Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Dog Days

Place: Chicago Dog
Lunch: Jumbo chili dog basket (chili dog, potato salad, kettle chips, pickle), Pepsi

Smiling Counter Girl, who usually works at the downtown store, is having issues with the POS system..


Other Girl, who seems to be doing nothing: "Well stand on your tippy toes."

She literally tries this and eventually enters my order.  "I think it's the glare," she notes.

Other Girl: "You should wear sunglasses."

She gives me my total, and it's about two bucks less than it should be.

"You did put that in as a jumbo dog, didn't you?"


Other Girl: "THAT'S A JUMBO!"

Girl In Back Making Food: "A JUMBO?"


It's National Hot Dog Day, and this is my second chili dog of the morning.  The first was at 5:30am because I had to go to work early, and whenever I have to go to work early, I swing by QuikTrip and get a chili dog.  It's tradition.  It's also completely necessary because I'm not getting through a workday that early without a gutbomb breakfast.

You could argue that I'm doing National Hot Dog Day wrong since there's also a National Chili Dog Day (last Thursday in July), but I'll probably have a couple Nathan's hot dogs, sans chili, for dinner.  So there.

Hot dog cooking at home has gotten far easier recently.  I discovered a couple of products from a company called Nostalgia.  The first is a hot dog toaster.  It has two round slots to put hot dogs in and two arched slots to put buns in.  In less than five minutes, you have cooked hot dogs and toasted buns.  AMAZING!  It works great, but the slots only fit standard width dogs, so no plump or jumbo dogs.  One of the complaints I've seen about them is using Ball Park's "plump when you cook 'em" dogs because they fit in initially, then get stuck when they cook.

The second is their hot dog roller grill.  A mini counter top roller grill that will take on pretty much any straight round sausage you throw at it...or carefully place on it.  In 15-25 minutes (depending on the size of the dog), you have perfect roller grill dogs.  I use the crap out of that thing.  You can fit about eight standard length dogs on it at a time, or four longer ones.

Since pretty much everything I post anymore includes a stupid listicle, here's a list of my current favorite dogs, be it at home or about town.

Nathan's Jumbo Restaurant Style Beef Franks - Nathan's has a wide variety of dogs available at supermarkets.  These are the ones to get.  Unless you want to deep fry them, which requires the Natural Casing variety.  Simply my favorite hot dog ever.

Sabrett Bun-Size Beef Frankfurter - Similar to Nathan's.  Slightly stronger taste.  Probably a better pairing with sauerkraut.  I don't like sauerkraut.  But I like these.

Schmidt's Bahama Mama - A Columbus, OH-based staple since 1886 (they still operate a restaurant in German Village), this dog has as perfect a mix of spicy and hot dog I've ever had.  Not too spicy unless you put spicy mustard on them.  That'll clear your nostrils.  A popular roller grill item at Maverik convenience stores out west and at EZ-Go's on the Kansas turnpike.  If you're in the Cincinnati area, you can find grocery packages at Jungle Jim's.

Vienna Beef - A Chicago staple.  If you're making a Chicago-style dog, this is the dog you should be making it with.  Or so many will argue.  I get the jumbo ones.

Eisenberg - Another Chicago style dog some will argue should be used for Chicago dogs.  Hy-Vee Gas convenience stores have these on their roller grills.

Kirkland Quarter Pound-Plus Beef Hot Dogs - Kirkland is Costco's house brand.  They sell these thick way-longer-than-the-bun beasts at their in-store snack bars with a soda for $1.50.  Cheapest lunch in town.  You can also buy them in huge bulk packs in the store.  They taste similar to the Eisenburg dog.

Oscar Mayer Foodservice Beef Hot Dog - The Oscar Mayer restaurant-grade dogs are different than any of the variety of dogs they sell in grocery stores.  They're juicier and have a completely different flavor profile.  I don't do the home dogs, but I like these.  That's the dog in my QuikTrip chili dog.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Eye Scream

Place: Braum's
Lunch: Birthday cake sundae (no whipped cream)

They were out of whipped cream. On National Ice Cream day.

Braum's birthday cake ice cream is blue with spongy tasty chunks of cake and is the best birthday cake ice cream I know of.  Especially covered in marshmallow sauce.

It's National Ice Cream Day.  And it's Sunday.  So why not a Sundae for lunch, because I suck at being a diabetic.

Who can't open a floodgate of happy memories surrounding ice cream.  From the first time I saw a twist cone (at a walk-up stand called the Curly Cone) to the time at the drive-in theatre when a woman walked down the front row of cars handing out cups of her magnificent homemade vanilla with lemon shavings to everyone sitting in lawn chairs in front of their cars.  There was the night my dad apologized to three-or-four-year-old me for the half-dozen shots a doctor had just injected into my heel (to this day the most painful thing I've ever experienced) with a milkshake stop at Tastee-Freeze.  Grandma's freezer seemingly always had a container of Carnation 1880 Neapolitan.  We had Fred Meyer's My-Te-Fine in our freezer.

Ice cream comes in a seemingly endless number of styles, flavors, and even textures.  From soft serve technically too lean to be ice cream (making it ice milk) to concoctions so rich in butter fat they're really frozen custards, we love them all.

These are my favorites.

Tillamook Udderly Chocolate - Originally called "Brown Cow" before the Brown Cow Cream Top Yogurt people had a...cow...this is the best ice cream in the history of the world as far as I'm concerned.  Chocolate ice cream, white chocolate ice cream, and dark chocolate shavings.  The chocolate ice cream is as tasty as pudding.  There's simply never been any ice cream better.

Haagen-Dazs Strawberry - Technically my second favorite Strawberry ice cream of all-time.  My favorite was Frusen-Gladje Strawberry, but that brand died years ago in a bizarre ownership dispute that went something like "YOU own that brand now."  "No...YOU own that brand!"  "We SOLD you that brand."  "WE DID NOT BUY THAT BRAND!"

Jeni's Queen City Cayenne - Cincinnati, the Queen City, is one of my five favorite cities to binge eat in and lay in bed staring at hotel ceilings pondering the shallowness of my life and wondering why I bother go on living at all.  A signature dish of the city is Cincinnati chili, and the name of this ice cream is a tribute to that dish.  It was this flavor that Columbus, OH-based Jeni Britton Bauer concocted that inspired her to start Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, who make some of those $10 pints you find in Whole Foods and other uppity grocers.  This is a fabulous deep chocolate with a flavor profile somewhere between Fudgesicle and chocolate cheesecake, with a spicy kick to the aftertaste.  It's simply incredible.  If your local uppity grocer doesn't have it, you can mail order, or visit one of their 25 Scoop Shops in 8 markets.  Also try: Churro, Brambleberry Crisp, Brown Butter Almond Brittle, Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk...oh God, just mortgage your house already.

Speaking of...

Jeni's Brown Butter Almond Brittle - Have you ever had Baskin-Robbin's Pralines & Cream and though to yourself "I wonder how they could improve on this?"  No you haven't, because such a concept is unthinkable.  Until you try this.  Then your mind is blown.

Baskin-Robbins Mint Chocolate Chip - It's probably childhood memory association, but as far as I'm concerned, no one makes a better mint chocolate chip.  Jeni's makes a nearly identical one and promotes it as being "just like you remember."  And by "just like you remember," they're very much referring to Baskin-Robbins.

Braum's Birthday Cake - I already talked about it at the top of the page.  What...did you start reading halfway through?  Are you just skimming this post?  LAZY.

Kemps Orange Cream Dream - A limited edition that stuck around seasonally for years, it's your classic vanilla ice cream and orange sherbet swirl taken further with little orange vanilla candy cups.  I still look for it, but haven't seen it in a couple years.

Cold Stone Creamery Cake Batter with Cookie Dough Mix-In - A rich, creamy, perfectly mixed balance.  Best in a waffle cone.

Freddy's Funnel Cake Sundae - Put a 5-inch or so funnel cake on a plate topped with Freddy's vanilla custard and cover it with strawberries in syrup and you have a simple, yet unique, winner.  Available seasonally around State and County Fair time.  In fact, it just made its 2017 debut this past week and I had one yesterday.

Dairy Queen Cherry Dipped Cone - Nothing like a small town DQ on s hot Summer day.  Especially if it's an old school location with a walk-up window.  While not a problem at my local DQ's, I occasionally run into ones that don't have the cherry dip.


Monday, July 03, 2017

Bad Blockbusters

Place: Taco Casa
Lunch: Taco Lite (no tomato), Chilada, Coke

It's Independence Day weekend.  Well...Independence Day is Tuesday, but you probably took Monday off and headed to some exotic locale like Oklahoma like I did.  Or maybe you're grilling in your own backyard.  Nothing wrong with that, so long as your grilling includes hot dogs.  Everyone should have a hot dog on the fourth of July.  In a rare instance of the government doing something nice for the people, they legalized real fireworks again back home, so I fully expect to come home Tuesday to find the Townhouse of Solitude burned to the ground.

I saw a pretty decent Independence Day weekend movie today.  It wasn't a massive blockbuster.  It was "Baby Driver", a modern-day take on old car crime spree drive-in movies.  The big weekend release was "Despicable Me 3"  I'll skip that  But I got to thinking...don't we usually have a big budget action blockbuster taking advantage of the Independence Day holiday?  I guess the closest to that right now is the fifth "Transformers" movie, but nobody cares.  Heck, I didn't bother with any of them past the first.  But I got to thinking about Independence Weekend releases of days gone by, and how many of them were truly awful.

Let's have a look.

Independence Day (1996) - We can't not start with this one, right?  This movie had so much positive word-of-mouth and so many people gushing over it and I just sat there in my car at the North Star Drive-In in North Ogden, Utah aghast at how awful it was.  But it wasn't the worst movie I've ever seen over an Independence Day weekend.  That honor goes to...

Armageddon (1998) - If you thought it impossible to make a sexy scene with Liv Tyler in it really really unsexy and gross, you haven't seen "Armageddon".  The whole thing was just painful to watch.

War of the Worlds (2005) - Remember when Tom Cruise starred in this opus where the Earth was attacked by camera tri-pods?  "Scary Movie 4" largely parodied this, and is the far superior movie.

Wild Wild West (1999) - Will Smith owned the Independence Day weekend in 1997 with "Men in Black".  Not so much two years later.  Or in 2002 when "Men in Black II" came out.  Come to think of it, he was also in "Independence Day", wasn't he.

Men in Black II - The first MiB movie may be my favorite all-time Independence Day weekend rblockbuster.  As for the sequel, the flushing scene was a metaphor for the turd that this movie was.

The Lone Ranger (2013) - The third act was outstanding, but who wanted to wade through the rest of the movie to get to it?  Not many.  Major box office disaster.

Superman Returns - Okay, I actually liked Superman Returns.  Nobody else did, but I liked it.

Back home tomorrow, then back to work Wednesday.

At least it's a short work week.