Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Cure

Place: HuHot Mongolian Grill
Lunch: A couple of plates full of chicken and mushrooms and the usual sauces and oils, Coke

Guy Standing Next To Me at the Grill Line observes my food cooking and says "Say!  You don't happen to like mushrooms, do you?"

Me: "No, I sure don't."

Hysterical laughter of the entire line ensues, because I have all the mushrooms.

You've probably noticed in your Facebook and Twitter feeds that loads of people are doing this "ice bucket challenge".  It's a fundraiser for the ADF Foundation, aka the group fighting "Lou Gehrig's Disease".

I'll tell you right now that, if you challenge me, the response will be "bugger off".  I don't believe in any of the organizations who are claiming to be researching a cure to whatever cause they support.  Because, as far as I know, not one of them has ever managed to cure a disease.

I can remember Jerry Lewis declaring "We're THIS CLOSE to a cure!" for Muscular Dystrophy when I was a kid.  Every year.  No we weren't.  And no we're not.  Even though the MDA raised $159,000,000 in 2012 alone.  Hasn't bought a cure.

Cancer?  No.  Diabetes?  No.  Alzheimer's?  Nope.  Frankly, we're not bright enough to cure the world of snoring.  Our best scientists probably couldn't exactly copycat Steak n Shake's chili recipe if you gave them some to analyze before trying.

We're supposed to be smart enough to take on a real disease?


Curing all this crap will involve taking a completely different approach than any of these organizations or any university is trying.  Do I know what that is?  No, and neither does anybody else.  But somebody should be thinking about it.

But I have a feeling it's coming.  In the next ten-twenty years.  A private, for-profit company will break the code, create the tools, and obliterate it all.

And if that company isn't Apple or Google, it will be one very similar to them.

I'm betting on Apple.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Pie Five

Place: Pie Five Pizza
Lunch: High Five (beef, ham, pepperoni, bacon, sausage, "Tuscan marinara" (red) sauce, cheddar on a classic pan crust), Coke

Pie Five (the name comes from the idea that it allegedly takes five minutes from the start of the order process to cooked pizza) is a new concept from the Pizza Inn people that takes pizza ordering down the Chipotle and Qdoba burrito path.  You order your pizza from a list of pre-designed combos (under the menu heading "Our Pie") or you customize your own (under the menu heading "Your Pie"), then follow it down the assembly line, picking your crust (there's four, including a gluten-free one), sauce (there's seven) cheese (there's four), and toppings (there's twenty-four).  Then they throw it in their scary-hot conveyor oven, which cooks it in "just over two minutes", according to their website.  Imagine a giant version of this in the hands of a Batman villain. Batman and Robin tied to the slow moving conveyor by the Pie Five Villains.  Will they escape?  Or are they in deep dish?  Tune in tomorrow.  Same bat time, same bat channel.

There's a couple dozen Pie Five locations up and running, with commitments and plans for about a bajillion.  Wichita's opened just yesterday and is the first freestanding Pie Five in the chain.  The rest are in strip malls.

I enter the parking lot exactly at opening time.  The manager opens the door and shouts "Yes!  We're open!"  He has to shout because I'm quite a distance from the door, which he holds open for me.  So I do a very exaggerated "Chariots of Fire"-style slow motion jog to the door, a joke he doesn't seem to get.

"Welcome, First Customer of the Day," he says.

This is apparently First Customer of the Day special treatment, because there's a couple coming up not far behind me, but he does NOT hold the door open for them.  Or anyone else later.

He hands me a menu and points me in the direction of the order line, itself quite a distance.  This place is HUGE.  Didn't expect that.

Smiling Pizza Making Line Girl: takes my order for a "High Five on Pan".  The fresh-made-every-three-hour dough is coated with red sauce and white cheese mix (mozzarella and provolone) is added.  Since the only cheese noted on the menu for this pizza is cheddar, I was surprised at the mozzarella, but apparently the cheddar is considered a separate topping.

Smiling Pizza Making Line Guy next to Smiling Pizza Making Line Girl takes over and adds the toppings, including the cheddar.  He asks for my approval on the finished product.  I approve.  Off to the oven it goes.

The next guy is Smiling Salad Dessert Upseller Guy.  He asks if I want a salad or dessert (aka stuff listed on the menu board under the heading "Not Pie") and then stops himself because they're out of something.  Not sure what.  I decline anyway.  I will say that I saw some other customers with salads later, and they were small but really impressive looking.

The next guy is Smiling Garnish Your Pizza with Peppers or Magic Dust Guy.

"Uh, what's Magic Dust?"

It's a powdered blend of parmasean, romano, and Italian seasonings.

"Okay, yeah, you can do that."

I pay the nine bucks and change (the pizza and a soda).  I get my drink, and wait for my pizza, which takes considerably longer than the advertised "just over two minutes" to get through the oven.

My pizza is then put on a tray that also has salads, and some lady goes to pick it up.  "No, wait!" shouts Smiling Garnish Your Pizza with Peppers or Magic Dust Guy.  "That's hot hers, it's his!" pointing at me like I was the killer all along.  Everyone looks at me in shock and terror.

The resulting pizza is around seven inches, typical of personal pizza size at most chains.  It looks REALLY hot, so I wait a few minutes for it to cool down.  This proves unnecessary.  It's just fine.

And it's delicious.

Seriously.  This sauce is just amazing.  Tangy and full of flavor.

I'm in love.

Everything about this is great.

I'm not kidding.  This thing is just fantastic.

The size is fine for one.  I think we have a mentality that leads us to overeat when it comes to pizza.  You have a large delivered on sale, you eat too much of it.  You go to the pizza buffet, you eat too much.  Here, you have a determined portion, and it's just about right.  At least for me.

Well played, Pie Five.  I'll be exploring the menu more in future visits.

**UPDATE** - Pie Five ultimately opened three locations in Wichita.  As of 2018, all of them had closed.