Showing posts with label food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label food. Show all posts

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Your Questions Answered: A Nice Piece of Meat

We're answering questions here at The Signal Watch.

 Our own Fantomenos asked:

You're a Texan so:

What's the best cut of meat for casual grilling?

Again, these are advanced level questions with no simple answer.

What's throwing me here is the use of the word "casual".  "Casual" can mean "I'm coming home from work, do you want me to grab some chicken on my way?"  It can mean having over 20 people, but we're all in shorts.  It can mean dinner with a few friends, or it can mean the assembly line at a summer camp.

So, let's ponder this a bit.

I'd break it down to:

  • steaks and chicken
  • BBQ
  • hotdogs and hamburgers on the Weber on the back porch


While barbecue is sometimes served at weddings, political events, etc...  and you can definitely find upscale barbecue in town (I recommend Lamberts), the barbecue that's considered most desirable is usually slow cooked and smoked to perfection.  That, obviously, is not a "casual" task, even if it's one's hobby and you're doing it at home.  Seriously, it's an all day affair.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Conan's, Orange Julius, Sheep

The evening was looking pretty dull, I don't mind telling you. We had no plans. The hour grew late, and finally, somehow we settled on the faded glory of an Austin now receding into the distant past.

You can have your Paul Qui fancy-schmancy fusion bistros. Food is what reminds you of home, and I grew up in this town when we still had armadillo races as a form of local fun. And back then, we ate our pizza like we had nothing to live for. Conan's Pizza has only a few locations left after the expansion in the late 80's and contraction of the late 90's. They haven't redecorated since putting any of the Conan's in place, and they had a particular look back then that lingers to this day.

The Ms. Pac-Man machine is not there ironically

If you're wondering, why yes, they LOVE Conan the Barbarian.  You can't tell from the pic above, but most of the art is either Frazetta prints or Frazetta knock-offs.  Not too many other places would it seem like part of the tradition to eat under a Molly Hatchet album cover, but at Conan's, it's part of the ambiance.

The pizza you want to get there is called "The Savage".  Get it deep dish with a wheat crust or you're kind of just wasting everyone's time.  The Savage is literally every topping they've got.  You will absolutely feel sick after eating it.  But, let me stop you now and say, if you don't eat The Savage, neither I nor the staff nor other patrons of Conan's have any real reason to respect you.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Signal Watch Goes Loco: Taco Time

You know, when we said we were going out of town a lot of people asked us "where are you going to eat?" or made suggestions for where we should go. In fact, nobody seemed to care what touristy stuff we were going to do, all anybody talked about was restaurants.  Chicago is a vast tapestry of food options, and I appreciate all the suggestions, but could not possibly have considered travelling to even a quarter of what was suggested due to geography and other factors.  


Do not worry:  We had our day of nice meals where we had a terrific breakfast and a stellar dinner, but, seriously, I'm not made out of money, and unless all we were going to do in this center of culture and history was pat ourselves on the back for eating poached mushrooms or whatever the hell, our money was going elsewhere during this trip.

Don't worry, we ate in a couple tourist dumps and paid plenty. But I also ate lunch one day from the refrigerated section at CVS. And yet, somehow, still managed to have a swell time.

But, if you're looking for a food adventure, the great thing about America is that you need never go far. On the way back from the airport, Jamie said "just go get Taco Bell", and indeed, we did.

I took the opportunity to get myself the Doritos Loco Taco.


There it is in all it's glory.  It looks and smells pretty much like a Taco Bell crunchy taco.  The shell is lightly dusted with the Doritos cheese, notorious for finding its way onto one's fingers and then their white linen pants leaving orange fingerprints.  Fortunately, Taco Bell lovingly wraps each taco in a specialized cardboard taco protector so one need never muss their fingers, nor stain their favorite seersucker suit.


Here I am moments from tasting the taco.  I'm pretty excited.  Jamie really was discouraging this whole enterprise and probably would have supported me just chucking the damn thing in the trash.


Here I am enjoying my first, savory bite and trying to comprehend the wild palette of flavors hitting my tongue.



That's not a thumbs up of awesomeness.  That's a thumbs-up of "I'm not going to barf".  The truth is, the taco isn't all that bad.  It basically tastes like everything else at Taco Bell, only there's a mild zing of that Doritos cheese flavor somewhere in there.

To be honest, it's nether good nor bad.  Your mileage will vary depending on whether you like Taco Bell crunchy tacos to begin with, and if you like the flavor of Doritos.  My guess is that the demographic for Doritos and Taco Bell is a near total-eclipse on the Venn Diagram.  Whether it's worth the extra money for you to taste the weird faux-cheesiness of Doritos (something I'm usually only into when beer is involved) is up to you.

Apparently Taco Bell has already sold more of these than there are people in the US, so I guess the matter of whether this was a good idea will settle itself.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Reader Participation: The Loco Taco Taste Test Supreme

I do not eat fast food as often as I once did (which was, like, a lot).  At some point my GI tract rebelled and said "no more", and so its a true rarity that I swing through a McDonalds, Wendy's, BK or other joint.  I don't care for Panda Express (like, seriously, guys, no.  Gross.), and Chik-Fil-A apparently hates Teh Gays, so I have an excuse not to eat there, which isn't really a problem since I burned out on them circa 2004.

But Taco Bell (and our regional Tex-Mex favorite, Taco Cabana) are still in light rotation.  Especially since Taco Bell quit insisting that I have to order a "Chicken Ranch Taco without Ranch sauce" in order to get a chicken soft taco.

People, I love tacos.  I have been known to eat tacos for multiple meals in a row.  I have been lured out of doing work with the promise of tacos.  I eat voluntarily in a college cafeteria because of tacos.

Yes, the price at Taco Bell today is far, far more than the $0.59 I used to pay per taco back in college, but I am okay with paying $1.30 per taco if it means the workers are less likely to add spittle to my food.

Now, I am aware that what we call "Mexican Food" in the US varies regionally.  I was stunned by the differences when we moved to Arizona, and, of course, what they serve at the local places in AZ differs from what you're getting in Mexico City vs. elsewhere in Old Mexico.  But nowhere in Mexico did food ever look exactly like Taco Bell.  In fact, I'm not really sure where Taco Bell originated.  In fact, I recall laughing and laughing and laughing at a colleague from Chicago when she suggested she did not want Mexican food for lunch because she'd had Taco Bell for dinner the night before, which was an equation I don't think I would have made in a hundred years.

Similarly, I was well into college before I figured out that Doritos were supposed to suggest something about an origin in Mexican cuisine.  Sure, I saw that it said "nacho flavor" on the packaging, but still...  I'd always believed the consistency of the chips was necessary for heavy layer of the cheese dust from Mac'n'Cheese packages they used for "flavor".  Don't get me wrong, I love me a Dorito, but somewhere in the 1960's-era processed food blitz that generated them, somehow they created something entirely new en route to imitating Chips'n'Queso, which I assume was the inspiration.

But now, Taco Bell and Doritos, two bastard sons of the American cheap/ processed food wasteland have found one another in a nigh post-apocalyptic dining scenario.

I present to you (and I am not making this up) the Loco Taco from Taco Bell.


From the site:
A Taco Supreme® made with premium seasoned beef,crisp lettuce, diced juicy red ripe tomatoes, real cheddar cheese and topped with cool reduced-fat sour cream, in a shell made from Nacho Cheese Doritos® Chips.
That is amazing.  That is a food stunt of the highest order that I did not think Taco Bell could top when they did the food stunt equivalent of jumping 10 flaming school buses on the back of a tricycle with their burrito stuffed with chili-cheese Fritos.*

I have not engaged in a Taste Test in many, many moons...  but it may be time.

For, like, $1.30, you could also participate.  Just go to your local Bell, order one or two of these up, indulge and send me your thoughts via email.

*seriously, just looking at the burrito menu at Taco Bell reminds me that the Surgeon General pleads with you not to consume any Taco Bell burrito products.  Choose life.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Mr. Walls ate a lot of McRibs

For over two decades, I have had the terrific pleasure of having been acquainted with Mr. Trey Walls.  I do not say this lightly, but Trey is, possibly, one of the most fascinating people on Earth.  He built a wet bar in his bedroom (for convenience, one supposes), he is the proprietor of Texas' foremost Spice Girls fansite, and he never does anything in half-measures.

Today I received this email from Mr. Walls:


Friends,
This season saw me reach a goal of 50 McRibs eaten.  I cannot say I have enjoyed the last 15, but I was set on reaching 50 and with that I am announcing my retirement from eating McRibs.  I have been to the promised land and I have seen the mountain top!  I feel that there is nothing left to accomplish with this sandwich.  I am not against doing guest eatings with my dear friends, but am leaving the competitive eating world after 3 straight championships with (name of Trey's workplace).
2008 - 37
2009 - 33 (short season)
2010 - 50
Eat well my friends! 
Walls
For those of you who do not know:  The McRib is a delicious sandwich sold at McDonald's that is not a permanent fixture on the menu.  It usually appears in Texas right around the start of the holiday season, and disappears immediately afterward.  You cannot take the McRib for granted.  And you must respect it, for it is unkind to the GI tract of most mortals.

As someone who has only ever eaten 5 of these delectable sandwiches in a year (and who swore off them after last year's 3-sandwiches-in-one-sitting debacle, but went ahead and got one this year, anyway), I can only tip my hat.

I plan to submit an email interview to Trey.  If you have any questions you'd like to ask, submit them now!