Thursday, December 1, 2022

The Steak Butter Bacon Cheeseburger Delivers a Sonic Boom of Flavor

Being the holidays, I've been watching my money closely so I can spread as much Christmas joy as possible.  However, after seeing multiple advertisements for Sonic's newest limited time offering, I finally had to have one.  Thus, I logged onto Grubhub and ordered the burger, cheese fries, and a drink from my local Sonic Drive-In at 7380 NE Butler Road in Hillsboro, Oregon.
| Subject: Steak Butter Bacon Cheeseburger | Date: 11/30/2022 |
| Photographers: Wondwossen Tekle & James Kiester |
| Permissions: This picture was taken for this blog |
The Steak Butter Bacon Cheeseburger consists of a beef patty basted with butter which has been made savory with steakhouse seasonings, two slices of American Cheese, bacon, grilled onions, and mayonnaise all served on a toasted bakery bun for $8.27.

When I unwrapped it, it looked pretty much like any fast-food burger; meat, cheese, bun; meh.  Yet, looks can be deceptive. 

Usually, when a hamburger chain lists multiple toppings for a new burger you can taste one or two of them and the others just sit there without pulling their weight.  It wasn't the case here.  As I ate, I could taste the crispy salty bacon.  The equally crispy grilled onions were sweet with just enough onion heat to add flavor without being overpowering.  Bringing up the rear, the mayonnaise and double dose of American Cheese provided balance to the sandwich by bringing two distinct kinds of creaminess to the party. 

My biggest pet peeve with fast-food burgers is, more times than not, all the flavor comes from the toppings and meat is merely a bland over-cooked platform for those toppings.  The Steak Butter Bacon Cheeseburger avoided that pitfall.  The seasoned butter added a savory spiciness to the patty, allowing the beef itself to contribute to the harmonious orchestra of flavors. 

Sonic's official description of the Steak Butter Bacon Cheeseburger mentions a "toasted bun."  If the bun had been toasted, it had only been very lightly toasted as to be imperceptible.  Although I can't imagine how such a bun could have made this burger better, the fact that they mentioned a toasted bun, which the sandwich didn't really deliver, is the only thing that keeps me from awarding this burger my top score.  Still, 9 out of 10 stars isn't bad at all.

Monday, October 10, 2022

Mold Can Be Beautiful When It Comes to Cheese


As I write this, yesterday (October 9th), was National Moldy Cheese Day.  I'd wanted to post this sooner, but my body had other plans.  Anyway, (channeling Ed Sulivan) on with the blog.


I have lots of friends who aren't into cheese.  When I bring up moldy cheese to one of my non-cheese-head friends (it's easier to introduce into conversation than one might think) I get the same, "Eeeeeewwwwww...," and puckered face.  That is, until I explain that moldy cheeses come in 2 types, soft-ripened and bleu AKA blue and hundreds, if not thousands, of cheeses fall into one of these 2 categories.  Many of my favorite cheeses belong to these categories, including; 

  • Brie and Camembert these soft ripened cheeses, are made by allowing white mold to grow on the outside of a soft cheese for a few days or weeks.   The process gives these cheeses their creamy textures and gives Brie its buttery flavor and Camembert its deep earthy flavor.  
  • Gorgonzola is named for the province of France, where it originated.  Gorgonzola's origin story is shrouded in mystery, likely never to be known. What is known is that Gorgonzola offers distinct flavor profiles, depending on its age.
    • Young Gorgonzola AKA Dolce (Sweet) Gorgonzola is aged between 3 months and 1 year. It offers a creamier texture than its counterpart is sweet on the tongue with notes of spice and an acidic finish.
    • Matured Gorgonzola Picante (Mountain Cheese) Gorgonzola is aged for a year, or longer, giving it its crumbly texture and its strong salty flavors.
    • Cambozola is my all-time favorite cheese, bar none. Milk added to a mixture of Picante Gorgonzola and Camembert Cheeses to produce a flavor balanced triple crème.
  • Stilton, known in England as the king of cheeses, must be made in one of the three counties of Derbyshire, Leicestershire, or Nottinghamshire. Stilton's creamy with a subtle, yeasty sweetness and a salty nutty finish.
    • Huntsman Cheese features layers of Stilton sandwiched between layers of Glucester (an orange colored, Cheddar-like cheese), making for a sharp, salty, and spreadible cheese. I like it on toast along with spicy scrambled egg and sweet fruit for breakfast.
  • Roquefort is made in the south of France. EU law dictates that only those cheeses aged in the natural Combalou caves of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon may bear the name Roquefort is tangy, crumbly and slightly moist, with distinctive veins of blue mold. It has a characteristic fragrance and flavor with a notable taste of butyric acid on the finish.

Like I said, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of such cheeses.  The cheeses listed are simply the cheeses which I'm most familiar with.  What about you?  Which moldy cheeses are among your favorites?  Leave your list in the comments below.  

Monday, September 5, 2022

Do Potato Chips Deliver A Big Crunch to Reese's Big Cups


I wasn’t going to write a food blog this week, I really wasn’t.  I've been trying to write a blog about the case against Trump.  I was shopping for groceries online though, when I stumbled upon something I'd not heard of.

| Subject: Reese's Peanut Butter Cups with Potato Chips |
| Date: 08/31/2022 |
| Photographers: Shelby Hester & James Kiester |
| Permissions: This picture was taken for this blog |
| Background removed at EXPRESS.ADOBE.COM |
I watch my fair share of TV, and it struck me as... interesting that I hadn't seen any commercials Reese's Peanut Butter Cups with Potato Chips.  Intrigued, I added a couple of packages to my cart.  I know Reese's released a version of their Peanut Butter Cups with pretzel pieces almost two years ago.  But those were the inevitable product of the popularity of Reese's Take 5 Bar (peanut butter, peanuts, and caramel stacked upon a pretzel base and covered in chocolate).  But this seemed different to me.

Like traditional Peanut Butter Cups, these come in packages of two cups for $1.99.  Marketed as "Big Cups," these cups are roughly the same diameter as their traditional predecessor but are noticeably thicker. 

A notable crunch was apparent from the first bite.  However, I didn't detect any saltiness, from the chips, until my second bite.  I can only conclude the potato chips were not distributed evenly throughout the peanut butter cup.  Nevertheless, once the saltiness arrived at the party it worked together with the sweet flavors of the chocolate and peanut butter to produce a well-balanced flavor profile. 

Back when its pretzel baring counterpart was released, commercials for them were numerous.  Thus, one can only speculate as to why these haven't been marketed as vigorously.  Perhaps, they're still being test marketed.  In any case, my only real problem with these was the uneven distribution of potato chips. I'd give Reese's Peanut Butter Cups with Potato Chips 8 out of 10 stars.

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

What There Is to Love About "Fried Egg - I'm In Love"

Well, I'm back, yes again.  I'd just got the proverbial stone rolling again when I became delirious with fever.  After spending six weeks in the hospital and two weeks settling into my new place, a good friend of mine took me downtown for some badly needed R&R.
| Subject: Fried Egg: I'm in Love food cart, | Date: 08/06/2021 |
| Photographers: James Kiester & Shelby Hester | 
| Permissions: This picture was taken for use on this blog." |
Click image for a larger view of their menu.
We took the MAX (Portland's commuter train) to the city, arriving at Pioneer Courthouse Square at 10:30am.  The Square is a brick courtyard in the heart of the city.  Nicknamed, "Portland's living room," the brick amphitheater hosts a variety of concerts, festivals, and exhibitions.  In fact, the day we were there, an exhibit of Chinese culture was underway complete with tanggu drums and ceremonial dancers.  However, that's not why we were there.

Above the square on one side are rows of food carts.  At the end of the top row, adjacent to the square's Starbuck's, sits a bright yellow food cart labeled, "Fried Egg - I'm In Love."  My friend, Shelby, had eaten from the cart before and insisted that I'd love it, enticing me with the claim, "the yolks on the fried egg sandwiches are runny." 

| Subject: Yolko Ono sandwich |
| Date: 08/06/2021 |
| Photographers: James Kiester & Shelby Hester |
| Permissions: Picture taken for this blog." |
My one complaint about popular fast-food egg sandwiches is that the yolks are cooked so hard that it doesn't taste like an egg.  For me, much of the flavor of an egg comes from the soft runny yolk.  Thus, I was intrigued. 

By the time we arrived, the line was a good thirty people deep.  I held our place in line while Shelby bought us drinks at Starbuck's.  Then, she held our spot while I found us a table or bench where we could eat.  Thirty minutes after getting in line, we were able to order at which time we were told our food would be ready in thirty minutes.  I saw one man give up his place in line, without ordering. 

All their sandwiches come on toasted sour dough bread and contain a fried egg.  I had the "Yolko Ono," consisting of; the aforementioned fried egg, homemade pesto, parmesan, and a hand-pressed house sausage patty; on two slices of the equally aforementioned sour dough toast for $8.00. 

I know, it looks like one of Sonic's sour dough burgers.  That's where the similarity ends.  The first thing I noticed, upon biting, was the crunch of toast followed quickly by the earthy spiciness of the pesto.  As I continued to eat, the sausage and the parmesan brought pleasant savory flavors to the party.  As for the egg, it was cooked over-medium.  Thus, the yolk wasn't runny per se.  However, the yolk was soft enough to be flavorful. 

Being a vegetarian, Shelby ordered the "Free Range Against the Machine" which features; avocado, tomato, and Havarti cheese; in addition to the egg and toast slices for $6.75.  Shelby had them add the "Aardvark Aioli" for $1.25 bringing the price of her order equal to mine, at $8.00.

I tried a bite of hers.  I instantly got hit with a powerful kick of spiciness from the aioli, much spicier than my pesto.  Yet, the sweetness of the tomato and richness of the avocado still came through providing a welcome balance. 

I do think they could streamline things to keep the line moving.  From the time I got in line, it took me an hour to get my food.  Perhaps having someone giving paper menus to, and taking orders from, people in line would speed things along.

I was favorably impressed by "Fried Egg - I'm In Love's" food.  Both sandwiches deserve 8.5 out of 10 stars.  Their serving process needs work.  Still..., if you're not in a hurry, one of these sandwiches makes a pretty filling breakfast. 

Bonus Review:
| Subject: Punch Bowl Social's sign |
| Date: 08/06/2021 | Photographers: James Kiester & Shelby Hester |
| Permissions: This picture was taken for use on this blog." |

It was sunny and warm, so we decided to do some shopping.  After a few hours we decided to see Thor 4.  Since we had some time to kill before the movie, and since there was a bar one floor down from the theater, we figured a libation was in order.  

Punch Bowl Social is a bar and restaurant occupying the entire third floor of Pioneer Place Mall's southeast wing.  When we arrived, around 3pm, the massive establishment had, maybe, a dozen customers.  I ordered a regular lime Margarita and Shelby ordered a strawberry Margarita.  10 minutes later, our drinks arrived.  To be fair, mine was tinted green and hers was tinted pink.  However, those were the last hints of limes or strawberries to be found.  Both our drinks tasted like watered down tequila on the rocks.  The manager did graciously take one drink off our bill, so we got out of there only having to pay $10.  I'll never go back.  I have to give Punch Bowl Social 2 out of 10 stars.  I only gave them a 2, instead of a 1 because I like their smiles.