We’re Back…and We Have a Taste for Blood

August 16, 2014 by

Hello, loyal reader.  We understand that you’re probably feeling a lot of mixed emotions right now.  Confusion, excitement, hysteria…maybe even a little anger.  Where have we been you ask?  Is there any answer we could give that would suffice?  Any answer that would quell the raging maelstrom in your heart, mind and stomach right now?  If I told you to imagine the flashbacks in Batman Begins where Batman is in Nepal on some sort of quest to get inside the mind of a criminal except instead of the fighting there was eating and that was where we were would it change anything?

The important thing is that we’re back and during the time that we may or may or not have been honing every inch of our stomachs in the grueling environment of the Himalayas our focus changed.  We used to be about spreading art but now we’re about spreading something else.  If there were a blog equivalent to whipping a stack of shurikens out from your knapsack and laying waste to an army of snow bandits before they even had time to think, then my friends…you will witness it in the coming months.

For as we have found out, bandits exist everywhere, especially in the food world.  Like roaches, they come in slowly and non-threatening.  And before you know it, they’ve setup shop and they’re pumping out a thousand new roaches a day*.  Enjoy yourselves for the time being roaches, the end is nigh.  <Cue sheathing sword sound effect>

*I have no idea if this is how roaches actually operate.

Vegas Buffets

March 12, 2011 by

The Wynn Buffet. I ate so much here I felt awful for hours. It hurt so good.

They call Vegas “Sin City”.  There are seven deadly sins, and Vegas deals heavily in three of them: lust, gluttony and greed.  And while that may be less than half and thus calling their moniker into question a little, these are the best 3 of the bunch.  Nobody wants to go to “Wrath City” or “Sloth Town”.  Today I’m gonna talk about gluttony and specifically, the Las Vegas buffet circuit.

What is my favorite buffet in Vegas?  This is a tough question.  My Vegas buffet experiences are spread across so many years and I don’t feel comfortable making a decision without being to try them side by side.  However, what I can definitely tell you is what makes a good Vegas buffet, versus a bad one.

A wide assortment of items and cuisines is key.  Sometimes I want Mexican, sometimes I want Chinese (or to be more accurate, I always want everything) and normal restaurant eating doesn’t allow that.  Only at a buffet can you follow up a bite of lasagna with a hunk of sesame chicken.  But the buffet’s bread and butter is also it’s achilles heel because in the restaurant business especially, a jack of all trades is generally a master of none.  The Riviera breakfast buffet appears to be a little confused on the subject, and their mantra seems to be “Jack of very few trades, Master of none”.  Easily the worst buffet I have ever eaten at, I think it sported a total of about seven items (no pancakes) each of which was cooked to mediocrity.  At $8.99, the only thing it is good for is stuffing as much food in your stomach as possible so that you aren’t hungry as you make a long trip home and possibly go to bed without eating another meal, which I’ll admit, it succeeded at.

Another key to a good buffet is the proper balance of new and exotic items vs old standbys.  It’s great to have a mystery casserole or some sort of fancy fish fillet, but you gotta make sure to pair that with some mashed potatoes and fried chicken*.  The converse is also true, but I don’t recall ever going to a buffet that was in danger of having too many dishes outside of the norm.  I have definitely been to buffets that were in danger of having too few exotic items and in that case, hey guess what guys, I might as well just go to Golden Corral.  That’s not a knock against Golden Corral, it just doesn’t belong at a Las Vegas casino.  Actually, I take that back, at least one Vegas casino should have a Golden Corral.  It should be open 24 hours and it should be but a short walk away from where ever I am drunk and suddenly decide that I’m starving.

I could go on all day about Vegas buffets, but I need to get on with my life, so I’m gonna conclude my thoughts here.  To me, buffets are one of the great things about Vegas and the only vice they specialize in that needn’t be moderated.  If you don’t keep your greed or lust in check, you could end up broke or pissing razorblades.  If you eat too much, you’ll most likely just end up full.  And satisfied**.

*Chicken wings are acceptable.

**And possibly spending alot of time in the bathroom too, I guess.

The List.

January 30, 2011 by

Enemy  [en-uh-mee] –noun

1) one that is antagonistic to another; especially : one seeking to injure, overthrow, or confound an opponent
2) something harmful or deadly <alcohol was his greatest enemy>
3) a military adversary
4) a hostile unit or force
 
List  [list] -noun
 
1) a series of names or other items written or printed together in a meaningful grouping or sequence so as to constitute a record: a list of members.
 
For years, American Icon Taco Bell has been admired for their legacy of distributing a wide variety of delicious and inexpensive Mexican style cuisine to hungry consumers.  Competitors have sprung up around the country (e.g. Del Taco, Green Burrito) but none have garnered the same widespread appeal.  They are the king of cheap Mexican food and as usual, someone’s always trying to knock off the king.  And that’s ok because competition in the marketplace benefits everyone.  It forces Taco Bell to come up with more delicious recipes and if a fresh upstart can out-tasty Taco Bell, then more power to ’em.
 
Their newest opponent however is not a rival restaurant.  It is something sinister:
 
 
Apparently a group of lawyers has decided to sue Taco Bell.  Apparently, Taco Bell’s meat is not beefy enough for them.  APPARENTLY, rather than just eating at another restaurant and leaving the rest of us to live in peace, these lawyers have decided that they need to drag Taco Bell’s good name through the mud, and for what?  Money?  Prestige?  Some sort of unknown vendetta?  Or maybe they just get their kicks by putting a few more obstacles in the way of eaters everywhere having a hearty meal.
 
But it doesn’t matter what their reason is.  Because when you get in the way of Great Eater and our pursuit of eating excellence, you make the list.  The Great Eater Enemies List.  Nixon had one, and now we have one.  Ours is listed on the right if you’re interested.
 
What happens if you make the list?  You don’t worry about that, just make sure not to get on there.  And if you should happen to find yourself on there, we’re not made of stone.  We’re receptive to pleading, to begging, to plea bargaining…so there’s always hope.  I mean, we’re eaters!  We love eating and the joy it brings to people!  And we’d much rather be eating than engaging in shadowy and ruthless campaigns against our enemies.

Stand and Eat

January 11, 2011 by

Last night I accompanied my wife to a work function of her’s (holiday party) at a somewhat fancy restaurant.  I guess the place had been rented out and when we arrived, the appetizers and the drinks were flowing.  We got a good spot right away as we were right near where the servers were bringing out the hors d’oeuvres.  Overall it was a good night of eating and I just had some thoughts I’d like to share:

  • I know that when I shake someones hand I should give a firm grip so as to display manliness, but what’s proper etiquette when my finger tips are covered in mini-hamburger grease?  I don’t wanna get grease on someone.
  • Would it be a faux-pas if I were to show up to the next stand and eat function with a home made, shoulder slung drink holding contraption?  When I’ve got a plate and a beer, it could really come in handy.  You know what actually, a beer hat would work just as well actually but that typical construction worker like hat would probably not fit in.  Maybe a beer-kangol or a beer-fedora could work?  What about a beer-fez or a beer-top hat?
  • College football is a ridiculous sport.
  • I now know what baba-ghanoush tastes like.  It’s green and I think maybe had some white stuff on top of it.  It was ok.
  • I like having a wife who’s a good spotter (e.g. “Rossotto balls to your right”).
  • What’s the proper amount to tip for a free drink?  What about a coat check?

Ohboyohboyohboyohboyohboyohboyohboyohboyohboyohboy!!!!

December 26, 2010 by

There’s a new Chinese restaurant in my neighborhood!  It’s called Hunan Cafe.  It’s your general inexpensive Chinese restaurant with the usual menu items and an 11:00 am to 3:00 pm, $5.95 lunch special which includes a main item, an egg roll and fried rice.  What’s nice is that this lunch special extends to Saturday for those of us who like to eat on weekends.

Now here’s the thing.  There’s already a cheap Chinese place near me called China King.  I’ve had China King a few times already (Yes, I’ve lived here over a year and have only had China King a few times, I’m sorry) and their GTC is good.  China King is also about half a mile away from my house whereas Hunan Cafe is almost a mile and a half!  But if this new challenger can deliver the goods, I think I can handle the extra distance.

And oh, what’s this on the menu?  General Tso’s Tofu?  I’m excited.

Fast forward a few weeks…

I just ordered the general tso’s chicken and it was good, but not as good as China King.  BUT, they still have a pretty large menu and I should try some of the other entree’s to see how they compare.

Deep Fried Everything

October 27, 2010 by

That, is a deep fried honeybun.

My wife and I, along with my parents, recently had the fortune of attending the North Carolina State Fair, in Raleigh, NC.  We had fun watching bull and pig judging contests and checking out a slew of different farm animals, not the least of which was SAMSON THE WORLD’S LARGEST HORSE!*

But the best part of the fair, and generally every activity, was the eating.  They had all kinds of delicious goodies, like candy apples, fresh hush puppies**, corn on the cob, turkey legs, etc. but other than the hush puppies(which were free), I refrained from indulging in any of those treats so that I could focus on the fair’s true attraction, the deep fried smorgasboard:

1)  Deep Fried Twinkie:  Delicious.  They dump a pile of powdered sugar on top and it’s everything you’d expect it to be except the cream in the middle was a little cold and thus not as creamy as I’d like it to be.  I guess they keep the twinkies in a fridge or something.

2)  Deep Fried Pickles:  These were really good and better than I expected them to be.  I’ve never had a hot pickle, but it delivers a good taste sensation and the crispy breading is the perfect compliment.

3)  Fried Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich:  LIARS!  They advertised this as a fried sandwich, but it was really just grilled.  It was tasty, but I was there for the deep frying and they actually had a deep fried PBJ sandwich somewhere else that I didn’t get because I unfortunately got this first.

4)  Deep Fried Honey Bun:  Tastes basically how you would expect a deep fried honeybun with powdered sugar on top to taste, which is to say it tasted awesome.  This was a great deal too because the price was about the same as everything else but honeybuns are pretty big.

5)  Deep Fried Oreos:  I’ve had these before and they are really good.

6)  Deep Fried Snickers:  Saving the best for last, the deep fried snickers was the best treat we tried.  The peanuts and hot creamy chocolate inside that deep fried shell was top notch.

And this wasn’t even all the deep fried food that they had.  If we’d had the time, we could have also indulged in deep fried pecan pie, deep fried ho hos, deep fried PBJ, deep fried milky way (and I think some other candy bars too), deep fried apple fries and even deep fried mashed potatoes (or so they say, we never actually found these).  The fair was huge and we didn’t get through even half of it, so there was probably much more to try that we never even knew about.

*I paid a dollar to go into a tent to see the horse, and while it was a large horse, I’m not confident it is the world’s largest.

**I’m not a huge hush puppy fan but these were actually really good.

My Eating Chair.

October 15, 2010 by

This chair's making me hungry.

I am a sloppy eater.  I don’t do it on purpose, but I just have some difficulty getting the food from the plate to my mouth without a little of it getting somewhere else like my shirt or the floor.  We have a nice sofa and we don’t want  me to get any food on it, so consequently, I must eat somewhere else.  That somewhere else is my eating chair.

My eating chair is an old and worn (though plenty comfortable) chair that sits next to our sofa.  And whereas at first it was simply a way to keep our new sofa nice and clean, my eating chair has grown to occupy a special place in my heart.  Like a child’s teddy bear, my eating chair’s consistent presence gives me a sense of stability and comfort necessary to weather this cold and frightful world.  I wonder if I’ll get to a point where my body associates this chair with eating and I end up getting hungry everytime I sit on a recliner.

Some day I will have to get rid of my eating chair.  Eventually it will either fall apart or we will decide it no longer has a place in our house and it will find itself sitting alongside the rest of that week’s trash (Or we’ll sell it on Craigslist).  And hopefully, it won’t go to the dumpster but instead another sloppy eater somewhere will find it and put it in their home and they will eat their meals on it and it will become their eating chair.

Eater’s Loss

August 2, 2010 by
Chef Chang's

Thank you for making me the Eater I am today.

A few weeks ago I touched down in Boston for a weekend of R&R. As my father chauffeured me from the airport, I dialed from memory my favorite Chinese food restaurant in the entire world—Chef Chang’s House in Brookline. The phone rang, and while I did not recognize the voice on the other end, I quickly jumped into ordering my favorite dishes:

“I’d like an order of Hot & Sour Soup, a-ha, an order of Peking Ravioli’s pan-friend, a-ha,an order of Fried Curried Wantons…”

“We don’t have that on our menu. You must be thinking of the old restaurant.”

Stunned, I stammered a few forgotten words into the phone. The woman on the other line patiently explained that Chef Chang’s had closed. For good. I would never eat there again.

A cursory review of Chef Chang’s yelp profile found a restaurant that was loved by some but not others. Founded in 1980 it was responsible for bringing sophisticated Chinese cuisine to the average Bostonian. No doubt college students and faux-foodies found the old décor and deep-fried nature of many of its signature dishes off-putting. Szechuan cuisine is what’s hot right now, literally and figuratively. With its focus on spice and sauce, I can’t complain that more exotic Asian cuisines are taking off in America. I also recognize that Chinese food in other parts of the world blows Americanized food out of the water. Like in China for instance. I’ve traveled to Chengdu and tasted kung pao chicken and seafood hot pot that blew my freaking mind.

But my favorite Chinese restaurant will always be located in Brookline, Massachusetts. As a youth growing up, it was my introduction to what became my favorite cuisine. As a college student and later a world-travelling vagabond, I returned home several times a year and always made it a mission to return to Chef Chang’s, usually accompanied by my younger brother and order an absolutely obscene amount of food. Usually enough to feed your average Mormon family. I particularly enjoyed having the wait staff look at us like we were somewhat off our rocker. We weren’t. Just Great Eaters trying to get a meal in.
Even if not every dish on the menu was perfect, Chef Chang’s had some winners that could compete with the best Chinese food around. The hot & sour soup perfectly blended broth, tofu and pork with a spicy sour tang. The cold sesame noodles featured a thick peanut sauce that made the taste buds dance. And the General’s chicken was perfectly breaded with a sweet sauce.

But there are two dishes from Chef Chang’s whose loss will haunt me forever.

The Peking Raviolis. The breading on their dumplings was the perfect ratio of rice flour to water. This made the dumplings slightly crisper and fuller than any other dumpling I’ve had.

Fried Curried Wantons. I don’t know how these were made. The inside was a mix of curry paste and something. I’ve had waiters tell me it was vegetarian and contained beef. Maybe it was a mixture of all the leftover food from the day before. Who cares. It was a flavor explosion in your mouth. Actually it was TWO flavor explosions in your mouth. You could combine it with a either a nasal busting spicy mustard that could bring tears of painful joy. Or you could use a sweet duck sauce to combine salt and saccharine. And unlike Peking Raviolis aka potstickers, which are a staple of every Chinese restaurant, I’ve never seen this offered at another restaurant. So unless Mr. Chang wants to cook a personal meal for me I will never eat this dish again. Wow that hurts.

This past week I’ve been back in the Boston area. With Chef Chang’s no longer in my life, I’ve instead turned to other favorite spots, such as J.P. Licks and Same Old Place for comfort. I’ve also moved on. The start for a new Chinese restaurant in Boston has begun. Since I’m only home a few weeks a year, it could take quite some time to find a suitable replacement. In the mean time, I will have my favorite Chicago spot as well as the prospect of travelling to China in less than a year to satisfy my cravings.

But ultimately a major player in my development as a Great Eater no longer exists. I will never bite into a fried curried wanton again. The closing of Chef Chang’s serves as a reminder that while we’re put on the Earth to eat, no one can eat forever. So if you’ve been putting off visiting your favorite Mexican restaurant or have decided you’ve moved on from your favorite childhood pizza joint to wait two hours for Great Lakes or some nonsense, I suggest you take an extra moment to make the drive back for one more meal. You never know when it may be your last.

Public Safety Announcement: Eating Safety

July 8, 2010 by

Hey dude!  We’re here today to talk to you about eating safety!  Now you’re probably thinking that eating safety isn’t cool, but the truth is that it’s way cool!  You’ll see what we mean as we follow the adventures of Safe Eater and Danger Eater!

Does anyone know what’s wrong with what Danger Eater is doing above?  That’s right!  He’s eating off of a sharp knife!  Knives are designed for cutting things, including people, and a smart eater knows to keep those sharp blades away from their supple flesh.  Notice how Safe Eater keeps the knife on the table with the handle pointed toward him?  That’s proper eating safety!  It’s unfortunate that these are only one panel comics because otherwise you would be able to see, in graphic detail, Danger Eater subsequently cutting his tongue and bleeding all over himself, the table and the floor before being rushed to the hospital where he barely makes it through.  Danger Eater fortunately does not suffer any long term consequences from his recklessness and goes on to live a fruitful, though danger laden life.  Let’s check out the next comic!

Not so fast there Danger Eater!  Microwaves tend to cook foods in uneven fashion and while some bites might seem room temperature or even cold, other bites can be scorching hot!  To avoid this, microwave the food in stages and stir it between each stage so that the meal will heat evenly.  If it is not something that is conducive to stirring, like lasagna, cut it up into little pieces before heating so that each piece will heat evenly.  And even when these precautions are taken, you should still be careful as you might be surprised by an unexpectedly extra hot bite!  Take it from someone who has spent quite a few days of his life peeling the dead skin off the roof of his mouth with the tip of his tongue, wishing that he had shown a little more restraint in the previous days when he ate a microwaved meal.

Now this comic is a little bit trickier!  Can you figure out exactly what Danger Eater is doing wrong and what Safe Eater is doing oh so right?  Notice the soap next to Safe Eater and the stink indicating lines near Danger Eater?  DANGER EATER DIDN’T WASH HIS HANDS!  Throughout the day, a person can pick up many different types of bacteria and other microscopic organisms that are not healthy to ingest and it is recommended to wash one’s hands immediately before eating.

Do you have any eating safety concerns that you would like us to address?  Please let us know either though comments or by emailing Great Eater!

Great Eater Brainstorm: PizzaBurgers

June 21, 2010 by

Pizza Burger

As a Great Eater, (and roommate of a fellow Great Eater,) it’s my responsibility to come up with new ideas about food. We’ve done a lot with food in the last few centuries, evolving from slobs happy to get our teeth on a scrap of mutton to devourers of delicacies such as ice cream and the Double Down.

But that’s not to say we can’t improve. What delicacies will we be eating 100 years from now? That’s a question better answered for another time, because in 100 years, I probably won’t be around. And even if I am, I don’t want to miss out on a century of eating. I’m interested in improving eating right now.

With that we are going to let you in on a project: The Pizza-Burger.

No not Hamburger Pizza you ignorant simpleton. A full on Burger-Pizza hybrid, combining the best of both of two of the greatest foods known to mankind.
Our idea so far is to utilize Stuball321’s pizza making prowess to make mini pizzas that be used as buns. Then we can use my glorious new kettle grill to make burgers. Use two mini pizzas as buns, and you’re golden.

Important questions remain: What kind of cheese should we use? Should we season the burgers with Italian breadcrumbs or does that just make them meatballs? Should we use ketchup instead of marinara? My brain’s about to explode!

Anyways we’ll take a crack at it and let you know how it goes. Until next time, great eating.


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