Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Scooby Snack Cocktail versus The Piña Colada

My friend, and right hand, Dani was at a bar recently, when she heard someone order a "Scooby Snack."  Certain the patron wasn't ordering a dog treat, she asked the bartender what was in the
Piña Colada with key ingredients
Subject: Piña Colada with key ingredients | Date: 09/18/2012 | Photographer: Achim Schleuning | This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Germany license.
cartoon inspired cocktail.  The drink apparently consists of Melon Liqueur, Coconut Rum, Pineapple Juice, and Half & Half.

When she told me about the drink I thought it sounded vaguely like, the cruise ship drink, the Piña Colada, another rum based cocktail with similar flavors.  Curious about the difference, I decided to do some research on both drinks.

Ramón 'Monchito' Marrero Pérez claims to have made the first Piña Colada at the Caribe Hilton Hotel's Beachcomber Bar in San Juan on 15 August 1952. Yet, Ricardo García, who also worked at the Caribe, says that it was he who invented the drink, while Ramón Portas Mingot says he created it in 1963 at the Barrachina Restaurant.

 I couldn't find a history of the Scooby Snack, but its sweet flavor profile, and occasional addition of whipped cream, makes me think the drink was probably invented by a cruise line or a gaggle of giddy sorority sisters.

While the lime green Scooby Snack utilizes a melon flavor, not found in a Piña Colada, and derives its coconut flavor from coconut rum rather than cream of coconut, the biggest difference rests in the way the cocktails are intended to be imbibed.  Served in a tall glass, the Piña Colada is meant to be sipped slowly as cool breezes blow through one's hair.  In contrast, the Scooby Snack is typically served as a shot drink, to be downed quickly while partying hearty.
Scooby Snack Cocktail
Click name above to see picture of drink
1 oz. Melon Liqueur
1 oz. Coconut Rum
1/2 oz. Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz. Half & Half

Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well. Strain into a chilled shot glass.
Piña Colada

2 ounces light rum
2 ounces pineapple juice
1 1/2 ounces cream of coconut
Pineapple wedge & Maraschino cherry for garnish

Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well. Strain into a chilled cocktail or Collins glass. Garnish with the pineapple wedge and maraschino cherry.
Supplemental Note Added 08/15/14:
While every article I've read online describes the Scooby Snack as a lime green shooter, the drink Dani saw was milky white, and was served in a twelve ounce beer glass.  Served as a sipping drink would bring the Scooby Snack one step closer to the realm of the Piña Colada, in my mind.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Red Lobster Will Be Going Up Scale

The popular seafood chain, Red Lobster, has recently been purchased by Golden Gate Capital, which plans to "elevate" the chain into a series of upscale restaurants.  CEO Kim Lopdrup told the press, the overhaul will begin with the rectangular plates their food has traditionally been served upon.  "Entrees used to come with portions spread out in separate corners in a sort of balkanized TV-dinner effect," said Lopdrup.  The new presentation style will be designed to mimic fine-dining, with fish fillets stacked vertically atop the pilaf, with a charred lemon on the side.

According to Lopdrup, "The actual ingredients aren't changing, but the Red Lobster menu will nonetheless soon boast $30 dishes."  Golden Gate has prioritized the goal of carving out a high-end niche for themselves within the realm of fast-casual restaurants.

"At the end of the day, people are not going to go a Chipotle for their anniversary or their birthday," Lopdrup says, adding that the low, "low-priced specials that we're not proud of, like 30 shrimp for $11.99, are getting the boot."

So basically, they plan to rearrange the food on the plate, charge more for it, and axe the discounted affordable options from the menu.

Yesterday, I decided to visit Red Lobster at 10330 SW Greenburg Rd, in Tigard, Oregon, before the changes take full effect.  The fishnets, rustic wood walls, and historic pictures of oceanic fisherman have already been replaced with urban architecture and modern style art.

I ordered the Crab & Roasted-Garlic Sirloin (peppercorn-crusted sirloin topped with jumbo lump crabmeat and fresh tomatoes in a roasted-garlic cream sauce, served with mashed potatoes and green beans) from their Crab Fest menu, for $18.95.

The meal began with their traditional Cheddar Bay Biscuits and a  wonderfully creamy Caesar Salad piled with shaved Parmesan.

The steak was cooked to a perfect medium-rare and was seasoned with a blend of black pepper and garlic to produce a nice savory kick.  Additionally, the sweet mixture  of lump crab & tomatoes melded deliciously with the savory cream sauce to compliment the steak.

As for the sides, the potatoes were seasoned with garlic and herbs, making the buttery, but soggy, beans the only chink in the armor.

Since I had to shop for my nephew's birthday gift after lunch, I accompanied the meal with a non-alcoholic soft drink.  However, a cold Boston Lager would have paired well with the meal.

All things considered,  I give Red Lobster's Crab & Roasted-Garlic Sirloin 8.8 out of 10 stars.

End Note: While I loved what I had, I won't be willing to pay $12 more for it, a year from now, just to have the chef put the steak directly on top of the potatoes.  Red Lobster has never been as basic as a Skipper's, but it's not New York's La Cirque either.  Red Lobster has always been a place where middle class Americans could go for quality seafood at a reasonable price.  If they discontinue their annual Lobster, Shrimp, and Crab Fests, and discard their affordable menu items, they'll lose many of their middle American customers, including me.

Choosing not to look like a geek, I didn't whip my camera out to photograph my lunch, but you can see picture of this meal, on Red Lobster's own server, by clicking on the name of the dish above.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Butlers Blacksticks Blue Cheese - Micro Blog

Butlers Blacksticks Blue
Subject: Butlers Blacksticks Blue | Source: Picture kindly provided by courtesy of the Butlers Specialty Cheeses.
Having a sister-in-law who sells wholesale gourmet goodies to Portland's finer restaurants allows me to sample the occasional treat.  Most recently, she brought a wedge of Butlers Blacksticks Blue to a weekend get together, and I fell in love.

Located in the pasture lands of Lancashire, England, Butlers Farmhouse makes this soft, blue-veined cheese from the pasteurized milk of the family's own cows.  The cheese is matured for eight weeks, allowing it to develop a bright orange color, reminiscent of Huntsman & Cotswald.

Streaked with yummy blue mold, Butlers Blacksticks Blue delivers a salty tangy bold flavor.  Keeping in mind the punch of flavor this cheese brings to the table, I'd pair it with a nice dark stout beer such as Young's Double Chocolate Stout or McMenamins Terminator Stout, which can stand up against the cheese's strong taste.

With nothing bad to say about Butlers Blacksticks Blue, I give this cheese 10 out of 10 stars.


Friday, July 18, 2014

I Am Simply Done With Some Foods

I'm known as an avid eater.  I'm all for trying new things and eating outside of the box.  I have no trouble eating pickled pig's feet, goose liver pate, calamari, fried alligator, sprats, smoked oysters, or anchovies.  Yet, some foods, which seem to have become popular, simply leave me flat.
 A Krispy Kreme Burger
Subject: A Krispy Kreme Burger | Date: 09/25/2008 | Photographer: Jellorama| This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.
  • Popularized by Paula Deen, the Luther Burger, named for singer-songwriter and record producer Luther Vandross, is a hamburger or cheeseburger which uses one or more glazed doughnuts in place of the bun. These sandwiches of ground-beef topped with; lettuce, tomato, pickles, onion, mayo, ketchup, cheese, and, sometimes, bacon; between two doughnuts, or a single split doughnut, are not only grossly unhealthy at approximately 1,500 calories a pop, they're a mess waiting to happen. 
 Doughnuts aren't made with the structural integrity to support greasy toppings. Thus, after a bite or two, assuming the eater can get their mouth around the monstrosity to begin with, the doughnuts will begin to crumble, leaving the eater a lap full of ground beef, lettuce, tomato, pickles, onion, mayo, ketchup, cheese, and, sometimes, bacon.

Besides, ketchup on doughnuts sounds like part of a cruel fraternity hazing. Eeeewwwwww.........
German Laugengebäck Bread
Subject: German Laugengebäck Bread | Date: 12/28/2009 | 
Photographer: Sunbar1 | This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.
  • Ruby Tuesday's, Wendy's, Sonic, and other eateries are selling sandwiches on German Laugengebäck Bread, calling it Pretzel Buns.  Such buns are made from bread dough which has been given a concentrated baking soda bath to give the buns their dark chewy pretzel-esc exterior.  
 However, it's the Pretzel Salt (large-grained salt that does not melt quickly) which makes pretzels so delicious.  Makers of the hip sandwich buns are leaving the salt off the buns' exterior.  The result is a burger, or hotdog, in a tough bun without the savory payoff.  I'd much rather go to a Pretzel Stand for a good warm salty pretzel and leave my burger on a bun I can bite through comfortably.
IPA (India Pale Ale)
Subject:IPA (India Pale Ale) | Date: 01/15/2007 | Photographer: Dennis 84| This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

  • IPA (India Pale Ale) was invented in the late 1700s as a beer that wouldn't spoil on the voyage from England to India.  Back then, IPAs such as Burton brewer's and Hodgson's, were lightly hopped and would not have been considered to be strong ales.  Today, IPAs are overly hopped bitter brews, which I simply can't choke down.
"Serious beer drinkers," in the U.S., pride themselves in liking bold tasting beers, so they've made IPA one of the top selling beer styles in America.  Personally though, I've never had an enjoyable one.  I'm all for flavorful beer, including; Fort George's Quick Wit, Widmer Hefeweizen, and Blue Moon Belgian Wheat; just to name a few of my favorites.  I simply can't get behind a brew that makes me wince & gag every time I take a sip.

Of course, the world of food & drink is made up of a variety of tastes.  To quote Alan Thicke's popular lyrics from the 80s, " takes, Diff'rent Strokes to move the world. Yes it does. It takes, Diff'rent Strokes to move the world."  However, it seems that once some foods are advertised, or are prepared by a celebrity chef, the masses adopt them as favorites, forgetting that the Emperor can, in fact, be naked.