Food Power Poll: National Restaurant Wishlist
Photo via TheSquaredCircle.biz
I’ve been to more than a few great places for eats around the limited parts of the country I’ve been to. Whether the places have national reputations like Melt Bar and Grilled in Cleveland or are local haunts like Mambo Seafood in Houston, I’ve enjoyed plenty a meal around this great land. However, I realize I’m still have my novice badge in terms of restaurant visitation. I have a large list of places I need to eat, but the following list is the tops of the tops.
10. Distrito (Philadelphia, PA) - I have lived in the Philadelphia area my whole life, but despite my residence, I haven’t come close to eating at all the places that make this town one of the culinary leaders in the States. Iron Chef Jose Garces is one of the most visible restauranteurs in town, and the one place of his I want to eat at most is Distrito, a lucha libre-themed eatery a couple of blocks west of my alma mater, Drexel. The menu is modern but hits all the notes of a classic Tex-Mex restaurant with a wide variety tacos and enchiladas.
On Charcoal: Philadelphia, PA
The simplest, most primal way of cooking meat - well, cooking anything, but especially meat - is to apply directly to fire. Human beings evolved to the point of developing things like baking and braising and boiling and confiting. Those conveyances are fine ways to make cuisine, but when the subject is meat, many times, the best way to prepare it is over an open flame.
The Burger Diaries: Shake Shack
One day, I plan on writing about my second-favorite burger ever. I haven’t gotten around to writing it up yet because I ate it coming-up-on three years ago. That entry will take a little bit of scavenging the memories to write, so today, I write about a burger I ate today, as fate would have it.
El Jarocho: Philadelphia, PA
For a city I’ve lived in for all of my life, I know scant little about the variety of restaurants within the boundaries of Philadelphia. My parents were never the “go out to eat a lot” types for various reasons, and honestly, they both were great home cooks themselves. Trust me, I never missed a meal growing up, and nearly everything put on the table was great. But Philadelphia is an epic culinary city, especially lately with the influx of not only Michelin star-earning chefs but immigrants bringing in local flavors from their home countries. The former is great, no doubt, but getting street food from a truck or having folks cook you their homeland’s best dishes in a little corner luncheonette is the essence of an area’s food scene.
My Favorite Places: John’s Roast Pork (Again)
I have extolled the virtues of John’s Roast Pork before. About a year ago, I had one of their always-awesome breakfast sandwiches, one which I consider my favorite sandwich going right now. I love it so much that I would go out in a polar vortex in nothing but a t-shirt and a jockstrap. But for as much as their bacon, egg, and cheese on a seeded roll get me going in all situations, I can never forget about their cheesesteak. While their original claim to fame is on the marquee (still have never had one of their roast pork sandwiches yet, will have one some day), the cheesesteak is what brought me to the dance.
The Burger Diaries: Eating Clean
The main problem with being such a connoisseur of food is that a good bit of it makes me retain weight. My lifestyle isn’t as active as I would like it, and changing the amount of time I’m working out is harder for me than going on a diet. Still, eating healthily, or in my case, eating “clean” doesn’t mean eating boring. You make the best of your situation, and the diet I’m on allows for certain provisions. Namely, I can still eat burgers.
TH Cooks: Creamed Chipped Beef
Flour. Butter. Milk. Dried Beef.
One of my favorite breakfasts, a super-regional dish on the East Coast, only is comprised of four ingredients, and it is the most delicious thing ever when done right. Granted, I’ve had it done “right” only a few times. Most diners who serve it often underseason, or they don’t use a salty enough beef. I’ve had it best either homemade by my parents or by the General’s House of Chipped Beef in Ocean City, MD. And I say, I make a pretty good one myself.
Basically, a good dried beef is a must, a salty one. I broke it up into pieces by hand - it’ll fall apart pretty easily - and then put it into a big skillet with some butter I melted. I follow my dad’s recipe, which means two tablespoons of butter for every quarter-pound of beef - not a heart-healthy meal.
After the meat heats up and gets a little brown on it, I added in flour - one tablespoon for every tablespoon of butter, and then after mixing it around, I added the milk, one cup for every tablespoon of roux. I let it simmer over medium heat until it reduced down to a thick, viscous consistency. Then, I put it over some toast and ate it with some bacon and home fries.
Now, the beauty of creamed chipped beef is that you can put it over nearly anything. I’ve had it over biscuits, home fries, bagels, and even halved donuts before. No matter what you have that’s starchy and baked, you can put creamed chipped beef over it. Waffles? Sure. Pancakes? Why not. Beignets? Quite the marriage of regions in the States, but sure!
Creamed chipped beef is versatile, simple to make, and goddamn tasty. If you’re not eating it because it “looks gross,” then you’re missing out.
TH Cooks: Bleu Gruyere Mac ‘n Cheese with Bacon and Onions
One of the presents my wife got me for Christmas was a mac ‘n cheese cookbook. I flipped through the pages and looked at the recipes. Some tantalized, some looked meh, while others looked like they involved too much work for an occasional home cook. One recipe leaped out at me, in the “Breakfast” section.
Based on a quiche, the recipe I chose would combine gruyere and bleu cheeses with bacon and caramelized onions. Unlike a quiche, this recipe needed no eggs, which was a good thing, given that the ingredient list read like a who’s who in “how to make the richest food ever.” In addition to bacon and two cheeses, the recipe called for butter, heavy cream, and milk. My kind of dish.
The Burger Diaries: Post Office Cafe
Whenever I go to a restaurant, and I can’t decide what I want, my fallback option becomes the cheeseburger. It combines many of my favorite things - beef, cheese, bread - and is wholly customizable to the point where you could probably put anything on a burger without getting the side eye from too many folks. Given that the best burger I ever had was borne of a general indecisiveness of what to eat while on cruise excursion in Belize City, a story I will eventually tell here. I also find that any place of some repute will find it hard to screw up a burger. Even frozen patties between white bread with gub’mint cheese are edible on some degree. I wouldn’t recommend eating them regularly, but in a pinch, they’re better than pink slime nuggets, right?
REPOST: My Ideal Thanksgiving Dinner
I do a weekend mailbag on The Wrestling Blog, and two weeks ago, @bdbdbdbd asked me what my ideal Thanksgiving dinner would be. The following is my answer:
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year because a holiday that celebrates professional wrestling doesn’t fully exist yet (I’m gonna give National Pro Wrestling Day a few more years to catch on before I declare it such). Also, Thanksgiving celebrates food and football, which c’mon now. Anyway, the football portion is covered nicely with the Lions early, the Cowboys late, and a random game even later. I don’t care how bad the Lions are, Thanksgiving is not Thanksgiving without watching them, nor is it Thanksgiving without a healthy does of potential Cowboys schadenfreude. Believe you me, more embarrassing Cowboys moments have happened on Thanksgiving than not.