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Archives for December 2011

Tio Wally Eats America: Braum’s in McPherson, Kansas

I’m happy to have Tio Wally (long-time Me So Hungry reader) aboard to send in his eating adventures from across America. Here he is in McPherson, Kansas.

Tio%20Wally%20Eats%20America%20truck Tio Wally Eats America: Braums in McPherson, Kansas

Greetings from McPherson, Kansas!
N 38° 22.221  W 097° 37.699  Elev. 1484 ft.

I made a very, very important discovery: Really good pre-made Tuna and Chicken salads! Both of them are made by Pilgrim’s Pride, which I thought was curious as PP’s main gig is chicken. (Then again, tuna is the chicken of the sea, right?)

I found them both at Braum’s, a family-owned chain of combination ice cream/dairy store, fast-food restaurant, and miniature market located all over Oklahoma and parts of Texas, Kansas, Arkansas, and Missouri.

My initial introduction to Braum’s was less than stellar, to say the least. It was late, I was tired and wanted something hot to eat, fast. So I got a double cheeseburger, fries and a chocolate malt from the Braum’s in Carthage, Missouri.

Well, it smelled good enough and was actually still hot by the time I parked the yacht and set up house (i.e., put up the satellite dish). Then I took a bite of the burger and … jeezus freakin’ christ! It was the saltiest thing I’d had in my mouth since I involuntarily swallowed a gallon of Pacific Ocean as a child. I mean, it was bad. Worse than bad. And to add insult to injury, I was starving to death, so I ended up choking the salt-lick-on-a-bun down anyway, along with the by-then cold fries. Yuk. The malt, while exceptionally delicious, didn’t make up for the abusive burger and cold fries.

My next brush with Braum’s, however, was much more pleasant, not to mention markedly more palatable. I was on I-35 in southern Oklahoma when I ran out of hours and had to stop in Pauls Valley. After I parked I kept watching their little reader board flash “Steak Sandwich $1.99”. Eventually my piqued curiosity peaked and I couldn’t take it anymore and I had to find out what kind of steak they could possibly be selling for two bucks.

The answer turned out to be one of those chicken-fried steak patties like they sell in the frozen food sections of grocery stores, usually in bulk packs. It was actually quite good, served on a hamburger bun — Braum’s has its own very good bakery — with mayonnaise, leaf lettuce and tomato. Very simple and quite delicious really.

While I was waiting for the mystery steak sandwich I wandered over to their little “Fresh Market” section to get a half-gallon of Chocolate Milk ($1.75). They have some of the very best. It’s whole milk, rBGH-free, really thick, creamy and chocolatey. As I was walking to the register I passed the Deli case and discovered the Tuna and Chicken salads (both $3.29/12 oz.).

The Tuna salad is not too wet and has super-crunchy bits of celery in it. It tastes like it also has some sweet pickle relish in it, but I’m not sure as the list of ingredients is truly microscopic; even my evil twin Skippy couldn’t read it. Likewise the Chicken salad is not too wet and has the crunchy celery bits. I bought another tub of Chicken Salad the other day and, unlike the first one, this one says it’s Chunky. Whether it is or not (I haven’t opened it yet) I could see taking it and mixing it with a small can of chunked chicken and easily feeding four adults — just add bread. Talk about good, cheap, and delicious road food!

I can’t recommend these enough. They were so good, in fact, that I went high-end gourmet with both my Tuna and Chicken sandwiches: I bought some green leaf lettuce. A small packet of mayo on the side with the lettuce and BAM! … you’ve got yourself a $7 bistro sandwich even Hilda Lagasse would love.

(So good was it that I even considered buying a $10 toaster. “Ooh, toasted bread,” I thought. Thankfully I regained my senses before I ended up with an appliance I have no desire to stow, much less use regularly.)

I also bought some Mustard Potato Salad ($1.49/16 oz.). It too was really good, not too sweet with nice chunks of potato that weren’t overcooked and, again, the crunchy celery bits. I just added a little pepper to it and, voila, insta-gourmet!

Additionally, I made sort of a curious scientific-ish discovery. In the past I’ve bought Iceberg lettuce and my Coleman Thermoelectric Cooler would promptly freeze it; the cooler is technically a simple (miraculous) heat exchanger. Not only did the leaf lettuce not freeze, it stayed fresh and crisp until I finished the whole head (well over a week!!). I don’t understand the physics involved, but I suspect it’s all a matter of water content and the density of the head or something. Perhaps some food physicist could explain it. Paging Alton Brown ….

And so we roll.

(Note: I took the pictures of the Braum’s in McPherson as it had just opened and was devoid of customers. When I tried to take an up-close picture of the menu-board, however, I was stopped by a woman (the manager?) who said I couldn’t take pictures of it because “some people could alter it and make it say nasty things or something.” I told her I didn’t have PhotoShop; I didn’t tell her “It’s obvious what’s on your mind.”)

Braum’s - 2106 E Kansas Ave. McPherson, Kansas,
with locations throughout the mid- to lower-Midwest.

Tio Wally pilots the 75-foot, 40-ton(max) land yacht SS Me So Hungry. He reports on road food from around the country whenever parking and InterTube connections permit.

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Chicken ala King!

My new episode! I make my favorite dish from my elementary school cafeteria hot lunch line. They called it Chicken Pot Pie. But this was not a pie. It was in a big steam tray with biscuits baked on top. I loved it.

Great NY Noodletown

2nd night of hanging out with my family in NYC. We end up going to Great NY Noodletown. My older sister had a hankering for Soy Sauce Chicken. I remember that they have really good Baby Pig, so let’s try here.

Shit. All the customers are white. What will my family think of my choice? Well, whatever. We’re seated …and I know about the Baby Pig.

We’re not sure if my sister really wanted the Soy Sauce Chicken or the Poached Chicken in Ginger Scallion Sauce. So we ordered both. I think we were all looking for the Ginger Scallion sauce. But the way they had it here, the Soy Sauce Chicken had the real Ginger Scallion dipping sauce and the the Poached Chicken in Ginger Scallion sauce had some weird gravy …the opposite of what it should be. Or maybe they cooked it this way because they thought we seemed white.

Soy Sauce Chicken was awesome because the Ginger Scallion dipping sauce rules. I don’t understand why they made the Poached Chicken in Ginger Scallion sauce/gravy that way …what up?

Baby Pig was crispy on the outside. Fatty and juicy on the inside.

My other sister looked up what the NY Times recommended at this place –Noodles with Ginger Scallion sauce. It ended up being the least favorite dish. Noodles with Oyster Sauce drizzled over it.

On a separate thought: I’m not sure if it’s because I write about food, people like to tell me what food sucks. I guess people also go out of their way to tell me what rules. I guess I rather hear about what rules …mmm Baby Pig.

Great NY Noodletown - 28 Bowery (@ Bayard) New York, NY 10013

Big Wong King

My family came in to town to the big city …from Orlando, Birmingham and Seattle. It was my choice to pick a place for dinner. I figured a Big Wong King would be a great choice. I like the roast meats and congee there.

It was raining all day, so that probably explained that the restaurant wasn’t crowded at all. And I felt like everything was a representation of myself as you’ll learn from my upcoming posts. …what does it mean if it’s mostly white people eating? Not enough Chinese people in the place. Why is the place empty? I felt like I picked poorly. Yeah, a lot of regular non-Chinese people know about it this place on Yelp. But it is one of the better places in my opinion.

We got the Lobster special –two lobsters in Cantonese sauce for $20, 2 big bowls of Congee, Fried Cruller Bread, Wonton Noodle Soup, Kai-Lan (Chinese Broccoli) and Roast Pork. I thought it all pretty good food.

But still again, I felt like I was being judged for any criticism about the restaurant. The floor too greasy. The service too rude (…that’s just the way Chinatown people are). And that we were cheated on our bill. All night, my family thought they got ripped off after adding it up in the head. I met up with them the next day and they told me that and that place is very bad. I stopped them. How can a $57 bill be a rip-off for 5 people in NYC …especially when we got lobsters. (Granted, $10 does sound a lot for Chinese Broccoli. But I know that most of those restaurants do charge that much for vegetables.) I help them add it up again, including the beers I drank when I was waiting for them for 40 minutes to take a 8 min cab ride over and other stuff they forgot we ordered. It worked out. Big Wong didn’t rip us off. If anything, they forgot to add a couple of small things.

Shit. Next meal is based on my suggestion again.

Big Wong King - 67 Mott St (btw Bayard & Canal St) New York, NY 10013

Little Lamb Holiday Party 2011

LLR%20Holiday%20card%202011 Little Lamb Holiday Party 2011

Last night’s party was so awesome. Food catered by Gourmet Garage and a 6-foot sub from Lorimer Market. Great music by Sarah Dooley, Wildcats, Marcellus Hall, Prince Rupert’s Drops, Tigers and Monkeys100 Oaks Revival band, and Justice of the Unicorns. I can’t believe all the people that came to completely down all that food. Next time we gotta get a longer sub.

Here’s our Holiday Compilation, featuring new music we are putting out in the new year. Free to download and stream!

Good Humor Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Bar

Elisa and Todd brought over these Good Humor Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Bars along with a half rotisserie chicken when we watched the Tebow documentary, Everything in Between.

I remember these. I hadn’t had one since middle school. I remember my friend Josh came over after school for the first time. We were renovating our house, turning the carport into a garage. There was a bunch of construction rubble in our driveway. He saw that and told me how he always thought my family was rich. I guess he assumed we always have rubble in our driveway and that meant we were poor? I asked him why he thought we were rich. He said he saw me buying one of these Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Bars at lunch. I think they were $1.75 or something. He saw me take a few bites and threw it away. I haven’t had one of these bars since.

Tio Wally Eats America: Hy-Vee in Cherokee, Iowa

I’m happy to have Tio Wally (long-time Me So Hungry reader) aboard to send in his eating adventures from across America. Here he is in Los Cherokee, Iowa.

Tio%20Wally%20Eats%20America%20truck Tio Wally Eats America: Hy Vee in Cherokee, Iowa

Greetings from Cherokee, Iowa!
N 42° 45.903  W 095° 33.090’  Elev. 1309 ft.

If you’ve never been to Cherokee (and I bet you haven’t), it’s located in the center of north-western Iowa and could be fairly characterized as one of the Great American Geographic Centers of Nowhere. (You know, due north of Holstein, northeast of Correctionville ….)

Although it has some pretty cool parks along the Little Sioux River and, keeping with its rural nature, boasts a roping arena in the one nearest to downtown, there really isn’t a lot here. And this is the “big town” hereabouts!

At this time of year, it’s all brown, rolling hills of fallow cornfields and bare trees, if there are any. But the folks are nice and warm, unlike the wind that’s colder than a witch’s … well, you know.

I’m here picking up at the evil corporate chicken plucker/packer. I was hoping to finally hit Tammy’s today, a little hole-in-the-wall (literally) lunch place located inside the Shell station at the south end of town. Unfortunately, I was too late (again) and so didn’t get to try the day’s special, Beef Stew on Mashed Potatoes. Sounded good on a cold day.

Thankfully, the last time I was here the security guard lady had tipped me off to the local Hy-Vee, a supermarket chain throughout the Midwest. I don’t know if they all have them, but this one has a service deli inside, featuring hot food you can eat in or take out.

Today’s special was Meat Loaf with two sides, a roll and a 10 oz. drink for $5 tax included; it’s regularly $5.99. The last time I was here I got it with baked beans and German potato salad and it was really great. They didn’t have the baked beans or German potato salad today, so I got Calico beans (red, pinto, white and garbanzo — those are chickpeas, fella! — beans), with onion and big chunks of ground beef) and stuffing/dressing with turkey gravy.

They don’t mess around portion-wise here. The slab of meat loaf must’ve weighed at least a half-pound, and the stuffing was piled up so high it barely fit under the cover of the container. Like last time, it was easily enough for a couple of meals.

And once again, the meat loaf was really good. It wasn’t too dry and, with the addition of just a half-dash of salt, easily hit the mark. The beans were really, really good, and sort of sweet. They were so outstanding, in fact, that I was tempted to go back and get a quart! The dressing was actually kind of bland. But it was very moist, with the texture of wet bread pudding, with big pieces of celery. Better yet, it wasn’t sage-y; a lot of places go overboard with sage, which is one of my least favorite herbs. (Actually, I don’t consider sage a legitimate herb. I think of it only as “that semi-noxious smell you get all over your clothes when you ride your Sting Ray bicycle off the trail through the canyons of Southern California.”) The turkey gravy, however, really put the dressing over the top. Heck, had I known the gravy was going to be so good I would’ve had her put it on the meat loaf, too.

This place was a hell of deal and made for a great, satisfying grab-and-dash meal, especially considering the only quick alternatives were the usual fast-food suspects.

While I was wandering in the store I ran across these bizarre little things in the Deli case, but I can’t remember what they were calling them locally. I was so fascinated by these weird looking things that I sought out a local to explain to me what they hell they were. It turned out they were dried beef that had been spread with cream cheese and then wrapped around a dill pickle, which was then cut into bite-sized *medallions. The lady I talked to said they were actually pretty good, and that she also made them with gherkins, sometimes using pastrami as the meat-wrap. I didn’t try them as I thought they were a little overpriced. They sure looked interesting though. (I have got to remember to carry the camera in with me!)

*Turns out there are a zillion recipes for these things on the InterTubes.

And so we roll.

Hy-Vee, 1300 North 2nd St., Cherokee, Iowa

Tio Wally pilots the 75-foot, 40-ton(max) land yacht SS Me So Hungry. He reports on road food from around the country whenever parking and InterTube connections permit.

King of Falafel and Shawarma

I went up to Astoria and tried King of Falafel and Shawarma – 2010 Vendy Award Winner. They had their big trophy on display. Not such a bad of a line for lunch time, compared to the popular carts in the city.

I got the Freddy’s Junior (Chicken and Kefta over rice platter). Huge platter for $7. I like the pickles they put in there. Overall a very clean tasting dish. Not overly spicy. I didn’t feel like my butt was going to explode. That would’ve have been a problem, being so far away from home.

King of Falafel and Shawarma – 30th St & Broadway. Astoria Queens, NY 11106