Stories involving area restaurants, cooking or related subjects

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Welcome To National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day....

Since every day is apparently national SOMETHING day (yesterday it involved pets), today we honor melted cheese between two slices of bread: National Grilled Cheese Sandwich day.

I always wondered who decides these things, because there’s a national day for just about every kind of food, animal or occupation imaginable. And there are far more than 365 foods, animals or occupations, so clearly there’s some overlap.

I struggle with grilled cheese because if I’m going to invest a lot of cheese, a flour-based product like bread and grill/bake it, I’m going to  make a pizza. It’s is nature’s perfect food, and why mess with what God has already perfected?

But there are times when a toasted grilled cheese sandwich – served with a mandatory bowl of tomato soup – can be pleasing. My issue, as is the case with everything I cook, is I use too many ingredients. I have to have significant amounts of American cheese, swiss cheese, cheddar cheese, and if I have any in the refrigerator, provolone. As a separator, I will put a thin slice of ham between the various types of cheese, and occasionally will even add a few thin slices of pepperoni.

See? I end up making a pizza again.

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08
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Looks Like I've Found A New Pizza Home At Rubino's

I will be the first to admit, I am brand loyal. If I start going to a place and things go well, I don’t consider other options. I’ve been with Comcast through good and bad since 1986. Been with AT&T from the time it was AT&T, to when it became Cingular, to when it went back to being AT&T. Same with banks, auto repair places, grocery stores…you get the idea.

I am also that way with pizza places. I had a professor in graduate school who once asked what product Domino’s sold; everyone looked around like he was crazy and said “pizza, of course.” He told us we all were wrong...the product Domino’s sold wasn’t pizza, it was delivery. With that chain, his theory went, the pizza didn’t need to be perfect because it beat all of its competitors in one category: they brought it to your door for free.

This obviously was 30 years ago, but his point was made. There are places you go purely for the pizza. And there are places you go because it’s cheap and convenient. They are not the same place.

In our family we will use the chains when there’s a 50 percent off deal (which Papa John’s seems to have every night if a Washington team wins) if we’re having one of those “what do you want to eat for dinner?” conversations. But if we want good pizza – and Friday night is always pizza night for us because our daughter decides she will leave her wonderful apartment on the other size of town and come visit at the very moment the pizza enters our front door – we have been going to Ledo’s.

We discovered it a couple of years ago after we moved here and were driving around Leesburg. I walked in and noticed a large family around a circular table in the back near the window. One of them was Redskins Coach Steve Spurrier and I figured if this place was good enough for him to bring his entire family, it was worth trying.

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Eating Some Of These Sandwiches WILL Make You A Po' Boy

While waiting for the Nationals’ home opener to start, I found myself browsing through Twitter, reading of everyone’s experiences in the cold downtown near the Navy Yard. Over about a 10-minute timespan, the pics you see at the top were posted, and you couldn’t help but notice the contrast.

On the left are pics posted by The Washington Post’s Scott Allen, whose assignment today was to go around and sample all the new foods, with no worry of their cost. Today, it was good to be Scott Allen. But Scott, while giving his reviews of the culinary offerings, also posted signs that showed the prices. Scott posted another pic of his meal of a Nashville hot chicken sandwich and some mac and cheese, and while I’m sure it was wonderful, it looked no different than what I could get at Chick-Fil-A.

According to my math, Scott paid $22 for those two items. Usually when I spend that much for an entrée’ at lunch, they bring a steak knife and serve it with dishes like potatoes lyonnaise. Dire Straights must have been thinking about this meal when they sang, "Money for nothing and the (Nashville Hot) Chicken ain't free"...or something like that.

While these pics were coming over Twitter, the pic at right from Augusta National was posted. There is no more exclusive ticket on the planet than going to see The Masters. They could literally charge whatever they wanted and people would pay it. But they don’t. The make a fair profit and leave it at that. Just like when you would go anywhere in the South, a sandwich is 3 bucks. A drink is 2 bucks, etc., etc.

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Might As Well Turn Those Easter Eggs Into Something...

It’s the day after Easter, which means you need to get two things done today: One is go buy up all the half-priced chocolate. The other is to turn those hard-boiled Easter eggs into something edible, assuming you refrigerated them after all that decorating.

I turned mine into deviled eggs, mainly because it’s very simple, and the people in my house scarf them down like eggs will no longer be available on earth at the end of the day.

Here’s how to make them: Peel them, chop them in half, and put all the yokes into a mixing bowl (a slight push on the bottom of the round part of the egg will pop it out like a lost contact lens. When  you’ve done that to all the eggs, take a fork and mash them until they look more like a powder than an egg.

I add a little minced onion to give the deviled egg some texture. Just take a small amount of onion, chop it until you think you’ve chopped it enough, then go back and chop it two more times. You want a hint of onion, not chunks like it’s chicken salad. Add an equal mixture of mustard and mayonnaise and mix it up thoroughly. I add about 3 or 4 drops of Sriracha into the mix to give it a slight hint of heat (i.e., the devil in deviled eggs) and a subtle smoky flavor. If you decide to do this, be careful. The difference between 3 drops and 5 drops can be the difference between subtle flavor and your mouth on fire. It’s in a squeeze bottle, and I have seen people in my own house give the bottle a firm squeeze and unintentionally put enough Sriracha into a recipe to burn the house down. So you’ve been warned.

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Just A Little Light Dessert After A Great Easter Meal

Usually at holidays, I post food pictures on Facebook. But I'm not on Facebook any more.

So I guess I'll just have to do it here. This is a chocolate dome cake, filled with chocolate mousse, topped by an Easter bunny face with M&Ms for eyes and a nose.

As a friend noted, the bunny seems to have fear in its eyes. And well it should :)

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