it does rank near the top. However, for those of you used to and expecting a lot of food to be placed down in front of you, this may come as a disappointment, as you get one sandwich--one piece of bread. That and the small side of fruit take up about half of the plate. Of course, if you're still hungry afterwards, there are the delicious-looking pastries that you can go back and get to round out the meal. And while I wasn't sure if this was enough food, I still wasn't all that hungry four hours later when we stopped for lunch.
Since you pay for your food in advance, you can leave when you want, and not be dependent upon the waiter or waitress to bring you your check and then to come back to get the payment.
Monday, August 23, 2010
Tandoori Hut, in the Osborne Village area, is still far enough away that parking is not a consideration, so you should be able to find someplace to park within a two-block area, despite the number of other restaurants in the area. They had a sign out front advertising their specials. One of these was a vegetarian special for $10.95, or the chicken special of either butter chicken or curry chicken for 11.95. Deciding that it was a good deal, we went in and found that we were the only ones in the small restaurant. This worked out good for us, as we probably got quicker service than we would have otherwise. Three of us ordered the butter chicken, and one ordered the curry chicken. With the special price, we also got a samosa and naan as well, making the price an even better deal.
The samosas were the first thing to arrive, and they came with some sort of red sauce as well as a mango chutney. I wasn't too impressed with the red sauce, but the mango chutney was both incredibly tasteful and added a bit of spice as well, enough to make the food interesting. The samosas were delicious as well, with less dough than the samosas that we get from our favorite Indian restaurant here in Rochester. Next up, the main course. When we ordered, we were asked if we wanted the food to be mild, medium, or hot. Medium, we were told, was about a 7 out of 10 and the hot a 10 out of 10. We decided to go with the medium. Obviously, those 7 and 10 out of 10 most have been based on some sort of Manitoba hot ranking, because the butter chicken wasn't spicy in the least. The curry chicken was a little bit spicier than the butter chicken, but even that didn't come close to the 7 out of 10 that I was expecting. That is the only negative I can think of about this place, though. While it was somewhat disappointing in the spiciness category, the food was still worth going here, and when we go again, we will make sure to go with the hot level. The garlic naan, when I had it at the restaurant, reminded me more of garlic bread rather than naan. Not that I minded, of course, since I love garlic bread. I had some of my wife's leftover naan the next morning at breakfast, and it didn't seem as garlicy and tasted more like naan I've had from other places.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
And when it comes to getting something in Winnipeg that can't be found easily at other places, Real Canadian Superstore is a great place to go--from a wide selection of international foods to its produce and bulk foods and candies. It also has a good selection of President's Choice label foods which are always good (look for an upcoming article on chips, in which President's Choice plays a significant role). Every city has those types of big box grocery stores that is known for carrying products that you can find elsewhere (unless you really look at the smaller stores and the specialty stores), and Real Canadian Superstore is one of those places. It may not have everything (for instance, it doesn't have pepperjack cheese, and I can't find that any place I have gone to in Winnipeg--I'm sure someone has to carry it), but it's a good starting point.
The Superstore aspect of Real Canadian Superstore should clue you in on something else, as well. It's a super store--meaning it's not just a big box store, it's a mega box store. Real Canadian Superstore is the Canadian equivalent to stores in the US such as Super Walmart and Super Target, where you have your grocery stores as well as a discount department store attached to it, and you can buy everything else from electronics to clothing to domestic products.
So, if you go into Real Canadian Superstore, don't think you'll get anything out of the experience that you wouldn't get out of the experience of a Super Walmart or a Super Target. Yes, you will find some great things here, and it may in fact leave you with a better experience than you're expecting, and could even become a favorite store. But you do have to accept it for what it is. And that's a mega box store.
Friday, August 20, 2010
Now, a national chain restaurant such as Five Guys saying that it’s going to take down a local independent bar and grill in the fight for best burger, it’s bound to raise a few eyebrows. Whether or not you agree with the theory that Newt’s is the best burger in town—something that has been raised several times from a variety of sources—isn’t the issue here. I’d consider this to be the same as if Wendy’s or Culver’s said that they were going to take down Newt’s as the best burger, and give it just as likely a chance of succeeding. So, is Five Guys claim just a bunch of hot air? Are they better off setting their sites at trying to be better than other fast food chains? Or even better than local burger place, Snappy Stop? Sure, a burger war of that magnitude wouldn’t be exciting or worth writing about, so of course you’re going to set your sites on the supposed leader of the genre.
Of course, you can visit fiveguys.com to see some of the kudos they’ve earned, such as best burger in Baltimore , Delaware , Raleigh , and Charlotte , and being ZAGAT-rated 2001-2010. Five Guys has built up a cult following, starting on the East Coast, where the chain started and slowly making its way through much of the rest of the country.
Does Five Guys deserve the hype that it has generated by its comments? The short answer is probably not. Sure, Five Guys has a good burger, the quality was there despite the fact that they were busy, since I was there on opening night, and the line was almost all the way to the door the whole time we sat there and ate.
But, let's talk about the experience a little bit more. I'm not sure I like the decorating scheme of Five Guys to have their bags of potatoes and peanut oil sitting out in the lobby, but I digress. When ordering, there was some sort of problem with one of the registers, which I'm not sure what it was, which prevented us from ordering when we walked up to the counter, but it gave the new cashier an opportunity to go through the pitch of what Five Guys was all about, their single versus double burgers, the toppings, the fries, the "how did you hear about us?" question--which in a city the size of Rochester, it's not hard to hear about a new fast food restaurant opening up, and especially in our quadrant in the city. My wife picked and chose what toppings she wanted whereas I ordered "all the way, minus the mushrooms," and then added jalapenos and hot sauce. We got a regular size fries, which we were told was 12 ounces, plus another scoop on top of that, and that it could easily serve three people. Then my wife ordered just a glass of water to drink, and was given the choice between a regular or large cup for it. I then also ordered a water, and was told by the same cashier that they only had bottles of water, so I passed. I couldn't understand why she would let one of us order a glass of water but not the other. We weren't charged anything extra for the cup, which I would understand if she had mis-heard my wife's drink request, and there was a water spigot on the drink machine. Just one of those funny things that I'll chalk up to the fact that it was opening night, and the cashier was probably nervous, and this may have been her first job, or at least first fast food job.
The wait time for the burger was comparable to Culver's wait times, though you don't get a number and have your order brought out to you, they will call your number from the counter. They do offer peanuts to eat while you wait, but they are located by the exit door, and there is a sign on the door as you leave saying you should only eat the peanuts within Five Guys to discourage people from grabbing a bunch of peanuts as they leave. Because we had never been to Five Guys before, we didn't know where the peanuts were until we left. You also get your order in a bag whether you are eating in or out, and the burgers are marked with numbers, with the receipt on the bag telling you what burger is what number. I unwrapped my burger, and it looked a bit messy, but that doesn't effect the taste at all. As I ate it, I found myself thinking that it was about the same quality as Culver's. The difference between Five Guys and Culver's is that at Five Guys, you have a greater choice of what goes on your burger, but in the end, the burger itself is very similar. So, better than Newt's? Not a chance, unless you think that Culver's is also better than Newt's. So, we come back to my original thesis that Five Guy's competition are the likes of Culver's, Wendy's, and Snappy Stop.
Now, what about the fries? Well, you definitely get a lot of them. One order of regular fries could fill the 12 ounce cup about three times. The fact that they are cooked in peanut oil seems to be the main selling point, but what about the people that are allergic to peanuts? I guess those types of people are better off avoiding this place. The fries do maintain some of their potato flavor unlike the vast majority of frozen fries, which makes them maybe slightly better than most fries. My issue is that they weren't really seasoned very good, so in that regard, maybe they could compete with Newt's for the most unseasoned fries.
Overall, I liked Five Guys despite some of my criticisms. And I always give the benefit of the doubt to the restaurant if I'm there within the first two weeks of a place opening up. I consider it a good complement/alternative to Culver's with similarly tasting food. I wouldn't go out of my way to find a Five Guys, but if I was hungry and we passed one, I'd stop in.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
What is a plumcot? As the name implies, a plumcot is a hybrid resulting from cross-breeding between plum and apricot trees. A plumcot will, depending on what varieties of plums and apricots are used, and to what level of pollination is used, display characteristics of either parent fruit. Plumcots have been achieved in nature in areas where both plums and apricots grow together, though horticulturist Luther Burbank is often credited with creating the first plumcot. There are several trademarked versions of a plumcot, notably the Pluot® and the Aprium®, trademarked versions of the fruit and likely are not a 50/50 hybrid.
Plumcots are somewhat rare outside of California, though you may be able to find plumcot trees for planting in your backyard. Two varieties of plumcots were available from Brennan's Markets in Wisconsin in early August. Plumcot season is typically from July through September, though you may be able to find some in June and October as well.
Nutrition Facts (from LiveStrong.com)
Serving Size: 2 plumcots (5 oz)
Amount per Serving
Calories 80 Calories from Fat 0
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Sodium 0mg 0%
Potassium 300mg 9%
Total Carbohydrate 19g 6%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Protein 1g 2%
Monday, August 16, 2010
It's been quite a few years since I've made the trip down the alley and up the stairs to find myself at Newt's--I'd say probably about 15 years. It was nice to see that most of the bar had remained unchanged. It's a small bar with a couple high tables, and then a small dining area with tables. And they still serve popcorn to all the tables which was probably a tad bit too salty. But then let's not kid ourselves. They give away popcorn so that you'll buy more drinks, so therefore, the saltier, the better.
We went after work on a Friday, to find the place about 1/3 full. It could have been the fact that there was a severe thunderstorm happening outside, or the fact that about half an hour earlier, there had been an announcement at work that there had been rotating clouds seen in SW Rochester and heading towards the City Centre. The weather was undoubtedly responsible for the fact that there were a couple of parking spots along the road out front where usually you'd be lucky to find one. Never fear, though, there is plenty of parking a block away in a city ramp, so closer parking than you'd find at the mall. However, since we were walking from work, we didn't need to worry about finding a parking spot as much as we needed to try to dodge the rain.
I ordered The Works burger, which the menu said wasn't for wimps. This needs to be taken seriously. It has ¾ of a pound of burger smothered in American cheese,hardwood smoked hickory bacon, crisp lettuce, fresh sliced tomato, red onion, and our famous House Bleu Cheese. I seriously had nothing else besides this meal for the rest of the night. Even then, I couldn't even think of eating. My thoughts on this burger:
1. I was surprised when they brought forks to us when we had ordered burgers. Ok, this could be standard operating procedure, and they could take you forks no matter what you order. However, when I saw the sheer enormity of the burger, I could definitely understand the need for the fork. I cut the burger in half and picked up one of those halves, only to find the toppings fall out. Therefore, I needed that fork to be able to eat the toppings that fell out of my burger. And as for the size, usually I can eat quicker than Tammy can. This time, I was only done with half of the burger by the time she was completely done with hers.
2. I ordered my burger medium, and it arrived a little redder than I am used to for a medium patty. This means that I didn't have to worry about it being too well done, at least, and it was a great tasting burger with quality meat. I've seen reviews where the reviewer claims the burger seemed to be pre-done, and that didn't seem to be the case here (though keep in mind many restaurants will half-cook burgers, especially around meal times, to help speed up service for when it's actually used, and if this is what Newt's does, I will not fault them for that since they are not alone). When taking in the creativity of the toppings and the taste of the burger, I can see why this place has been named as the best burger in Rochester for so many years.
3. But talk of the toppings brings us to point number 3. Overall, I was happy with the toppings, except for the bacon. Most of the bacon on my burger was great, but there were areas of it where it was hard and tough, almost like trying to eat a popsicle stick. Overall, because of this, I would probably avoid getting a burger here that had bacon on it.
4. And finally, we come to the fries. They were large fries, and cut long. And they were definitely mostly crunchy, the type of fries that crunch when you bite into them. However, there was no seasoning on the fries at all, making them rather plain and unimpressive. If they had some sort of flavor to them, these probably would have been in my running for best fries ever. With no seasoning, they don't make that list.
As for the server, it could have been a little bit better service, especially since the place wasn't too busy. I do remember service here being better in the past, making it a nice, friendly, quaint little bar/restaurant, which does seem to have suffered since time has gone on. Overall, though, a very pleasant experience. Now, it's off to try Five Guys to see if they can deliver on their threat of dethroning Newt's.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Moving into the store from the produce section was the frozen products--ice cream and frozen vegetables. As well as coolers full of cheese--your basic variety of cheeses as well as some more specialty cheeses that you aren't going to find in many grocery stores (though not outside the realm of possibility). I have seen some similar cheeses at places such as Walmart or Hy-Vee or Byerly's, or even food co-ops. But those places aren't going to have the same selection of cheeses as Brennan's has. And again, you have the opportunity to sample some of these cheeses to find one that suits your palate.
Then from the cheese section, you move into the wine and alcohol section of the store, which we ignored.
Overall, Brennan's is the place to go if you're a fan of good produce and good cheese.
Friday, August 13, 2010
When we entered the restaurant to check in, once again, the size of the lobby area overwhelmed me. We walked up to the young lady in the host area and checked in and were given our number for seating, as well as their rules for how to wait. We were told that it would be about a 10-15 minute wait, so we had plenty of time to read the rules, which were apparently for times when it was busier than at 1 pm as they had a waiting area 1 and a waiting area 2, and they would not seat an incomplete group of people. All that this hostess did was sit at her station and check in people as they arrived.
Our wait was about 10 minutes when they called our number (as well as a small amount of other numbers at the same time) over the loud speaker. When we walked up to the beginning of the dining area, we were told to stand by a statue of an Indian and wait. We waited there for a few more minutes waiting for someone to come get us to take us to our table, and in the meantime, another set of numbers were called, and the line formed behind us of other people who were told that they'd be seated momentarily. After a couple of minutes of waiting there, we were told to walk down the hallway through the dining area to the flashing arrow. I couldn't help but think a number of things: 1) how organized everything was, and how smooth everything flowed despite the sheer size of this restaurant (if you've never been here, you have to check this place out for yourself), 2) that it was almost like being at a Carnival or amusement park with how they kept the lines going and telling you to go here and then go there, or 3) that we were like pigs through a processing plant, since this place is a bbq place, afterall.
Once we were seated, the waitress was there almost right away, and we needed additional time to look through the menu. Despite this being a bbq place, we didn't end up getting bbq, and instead both of us went with the pepperoni and mozzarella hickory burger, which has exactly what it says, with pizza sauce served on the side. You also have your choice of different sides for your sandwich, with more choices than your typical Famous Dave's (which I thought had a good selection of side choices before). The food is brought out by someone other than the waitress, so they weren't sure who had what. The food was barely put down in front of us before our waitress was back asking us how it was, before we were even able to take a single bite.
I did notice in looking at their menu (both lunch and ice cream menus) that while it was large, it contained a lot of variations of the same things. For instance, there was a pizza hickory that was the same as the pepperoni and mozzarella hickory, except the pizza hickory had mushrooms on it. I imagine that this was likely to eliminate the special orders, such as pizza hickory with no mushrooms, as it likely would be hard to keep track of and add time to the whole assembly line aspect of the restaurant. The burgers were good. Not the best burger I've ever had, but good enough that I would feel comfortable ordering a burger here again and knowing that I would enjoy it.
Because the ice cream menu at Hickory Park is on the place mats, I knew before I even ordered my burger that I was going to want to get a sundae as well, and they had a large selection of splits, sundaes, floats, sodas, etc., to choose from (again, a large number of similar descriptions to avoid special orders). The one mistake I made here was in ordering the full size sundae (they have half size sundaes, but not half the price). The sundaes are usually with two scoops, but a half size sundae has one scoop, which after eating the burger, I probably only needed a one scoop sundae, but my eyes were definitely bigger than my stomach, and I had a hard time finishing it. It was also the last meal I ate that day, as I was still full from the meal that I didn't need to eat at supper time.
We left the restaurant at 2 pm, and it was still full with people still waiting then, so I doubt this place ever has immediate seating.
Monday, August 9, 2010
The concept of Chico ’s Burritos is simple. It’s much like a Chipotle, serving the same sort of burritos, burrito bowls, salads, and nachos that you can find at Chipotle, but there are also some differences. One is there are no fajita vegetables. However, you have the option of white rice and Spanish rice for your burrito, as well as a cheese sauce. Another is the fact that you can essentially custom create your own nacho supreme dish if you so chose, which I don’t think is something that Chipotle allows you to do.
On the day I was there, arriving shortly after 12 noon, they had run out of the chicken, however, thus reducing the variety of burrito you could get from four down to three. A little after 12 seemed a little early into the lunch rush to have run out of something. This could simply be that they are new (they had only opened up a couple of days before I was there), and they didn’t know how to plan for the rush. Let’s hope that’s all it was, and not a sign of things to come.
Then it comes to the toppings. While I think that Chico’s Burritos has fewer salsa choices than Chipotle does, overall, Chico’s has more toppings to chose from, including jalapenos, black olives, corn, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, Monterrey Jack or cheddar cheese, a jalapeno salsa, pico de gallo, and cilantro (and the sour cream and guacamole). The look and feel of this makes it seem more like Subway, where you choose what you have on your lunch.
At $5.99 per burrito, price-wise, it is comparable to Chipotle’s prices, and the size of the burrito is comparable as well. I liked the taste of the burrito I bought from Chico’s, and it is very similar to Chipotle, although I feel it is unfair to compare the two totally since I was able to customize the taste based on the items I inserted into the burrito, thus altering any true comparison.
A couple of drawbacks here: They only had one warmer for the burrito shells, so the line may move a bit slower than it would at Chipotle. Also, actually having more choices for the toppings may also slow down the line, though they do have room for two people to simultaneously work on what toppings someone wants, which does help significantly. Another drawback was that you could see the liquid from either the meat or the salsa flowing along the shell as they wrapped it up, which told me that this was going to be a messy burrito to eat.
In looking at the menu, another difference that they have with Chipotle is that there are breakfast burritos for $4 on the menu. This comes with scrambled eggs, and then your choice of sausage, jalapeno bacon, or ground beef. The rest of the burrito toppings remain the same. In my experience, this was a bit smaller than the lunch burrito, though I get the feeling I could have made this as big as I wanted, as I was asked if enough Spanish rice had been put on the burrito, and I didn't go with as many toppings as I had for the lunch burrito.
Overall, it’s great to have a burrito place downtown. We do have the Fiesta Express in the Food Court across the street, but the two really are in different classes. And while I would have preferred something that would have added something new to Rochester’s restaurant make-up, particularly when it comes to Mexican food—maybe something like Chino Bandido from the Phoenix area, Chico’s Burritos is definitely worth the stop.
Saturday, August 7, 2010
But I got to thinking...how many of these "tastiest places to chow down" have I been to? And how many more are yet to go?
So, here's my list:
88. Giordano's Pizza. Chicago, Illinois.
We didn't go to the pizzaria that was featured on the show, but we have been to Giordano's in Chicago, and there are definitely a lot of them. And they do have some really great Chicago-style pizza. The advice that was given to me before we went is to downsize. Whatever size pizza you think you need, go down one size. So, if you ordinarily order a medium, consider getting a small. Unless you want to make sure you have leftovers. And they mail order out their pizzas to where you live.
77. Lynn's Paradise Cafe, Louisville, Kentucky
We were here for breakfast, and it was definitely good food, and one of the few places where "food won," as I could not complete my meal. It was a little bit on the high side as far as prices are concerned, but you get a lot of food. Both locals and tourists head for this place.
46. Super Dawg. Chicago, Illinois.
After seeing this hot dog stand probably on Travel Channel's Hot Dog Paradise or someother show, we knew that we needed to go there. It is, according to the show, the last drive-in restaurant in Chicago. Are the hot dogs there good? Yes. But, they are hot dogs. I don't know if I would say they are better than any other hot dog or not, but it was still fun to go there.
37. Ted Drewe's Custard. St. Louis, Missouri.
It's been years since we visited this little custard shop in St. Louis. It's apparently a place that Elvis would go to get custard. And how can you go wrong with frozen custard?
41. Chino Bandido. Phoenix, Arizona.
This is a fusion between Chinese and Mexican, where you can get jasmine chicken put into a burrito or a quesadillo if you desire, or just eat it plain on the side. They have two locations in the Phoenix area, and they are friendly and help the uninitiated with the ordering process and guide you through the whole process every step of the way. They even let you sample some of the different options when you go in in case you just can't make up your mind. Your price also includes a cookie at no additional charge.
So, that means we've eaten at five of these places so far. That doesn't seem like a large amount, though given the relatively few places that were featured on this program that are actually near us, I figure that's not a bad number. There have been other places near by, however, that have been featured on other Food Network/Travel Channel programs such as the Peppermint Twist Drive-In and Izzy's Ice Cream that we have been to as well.
On the docket in terms of places that we are likely to try next:
33. Paseo. Seattle, Washington.
47. Matt's Bar. Minneapolis, Minnesota.
78. Kopp's Frozen Custard. Greenfield, Wisconsin.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Being intrigued, I headed down to this vendor. However, I made a dreaded mistake. I sampled the Kicking and Screaming fudge first. The consistency of this fudge was perfect, even though it had sat out in the sun apparently all morning. It wasn't too hard or too soft, and the pepper flakes added the right amount of kick to the fudge--a phenomenon that I would call "biting you back." This fudge definitely bites you back as you eat it, and I liked it enough to get a square of it. Then I sampled the jalapeno fudge. This was described as tasting like a normal fudge until you swallow it, when you'll get a little bit of heat at the back of your throat. However, since I had already sampled the hotter fudge, I was unable to discern this heat. Even later, when I sampled a little bit of this that one of my coworkers had purchased, while the heat was there, it was still almost undiscernable to me, making this (to me) a very subtle hotness, though at least one other coworker thought it was a bit too hot.
This vendor--The Fudge Tree from Lark Toys near Kellogg, Minnesota--does offer the fudge for sale online, at http://www.larktoys.com/attractions/the-fudge-tree/, for $3 per 1/4 pound, which is the normal price for fudge, I've found. However, I did notice that neither the white chocolate jalapeno fudge nor the Kicking and Screaming fudge are listed there. Therefore, if you'd like to try these two flavors, you can try their location at Lark toys to see if it's there, or come down to Thursdays on First if they are there. I can't tell you for sure where they will be if they are there. Last week, they were near the location where my father normally sells his fishing poles, and I'm sure that they aren't usually in that location.
Monday, August 2, 2010
I was split on whether to order the falafel or the chicken shawarma. Since I had falafels at other places, I decided that I wanted to take the opportunity to try something different and went with the shawarma, which had tender chicken, vegetables (including pickled wild cucumber which I had never tried before), garlic sauce, and hot sauce. Even with the hot sauce, the pita wasn't spicy at all, nor was there a lot of garlic flavor. Just great food and the flavors complemented each other beautifully. The food here is very reasonably priced--$6.95 for the shawarma. This place has just become my favorite place to go to for Mediterranean food--unfortunately, with it located 600 miles from home, I won't be able to go here that often.
You can also get baklava and other Mediterranean baked goods here, and supposedly chocolate baklava, though I didn't see that particular dessert item, unfortunately. They also have some grocery items that you can buy as well, which comes in particularly handy if you decide you want to try your hand at making some of these delicacies at home.
I highly recommend this restaurant to anyone who loves Mediterranean food. If you've never had this type of food, or you're unsure if you would like it, I would still recommend you come here to try it before you go someplace else.
1783 Main Street
Winnipeg, MB R2V
Sunday, August 1, 2010
What is so special about Jungle Jim's? One, the size of Jungle Jim's is 300,000 square feet, making this a mammoth of a grocery store. Compare that to the size of a Walmart Super Center--which range in size from 98,000 to 261,000 square feet and average 197,000 square feet. But Jungle Jim's doesn't sell clothing, electronics, tools, toys, etc. like Walmart does. Between the four walls of Jungle Jim's, you will find 150,000 different items from over 75 countries.
Sure, you can come here and find your normal domestic groceries, and they have a deli and meat department and produce--anything that you can find in your normal grocery store. However, it doesn't end there. They also have a produce department that features international fruits and vegetables, a health food "store" as its by no means a small section, a pet supply section, many imported cheeses, and the list goes on and on and on. Once you pass all of that, you finally reach the international section of the store. Here, you will find the store laid out by country--and even the foods of Asia, many of which you can find by going into an Asian grocery store, they are divided by Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Korea, and other Asian countries. There is a large selection of hot sauces in the Mexican area, enough to rival stores that just sell hot sauces. The countries of Europe are separated as well, with some located in little sections along the back wall to make it resemble going into little stores within the larger Jungle Jim's. You can also find a kitchen gadget store back in this section of the store as well.
Jungle Jim's doesn't have everything you may be looking for or that would be available in the US. However, this is one place that has the greatest chance of having something that you may be looking for that you can't find any place else. One downfall of Jungle Jim's,though, is that it may be too large. This makes it hard to find something that you may be looking for. If you're lucky, you may find a worker on the floor to help you, though the greeter at the front of the store is unlikely to be of much help. The first time we stopped at Jungle Jim's, we spent three hours in the store--and we had to stop our shopping and go get something to eat while we were there. Our two subsequent stops there have been shorter, with the most recent stop being only an hour, though we still managed to get the items that we were looking for the most. It just meant less time to fully explore the food possibilities.