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Archives for ME SO HUNGRY – FOOD BLOG & REVIEWS

Ron Burgundy (Anchorman 2) Scotch Whisky

I found this bottle of whisky at my local liquor store –Ron Burgundy of Anchorman 2. The promotional campaign is a little odd. They have a life-size cutout of Will Ferrell in the store, but no mention of why. I just happened to find the bottle on the shelf …and if I didn’t see the Will Ferrell cutout earlier, I would have never made the connection.

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Tio Wally Eats America: Return to Sapp Bros

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 Odessa, Nebraska.

Tio%20Wally%20Eats%20America%20truck Tio Wally Eats America: Return to Sapp Bros

Greetings from Odessa, Nebraska
N 40° 40.707’ W 099° 15.342’ Elev. 2206 ft.

I don’t know why the Garmin GPS designates this particular Sapp Brothers truck stop as the “Sapp Bros Landmark.” I’d think the original Omaha location would be. Garmin also says this is Elm Creek but Sapp Bros calls this location Odessa. The mailing address here is Elm Creek. I feel like I’m in Odessa. There is nothing else here so … who’s to know for sure?

Maybe it’s the “Landmark” because the iconic Sapp Bros coffee-pot sign is the only (tallest) notable thing around for miles. Nebraska is like that.

On the other hand, state line to state line Interstate 80 across Nebraska is 455 miles long. Perhaps someone decided that this Sapp Bros was the halfway point. Sure, it’s 36 miles short of halfway if you’re traveling west. But it’s further if you’re headed east. I understand the impatience westbound. I understand even more the sense of accomplishment that comes with the 36 extra miles covered if you’re the poor bastard who’s unfortunate enough to be headed east.

I’ve written about Sapp Bros before and how much I like them. They’re old school, kind of funky. I stopped here this time because I had to take a mandatory 30-minute break. I also knew that Sapp Bros is offering an 8 oz. Steak Dinner for $9.99. Although I’m not really a steak guy, I figured I’d go for it. After all, that T-bone Steak breakfast in Lemoore was so good ….

I showed up a little after 2 p.m., it was just starting to snow, and the place of empty except for me and the server, Dina. Talk about personalized service! I asked her about the steak. She said she’d heard it was good but that she wasn’t really a steak person. (Birds of a feather?) It turned out the steak came only with one side and garlic toast. I was hoping it also came with the salad bar so I could have something green as well. But no.

“We also have Beef and Noodles on special for $7.99,” she said. “Would you like to try it?” Sure, I said. I took one bite of the sample and knew that that was what I was having. I told Dina how good it was. “I’m glad you like it. I made it this morning,” she said, explaining that she cooked in the morning and waited tables in the afternoon. “Of course,” she confessed, “I wouldn’t have told you that if you didn’t like it.”

The special was advertised as “Beef & Noodles, served over mashed potatoes, and garlic toast.” I thought that seemed like an extraordinary amount of starch. So she let me substitute hash browns — hash browns contain less starch, right? — which I got on the side.

The beef and noodles were very beefy and very hearty. The beef was fork tender, like pot roast. I don’t know what they call that kind of noodle but it’s the same ones the Pennsylvania Dutch and many others like to pass off as “dumplings.” It’s all a matter of how they’re cut, I guess. I was really hoping they’d be egg noodles. But hey, what are you gonna to do?

The hash browns were pretty good; crispy outside, soft and moist inside. The garlic toast was garlicky enough that it was pretty good, too.

What made the meal really special — in addition to Dina — was that it was just the right amount at just the right time to be the perfect respite from the crappy, snowy 15° weather outside. I’m officially sick of winter.

And so we roll.

Sapp Brothers Cafe, I-80, Exit 263, Odessa (Elm Creek), Nebraska

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.

Peter Luger’s Lunch Burger

I’ve always heard how good Peter Luger’s burger was. Only thing though is that it’s only served during lunch, which is hard to get to if you work in the city. Also knowing how rare it is that I’d be going to Peter Luger, why not just get the steak? Well, Todd and I took a chance during a snow day and it really did suck trying to get there. Although the bus stop was right across the street from me and the ride ends right near the restaurant, I stepped in a big slush puddle and got totally splashed by car. I guess that’s why we have snow days. Anyway, it made it easy to get a table that day. I think you usually need a reservation.

We both got the Burger $11.95 with cheese ($1.50 extra). Fries and bacon are extra. It was a decent burger, but I was pretty much disappointed …I think from the high expectations I had for it. The Cheeseburger from The Grand I had twice recently is so much better. Anyway, it’s not really that bad. But if you get a chance to go to Peter Luger, yeah, share a big steak. It’s a lot more expensive, but worth it.

I just now noticed that the restaurant is called Peter Luger. I feel like everyone calls it Peter Lugers or Peter Luger’s. Even Johnny Carson called it Peter Lugers.

10 Johnny Carson Peter Luger Peter Lugers Lunch Burger

Peter Luger – 178 Broadway (btw Driggs and Roebling) Brooklyn, NY 11211

Tio Wally Eats America: La Cocina Restaurant

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 Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.

Tio%20Wally%20Eats%20America%20truck Tio Wally Eats America: La Cocina Restaurant

Greetings from Truth or Consequences, New Mexico
N 33° 9.2892’ W 107° 14.893 Elev. 4242 ft.

I don’t usually write about bad restaurants I’ve suffered. There’s simply no reason to waste the time. But occasionally a restaurant pulls off such a spectacular FAIL that it makes it notable. Such was the case with La Cocina.

Truth or Consequences is located 42 miles north of Hatch, the self-proclaimed “Chile Capital of the World!” Green chiles are Hatch, New Mexico’s claim to fame. They hold a giant chile festival every year to celebrate them. It stood to reason, then, that some of those chiles — maybe even some recipes — could migrate as far north as Truth or Consequences to, say, a Mexican restaurant.

I had high hopes as I marched up the driveway to La Cocina. I was greeted by a billboard advertising Alaskan Brewing Company, the makers of Alaskan Amber Ale, the best beer on the planet. I thought that was a good sign even though the prices were astronomical. They also had a cool arch over the driveway adorned with silhouettes of local wildlife, from wild turkey to elk.

As I crested the hill I became somewhat apprehensive. There were only two cars in the parking lot, one of them having just arrived, and it was 12:30. But hey, maybe it’s just not a lunch place. Maybe it’s off season. Maybe ….

I went inside and the hostess said I could sit anywhere I’d like and led me into the dining room. Because the weather was nothing short of glorious, I asked if I could sit “outside” in the mini-courtyard that was open to the sky. Except for the obnoxious amount of beer advertising that seemed to hang everywhere, it was really pleasant.

To drink I ordered a water. It came with no ice and a “sippy” straw, one of those bendable things. It was a good thing it was bendable as it was too short for the glass. It still kept falling in.

I looked over the menu and thought it was all pretty standard. So I asked the waitress for a recommendation. “We sell a lot of these,” she said, pointing to the Numero 3 combination plate: “Wisconsin cheddar cheese enchilada, ground beef taco, along with one chile relleno. Garnish of shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes” ($9.99). Okay, I said. I figured, being as it was denoted as a “Signature Dish”, it must be something more than its breathtakingly run-of-the-mill description. She then asked if I wanted red or green sauce; she recommended the green. Being as it’s only a stone’s throw from Hatch, Chile Capital of the World, I went with the green.

She brought out the obligatory chips and salsa. The straight-from-the-bag chips were noteworthy only because there were so many broken pieces in the bowl. I guess I got the bottom of the bag. The salsa, however, was quite good. It was very, very thick, almost a paste, with lots of big pieces of diced jalapeños. I thought it was very tasty.

Then she brought out the plate. I was immediately struck by the fact that the relleno had no stem or tip. It was, in fact, a butterflied chile, roughly rectangular shaped. It was as if it’d been cut by a machine and then packed in a can and run through an industrial pressure cooker. Although the batter was delightfully light and fluffy, there was very little cheese to be found and the chile itself was bereft of heat, texture or flavor.

Let’s take a moment to remember two things: First, relleno is the Spanish word for “stuffed.” I don’t care if you’re a theoretical physicist, you simply can’t “stuff” a flat surface, no matter how hard you try. Secondly, Hatch, New Mexico, The Chile Capital of the World, is 42 miles away. If you can’t find a fresh pepper in Truth or Consequences to make your “Signature Dish,” something is very, very, very wrong.

Chile Relleno? Strike One.

When I ordered, the waitress asked me “Are onions okay?” Absolutely, I said. I found out why when I cut into the “Wisconsin cheddar cheese enchilada.” There was very little cheese. But there was a lot of onion. It was, essentially, an onion enchilada. Moreover, there was so little chile verde (green sauce) over both the enchilada and the relleno to be all but non-existent. So little that I couldn’t taste it. Sad.

Enchilada? Strike Two.

Mexicans don’t make tacos with ground beef. Nor do they use hard (fried) “taco shells.” They make them, usually with two warmed petite tortillas, with a lot of different fillings but ground beef is not one of them. Best I can figure, ground beef in a hard taco shell is the invention of Glen Bell, founder of that chain purveyor of authentic Mexican food called Taco Bell.

La Cocina’s taco had the rare distinction of elevating the lowly fast food taco to a whole ‘nother level. The shell was every bit worthy of the stale Taco Bell taco shells you can find at the supermarket. It was stuffed with a granular ground beef seasoned with … who knows? It had a reddish tint. Maybe it was cheap, stale paprika. It was flavorless and remarkably dry. They did lay the taco on its side, toss a few shards of cheese on it and run it under a salamander to melt it, though. Presentation is everything, right?

Taco? Strike Three.

When three strikes are accumulated in baseball the batter is out. So it should be with La Cocina should you ever visit Truth or Consequences. This food sucked. This is Mexican food only a pre-pubescent whiter-than-white kid from Mazeppa, Minnesota would like. You know those kids, the picky-assed ones who think a dash of pepper is too spicy.

And to think the Chile Capital of the World was just 42 miles away. What’s worse is the McDonald’s two doors down had something really good by comparison: Big Macs 2 for $4. It’s just sad.

And so we roll.

La Cocina Restaurant, 1 Lakeway Dr., Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

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.

Chez Le Chef

Sam and I were trying to get chicken pot pies, but the restaurant we tried to go to was packed. Everyone wanted pot pies. So we ended up walking into Chez Le Chef, a French restaurant in Murray Hill.

It was definitely interesting. We didn’t know where to go and didn’t see anyone, so we walked upstairs to the dining area. Then we heard a voice asking us how many we were and then told us to sit at a specific numbered table. There were a lot of fake flowers and some cakes in the corner. It felt like we were in some old lady’s apartment, peeking into the back room. Then out of no where, walks in Chef Federic, who has this awesome white mutton chop and mustache, dressed in full on French chef outfit and tall hat. I was like “whoa… holy shit.”

We got the Prix Fixe Lunch special $15.95. 3 courses served in 25 minutes! I’m not sure why they stress the time. I’m not sure if that means it’s quick or hey, you’re going to be here for a while.

There was a Japanese menu on the table. I wonder how often they get Japanese people. I tried to get Sam to order from it.

I got the Pumpking Ginger soup. Pretty good. Sam got the Mixed Greens salad which looked good.

Sam got the breaded flounder fish and I got the Hungarian Goulash (special of the day). Pretty decent.

The desert plate looked really good. I nibbled on it.

I kept thinking the whole time that I want to go up to Chef Federic and say, “Chez Le Chef, you outdid yourself once again!” I feel like his look and appearance was just asking for it.

Chez Le Chef is really an interesting experience if you like that type of stuff. I don’t know if this ironic food blogging. I don’t know anymore.

Chez Le Chef – 127 Lexington Ave Apt 2 (between E 29th and 28th St) New York, NY 10016

Tio Wally Eats America: Dunkin’ Donuts’ French Crullers

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 Junius, New York.

Tio%20Wally%20Eats%20America%20truck Tio Wally Eats America: Dunkin’ Donuts French Crullers

Greetings from Junius, New York
42.95898, -76.91819 Elev. 499 ft.

I had the rare experience of driving the entire New York Thruway. Every 496 miles of it. I call the experience rare because I do it as seldom as possible. It’s a long, boring drive in the winter, with few redeeming characteristics.

Thankfully there was decent coffee. There are the obligatory McDonald’s in many of the travel centers along the way. Better still, there are Tim Horton’s at a few. Tim’s coffee, and their donuts, are quite good. Good enough that an Air Canada plane once made an emergency landing and, once they’d landed safely, was asked by the control tower if they needed anything. The pilot paused, then responded thoughtfully, “Some Tim Horton’s would be nice.”

Best of all, though, is that a few of the Thruway travel centers have Dunkin’ Donuts, which has the best coffee of all. And their donuts are pretty good, too.

I mentioned before that Dunkin’ Donuts was doing surveys and giving away a free donut with the purchase of any medium or large beverage. I still had a few of the “coupons” so I marched in to the Iroquois Travel Center to get a free donut with my morning coffee.

As I was standing in line I was beckoned by the French Crullers. I felt a little like Odysseus hearing the song of the Sirens. Rather than have myself tied to a mast to resist their alluring call, I got one with my “coupon.” Knowing how good these puppies are, I had to stop here and get another coffee along and another cruller with another “coupon.”

If you’ve never had a cruller, you’re really missing out. They have nothing in common with a glazed donut although they’re made with essentially the same ingredients. The cruller is twisted and seems much lighter, full of giant air pockets. Years ago a guy at a Dunkin’ Donuts in Massachusetts told me that they taste so much different because there is a pound of butter in each one.

Dunkin’ Donuts’ French Crullers are incredibly good. And they’re definitely made with butter. They have a wonderfully clean taste and mouth-feel. It’s like the difference between a croissant made with butter and an industrial-grade croissant made with shortening, the ones that leave sort of a greasy film in your mouth.

The bad part of my French Cruller bender is that I’m now down to my last free donut “coupon.” Or maybe it’s just that they’re not doing the survey at the Dunkin’ Donuts at the travel centers along the New York Thruway. After all, they do have a captive clientele. Indeed, if you want anything to eat or drink at a travel center on the Thruway you pretty much have to bend over so they can ream you while you pay out of your nose.

And so we roll.

Dunkin’ Donuts, Junius Ponds Travel Plaza, New York State Thruway, Milepost 324 Westbound, Junius, New York

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.

Waverly Diner’s Corned Beef Hash w/ Eggs and Shredded Hash Browns

The other night I went a single event for people who are into morbid stuff like death and taxidermy. It was at Morbid Anatomy in Gowanus, Brooklyn. They have taxidermy classes, a library, bookstore and museum. I didn’t know what quite to expect. Most people seemed pretty normal. However when I said out loud and pointing to the stuffed squirrel, “Wow, that’s crazy how that doesn’t decay.” —it apparently triggered something in this older guy who got really weird and creepy on me. He was telling me all the things he could do to my body like stuffing it and preserving the skin …in detail. He wanted me sign a contract that will let him have my body once I die. He reminded me of the main evil Nazi guy in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Toht Waverly Diners Corned Beef Hash w/ Eggs and Shredded Hash Browns

I bought him a wine so he wouldn’t kill me. Then he proceeded to give me dating advice.

Anyway, afterwards, I tried to go the new Dinosaur BBQ that opened up down the street, but the kitchen was closed …even though the sign said “Kitchen Opens Late.” Then I went to the 24 hour diner on the corner and that was closed too. It was only 11pm.

I got on the slow train back into the city and ended up at Waverly Diner near the West 4th stop. I’ve been wanting to come here lately because I saw that they have shredded hash browns. You know how hard it is to find that in NYC? Everyone serves home fries. I don’t want home fries. I want hash browns. Not like McDonald’s or Burger King, but like Denny’s or Waffle House.

So I ordered Corned Beef Hash with Eggs, hash browns, toast and extra breakfast sausage ($14.90 total). It’s funny that on the menu, it took me a while to figure out why one Corned Beef Hash with Eggs cost more than the other. It looks like it’s listed twice but with different price. But actually, one has two eggs and the other has one.

It was perfect. Just like I wanted it. Corned Beef Hash that probably came from a can. Hash Browns that were crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. Buttery Toast. Plump Breakfast Sausage. Just what I needed at the time …breakfast in the middle of the night. It made me appreciate my life.

Waverly Diner – 385 Sixth Ave (between Waverly and W 8th St) New York, NY 10014

Food at Barclays Center

I’ve had the pleasure to go to the Barclays Center twice recently. I didn’t realize all the popular Brooklyn foodie vendors they had (Calexico, L&B Spumoni Gardens, Fatty ‘Cue, Juniors, etc.) Makes a lot of food sense and business sense.

First time, Sam and I went to a boxing match. I really wanted to try the famous L&B Spumoni Gardens Sicilian pizza. It was okay for $6.75. Decent doughy pizza.

And then I got the Calexico Loaded Nachos bowl $11.50 that I saw everyone walking around with. It was alright. Although I was starting to get the feeling that these places are not quite up to snuff compared to their real location counterparts. Like the nachos almost seemed like generic chips with more interesting ingredients than you’d get at Madison Square Gardens. I felt the same way at Citi Field. They have awesome local food branded vendors, but they are not quite up the quality you’d expect. But still, Barclays Center food is way better than say MSG, where it’s like generic overpriced skating rink food.

The second time I came back to Barclays Center was for the Amnesty International concert. Lots of great bands and a lot I didn’t even realize were performing like Lauren Hill and the guy from Boomtown Rats. He sang one of my favorite songs, I Don’t Like Mondays. I even got stuck in an elevator with Pussy Riot for about five minutes. I didn’t realize it was them at first. I couldn’t figure out why the elevator wasn’t moving, but some guy was trying to get their autograph, so the attendant kept it open. Then they kicked me off because they were going down to the off-limits area. Pussy Riot is cute. I gave the brunette a half wink as the elevator door closed.

I got a Cheddar Bratwurst sausage from Brooklyn Bangers. I figured it’s probably the same product they sell at other places and also Sam got a dog last time and it looked plump and juicy. I guess it was good. I think I put too much feexin’s (sauerkraut, banana peppers) on it. Should have just ate it straight.

Anyway, the point is that Barclays has way better food than traditional sports venues. But I feel like they all could do better.