Monday, November 26, 2018

Good Eats: Reloaded Proves The Classics Never Go Out Of Style

From 1999 until 2012, fans of The Food Network knew Alton Brown as the host of Good Eats.  Those who have read my Culinary FAQ know that I have identified Good Eats as the most informative how-to cooking show of all time.

Photo Courtesy of Amazon's Affiliate Program.
The 90s saw a vast array of how-to cooking shows flooded cable TV.  At any time of day, a person could turn on the television and see Emeril cook a gumbo or Sara Moulton spatchcock a chicken.  My favorite show, you've no doubt already guessed, was Alton Brown's quirky 30 minute show, Good Eats.

Brown's show was different in that he explained the science behind the cooking.  He would use visual props,  such as ping pong balls, to show the audience what the molecules were doing as the food cooked.  It was sort of Julia Child meets Mr. Wizard.

For the last six years, Alton Brown has hosted a number of other shows, such as Cutthroat Kitchen and Camp Cutthroat, which were really beneath him.  His time spent hosting Iron Chef: America wasn't bad, but his talents were definitely not being utilized to their full potential.  He moved from show to show, but never really captured the same magic as he had with Good Eats.

I was thrilled when I heard he was reviving Good Eats on The Cooking Channel.  Good Eats: Reloaded features Brown showing an original episode of Good Eats, and stopping the show to correct his younger self.  While most of the old recipes still hold up, parts of the shows are outdated.

For example, when he made the episode Fry Hard, cod was not sustainable, so he used other fish for his fish and chips.  Eighteen years later, cod is sustainable so he updated the recipe to use cod.  Likewise, technology has progressed a lot over the last two decades.  Thus, he interrupted the Steak Your Claim episode to recommend new styles of cooking thermometers which did not exist 20 years ago.

Throughout the shows, Alton Brown drops little hints that an all new Good Eats series is on the way.  While the updates are valuable, I suspect that the real purpose of Reloaded is to whet our appetites for the upcoming series.  No matter the reason for Good Eats: Reloaded, it does offer good information delivered with the same brand of humor the old show was known for.

Good Eats: Reloaded can be seen Monday nights at 9pm on The Cooking Channel.  I strongly recommend giving it a look.

Don't have The Cooking Channel?  You can buy the first seeds from Amazon Streaming by clicking on the picture above.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Final Reflections on What We've Lost

WARNING: This piece contains explicit language, PARENTAL DISCRETION IS ADVISED!

This week Americans will celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, with a lavish dinner of roast (or deep fried) turkey, dressing, potatoes with gravy, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, biscuits, and an array of other epicurean delights.  Food bloggers will be busy publishing appropriate recipes.  This isn't that.  I've done that, and if you want my recipe for oyster dressing I'll post it on the bottom of the page.

However, inspired by the airing of the final episode of Parts Unknown, these are some final thoughts regarding Chef Anthony Bourdain.  Shortly after Anthony Bourdain's suicide, I wrote a tribute to his life and work.  This isn't that either,

Photo Courtesy of Amazon's Affiliate Program.
After his death, CNN had bits of unfinished episode on their proverbial cutting room floor.  Rather than wasting the last footage of Bourdain's show, Parts Unknown, the network hired a new narrator to finish the episodes.

I just watched the episode about New York's Lower East Side.  Watching him through a lens colored by what I know now, his sunken eyes and deep facial lines broadcast the portrait of a pained soul which is quite... simply... done.

One thought kept running through my mind as I partook of the visual depictions of the prolific chef interviewing colourful musicians artists, and activists over meals of octopus, chuletas, and cheesy potato dumplings.  All I could think was, "Fuck you Tony!  Fuuuuuuuuuck you!"

Seriously, he had a career of meeting people I'll never meet and eating things I'll never get to eat in places I'll never get to see.  He robbed me, and other fans, of his perspective on the foods and people of the world.  Even though I initially began watching the show for the food, it wasn't solely his role as a culinary tour guide that made him special.

One quote Bourdain was famous for was,"I don't have to agree with you to like you or respect you."  It may as well have been the tagline for the series, if not his life.  He could talk to vegan nuns, satanic metal-heads, gun toting conservatives, and pacifist liberal activists with equal comfort and respect.  In a day of them vs us, we need people who can bridge the gap the way he could.  He took one of those rare people from us, and it pisses me off.

The worst part is that I can't shake him by the shoulders and ask him what he was thinking.  We can guess what was going through his mind, but we'll never know.  We'll never know what made him feel so empty that the thought of one more day on this Earth so unbearable to him.  We'll never know what more he could have given to the world through his writings and TV shows.

In the end, all we can do is to hold on to the memory of what he meant to us and revisit his body of work in the hope of gleaning some morsel of wisdom we may have missed the first time.
Publicly traded Meme


The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.   If you even think you need help, call 1-800-273-8255 to talk to someone, or click here to chat with someone online.  I can testify first hand that help helps.

Bonus Thanksgiving Recipe:
 photo oysterdressing.jpg
Click picture for a larger view 

Monday, November 12, 2018

Burger King's Philly Cheese King Sandwich - A Review

Burger King's Philly Cheese King Sandwich is based loosely on the popular Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich. Available for a limited time, the new burger is comprised of two grilled quarter pound (before cooking) beef patties topped with melted sliced American cheese, caramelized onions, and American cheese sauce, on a sesame seed bun (also available on a sourdough muffin).

| Subject: Burger King's Philly Cheese King Sandwich |
| Date: 11/06/2018 | Photographers: James Kiester & Dani Cogswell |

When it comes to Philadelphia Cheesesteaks I lean toward Geno's version of the classic sandwich consisting of thinly sliced steak, Cheez Whiz, and grilled onions on a hoagie roll.  Apparently Burger King shares my taste.  Rather than trying to recreate the classic, Burger King has designed a double cheeseburger which delivers the same flavor profile.

The two beef patties were seasoned more boldly than the average Whopper patty.  The extra seasoning did help the burger stand out.

The American cheese and the cheese sauce worked together to provide a good hit of cheese taste and a creamy mouth feel like one would get from Cheez Whiz.

I have to say, I'm glad I ordered the fries instead of onion rings because Burger King was not stingy with the grilled onions on my sandwich.  As you can see in the photo, the thing was LOADED with sweet grilled onions, which added to the flavor without overpowering the other ingredients.

The official description lists a "toasted sesame seed bun."   The bun may have been in a room with a toaster at some point, but it really wasn't toasted.  Nevertheless, it was a fresh sesame seed bun.  If they hadn't claimed it was "toasted," I wouldn't have mentioned it at all.

If I had to rate the sandwich on flavor alone, I would give it 9 out of 10 stars.  However, there is one big drawback to the burger.  It costs $8.00  all by itself.  I can go to Red Robin and get a good double cheeseburger with bottomless steak fries for $6.99, and I can order a Long Island Iced Tea to go with it.  If I order this burger I have to pay extra for the fries and then no liquor to be found.

This is a good fast food burger, but it's not worth $8.00.   The whole point of fast food is that it's quick, cheap, and tasty.  THIS BURGER AIN'T CHEAP!  All things considered, I have to give Burger King's Philly Cheese King Sandwich 6 out of 10 stars.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Risking My Palette With 2 New Finds

Being a lover of food, I enjoy trying new and interesting foods.  While I'm not going to sample every canned soup or frozen meal to hit the market, I can get excited about trying a new kind of cheese, gourmet snack, beer, wine, or similar offering.

Winco is not what a person would classify as a "gourmet grocery store."  It's not the place one goes to for artisan cheeses or specialty meats.  It's the mundane supermarket people go to for good prices on every day items such as corn flakes and canned vegetables.  Nevertheless, I came across two items, during my latest grocery trip, which peeked my interest.

| Subject: Top - 6 oz BuzzBallz Chillers Display,
Bottom - 1.5 oz Epic Bar: Venison w/ Sea Salt & Pepper | Date: 09/12/2018 | Photographers: James Kiester & Dani Cogswell |
First I saw a display of small round brightly colored bottles.  The bottles contained 6 ounces of something called BuzzBallz Chillers.

The Chillers consisted of orange wine mixed with different kinds of juices (orange juice, peach juice, lemon juice, apple juice, coconut milk ). At $2.48 a pop, I was only going to get one to try.  Since, the base of the drink was orange wine, which I'd never heard of, I chose the Orange Wine w/ Orange Juice.

I poured the wine cocktail into a glass when I got home.  The beverage was an artificially bright orange color reminiscent of the space drink Tang.  The flavor was nowhere near as sweet though.

My mouth was initially assaulted by a strong bitterness on the front of my tongue followed by a harsh medicine taste throughout my mouth.  It seriously took several drinks of water to get the disgusting flavor out of my mouth.

I give BuzzBallz Chillers Orange Wine w/ Orange Juice 1 out of 10 stars.  These "Ballz" are a form of punishment rather than a treat.

When I was on the Popcorn and Snack isle I saw a meat snack I was unfamiliar with.  The 1.5 oz Epic Bar: Venison w/ Sea Salt & Pepper appeared to be a venison based meat snack.  I found myself excited as my head filled with childhood memories of my father cleaning the carcass of the deer he'd shot.  Reading the ingredient list (100% Grass Fed Venison, Lactic Acid, Sea Salt, Celery Powder, Cracked Pepper, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder) intrigued me even more. 

I was expecting a savory gamy snack with a decent meaty chew.  While the three inch bar delivered the pleasant flavor of salt and pepper, the texture was completely off-putting.   My teeth met no resistance when I bit into the morsel.  The bar was initially soft, like a brownie.  As I chewed, the bite instantly crumbled into a mouthful of sand-like bits.    The feel of the bite sent an uncomfortable chill through me from head to, and I couldn't finish the rest of the $2 bar. 

I give the Epic Bar: Venison w/ Sea Salt & Pepper 3 out of 10 Stars.

Granted, these particular experiments didn't bare fruit.  Nonetheless, I maintain that such experiments are worthwhile.  I mean, we can't know what we like until we have it for the first time.