Category Archives: baked goods
Dreaming Of Daly Pie
I have to admit that I am not really a sweet person. I mean, I’m nice enough (har har) but I’d rather eat a block of cheese then a block of chocolate. My weakness is pie. I love pie. Maybe my lizard brain thinks since fruit is involved, it must be healthy? I don’t know. But I do. And when I found out my friend Alejandro’s roommate Michael Kelly was involved in Daly Pie with owner Meghan Daly, I was all over it.
Daly Pie, started in 2011, is the brainchild of Meghan Daly, and Michael Kelly recently joined the party. They are based in Brooklyn and crank out tons of amazing pies and the new big thing: hand pies (Pies…that can fit in your hand. Amazing, I know). They sell all over the place, mostly in NYC, from bazaars to food trivia nights to coffee shops and beyond. Also, they sell straight to you! Yes, YOU!
I was excited when Michael told me they’d be at the Punk Rock Flea Market, which is a huge, yes, flea market, in Philly.
Figuring out which pies to buy was like going grocery shopping before dinner. So, yeah, I just bought one of everything.
First off are the hand pies. One apple and one Strawberry Chocolate. I’ve only had one other hand pie, from a place in LA in the Grand Market. It was ok, but most of the filling seeped out so I had more of a strawberry flavored shell with some filling that managed to hang on for dear life. When I saw the Daly hand pies, I was a little bit concerned that this might also be the case. I am delighted to say that no, this was most definitely not the case. These pies were chock full of filling.
The apple hand pie was stuffed full of delicious apples with a great cinnamin-y spice that was not overpowering, and just enough sugar to bring out the natural taste of the apple. The apples themselves were not a mushy mess, but had a lovely texture with a little bit of give.
The Strawberry Chocolate hand pie (of which I didn’t get a good picture of because I was too busy stuffing it in my mouth) was also full of fruit and blueberry goodness. It was hard to not eat the thing in 4 bites and be sad that there wasn’t more. It lived up to the precedent set by it’s apple brother and put a smile on my face. But hey, let’s talk about the dough, shall we? You can make as much pie filling as you want but if the shell tastes cardboard like or is incased in sugar to hide the chemicals, no one will buy it (I’m looking at you, Hostess fruit pies). thankfully, these pies have amazing crusts! Both buttery and flakey, plus chewy and dense, this crust wins a prize from me for being amazing. My cardiologist would like to have a word with you, I’m sure.
And now to talk about the headliners, the pie. THE PIE. GOOD GOD, THE PIE. Sorry. Had to get that out. The pie, if you haven’t guessed, is pretty awesome. Let’s go to it.
First off is the Raspberry Peach pie. Most of the time, if you get a peach pie, the peaches are kind of mushy. I also am not a huge fan of raspberries because I can’t stand the seeds. I gotta say, this pie converted me. The peaches were al dente, so you actually felt like there were some things going on in there, 2 types of fruit (and the peach pieces were large). Not just a slurry of something vaguely fruit-like. The pie had a perfect balance of sweet and tart, and it had just a hint of floralness, which was surprising to me, but even more surprising, I loved it! The crust was both buttery and flaky, I could have eaten just the crust and been happy. I normally don’t eat the outside edge of the pie, because a lot of times it’s rock hard or overdone. This was neither of those things, this was dense in a beautiful buttery taste. It was downright great.
The next piece of pie I had was the Salty Lime. When I heard the name, I wasn’t sure what to expect, because at first glance, the pie just looks like a piece of cheesecake. If you licked the edge of a margarita glass and then ate a piece of cheesecake, this is what that tastes like. First the salt hits your tongue and the lime follows right up with a 1-2 punch. Woven in the cheesecake like texture are teeny bits and pieces of lime, giving it a secondary texture that really bumps it up a notch. I was surprised at how much I really enjoyed it! The crust is a buttery graham cracker crust that, again, I could have eaten all by itself! I can’t wait to get my hands on more of that salty, tart, buttery goodness! (please don’t mind the chocolate on the top in the picture. That’s not usual, some of my Chocolate Guinness Pie got on it as I was moving things around).
Graham cracker crust! Looook at it!!
Speaking of Chocolate Guinness Pie, why don’t we? Think of the moistest, chewiest, cakiest brownie you ever had. Then add Guinness. Then add hand made caramel on the top. Then add a nap, because that’s what you’ll need after this monster. I’ve never had Guinness in really anything else besides my glass before, so I was intrigued by this. Would the Guinness just take a stroll thru the pie, or would you actually taste it? Good news! You can most absolutely taste it. The only way I can describe it is if you ate some amazing chocolate cake and then took a big sip of a guinness right at the same time. He beer steps right on out and says a hearty “Hello!” before melding itself into the heart of the pie. The caramel on top is like the big arms of a mom bringing thier 2 kids together in a beach towel, just with more sugar. I can’t say enough about this, and usually I do not care for a super heavy pie like this. It won me over again and again with each bite. Unfortunately, I do not have a picture because I took it so fast before I ate and by the time I checked it, the pie was, well, gone.
So it’s a bunch of thumbs up for Daly Pie and Meghan and Michael! I’m hoping they come back down to Philly more often and if you live in NYC, check out thier website and catch thier amazing pies! They make a ton and they are all on the site. You can order in advance or you can come see them and try whatever they decide to bring. They also make gluten free pies!
This place has been a little quiet lately due to some serious traveling on my part and then the holidays. I took 2 trips, one to Disneyworld, which will be an upcoming post, and then to Los Angeles, which is the subject of this post!
I’m just gonna come right out and say it: the food in LA is pretty great. From fast food to fancy food, they have it covered. So let’s get to it, shall we?
We (me and the gang (Aubrie Williams, Jess Ross, Kaitlin Thompson and Briana Kelly) from the sketch group ManiPedi) literally picked up the rental car and went directly to the shining star of fast food in LA (plus, it was a long 4 hour plane ride): In-N-Out Burger! For those of you hiding under a rock, In-N-Out Burger is THE west coast burger chain. It’s not franchised, they have serious control issues (they don’t freeze or reheat) and it makes every single outpost shine in deliciousness. If you had to compare the burgers to a national chain, the closest that comes is Wendy’s, but that’s like saying Florida is kind of close to Canada because they are both in North America. If I never was allowed to eat burgers again but could have 1 kind of burger, I would eat this. That’s how good it is.
They have your basics: burgers, fries and shakes. While I am not the biggest fan of thier fries (they do not double fry the fries like most burger places, just single fry, so that they tend to get a little…hard…if you don’t eat them right away), if you order them “well done” they are a lot better. You order the burgers by how many patties and how much cheese you’d like. I got a 3×4 (“3 by 4”) which was 3 patties and 4 slices of cheese and I got that (along with the fries) “Animal Style”. They have a not-so-secret secret menu, where you can order your burger Animal Style (If applied to a burger, the meat is grilled with mustard, with sauteed onions, pickles, and extra special spread added. If applied to fries, it comes with melted cheese, sauteed onions, and spread.) or Protein Style (wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun), along with a bunch of other stuff including a Grilled Cheese (two slices of melted American cheese, hand-leafed lettuce, tomato, spread with or without onions on a freshly baked bun). The shakes are chocolate, vanilla and strawberry and they are all 100% ice cream, not a powdered mix. The best shake I have ever had, hands down. It was an awesome kick off to a great trip!
Next up was brunch! We met up with JP Boudwin, a Philly comedy transplant, for brunch at the Sunset Junction Coffee Shop in Silver Lake. Silver Lake is like hipster central in LA so I knew there’d be some place with some great food, and JP didn’t let us down. SJCS is bright and airy, with high exposed beam ceilings and a big glass front. We all slid into the big booth in the front of the place and ordered up from the friendly waitress (did I mention the service was amazing? and we had 8 people with us, which is always a pain in the ass).
The menu had a few different kind of Eggs Benedict, which was cool, along with all kinds of pancakes, hashes, sandwiches and egg dishes. It was really hard to choose, everything looked so good. I knew I was going to be eating a lot of, shall we say, artery killer food soon so I went with something light: The Avocado Eggs Benedict. It included two poached eggs with sliced avocado and fresh tomatoes, on an English muffin topped with capers and Hollandaise sauce. I decided to not get breakfast meats and got tomatoes instead of that or hash browns. Then I got a little nervous. Would that be enough food? Could that get me to my next meal without me chewing my arm off? The answer was yes, yes it could. The poached eggs were a large size and done perfectly (I want runny yolk. GIVE ME RUNNY YOLK!), the tomatoes were deliciously juicy and they were not skimpy with the fresh, firm avocado. The best part was the Hollandaise. It wasn’t scooped out of a pot that’s been in a Bain Marie for 5 hours. No, they whipped it up and plated it, and you can tell how fresh it was. Could a simple brunch dish be delightful? Because, frankly, this was. I almost want to smack myself for typing that but yeah, it was great.
We took a side trip in our LA trip to go to Disneyland! How can you not visit the place where it all started? If you are used to Disneyworld and the overwhelming monstrosity that it is, Disneyland comes off as almost quaint. That’s ok tho, I like quaint. Also, if you are any sort of pop culture junkie like myself, it’s neat to see all the original stuff. At one point I found myself alone, waiting for my friends to get off Space Mountain, and I wandered over to The Refreshment Corner (which, if you are familiar with Casey’s Corner in Disneyworld, is right at the end of Main Street in the same spot), which is an old timey spot sponsored by Coca-Cola, with great stained glass Coke Lamps and whatnot.
They have a menu consisting of a mac and cheese dog, a chili dog (or you can get the chili in a sourdough bowl), some Mickey pretzels (stuffed with cream cheese or cheese and jalapeno!), and of course, Cokes. Since it’s sponsored by Coke, you know the mix for the soda is perfect! I got the Mac and Cheese dog, which comes with a big fist full of bacon bits and a bag of chips. I also got a Mickey pretzel because…why not?! The dog was really large and tasted great. They were not at all skimpy with the Mac and Cheese (yes, it tasted just like Stouffers Mac and Cheese and I am ok with that), to the point where I was sort of taken aback to how much was on there. Theme parks are not noted for their generosity with toppings, so this was a nice change. I actually ate it with the plastic knife and fork, it was so hefty. The pretzel was warm, chewy and hit the spot after walking a million miles around the park all day! That says a lot because I come from the Land of Soft Pretzels. Even the chips were quality kettle chips, not just a half filled bag of air with some potato dust, as happens sometimes. I could not have been happier with my choice, altho the Corn Dog cart is still in my “What if..?” file. Next time!
I went out to brunch with my friend Sean and his awesome fiancee Sarah at a place in the LA Grand Central Market called EggSlut. Yes, EggSlut. Sean suggested it and I was intrigued. It started as a food cart and now this is thier first brick and mortar place. It’s more of a stall in the giant market (which is like Reading Terminal Market or Grand Central Market in NYC). They specialize in, shockingly, eggs! I love good scrambled eggs but if there is a hint of brown on them, I can’t eat them. I like a loose scrambled egg made with milk not water. I ordered the Fairfax and it didn’t disappoint! It comes with scrambled eggs, chives, caramelized onions, Tillamook cheddar and sriracha mayo. It was warm with just a hint of spice from the sririacha and buttery carmelized goodness from the onions. It went quickly into my mouth and left only a smile. Just as the egg gods intended.
But I didn’t stop there! I also got a strawberry hand pie from Valerie’s Confections. it was just about the size of your hand (hence..the name…and stuff…) and this one was stuffed with strawberry. The dough was so flaky, but it didn’t crumble when you took a bite. No, it just showed you it’s inside goodness and invited you to go on and destroy it. Who am I to argue? I destroyed it like a a toddler domineering a bowl of spaghetti. This was easily one of the best things I had on the trip. If you live anywhere near Downtown LA, get ye to Valerie’s!
We wandered over to the La Brea Tar Pits (underwhelming) and saw a bunch of food trucks parked outside the LA Art Museum. One of which was the Bool BBQ Truck, a Korean Fusion BBQ truck. I could not resist, and got the Short Rib
Burrito (white rice, cabbage asian slaw, special sauce, hot sauce, pico de gallo and short rib meat). The burrito was excellent! It was just spicy enough, so that the tip of my tongue was a little lit up but I could still taste the sweetness and the delicious meat. The people working the truck were so nice and quick with the food, it stayed on my mind the whole ride home! I highly recommend them if you are over by the Art Museum or hit thier page on facebook and see where they are. Totally worth your time to look them up and more then worth the money!
Speaking of burritos, you can’t go to the west coast without eating some fantastic Mexican food. We happened to stumble upon a great place called Machos Tacos. It’s kind of a shack on the corner of Vermont Ave in Los Feliz, yet another hipster area, and it’s next to a car wash. Oddly enough, I got to look at thier kitchen. I know kitchens. I know dirty kitchens and clean kitchen and kitchens you should pretend don’t actually serve food. This one was cleaner then I’ve seen in awhile. It also serves some amazingly kick ass Mexican food!
First up they make thier own chips (and the salsa is hearty with a parade of flavor!) and aren’t skimpy about it (so don’t ask for extra for free, this isn’t the welfare tortilla chip line!). Secondly, they aren’t skimpy with ANYTHING! Here are 2 tacos: the Chicken Mole and the Regular Chicken. Yeah, no skimpiness! The Mole sauce was dark and hearty, it didn’t just pour right out of the tortilla. It had a job to do AND IT WAS GONNA DO IT! I appreciate hard work.
I also got the Machaca Beef Burrito,and I got it wet. Wet, for all you pervs out there, is
when the burrito is covered in sauce. First off, this thing was heavier then my first car. It was half covered in a green chile sauce and half covered in a red sauce but it was all covered in AWESOME! The meat was slow cooked and when it hit your tongue it blended with the rest of the sauce and did the Macarena the rest of the way down. There was very little talking while we ate at this place. There was a lot of dancing in seats tho. So very, very good!
As a tourist in the City of Angels, you have to take a trip to the Santa Monica Pier. It’s just one of those things. It’s a cute pier (that’s now 100 years old and they are really fixing it up) with rides and a fishing pier at the end. They also have a bunch of churro carts and other oddball food. Of course, I would find the burger place. Wouldn’t you know it? Pier Burger! They have burgers, fries, shakes, a fish sandwich that Jess and Kait really liked and other odds and ends. But I went for the burger. I was on a burger mission, and this burger did not disappoint! In fact, I found it to be a In-N-Out competitor! I know! Shut my mouth! But it’s the truth! It’s a burger that tastes really fresh and is seasoned just with some salt and pepper and grilled up on a flat top. It was flat out F-ing great! I got the Double Pier Burger and I am going to come out and say…I liked it better then the 3×4. I know I’ll burn for saying it but it was that good! All I need now is a Pier Burger shirt! (they only had mediums when I was there).
One of the things I did while out there was attend a taping of The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson. I love him and his silly show, but I had gotten there so early, I had to eat before the almost 3 hours of being tied up in line and in the studio. So, on the corner of 3rd and Fairfax I found this big sandwich place called Mendocino Farms Sandwich Market. It’s an interesting place, where they give you a menu while you stand in line and order before you even get to the counter. Once you get to the counter, you also order sides. Perhaps you are not sure about the sides? You can try all of them! They encourage it! No one rolls an eye at you because you have trouble ordering! It’s pretty great. Oh, and grab a beer too. Not a shitty Miller Light, but one from a collection of accessible but delicious beers. Then you slide on down to the end of the counter and wait until your pager buzzes and BANG! Sandwich heaven!
I always have trouble ordering food. I can never make a decision and then when I do, I am always second guessing myself. It’s a horrible thing and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I couldn’t make a decision as to what to get so I asked the line order taker girl what she liked and she told me the Steak Bahn Mi. I flew blind and ordered it. Normally, I don’t like ciabatta bread because it’s so thick, I feel like it sucks up any kind of moisture in the ingredients. But they make the ciabatta fresh and it was still warm, so it absorbed some but it was soft, warm and chewy. All the Bahn Mi flavors (chili aioli, housemade sweet chili sauce, pickled daikon & carrots, cilantro, jalapenos and cucumbers). It was delightful and just enough to fill me up without making me feel like I just ate a lead weight. The girl who recommended the sandwich to me even came to find me as I was eating to make sure I liked her suggestion. I thought that was a nice touch.
Finally, one night we wanted to go to one place but it was full, so JP suggested we go to this sushi place that’s themed on the movie Titanic. It’s in the shape of a boat. Seriously. When I say they had a Japanese version of the Titanic theme playing, I’m not kidding. They even had sushi with cheesesteak in it. It was really good too!
This trip definitely was good times and I can’t wait to go out again and see what else is out there to eat and explore! Give my love to the Coffee Bean! I shall return! Here is a picture of all (well most of) the Philly Comedy people living in LA now with some of us who haven’t made it out yet. Keep an eye out!
Stick Em Up For Mugshots Diner
I grew up in the neighborhood next door to Fishtown, and frankly, it has come leaps and bounds from where it was when I was a kid. Let’s just say teeth were optional back then. Anywho, there are so many new places to eat, it’s hard to even keep track of what’s opening. So when I heard there was a new diner opening, I had to check it out, because, man, I love diner food.
Mugshots opened, a bit behind schedule, in the 2424 building on York street. It’s actually not a free standing diner, it is on the first floor of the building, with office and artist spaces above it.
Hot Mess Hess went with me to get some dinner before we hit a local comedy show at Urban Saloon in Fairmount. And yes, we were HUNGRY.
Walking into the diner, I was struck by how clean, happy and bright the place was. Yes, they did just build it, but I am used to diners where the years of grime are part of the character. Plus, do you really hear the words “new diner” often? Nope. The motif of this place is, yes, mugshots. So the walls are littered with celebrity mugshots. I sat under Bill Gates. The booths are cool vinyl blue and yellow and really are reminiscient of 50’s diners without being too in your face Happy Days retro.
The menu was large but not too big, with interesting appetizers, which is always a favorite thing of mine. We decided on Pork Tostadas ($9) to share for an appetizer. They stack 3 shells and fill them with chipotle cream, sour cream, diced tomato, red onion, sliced cabbage, cilantro and pork. They were pretty great. The pork was full of the bbq sauce and it was really messy to eat, not that that is a bad thing. The waitress didn’t give us plates for it tho, so we got it all over the place. Looking back, we should have asked
for plates. All the ingredients were fresh, bright and delicious. There might have been some hand stabbing for the last few bites. It was nice to see a place understand that you can fry your own tortillas and not just grab them out of a bag.
I should mention here how nice the wait staff was. The plate thing aside, our waitress was really on the ball, and everyone who worked there was pleasant, but not in a stepford wives sort of way. Any questions I had about the menu were answered promptly, and when I asked about food she had not eaten, I was given a great answer of “I haven’t had it but *soandso* (pointing) did and they like it”, which I like better then I lie or a shrug with an “I don’t know”.
For our dinners, I got the Reuben Sandwich. The rye bread was nice and warmed from the melted cheese and there was a nice amount of delicious, medium cut corned beef (too thin and it disappears and too thick and you are chewing for 3 days). The cheese was, as cheese always is, delicious (it knows it’s role) and plentiful (sometimes when you order a Reuben, they skimp on the cheese). The kraut was basically out of the bag, but it worked with the sandwich. What I found peculiar was that the russian dressing was on the side. Normally on a Reuben, it’s on the bread, under the kraut. I just used all that was there and covered the whole thing before I dug in. Yes, it looked odd to me, but was still great.
Hot Mess Jess got herself her standard grilled chicken sandwich with mayo. A grilled chicken sandwich is a grilled chicken sandwich, there’s not too much you can do to pretty it up.
It’s a (not so) secret in the food biz to buy meats with grill marks that are frozen and then just warm them up either in the microwave or quickly on the flat top. That chicken seemed to me to actually have been grilled. It was also (yeah I had a bite) juicy and a thick piece of chicken. Even the roll was a bit toasty. Finally, I go out to eat with Hot Mess quite a bit, and we always ask for extra mayo (we ordered fries too, which I didn’t take a picture of because, well, fries are fries. They were hot, they were cooked perfectly, they were delicious) for fries. Sometimes that means a small shotglass of mayo. Sometimes that means they wheel out the 5 gallon jug of Admiration mayo (my fave but still a bit much). Our waitress brought us out a big dish for each of us. Gold stars for her!!
Finally, because we are gluttons, we had a piece of Oreo cheesecake. It was everything it says it is: cheesecake with Oreos in it. It was smooth, creamy and hit the spot.
Not to say it was easy to pick a dessert, apparently they make all thier desserts in house and they have a truckful! Pies, cakes, cookies, all sorts of stuff.
On our way out, we walked past, who I believe is the owner, who was visiting with all the tables asking if everything was alright, if they enjoyed thier food and stuff. When he asked us if things were ok, we told him yes, and then I asked him why the dressing for the reuben was on the side, that I found that odd even tho I still enjoyed it. He told me that they were finding that some people liked the dressing on there, and some people did not like the dressing at all, so they decided to just put it on the side. It was nice to see a place listen to thier customers, like the gang over at PYT.
Finally, our bill was about 35 bucks, which is acceptable for 2 people, in my opinion.
So, if you find yourself in Fishtown, check out Mugshots. The food is good, not too expensive, there is ok parking around the building and the owner is on top of stuff. Good stuff.
Here is thier new commercial, check it out!
Ok, so if you read this food blog at all, you might have picked up that I enjoy a sandwich, but almost never, ever from a chain sandwich shop. Specifically, a nationwide sandwich shop. I try them, because I am not only a glutton, but a glutton for punishment, alas, it never goes well. The meat is gross or the bread tastes like recycled cardboard. Nasty. Granted, I live in the Capital of Sandwichland (aka Philly) and we do it right. But still, I keep looking. Hope, it spring eternal, or something.
That’s why I was knocked for a loop when I tried Potbelly Sandwiches.
Potbelly is a company out of Chicago (a sister glutton city of Philly). They toast their bread before they make your sandwich. Actually, it isn’t so much toasted as it is thoroughly warmed through. This makes an unbelievable difference in the bread. Ever put your socks in the microwave? It’s like that. A warm hug. (Try it). It’s not toasted like a grinder, where you take a bite of literally toasted bread and it all falls apart and you scratch the roof of your mouth so bad that all you can eat is milkshakes for a few days and you get that one piece of roof skin that drives you nuts (I hate it when that happens. This is why I had to stop eating Captain Crunch.)
Anywho, there is a Potbelly close to my work, and the other day I ventured in. The place is kind of neat, with mismatched table sizes and they had a sign saying they even have local musicians come and play. I thought that was supportive for a chain restaurant. They have a hanging menu for all to peruse. They have 3 sizes for the sandwiches: Original, Skinny (less meat and cheese on thin cut bread) and the Big (with 30% more meat and cheese). You can even get the sandwiches on “thin cut” bread, which is a nice wink to people watching thier carb intake. They will even make their sandwiches on a salad for you if you’d like. I didn’t try one but I saw a lady walk out with one and it was the size of a medium sized soccer ball.
Ordering is interesting. You walk up to the counter and tell them what sandwich you want, what size and what kind of roll (multigrain or regular). Then you scoot down, maybe pick up some chips and tell the next person how you’d like it: condiments, bacon, whatevs. Then they hand it to you and you get a fountain drink or just pay for what you have. They have plenty of snacky stuff too like brownies and cookies and whatnot.
A very cool thing this place has is in it’s fountain drink offerings. Usually, a chain will make a deal for either Coke products or Pepsi products. Very rarely will the two meet. I know people who will go to specific places and avoid others, just to be able to get the fountain drink of thier choice. I am happy to say that Potbelly gets you and your craving for fizzy beverages by offering BOTH. And also Dr. Pepper! And sugar free Minute Maid Lemonade! Two thumbs up for choices!
But seriously, let’s get down to business. We all know I got the biggest thing on the menu. In this case, it’s called A Wreck. It comes with: Salami, Roast Beef, Turkey, Ham & Swiss Cheese. I also got lettuce, tomato, onion (it’s almost a salad!) and sweet peppers along with extra mayo. And yes, in a Big size (please note the straw on the sandwich wrap for scale). This thing isn’t a monster but it’s warm and snuggly and delicious.
Sometimes you order extra mayo and all you get is a head nod from whoever is making the thing. The girl who made mine knew what extra mayo is and gave it to me, like a Christmas present I hoped for all year (I can almost hear my cardiologist planning his next European getaway). As you can see here, even with the Big size, they aren’t crazy with the meat and cheese. In fact, the salami is kind of lost in there. They do give you the option of ordering extra meat and cheese, but the drink and the sandwich cost about 9 bucks total and that’s about as high as I’ll go for lunch. Ok, maybe 10 bucks. Still, this is it.
The bread is the real star here. Like I had said earlier, it is very close to amazing. With a hoagie roll, you want a chewy inside with a slightly more done outside. It also has to have depth of flavor or you end up with crap (I’m looking at you, Jimmy Johns). This bread made me do a little dance in my chair. It soaked up some of that mayo and sweet pepper juice with ease. You know you have a winner when you get to that last bite and it has soaked up all those things and has just a little bit of meat and cheese left with like 2 pieces of lettuce hanging on…and it is the absolute best bite ever.
The funny part is that I do not want to know the details of this bread. They say it’s a secret and I am ok with that. It’s an amazingly, delicious secret and Potbelly has made me think that perhaps someone outside of Sandwichland might have a sandwich clue.
Keep it up Potbelly! I can’t wait to go back!
I went back and had the exact same delicious Wreck a few days later. So good! And the staff at the Potbelly on 17th between Market and JFK are super nice.
The Shake Shack Shimmy!
Being a life long resident of Philly, I have to say I have a bit of a chip on my shoulder when it comes to New York. Besides the ridiculous NYC attitude, it is seriously irritating the way they seem to assume that the whole world revolves around them (ps nyc: your town smells like pee). So when I heard that the burger place that is all the rage up there was coming to Philly, I shrugged. Yes, I shrugged. I shrugged when someone said “You gotta check out Shake Shack“.
First of all, expensive burger places are nothing new around here. In fact, Jose Garces’s Village Whiskey was going to be right across the street from the proposed eatery, and they have expensive burgers as well, along with about 900 kinds of whiskey (true story). Plus, there is PYT in the Piazza, Bobby’s Burger Palace, Good Dog and a million other places. One more overrated burger joint wasn’t going to get me excited.
Aaaaand then I went there…twice.
One night after doing the open mic at Helium Comedy Club, my friend Hot Mess Jess mentioned to me that we should stop at Shake Shack. It would be an easy stop because it happens to be on the corner of the block where Helium lives. I mulled it over for about 6 seconds and off we went. Usually there is a giant line outside the place, but we got lucky and it was almost empty since it was around 10pm. We did get a pager, ala The Olive Garden, but the wait was only maybe 8 minutes or so.
The place is pretty standard as far as burger joints go. The menu is giant and bolted to the wall, like the one at Bobby’s Burger Palace. There are a few booths and some tables and some high tops to sit at as well. They have a liquor license so you can get a beer with your burger if you choose (they have outdoor seating but as of the day I went the second time, you still couldn’t take the booze outside yet. I think they are waiting for the permit).
I got the Double ShackBurger for $7.10. It comes with lettuce, tomato, cheese and ShackSauce. Hot Mess Jess got ShackStack, a burger with a fried Portobello mushroom on it. We also split some fries.
First off, let’s talk about the Double ShackBurger. Let’s start with the condiments. The lettuce was fresh, the tomato was juicy, the cheese was…cheesy. I still don’t really know what Shack Sauce is, but it’s a nice mild addition to anything. The bun was spongy enough to hold the mess of a burger but not over chewy. More on that in a bit.
The meat. Oh, the meat. The menu says that they use “100% Angus Beef without any added hormones or antibiotics.”. But is it good? The answer is an unequivical HELL YES.
For years, chefs on tv have been telling people that all you need is a little salt and a little pepper to season a burger. There is a reason for this! Let the flavor of the meat shine! The people at the Shack understand this. Grind it, lightly season it, patty it, flat top it (no pressing or squeezing please) and serve it up. If you looked up “kick ass juicy burger” on dictionary.com, this burger would be pictured prominently. With a big blinking frame around it. And a little band playing a jig. And possibly some fireworks. Yeah. It’s that good. Oh, and they cook all burgers to medium unless otherwise specified. Do yourself a favor and just take it the way it’s meant to be: Welcome to flavor country!
Hot Mess Jess also had an interesting burger. One patty of meat and one patty of Portobello mushroom. She loved it and said it was delicious! You can also order it without the meat (as The ‘Shroom Burger) and have a very fine vegetarian burger! If the bun is vegan (and I am not sure if it is), you could even have an awesome vegan shroom burger with the L&T and they also offer pickle and onion. As you can see, they are not skimpy with the sauce!
One incredibly smart thing I noticed while stuffing my face full of delicious meat was The Hinge. I don’t know if they do this on purpose, or if it just happens with the buns they use but it is GENIUS! You see, the burger is really juicy, the melty cheese is messy and it could end up being quite a mess. And overall, it is a bit messy (neat eaters need not apply). However! With a regular bun, things start sliding around (and sometimes right out the back, which is why you need to eat burgers without The Hinge with The Claw, which is something I will write about some other time) and then you end up with a a disproportionate bun to meat ratio. That makes me angry, like, Hulk angry. MUST SMASH BURGER! HULK SMASH MESSY BURGER!!…ahem…anyway…This bun has a hinge on the back. It keeps the top and bottom from sliding around and it also catches a lot of that juice and cheese so that when you are done, it’s like a sponge of deliciousness. It is also a sponge of genius-ness!
We also got some fries on the side. They were good…basically for crinkle fries that I am sure some kid in the back had to either cut or defrost. They don’t salt them, which I find odd and a little irritating because they come out right away (for the most part), and fresh out of the fryer fries are the best to hit with just a little bit of salt. But, at $2.65, they weren’t bad.
A few weeks later, I revisited Helium with my friend Jackie O to see some friends in a showcase show, and she suggested that we stop at Shake Shack as well after the show. Who am I to say no to my friends? Plus, Jackie is the best! We both got some burgers, but we also got something else they do at Shake Shack. Yeah, this place is not a one trick pony.
They offer something called a Concrete: dense frozen custard blended at high speed with things mixed in. You can make your own but they also have set ones they have that you can order. Jackie O and I both ordered The Center City Pretzel (Vanilla Custard, Philly Style Soft Pretzel, Caramel Sauce, Marshmallow Sauce and Banana).
This thing was pretty kick ass. The Caramel and Marshmallow Sauces kind of blend together, and the banana mingles around the middle, but it all somehow comes together and is dotted inside and out with pieces of pretzel. Be warned however, it is more of a Super Pretzel then a real Philly Soft Pretzel. There is a big difference, but in this case it does work. It would be cool if Shake Shack worked with a local vendor, like PYT does to make their pretzel rolls for the cheesesteak burger, but that’s up to them I suppose.
Anyway, the frozen custard is blended smoothly and each bite feels like you are mingling with all the ingredients. While doing a blend isn’t anything new (Dairy Queen’s been doing blizzards foreeeverrrr), they are doing it well. At $4.25 for a half and $6.50 for a regular, it might be a little high but worth every penny.
So, while I wouldn’t eat at Shake Shack every day (mostly because I’d be dead by the end of the month), it is on my list of places to visit if I am in the area. It might not be as internationally known like Capogiro or the Jose Garces’ place Village Whiskey across the street but it does what it does well! Try and hit it on an off hour and there won’t be much of a wait (I spontaneously combust if I wait in lines for too long for stupid things). I also found that the prices were in line with what they were offering, perhaps on the high side, but the flavors make it worth the trip and the lightening of your wallet.
Tastykake Pink Lemonade Pie: Summertime Pielicious!
Every region of the country has their regional delights. In the Philly area, we love Tastykake. I have yet to meet a person who grew up here to say they do not like *something* Tastykake makes and has no fond memories of Tastykake from growing up. You know you have met a Philly person when they can tell you the secret to opening a package of chocolate cupcakes and not have the icing stick to the plastic (hint: flip it over and swipe the package on the table back and forth a few times).
Tastykake really IS Philly and has been around for a few generations, so when they started having difficulties of the finance variety, I got nervous. I did not want to live in a world where I couldn’t stop in literally any store in the city and, if I so chose, could have a Jelly Krimpet (my fave!), a Peanut Butter KandyKakes (or “Tandykakes”, as they were called when I was a kid) or one of their awesome fruit pies. I am a sucker for a cherry pie and theirs is a winner. In fact, I liked it so much, I would crack it open, eat the filling and *then* eat the shell. As the company looked for a buyer or some sort of help, Flower Foods stepped in and purchased the company. They are a Georgia based baked goods company that has a bigger reach across then country the Tastykake ever did. So, Philly transplants, you better keep an eye out for delicious baked goods coming your way!
One thing they like to do is put out seasonal pies. Meaning, the Pumpkin Pie at Halloween and the Egg Nog Pie at Christmas as well as other ones. I was in Wawa the other day and saw a Pink Lemonade pie. I had to try it. It was either going to be really good or really gross. I mean, Pink Lemonade? In a pie? I even put it in the fridge for a few days because I wanted time to really sit down and eat this thing, to see what is was all about.
Something Tastykake started doing a little while back was packaging the pies in little tins. This is relatively new in the packaging history of these things, at least as far as I remember. When I was younger, they used to come in the box and then they were packaged inside with what I think was wax paper. You would slide them out and then go to town. Now you slide them out and they are in the cutest little pie tin. The pie pops right out and you can start stuffing your face immediately, just like Mr. Tastykake would want.
The crust is always flakey, buttery and better than any Hostess pie (which is covered in glaze and makes me kind of sick). It also always tastes fresher. Some people complain about how they aren’t as fresh as they remember, I think these people are nuts. Go buy a Hostess pie and then eat a Tastykake pie and YOU TELL ME which one is fresher. Seriously people, come on. Anyway, What the heck is the insides? It looks like a pink custard middle. The flavoring is actually pretty mellow. I guess I was expecting a glass of CountryTime Pink Lemonade or something, but this was much better. The lemonade taste is more of a cool summer breeze of an after taste. Oh, it’s there but it lazes over your tongue as opposed to badgering it with water balloons of artificial nonsense.
I give this Pink lemonade pie a thumbs up! If you want to try something different, go for it! And if you live out of the area and want to try some Tastykakes for yourself or just want to see what I’m talking about, you can order products and see the history of the company at tastykake.com. Now if we could only get them to have a Tastykake Race at Citizen Bank Park….
Eating Our Way Around Citizens Bank Park
A few months ago I got picked in a second chance lottery for Red Sox-Phillies tickets. So, of course, I purchased said tickets. When I say it was forever ago, I mean the game was on May 20th and I purchased the end of February. My usual Phillies game partner in crime, Steve “Chinstrap” Zegray was getting ready to get back on the road with his band (The Dirk Quinn Band) so I asked my friend Pat Farley to come along. He was a little on the fence until I told him what I wanted to do: go early and eat as much stuff as I could before the game started. He then jumped on the game train. So, that’s what we did.
The very first thing we made a beeline to was the stand that sells The Schmitter. The Schmitter is my all time favorite thing they sell in Citizen’s Bank Park. I have been known to walk all the way around the stadium to get it. When the season is over, it’s all I think about to get me through the winter. When it’s baseball time, I get excited to eat one. It also helps that it is named after my all time favorite player: Mike Schmidt. The Schmitter is a sandwich that was created by McNally’s Tavern in Chestnut Hill. In fact, you can get one there all year round (Why don’t I? I am lazy. Next!). So, when I got the Schmitter, Pat and I were a little bit perplexed. Besides being yelled at by the lady at the counter to “walk thru the line” (a maze of rope…with no one in it), the sandwich was missing something. Namely, meat.
Let’s talk about what this delicious concoction is, ok? They broil the inside of a kaiser roll and from the bottom up it’s: cheese, beef, fried onions, tomatoes, more cheese, grilled salami, special sauce (this makes the sandwich, believe it or not) and more cheese. Sounds awesome right? A gooey, sloppy mess of a delicious piece of awesome. It’s the sort of thing you drop down the front of your shirt and when no one is looking, you try and lick it off (Is that just me? Can’t be…).
So, when we got this sandwich (pictured to the right), I didn’t know what to make of it. There was very little in this thing that looked like the Schmitters of old. Of olden times. Of yesteryear. And by yesteryear, I mean last season. This is not the sandwich I remember. The meat was almost nonexistent. There was barely anything on this sandwich. It was like the Schmitter Gods of Old and New had forsaken us. Did we maybe get a bad sandwich? Possibly. Are they scaling back the meat because of the bad economy? Maybe the person working making them was in a bad mood or just felt like slacking off that day. I was seriously disappointed because, well, did I mention they MAKE THE BEEF RIGHT THERE? Yes. In ovens. Right in front of you. And this sandwich is all they sell (besides beer, water and, I think, chips) so it’s not like they are being distracted by other orders. In fact, they just keep making them wether people are there or not. Most of the time they sell so fast, that is the best way to go about it. Anyway, to sum it up: Schmitter, please get your act together. I might be back with Pat to check you out again soon. (PS, Pat was very confused as to my excitement about this thing after he saw it. What followed was a “you had to be there back then” type of explanation. Way to make me look stupid, Schmitter. We need to talk.)
The second thing we ate was something I had never had before, that Pat spied. He had said it was fantastic, so how can I turn that down? Answer: I cannot. Campos is a sandwich place right on Market Street in downtown Philly. I worked around the corner from there for quite awhile and love the work they do. great sandwiches, great bread and decent prices. They have a stand at the ballpark and we got sucked into ordering…The Heater!
The Heater is a spicy cheesesteak with Jalapeno Cheddar and Buffalo Sauce. Oh yeah. I was excited that it had Jalapeno Cheddar and not jalapenos because, uh, I can’t eat the seeds anymore unless I am looking for a nice weekend trapped in the bathroom. TMI? Perhaps. Moving right along…The Cheese itself is welfare cheese orange (say what you will, that cheese made fantastic grilled cheese sandwiches). The sauce is drenched into the sandwich: meaning it doesn’t just make a cursory walk thru. And of course, the fried onions tie it allll together. The only nitpick I have with it, is that I think it could have used more meat. I know the economy is bad and all, but come on. I hate ordering “extra, extra meat”. But besides that, this sandwich is solid, and Campos is a place you should always hit when in the ballpark!
Next up was a stop at Bull’s Bar-B-Que. Greg “Bull” Luzinski played 10 years in left field for the Phillies and now he owns this place in the new ballpark (in 1989 he was also inducted into the National Polish-American Sports Hall Of Fame). They serve up all kinds of stuff: pulled pork, ribs, and all sorts of sides. They are also a go-to place for those who have to eat Gluten-Free. We decided to get the sampler: one small bbq turkey sandwich, one small pulled pork sandwich and one small serving of ribs. It wasn’t exactly cheap but it wasn’t too expensive. I wasn’t thinking when we were ordering and I assumed it came with a side. I guess it didn’t. Altho the last thing either of us needed was a serving of beans. Ha.
Anyway, first up was the ribs. As you can see, there wasn’t too much there, but it was enough for the two of us, as we were walking towards stuffed. Pat found the ribs to be good but kind of salty and I had to agree. Not salty enough to not finish tho. Ay-o! They had a nice crust on them and overall, they weren’t bad.
What is a nice touch at Bull’s is that they actully have some sitdown tables so that you can actually eat like a person instead of leaning over a bit of metal or dripping sauce on your pants while you try and eat back in your seat. It is also helpful with little kids if you don’t feel like covering all their clothes with stain remover.
Next up is the little BBQ Turkey sandwich. I gave it a “meh” and Pat was not at all enthralled by it either. It seemed like it was just turkey lunch meat that took a swim in some sauce. It was not at ALL what we thought it would be and a lot more disappointing then I expected, which surprised me. Everyone is always babbling on and on about how awesome it is. The roll was nice tho, and the sauce wasn’t too overpowering. And honestly, there was a LOT of that turkey on there, that’s a small plus. So, while it wasn’t the awesomest of all time, it was probably the most disappointing.
Which brings up to the Pulled Pork sandwich. I’m actually really good at making pulled pork, believe it or not. When you are good at making stuff, you feel jaded when someone offers it to you. But I’ll tell ya, this wasn’t bad. The pork was chopped down a little bit much for me, but it is a pretty standard pulled pork and probably would have been good on a nice kaiser roll with a mountain of napkins. I was really into it and I have to admit, I forgot to take a picture. Please forgive me, hungry readers.
Now we come to the part of the day where Pat and I decided we needed some sort of dessert. It only makes sense right? They had a lot of ice cream in different Turkey Hill forms, which I am all for, but we were looking for something different. I mean, how many times can you have ice cream in a little batting helmet? (altho I do love it!) I thought I read about a cupcake kiosk over by the one Turkey Hill stand and low and behold, there it was! We sauntered over, neither of us being very into baked goods but into something different.
The 2 ladies who were working there looked like they were breaking down the stand when we got there. We pointed to the 3 on the top shelf and asked what they were. When she said CANNOLI CUPCAKE, we hi-fived and did a little dance (or, just ordered them, depending on how imaginative you are). This thing had the lightest, most delicious cake bottom, with the top made of fantastic cannoli cream and full size chocolate chips. On the top there were bits of cannoli shell sprinkled about.
You know how when something is really, really good, the people eating stop talking and don’t even notice? Yeah, that was us, standing at the hi-top table, pretending we both didn’t want to lick the paper that had the extra frosting on it. “You go ahead”. “No, you go ahead!”. It was like a Chip and Dale cartoon. In the end, we both had extra frosting, because there was SO MUCH OF IT and it was awesome! The cupcake was $3 but it was easily split by the both of us, which I thought was cool.
That was the day of eating. We had beers as well and walked around to fool ourselves into thinking we were burning it off (escalators don’t count right?) but it was a great day and the weather was awesome. The Phils got their asses handed to them by the Sox, but hey, ya can’t have everything, right?
My favorite thing was the Cupcake, followed super close by The Heater. That sandwich was awesome and I’d like to try it as a chicken cheesesteak! Pat’s fave was The Heater but he says the Cupcake was way better then expected & made it a tough choice as he is not much of a Cupcake guy.
So there ya have it! Will there be a second part of this entry? Possibly! Stay tuned and find out, the baseball season is just getting started!
Federal Donuts: Doin’ Their Own Cluckin’ Thing!
I like donuts. I like fried chicken. Shocking, I know. So when I heard about Federal Donuts: a donut and fried chicken joint in Pennsport in South Philly, I was intrigued. But then I heard about the massive lines and the early sellouts, so I figured I would wait a little while and then check it out. My friends, that day was the other day. And now, I shall share it with you.
Federal Donuts isn’t actually at 2nd and Federal, it’s on the smaller street right after Washington Ave. but before Federal. Look for the red rooster! Parking could suck for you if you come a little later on in the day, but I popped in with my friend Michael around 11, so it wasn’t too bad. You can’t really see it, but there is also a red bench you can sit on outside to enjoy the weather while stuffing your face with awesome donuts. That’s some thinking right there. Lady with baby carriage that won’t move out of the picture frame not included.
This place is not really big. Keep this in mind because it can get crowded. Luckily, everyone is usually very excited about the food so everyone is in a pretty good mood. When we visited, Cristal was manning the counter. She had to repeat herself a thousand times to a bunch of people and never once did she roll her eyes or take a swing at them when they whined about chicken not being sold until 11:45. In fact, she was making jokes with the customers and chatting while taking orders and being awesome.
If you look at the top of the picture, you will see the menu hanging over Cristal’s head. The first board lists the beverages: hot and cold coffee, hot and iced tea, water and a variety of sodas, including the very awesome Doc Brown’s line of sodas. I am partial to the Black Cherry (and yeah they have the Diet version too if you want to even out the calories you are gonna pack in…what do you mean it doesn’t work that way?…).
The second board is very important. These are the donuts they make all day long, what they call the “hot donuts, fried fresh all day”. These donuts are delicious & are lightly flavored in 3 varieties: Indian Cinnamon, Appolonia Spice, and Vanilla Lavender. The flavor isn’t overpowering and they go really well with a beverage of your choice. These donuts are cake based, which are usually heavy and chewy, but these are light as a feather. More on that below.
The third board lists the fancy donuts. These go on sale when the place opens and are usually gone by 10-ish. If you want them, I would suggest crawling out of your snuggie and getting down there early. They change varieties a lot and this is what they have now. Check the website to see what is going on when you read this. At that time they had: Halvah Pistachio, Strawberry Rhubarb Pie, Mandarin Coffee, Root Beer Float, Chocolate Banana and Ginger Snap. I didn’t get to try those because they were all gone by the time I got over there. Next time FedNuts! Next time!! *angry fist shake*
This brings up the 4th board. It outlines the chicken. You can get a whole chicken or a half (or do what me and Michael did and get a whole with a different flavor on each half. We may be gluttons, but we are crafty gluttons.). The flavors they offer include dry selections and 2 glazes. The dry includes: Za’atar, Coconut Curry and Buttermilk Ranch. The glaze includes: Chili-Garlic and Honey Ginger.
We ordered a half of the Buttermilk Ranch & half Za’atar along with some Honey Ginger wings. At 11:45, Cristal asked all the people who had already been there how many orders of chicken they wanted and we all got numbered red cards. Did we do a little dance like we found golden tickets? Maybe. We did clutch them and look around to make sure no one was eyeing up our tickets. You get one for each order of chicken you put in. Notice the tickets are numbered? They only go up to a certain number and then you gotta come back the next day.
A few minutes later, our chicken was served up in red baskets. The chicken comes with a honey dipped donut. Now, if you quick looked at this donut, you’d notice it looks kind of like the Dunkin’ Donuts Plain Old Fashioned Donut. That is where the resemblance ends. This donut is honey dipped and warm, which means it is automatically probably the best warm thing you will ever have in your mouth (ahem).
The thing about these donuts is that they are cake donuts, as opposed to yeast donuts. Yeast donuts are the ones you might be used to, light and fluffy, especially right out of the fryer. Most people prefer those because they go down so easily.
Cake donuts are usually denser and chewier (Have you ever had a Polish Packzi? That is a great example of a cake donut. Also, my favorite donut.). The donuts at Federal are cake donuts but they are super light, spitting in the face of conventional thoughts on cake donuts. Can you tell I love it? The flavor is so subtle but coats your tongue with happiness. Out of all the things I ate at Federal Donuts, I loved this donut the most. Did I mention you get one every time you order chicken? You also get these little japanese cucumber pickles but, unfortunately, I didn’t really care for those (weirdly too sour for me), nor did my friend Michael (or my mom when I brought her an order home). But hey, in the grand scheme of things, who cares. Not everything can be jaw dropping and I have not even gotten to the amazing chicken yet.
Moving onto the chicken! This is not your usual KFC-style fried chicken that is coated in egg and flour, fried and then tossed onto your plate (or into your bucket or whatever). This is Korean Style Fried Chicken: the chicken is dipped in a cornstarch based batter and fried once, rested and then fried again when you order it to crisp it up. Look closely at the picture and you can see the chicken sitting on pans and racks (so they aren’t sitting a puddle of grease) just waiting for 11:45.
The first batch that I tried was the buttermilk ranch fried chicken. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Was the batter infused with buttermilk ranch flavoring? Would it be white? As I have said many times before, I am not that bright. The chicken was the fried chicken that they do, and they cover it with a dry coating of buttermilk ranch flavoring. As it’s called “dry seasoning”, that makes sense. And it was deeelicious! As you can see, they are not stingy with the seasoning and I am A-ok with that. The flavor of the buttermilk ranch powder soaked up the little bit of grease along with the juiciness of the chicken to create a festival of happiness in my mouth. (and I thought only whiskey could do that).
The second kind of dry seasoning we had was Za’atar. What is Za’atar? It is a Moroccan flavoring and the Federal website describes it as “sesame seeds blended with wild savory and sumac, so it has a very green and lemony flavor”. That is a spot on description, and I know Michael loved it the most. When you look at it, it looks like someone sprinkled grass clippings and sesame seeds on your chicken, but dig in! The flavor balances nicely with the mild taste of the chicken and the slight bit of grease. We had a bit of fork stabbing going on for the last piece (I’m a quick healer).
Finally, we started in on the Honey Ginger wings. It took us forever to figure out what flavor to pick (chili-garlic being the other flavor (glaze actually) we were considering). They sat there patiently while we buzzsawed thru the fried chicken and the hot donut. They looked delicious and smelled delicious.
The ginger is subtle and the honey made them slightly sweet. We both didn’t particularly like them at first. I took them home and the key is to let them sit for a little while, then they become amazing! I almost got you Federal Donuts, but you pulled it out again!
I cannot wait to go back and try the Chili-Garlic!
So, to sum it up: you have to get up super early to get the good special donuts. You have to get there early to get a ticket(s) for chicken that doesn’t go on sale until 11:45. Is it worth the hassle? Michael and I both agreed the answer was a resounding YES. Obviously, donuts and fried chicken are not things you can eat everyday without seriously hurting yourself (I read about that in a book…), so checking this place out and stuffing your face with some chicken and donut goodness is not only a good idea, it’s an excellent idea! Go there and check it out! And don’t forget your Doc Brown’s soda while you are at it!
White House Subs: WTF?
I have to admit, I do not enjoy writing about food I don’t like. Negativity is not something I enjoy spewing all over the internet like a heavy meal after a run at a bottle of Jameson. I genuinely like food and sharing it with all 4 of you who read this blog. But when I go somewhere with a reasonable expectation of awesome, and it only half registers a pulse, I gotta talk about it.
When I was in college up in North Central Jersey, I had a lot of people in my dorm who were very anti-Philly in terms of sandwiches (and anti-Philly in general, which I found hilarious considering that they had never been there and they were all from podunk tiny towns and always referred to NYC as “The City”, like there weren’t any others in the world) and very pro-North Jersey and I heard a lot about this White House place. I even remember Bill Cosby name dropping it a few times on the Cosby Show when I was a kid (side note: I cannot remember my phone number half the time but I can remember a food reference from 25 years ago. Go figure.)
I have a thing for old places. I like some history, some backstory. Smiling old people in pictures on the walls make me order more food. I also like vinyl booths, pop up napkin dispensers and cool signs. I’m a sucker for a place with soul. So, in that part, The White House did not disappoint. It had an old school sign up on the roof and it is pretty no frills, which I can appreciate.
When you see a sign like this, proudly pronouncing that they have been open for 60 years, it’s a cool thing. Nothing these days lasts very long. You think Bobby Flay’s Burger Joints will be around for 60 years? Much like any famous deli/sandwich/steak shop, this place is covered with famous people who have swung by to stuff their face with sandwichy delights. I’d imagine, since this place is literally up the street from the Taj Mahal Casino, it wasn’t too hard to get people to come and eat, but whatever.
But enough about the decor. Let’s get down to the brass tacks. The food. (also, I will be referring to all of the white house offerings as “sandwiches”, not “subs”.)
This place does sandwiches. Not “hoagies” but “subs”. A whole is pretty big, most people get a half. The roll is pretty awesome. They get them from a place up the street, The Formica Brothers Italian Bakery. Nice and fresh. It’s the kind of roll called an “Atlantic City Roll”, just call it a great roll. It’s crusty and chewy but not too much of either of those things. It’s just right and saves both of these things I ordered from me having a fit.
I ordered 2 different sandwiches: 1. The Ham, Cappicola, Genoa Salami & Provolone Cheese and 2. The Chicken Parm Sub.
The Ham, Cappicola, Genoa Salami & Provolone Cheese was pretty good. The meat was not skimpy, but it also wasn’t really piled on. I did enjoy the fact they they didn’t cheap out on the provolone, sometimes when you get a sandwich the cheese is sort of an afterthought. Really, the only issue I had was my own fault, I forgot to ask for mayo and I got oil. There is a line of thought that italian hoagies always get oil but I am a mayo freak so I like it on everything. In fact, I usually order extra because rolls tend to soak it up and then the sandwich gets dry. That’s not acceptable to me. (oh, I also ordered a side of sweet peppers as well. They give you a nice sized container of them, it made me happy.)
The thing about these sandwiches, and maybe it’s just me, or that’s the way a sub is supposed to be, but these sandwiches are flat. Any good hoagie I have ever seen, and a sub is a hoagie, have been round. I just found that weird. What do you guys think?
Let’s talk a little bit about the Chicken Parm Sub. I ate this thing like 3 weeks ago but I had to wait to actually sit down and write about it because of how angry it made me. Yeah. Angry. A sandwich made me angry (seriously people, I need a life). You might think I am being ridiculous but when you see this thing, you will understand.
I have eaten hundreds of chicken parm sandwiches over the years. It’s an easy idea: breaded pieces of chicken are put on a roll. You cover in sauce and cheese. Delicious and done. It is almost impossible to screw up. Or so I thought.
Let’s talk about the size of this thing. As in, the lack of filling. If you click on the picture, it actually kind of looks like stacked up chicken cheesesteak meat. That is NOT acceptable.
I started eating this thing, half in shock and half wondering what the hell was going on. Then I took a bite of the dry sandwich. Wait, it’s supposed to be saucy. This thing has about 2 tablespoons of sauce on it. And the sauce was flat and nasty.
Like cheese? Cheese takes a vacation on this thing. I do NOT UNDERSTAND what they are doing here. Was this thing made by an intern? Or half the sandwich fell out on the way to my table? Maybe aliens escaped with half the chicken? Maybe they ran out of breaded chicken and had to fill the sandwich with this crap?
I ate half of it and took the other half home. Sometimes, a sandwich tastes better the next day, or even just a hour or two or three later.
I took this thing home and it was even shittier later on that nite. And I was drunk! Everything tastes better when you are drunk!
This whole thing baffles me. I was told by a local that the place isn’t the same as it used to be. I don’t understand how that is possible. A chicken parm sandwich is a simple item of food. Chicken is fairly cheap to buy and you already got the rolls. The sauce can be made in
huge batches and frozen so it’s not a big deal. You can buy bags of shredded cheese at places like Jetro and Sysco for a song. Whatever the hell they are doing with this sandwich, in the name of all things holy and sandwich related, should be STOPPED.
I am sure someone is going to slam me for writing this post. Trust me, there is no one out there who would love to love a new sandwich shop like me. As someone who has worked in food, loves to eat and loves when people have a small business that is thriving, I was hoping for the best.
So, here are some things I did like: they have nice napkin dispensers that pop up the napkins and it makes it easy to grab when covered with various sandwich accoutrements. The waitress was super nice. They give you a choice between bottled water or water from the soda machine (aka tap). If you are a single person, they have a small booth that is good for one or two people if you don’t want to eat at the counter (the regular sized booths are saved for 3 or more people). Like I said above, I enjoyed the pictures on the wall, especially the Tug McGraw (my favorite Phillie) at the grill picture. I also enjoyed the size of the cups they put the sweet peppers in, it was just enough.
Here was the brightest spot in my visit to The White House. A taste of Philly.
So, if you are headed down to Atlantic City, if I were you, I would avoid this tourist trap and go to Tony Boloney’s (300 Oriental Ave) instead. While I had one ok sandwich, that chicken parm was so horrendously bad, I wouldn’t risk eating anything else there, except for, of course, Tastykakes!
So I realized I had a bunch of stray pictures hanging around. I am the asshole you see snapping pictures of food at inappropriate times (“I know you are having that cookie because of your low blood sugar but it looks cool”…Snap!) but not all of my pics can be a whole blog post unto itself. So, here is a roundup of assorted pics that I thought would be cool.
First up! In a previous post, I drooled all over the internet about a Prime Rib that my cousin-in-law, Bob, the firefighter chef, had made. Well, what I did not mention was that his wife Chrissy cut me a giant piece to take home. So, later on, home alone on New Years Day, I wanted to eat it. But how? I cut it up, threw it in a cast iron skillet and started to just heat it up.
In a little bowl I mixed some ketchup, A1, sriracha, worcheshire sauce and water and threw it in so it wouldn’t get dried out. Then I thought, what should I eat with it? Duh.
It was a thing of beauty. The sauce had cooked down and caramelized on the meat and the eggs were cooked but the yolks were still kinda dippy. I sat in the green leather armchair in the living room with this plate on my lap and welcomed the first day of 2012 (yeah, I had to check) with reckless abandon. And lots of meat!
I was in North Jersey doing some comedy awhile back with my friend Latice. It was a long drive and I was super crazy hungry. I ordered a burger (an aside: please don’t advertise a big giant burger and then give me a big giant…jetro frozen burger. It takes 20 minutes to make like 45 fresh burgers for the week. Salt. Pepper. Maybe something else if you wanna get crazy. It’s cheaper to buy a chubb (haha, yeah that’s what they call it) of meat from wherever you get your meat and make them yourself then to lie to me and make me angry.) and wanted nachos. I love nachos.
And what they served me made me so angry I wanted to burn the building down.
What we have here are the Worst Nachos In The History Of The World. They were over salted regular and blue corn tortilla chips with the bagged shredded cheese and old chili on them. Oh. And olives. Where are the other ingredients? They were on another plate (that I didn’t take a picture of due to being angry) in little cups. There was not enough for the both of us, which irritates the crap out of me, because nachos should be big enough to be shared by at least 3 people. THAT IS WHY THEY EXIST. Some idiot in the kitchen decides to make deconstructed nachos and then doesn’t even mention it in the menu. And then tries to pass off a frozen burger as homemade. For shame. FOR SHAME.
This is what nachos should look like:
There is everything you need there. They don’t make their own chips either, even tho it is simple, but there is height, heft and yes, DELICIOUSNESS.
(And the maraschino cherries for dessert? You really get me internet, you really do…)
My little cousin Matt turned 7 earlier this past year and he wanted a monster themed party (fitting for Matt, but you don’t know him, so this must seem very inside baseball. You’d be right. But, trust me.). So his mom Lorrie made a very cool cake and gave out these monster cake pops!
Lorrie makes such awesome baked goods that sometimes I daydream about keeping her in my basement to just make me baked goods all day long. But then I remember how silly that would be…my cellar isn’t big enough for that kind of operation. A girl can dream tho.
Anyway, aren’t they cool? The hair is oreo crumbs and the cake is a light and airy chocolate. Did I almost get into a fight with another 7 year old over one sitting on a table?
One may never know…(I sure as hell ain’t tellin’….)
I found myself out of my area of cheesesteaks and tastykakes and into another area called Brooklyn. It looks a lot like Philly but with much more annoying Yankee/Giants/Mets crap plastered to all the cards. So instead of making an afternoon out of keying cars, I ended up eating this…a red velvet donut.
I didn’t eat it when first given to me. It sat in the bag for a bit. While I do tend to write about baked goods, I really very rarely eat them because too much carby stuff turns me into a parade float. Ahem. Anywho, this beauty is from the Peter Pan Bakery on Manhattan Ave in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn. This thing was freakin’ amazing. Could it have been better with cream cheese frosting? Perhaps. But it was like eating a cupcake, a cake and a dance on a ballroom floor and I’ll take that any day.
I’ll end this hodgepodge post with a cupcake. A plain vanilla cupcake. I don’t remember exactly where I had this thing (it might have been another one of Bob’s creations), but I remember the icing. I hate cupcakes that have skimpy sugar-ball icing. They have no flavor. No panache. No…soul.
This was a perfect cupcake. Cream cheese icing. Tiny sugar crystals. It took me awhile to get down to the cupcake but ya know what?
It was a holiday cupcake and I was in love with it. And that was just fine with me.