The Hungry Man Eats

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Red Lobster: Food Looks Fancier When Stacked

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Does the picture of the Crab Bake above from Red Lobster make your mouth water? If not, then perhaps the discussion to come about Red Lobster will not be your thing, go read my review on my other site about the Italiano Burger from Olive Garden instead…

Those of you in the know have probably heard by now that Darden Restaurants, best known as the parent company of such sit down casual restaurants such as, the Olive Garden and Longhorn Steakhouse has sold off the Red Lobster chain of restaurants. Red Lobster had been considered the weak link in Darden’s restaurant operations and supposedly Darden will be in a better position now that the sale is complete.

The new CEO Kim Lopdrup had some interesting things to say:

  • He is of the opinion that Red Lobster is still viewed as “fine dining for the middle class”.
  • About the new presentation of their plated dishes: “The food arranged in a way that’s more like you’d see at a fine-dining restaurant,” Lopdrup said. “The seafood is the star.”(Check out the link to the news story for pics of the food plating)
  • “At the end of the day, people are not going to go a Chipotle for their anniversary or their birthday.”
  • The number of non-seafood items will be reduced from the current quarter of menu items, to more like 10-15% of the menu.
  • They will do away with some of the recent promotions they have had that made their food look cheap (but still keep beloved promotions such as Crabfest and endless shrimp)

As a longtime patron of Red Lobster, what does the Hungry Man think?

  • If by fine dining for the middle class means decent quality seafood that does not cost an arm and a leg (or a fin and a flipper) but still has steak available, then yes. But one of the complaints I heard while these discussions were ongoing about whether to spin off Red Lobster was that Red lobster was too pricy for less affluent people, too low-class for the rich and no longer the first choice for the middle class. The dining out landscape has changed dramatically in the past 20 years, the bar has been raised on people’s expectations and Red Lobster is still partying like it is 1994.
  • This point was the one that amused me and spurred me to write this up. Spread out it looks like a bigger plate of food, but it sure looks fancier stacked like that… The key point though for me is that your food will stay warmer longer that way and we all know how quickly seafood cools off.
  • You are correct sir. Places like Chipotle and Panera are the industry darlings currently, but they are not good choices for actually going out somewhere to eat for a sit down experience. They call them fast casual restaurants because you order and grab your food like it was fast food, but if you are eating in at a place like Panera, your food is given to you on real plates with silverware, no server to tip. Chipotle however is basically glorified fast food, and their restaurants, if you have the misfortune to actually have to eat in one are loud, crowded and have a worse ambiance then my high school cafeteria. The quality of the food is the only thing Chipotle has going for them, and it is good food. But neither one is a good place to go out with the family, or trying to impress someone on a first date, compared to Red Lobster at least.
  • If you call your restaurant Red Lobster, then seafood should be the focus, diverting your time and attention to the people who did not come to Red Lobster to eat seafood is folly. Rather than having a quarter of your menu filled with middling non seafood offerings, make those 10-15% you do keep the very best non-seafood items you have, goodbye Parmesan Crusted Chicken Alfredo…
  • Pricing of your dishes is important, price something too high and nobody will buy it, it is overpriced. Price it just right and people will buy it. Have a coupon for two bucks off of said dish and people will believe they got a good deal, but price and promote something too low and people will believe they are getting a low quality item. People would rather have a deal than cheap food.

I wish Red Lobster the best of luck and call me old fashioned, but given the choice of Chipotle, Panera and Red Lobster as places to eat, I would rather pay more and enjoy a decent sit down meal at Red Lobster.

 

Nothing Good Comes From Eating Lots of Food at the Hospital

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     Normally, the Hungry Man is more than happy to eat out, and the chance to eat out at a restaurant multiple times in a row would be a great opportunity to try multiple things on the menu. You know how it is, you find something you like but you also find two or three other dishes that you would have been happy to try out.

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      Unfortunately when the restaurant in question is the junior board café at the hospital, and your reason for eating there repeatedly is because a loved one is in the hospital where said café is located, you would rather be eating anywhere else in the world. Or you would prefer going hungry for that matter as long as it meant you had no reason to need to be there let alone there long enough for 10 meals.
      It all starts off well enough on the first full day, there were some reasons to be optimistic as well as some reasons to be pessimistic, but the morning is brutal and the coffee they served did little to help matters as it only makes you jumpy on top of the tired nervousness you already have. By the time you realize you are hungry and join your mom in the café for the first of the ten meals is has slipped past 11a.m. and it is actually lunch. The ham and cheese wrap (pictured above) tastes good and makes the hunger you felt, but had no appetite to try to resolve go away. You are pleased with the generous side of plain potato chips. About 7 hours later, dinner occurs and the club sandwich is almost as good as the wrap you had for lunch (-1 point for their club sandwiches being “traditional”, and thus lacking cheese).
      Day 2 takes you offsite for lunch with some family friends, the afternoon is beautiful so you eat outside and enjoy one of the best club sandwiches and potato salad combos you have ever had. It probably tastes so good because A: It is a balmy 80 degrees outside rather than the chill 68 at the hospital, and B: it makes you feel like things are normal for about 80 minutes of your life before reality comes crashing back in. The cheeseburger and fries are recommended by your brother, so you do so with the works. You realize that the pickle slices they have been serving with everything are surprisingly delicious.
      Day 3 is starts crappy but ends on a high note, the first conclusive test for whether your dad is going to have a smooth recovery comes back looking poorly, although the body is bouncing back as well as could be expected from the massive heart attack which struck late afternoon on the 4th of July, it appears that the brain has been damaged, possibly badly. Your ham and cheese wrap for lunch is missing the cheese, but it really doesn’t matter. Dinner is another club sandwich (pictured below), this time on wheat in the main cafeteria as your niece insisted on dining there (with lots of chips both meals). Your dinner sits well as it appears that your dad may be responding to basic commands and he has been receiving nutrition.

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       Day 4 erases much of the positivity of the day before, a setback has occurred and there will be no new scan today, sedation is the only activity for the day. The thrill of possibly eating your way through the menu has given way to the comfort of the familiar, a ham and cheese wrap at lunch and a club sandwich for dinner. You are beginning to get tired of all the chips, and even if you combined all of the chips you have consumed so far into one big chip, it would not be as big as the one that is now on your shoulder given your frustration over how things are going. But at least you did not bite off the tip of the plastic sword that held your club sandwich quarter together like you did the night before and have to spit out the whole bite because you could not distinguish the sword tip from the crisp bacon and did not want to make a mess in front of your brother’s in-laws.
       Day 5 was not a good day either as we began to come to terms with the reality that the brain damage was severe as the second EEG showed. At that point my dad’s brain function was in the lowest quartile of activity, and unless the next day showed improvement, there was no waking up from this, either my dad to awareness or me from the nightmare I had been living from 5:27 p.m. July 4th. Ham and cheese wrap for lunch (but you knew that already didn’t you…) and a cheeseburger for dinner, meal number 10 as it was, but this time with bacon added because bacon makes everything better, right?
      Day 6 was unfolding as I was back home for two days to work some and regain some sanity. It became the second worst day of my life as the news was indeed bad, there was no improvement in brain function and basically no hope. Baked four cheese ziti leftovers from the Olive Garden were lunch, my parents had been there the previous week and my mom hates leftovers, they were for my dad to eat, but that was my job now it seemed. A salami and cheese sandwich was dinner as passing out from hunger on the drive back and wrecking would be a lousy way to get back to the hospital to see my dad for the last time ever as palliative care would commence after my visit.
      Day 7, the worst day. There was no meal 11 for lunch, no ham and cheese wrap to be consumed. No chance to review the hospital food with my dad as he recovered as I had hoped. My dad passed away peacefully at 5:56 a.m. Friday July 11th. There will always be an empty place at the dinner table that can never ever be filled.

 

Uncle Julio’s Fine Mexican Food

Ceviche

I recently had the good fortune to have dinner out with friends at Uncle Julio’s. Uncle Julio’s describes themselves as a “border style Mexican food” restaurant. It’s a chain, but not a very big one with only 19 locations, most in Texas, Virginia and Illinois.

Their website states ”The combination of Mexican cooking expertise with fresh, locally grown Texan ingredients created a new style of fare that is far from what you find elsewhere as “Tex-Mex.” Uncle Julio’s is proud to stay close to its Mexican heritage by offering high-quality fare that mirrors the original cooked up by cowboys on the plains a century ago.” Okay Uncle Julio’s, we will take you at your word that you are a “border style Mexican food” restaurant, but your description basically screams that you are a “Tex-Mex” restaurant. Perhaps that is just your fancy way of telling us that you would prefer to be called a “Mex-Tex” restaurant? Or maybe you’re just disappointed that “On the Border” was already taken.

Enough discussion about the name and how they describe themselves, let’s talk about the food.

In my opinion, the standout dish they serve at Uncle Julio’s is their fajitas. They include beef or chicken (or both with the combo) sautéed peppers and onions, guacamole, pico de gallo, Mexican rice, frijoles a la charra and cheese and sour cream (which cost extra). The fajitas for one cost $19.79 for the combo plus cheese and sour cream. The same combo I the fajitas for two costs $34.99, but the serving size on the fajitas for one is actually plenty for two people, especially if you have been partaking in the free chips and salsa they provide. I strongly recommend getting the beef only version as the chicken has a tendency to be a bit gristly and it is also cooked with the skin on. That will help with keeping it moist, but it is not so good to eat. Also, the beef is just that good that it is well worth choosing over the chicken because it is really tender and flavorful beef. If you get the combo you will just find yourself wishing you had more beef and fighting your tablemates over the last strip of beef.

I mentioned the chips and salsa, and they serve one of the top salsas I have had, it is not a chunky salsa and some people may find it to be a bit on the runny side, but it has one of the best flavors of any salsa I have tried. Be warned that one of its main flavors is cilantro, so if you are not fond of cilantro, than you will not be a fan of this salsa.

I usually get the fajitas and share them with whomever I come with but this trip I ended up getting a soup and an appetizer and calling it my dinner.

I started with a bowl of shrimp and lobster soup. This was their soup of the day on the Friday I was there and it is not clear if they serve this soup everywhere or not as they made no mention of it on their main website. They were generous with the seafood and the soup had some nice spicy kick to it that would be especially great on a cold winter day.

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For my main dish I ordered the Ceviche Royale (pictured above) which contains shrimp, scallops and tilapia, along with tomatoes, onions and cilantro marinated with lime and lemon juice. It comes with some large tortilla chips to pile the ceviche on. Unfortunately I am no ceviche aficionado, as this dish is the only place I have had it, so I can’t really say how it measures up compared to other recipes and restaurants, I just know that I find this dish to be a delicious alternative to the fajitas.

Uncle Julio’s also has some fine drink choices, they are known for a drink called the Swirl which is a frozen margarita/sangria combo. Their margaritas are also good, either on the rocks or frozen and they have a reasonable selection of Mexican Beer (I chose Pacifico the evening I went)

If you find yourself equidistant between an Uncle Julio’s and an authentic Mexican place, go to the authentic Mexican place. But for a chain restaurant, Uncle Julio’s more than holds their own and they are usually rather large (and noisy) and can easily accommodate large groups. They also have outdoor seating (at least at the locations I have been to) and if you can score an outdoor table on a nice day that alone makes everything taste that much better.

Hungry Man Eats Score 82/100

Why Didn’t I Think of That? Volume 1

Like most people, if you have ever spent much time in the kitchen, you have looked to push the boundaries of your everyday culinary experience. You have wondered such things like: “What would happen if I put both ham and turkey in this sandwich? Or perhaps: “What would it taste like if I used chocolate milk instead of regular milk to pour into my bowl of Cocoa Krispies?

Well, the foods and companies and people discussed below have pushed the boundaries in awesome and delicious ways that I wish I had thought of first…

• There is a food truck based out of Orange County, California called GDBROTRUCK that is already renowned for their hamburgers, but they have recently come up with a new spin on the old classic that combines a hamburger and all its assorted fixins with a bread bowl. The folks on the website foodbeast.com have all the delicious details right here.

• Have you ever been feeling really tired and wanted a boost a caffeine to wake you up, but were also craving beef jerky at the same time but were disgusted by the thought of having beef jerky with your coffee? Well worry no more! Perky Jerky is here to satisfy your needs! They have added guarana to the jerky which has almost twice the caffeine as coffee beans, you know you just want to click the link above and find out more…
• How many of you worker drones out there would love to have a keg in the office? Ha ha, got you, not that type of keg but an iced coffee keg! A New York City based company called Joyride has created just such an invention, regrettably for the rest of us, the only provide coffee distribution services in New York City and San Francisco.

Check back in a while for Volume 2 and beyond…

Le Pain Quotidien: A Tale of Two Restaurants

Smoked Salmon and Scallion Omelet

For those of you not in the know, “Le Pain Quotidien” is French for “The Daily Bread”. It is a European style restaurant with communal tables as well as some standard single party tables. A specialty of the restaurant is their fresh baked bread, but really all of their food is fresh and delicious.

So what exactly is up with that title? You’ll see soon enough…

Restaurant #1: Le Pain Quotidien: Delicious Food and a Warm Atmosphere

I have been to Le Pain Quotidien four times now for breakfast with a friend and the majority of the time it has been a delightful place to grab a meal. Each time I have been there has been for breakfast/brunch, so I have not yet had an opportunity to try their lunch and dinner style meals. They have some excellent omelets and I have had the good fortune to try their ham and Gruyere omelet as well as their smoked salmon and scallion omelet which is pictured at the top. Their omelets come out with a small side of greens with a vinaigrette style dressing on top, a small container of what I believe is fresh sour cream and two slices of their fresh bread, a portion of one of their baguettes and a slice of their wheat/sourdough style bread.

They do a great job with their beverages as well, their fresh orange juice tastes like it was fresh squeezed and their coffee is towards the top of my list for great tasting coffee coming from a sit down restaurant, a hot pot of their coffee goes great with any of their breakfast items and their iced coffee/latte more than holds its own flavor wise, see that work of art below…

There is a reason I have been to Le Pain Quotidien four times now, it all about their fresh food and quality ingredients. It’s one of those places where I am confident I could order anything off of their menu and enjoy it.

LPQ Iced coffee

Restaurant #2: Le Pain Quotidien: Why Do You Hate Your Customers?

I have been to Le Pain Quotidien four times now for breakfast with a friend and the majority of the time it has been a delightful place to grab a meal. Regrettably only on three of those occasions was I served food…the fourth time they could not be troubled to acknowledge the existence of my friend and I as we sat outside for 22 minutes before we gave up on them and went to Starbucks instead. Its one thing to move along to another place to eat if the first place is full and they have no room for you, but it is a failure on the part of the restaurant if you show up and have to leave because they have not succeeded in their mission to feed you.

The only thing that would give Le Pain Quotidien even the slightest excuse for their failure would be that it was Mother’s Day, however we took a quick peek inside to see how busy were and they were only about two-thirds full at 10:00 am. And even then, if it is Mother’s Day and you are open for breakfast, you better be properly staffed, otherwise you did a crappy job of being ready for the day.

Le Pain Quotidien is one of those restaurants where you seat yourself, for better or worse, it is up to the wait staff to be on the ball to know that you are there and somebody new rather than the people who are responsible for the dirty dishes that are still on the table from the last occupants that they have let sit for 20 minutes.

On the day we weren’t served, we did choose to sit outside where they had three tables, one was clear, one was occupied and one was still cluttered with the dishes of the previous party. At a minimum we figured that somebody would be out just to clear the dirty tables, especially when the occupied table left a few minutes after we arrived. No such thing, they must not have needed the dishes and silverware too bad as nobody appeared…

Of the three occasions we did get served, twice the service was great, interestingly on those two occasions we were there around 9:00 am, the poor service seems to be a bit later in the morning when the crowds pick up a bit more. When I say bad service though it wasn’t that the server was rude, sick or incompetent, it was that they were slow, slow in all stages from drink orders to bill arrival.

For a restaurant that hypes up its communal atmosphere wants to be the place you come to relax and enjoy food, it has the most unhappy looking customers of any restaurant I go to, perhaps because they are enduring some level of staff neglect.

I went and did some research to see if other people have had the same sorts of problems. As of May 19, 2014, there were 30 reviews on Yelp for the location I went to adding up to an average rating of only three stars. The breakdown is as follows:

5 Stars – 3

4 Stars – 10

3 Stars – 5

2 Stars – 6

1 Star – 6

Of the 30 reviews, 7 of them dinged the service in some way, but 8 of the reviews had complimentary things to say about the service, most of the lower ratings were for service issues, most of the higher ratings praised the food (and the service as well in a few cases).

So how about the food? We covered the good above, so here is the not so good: It is on the pricey side for what you get and serving size seems wildly inconsistent. I have had three omelets, and none of them have been the same size, the one pictured up top is the largest one I have been served, the smallest one looked like it came from a kids menu. The plate of food above was a $13.75 meal, the pot of coffee was another $3.50. Also on one of the visits, my friend selected their French toast. It was made from their sourdough wheat and when it came out it looked like something you would have seen on the cover of Gourmet magazine, it looked like it was going to be the best French toast ever. Regrettably, it tasted like you licked a magazine page, it was rather flavorless and blah, my friend sent it back.

When it comes down to it, it looks like the service is what makes or breaks your experience at Le Pain Quotidien, hope you get the first restaurant experience from above, but if it appears like you are actually getting the second experience instead, I’m sure there is a Starbucks nearby that would be happy to have you.

http://www.lepainquotidien.com/

 

Starbucks Ham & New York Cheddar Sandwich

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Once more unto the breach! I have had success with Starbucks sandwich selections before, their the BLT Chicken Salad Sandwich,and their Egg Salad Sandwich, so I decided to sample their Ham and New York Cheddar Sandwich to see if it was worth my time and money.

Whereas the first two sandwiches were salad style sandwiches that would require additional prep work before even reaching the point where the filling would meet the bread, a ham and cheese sandwich requires little more than assembling your ingredients between two slices of bread. This can be an endeavor fraught with difficulty, and a thoughtless distribution of the ingredients could be all the difference between a transcendent mingling of the ingredients in your mouth and the culinary equivalent of having your tongue slapped by a scorned lover. Even matters as simple as the layering of ingredients in your sandwich can make or break your sandwich. I don’t know about you, but when I have a sandwich, I prefer to have my cheese layer on top of my meat layer. It’s just always been my preference, I think it is because I prefer the meat to be the first thing I taste in a bite followed by the cheese as the secondary flavor along with the other ingredients. I remember this one time where I got a sandwich that had the cheese layer on the bottom and the meat layer on top, I was very worried about how my sandwich was possibly ruined. I looked at how difficult it might be to take the sandwich apart and get the meat and cheese layers in their proper sequence, when I suddenly realized my problem. The poor befuddled clerk and given me my sandwich upside down! Oh how I laughed! I turned the sandwich over, wondered how the poor clerk had managed such a silly blunder and enjoyed my sandwich. Note in the picture above the sandwich half on the left is in its proper upright position, but the sandwich half on the right is askew (must have come that way from the sandwich factory).

Well enough of that tomfoolery, how was the Ham and New York Cheddar Sandwich?

They describe it as: “This sandwich brings out the ham in Gotham, the apple mustard from the Big Apple. But the featured attraction here is the New York Cheddar cheese, soft but oh-so-sharp. It’s all a nod to one of the world’s great cities between two tasty slices of cider wheat bread.”

The flowery words stand in great contrast to the pedestrian everydayness of the sandwich. The ham a very basic baked ham that had no smokiness, no honeyed overtones and was a minor flavor contributor to the sandwich that bears this ingredients name. The New York Cheddar cheese only really brought forth its cheddaryness when I tore off a corner of it and sampled it in isolation. The apple mustard was where the flavor was and I was left wanting more of it, it was the flavor highlight. The arugula was good too, the stereotypical pepperiness of it came through and played well with the other ingredients. The wheat bread more than succeeded in doing its job of keeping the sandwiches innards from escaping and making a mess, and was fresh too. The arugula distribution within the sandwich was something that made me laugh, and then sadly chuckle as I rearranged it properly, see the pic below…

Arugula

I paid $5.99 for this sandwich, and was unimpressed. When you have an everyday style sandwich made in mass quantities for a retailer like this, you will get an everyday unexciting sandwich as a result. What you should do is march on over to your nearest grocery store, buy the variety ham that sounds good to you, buy the variety cheddar cheese that also sounds good to you, a mustard of your choice and some fresh lettuce too and a loaf of bread to hold it all and then make a weeks’ worth of sandwiches from the aforementioned ingredients and enjoy a more flavorful and far cheaper experience.

If you are out at Starbucks and find yourself craving a ham and cheese sandwich, do yourself a favor and grab a BLT Chicken Salad Sandwich instead or order one of their breakfast sandwiches with ham as an alternative.

The Year Ahead

Last time I wrote about the year that was on this site and today I will share some of what I hope to do in the year ahead.
• Be more timely and regular with my posts. It goes like this, you stumble across an awesome blog with entries you enjoy reading, then you check back again the next day, nothing new. Ok, then you check back in a few days and still nothing new, I bet if you check a third time and there is still nothing new, you will probably not check back again. I would prefer you come, stay awhile, and visit often. I better have something new to serve you if you do…
• Write more! In addition to being more timely and regular with my posts, I hope to post more often than I have been.
• Be more interesting. There are two types of entries you see a lot on food blogs out there: Recipes and restaurant reviews, both have their place and can be interesting, helpful and delicious, but I hope to provide you with more unique material beyond yet another gluten free brownie recipe or a review for I restaurant I went to but you live 2000 miles away from and will never get to experience.
Ok, great, so you gave us a list of promises that sound a lot like New Year’s resolutions, what types of interesting stuff are you going to post about? I’m glad you asked…
• Food and its impact on society, what are we eating today, what are we eating tomorrow and what kind of an impact is it having on you, you country and the world.
• Vintage recipes, that gluten free brownie recipe tastes pretty good I’m sure but I am far more interested in that 45 year old brownie recipe on page 138 of that Betty Crocker cookbook and the other curiosities that are lurking in its pages.
• Vintage food magazines, I recently acquired an assortment of old Food and Wine magazines from the 1980’s, I already see hours and hours of entertaining analysis and reviews to come.
• Food history and trends in general from discussions as lofty and the rise(and possible fall?) of salmonella in eggs and corn syrup in soda to matters as trivial and entertaining as olive loaf and why you can’t find a bottle of creamy cucumber salad dressing.
I have some ambitious plans for the year ahead, will I bite off more than I can chew or will I find the recipe for success? Let’s find out together…

 

The Hungry Man Eats Turns 1 This Week, Happy Birthday!

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On April 24th , The Hungry Man Eats will be a year old! Break out the bubbly and a cake!

It has been an interesting first year of writing and posting things, with a few surprises along the way.

So let’s do one of those ever so popular reviews of the year that was taking a look at some of the highlights and lowlights, starting from the beginning:

  • Although my first post was April 24th it was just an introduction with a promise of more exciting things to come, my first actual post about food was on April 29th when I talked all about the dinner I had at Medieval Times.
  • It didn’t take too long for things to get entertaining, on May 27th I posted my opinion on the Starbucks Chicken BLT Salad Sandwich, and that got people’s attention, it only took a few weeks for it to become my most popular post at that point in time.
  • On May 27th, I posted an awesome recipe for homemade hamburgers, grilling season is rapidly approaching and you should check it out even now…
  • On June 26th, I talked about blue cheese and have been told by people that it was one of my more entertaining posts as it had more of my writing voice come through, check it out for a chuckle or two.
  • On July 2nd, I delighted the internet when I posted my recipe for my version of the Starbucks Chicken BLT Salad Sandwich. I look at what draws people to my site and my first post about the chicken salad sandwich was the main draw at that point, but it offered little more than a review of the sandwich. I decided that perhaps people would be even more interested in a recipe that attempts to duplicate the Starbucks version. As it turns out, around 60% of the people who have visited my site since May 27th have been drawn to it because of my posts about the Chicken BLT Salad Sandwich. That’s the highlight and lowlight in one, a highlight because they are the most popular posts by far, but a bit of a lowlight as it appears that if it wasn’t for a Starbucks sandwich I wouldn’t have very many visitors…
  • On September 25th, I tried to catch lightning in a bottle again and wrote about a different Starbucks sandwich, their egg salad sandwich. On the popularity scale: chicken salad>>>>>egg salad.
  • Although it’s not a post, around this time I discovered the funniest search engine search that led somebody to my site even to the present: “thoughts while eating steak”
  • On October 9th I had my best title for a post: “I’ve Been Looking so Long at These Pictures of Food That I Almost Believe That They’re Real” If you can tell me why this title is as amusing as it is, then props to you, you are from my generation.
  • Around Thanksgiving I created another site at http://thehungrymaneats.wordpress.com/ The reason for doing so is boring and complicated and not worth going into here, but I have even more stuff I’ve written about over there.
  • Shortly after Christmas I wrote about Christmas Sticky Buns, AKA Monkey Bread and posted another delicious recipe.
  • On February 9th I presented my thoughts on Martinis, what made this one interesting was that I had nearly three Martinis, and then sat down to write the post. For a 988 word post with that much booze in me it went surprisingly well, the most egregious error that I made among the errors I needed to correct later was calling Glenfidditch a gin 🙁

So here we are in the present again, soon I will write about what I hope to do over the next year on this and my other site, until then, happy eating!

100 Montaditos: Gotta Catch ‘Em All!

100 Montaditos

I am pleased to announce the arrival of a new restaurant near my work and even more pleased to have sampled some of their wares. The restaurant? 100 Montaditos! One of my co-workers who has a daughter attending the University of Miami had been to one of their numerous locations in Miami and loved the place. So last summer she heard that a location was to open not too far from our workplace and she kept an ear to the ground and an eye on the place and then lo and behold they finally opened this Monday. It took little convincing to make the trek and try them out…

 
So just what is a montadito? It’s most basic definition is: small sandwich. Expanding on the description a bit, it is a canapé style tapa consisting of a small sliced roll filled or topped with pork, ham, tuna, etc. The restaurants definition can be found here.

 
Why the name 100 Montaditos? Well, check out their menu, there are 100 sandwich varieties (5 of which are dessert style montaditos) offered not counting their other offerings like salads, appetizers and other platters. They also have some reasonably priced beer, wine and sangria offerings as well as some happy hour specials.

 
For my first trip there I had the good fortune to try these four montaditos:
• #22 Tuna, hard-boiled egg, piparra (mild pepper from Spain) and mayo
• #54 Garlic pork loin, brie cheese and bacon
• #65 Serrano ham, mozzarella and pesto
• #80 Anchovies, manchego cheese, piquillo pepper, arugula and mayo

 
#22 was a bit dry, they used a light hand with the mayo and the unadorned tuna was not the moistest I have had, but the peppers added a small bit of pep to the proceedings.
#54 was not very garlicky but the pork was tender and the bacon and brie were good compliments to the pork.
#65 had an excellent flavor with the ham and mozzarella combo, but they added so little pesto that its main contribution was its green color rather than any significant flavor.
#80 had exactly the flavor you would expect from a 3 ½ inch long sandwich than contained 4 anchovy fillets, a true salt and unami bomb and more than a little oil got out to coat my bread. The piquillo peppers were a good balance to the anchovies, but unless you are a true anchovy lover, this sandwich may be a bit much for you.
There are so many other options (96 more montaditos!) to try that I won’t be bothered at all if I happen to not like one as much, there will be dozens more waiting to be sampled.

 
I will definitely be back to try them out for happy hour to see how their sangria measures up.

 
Hungry Man Eats Score: 75/100

100 montaditos logo

 
100 Montaditos 1776 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA, 22209 (703) 835-9232

 

 

Eating Other People’s Food

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No, it’s not what you think, I can already see the mental picture you formed of the Hamburglar sneaking up and swiping your burger while you have your back turned. It’s about eating something that you didn’t make or prepare. This is also different from eating pre-made food or food out at a restaurant, which would be commercially based food, somebody else made it but it is not other people’s food. Other people’s food is homemade food that has been prepared by somebody other than you. These examples will help illustrate what other people’s food is:

  • The homemade food you will find at a pot luck meal.
  • Those homemade brownies that are sitting on top of the microwave at work that Gertrude brought in(that were really homemade this time after she felt guilty about passing off the store made chocolate chip cookies as her own).
  • The meal served that the dinner party you attended at the Henderson’s (who are entirely too enthusiastic about telling you that the chicken dish served came from a free range chicken, who was named Myrtle).

I recently had the good fortune to attend a dinner at the home of some old family friends, I never really know in advance what will be served, but almost every visit I can be sure that they will be serving some delicious homemade meal. One guarantee when you eat other people’s food is that even if the dish is something that you make yourself, it will not be prepared the same way you make it.

I ate the meal in the picture at the top, spaghetti with salad and garlic bread on the side. Everybody has their own way of making spaghetti, from the sauce used, homemade or from a jar, to the meat (or not) that goes into the sauce. So what made this sauce different and delicious? It was a typical tomato based sauce with a bit of a spicy kick, but what made it interesting and unique to me was the addition of both sausage and shrimp to the sauce. Sausage and shrimp in the same dish is not at all unusual, you see that all the time with gumbo or jambalaya dishes, but for me at least, it was different to see it in a tomato based spaghetti dish.

I would not have considered combining shrimp and sausage in a spaghetti of my own making, but by eating other people’s food, my eyes were opened to a new combination that was delicious. Regrettably, I do not have the recipe for this sauce, but if I ever do get it I will edit this post to include it.

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