Thursday, February 24, 2011

My Fascination With Gas Station Hot Dog Roller Cuisine Continues

As you may or may not know, I have something of a fascination with Gas Station cuisine. In particular, I am endlessly amused by all of the strange and horrible creations that you may find lurking on top of the ol' hot dog roller. Our travelling tummies can not be satisfied by mere frankfurters anymore! We need to see taquitos, or bratwursts, or weird bastard Cheese Burger Tubes(click for my review), endlessly rolling away waiting to be swaddled in a bun and devoured.

I was at the Hess station on Deleware Ave. the other day when I happened to spy something named "Cheesy Buffalo Ranch Chicken" nestled in front of the Ranchero Steak Taquitos on the roller. I did not try to fight the inevitable, I knew that I would purchase and endure the gut punishing after effects. All for my readers, and for Science! Here it is on the bun.

The odd little chicken tube kind of looked like a giant, hot dog shaped chicken nugget. It emitted a vaguely vinegar stink although the surface was dry, i.e. not slathered with some sort of Buffalo wing sauce. Taking a bite, as usual with this sort of product, I was put off by the oddly spongy texture of the obviously mechanically separated and formed chicken sludge. For some reason I expected some sort of wet filling, either cheese or buffalo sauce. But it was pretty much just spongy breaded chicken loaf.

The name of this thing (Cheesy Buffalo Ranch Chicken) is fairly misleading. I detected no cheese, no ranch, and very little chicken flavor. The overwhelming flavor profile was vaguely spicy vinegar, so I guess I will give them their misguided attempt at "Buffalo" flavor. The thing tasted like a chicken nugget that had been doused with raw white vinegar and then sprinkled with a hint of cayenne pepper. Not my bag, but I am sure there are those out there that may enjoy it.

Anyhow, I am sure there are countless tubular meat forms rolling in a warm metal embrace out there waiting to be consumed by Mr. Dave. Future reviews are surely forthcoming.

Friday, February 18, 2011

French Vanilla, Cream, Two Sugars

In case you are wondering, "French Vanilla, Cream, Two Sugars" is definitely not the way I take my coffee. In fact, I am not much of a coffee drinker at all. I am more of a P&G Tips (two bags, milk and sugar) kind of guy.

The above pictured urban tumble weed was blown by the winter winds onto my front step this sunny morn. I smiled at the grease pencil scrawl on the cup, which to the immature mind appears to spell "FUCTS." I was informed some time ago by a friend that "French Vanilla, Cream, Two Sugars" is such a common order at Dunkin Donuts that the cheeky workers have created this unique shorthand. I don't blame them for making the V look a little more like a U, you have to live for life's small comedies.

Anyhow, enjoy this beautiful day. I am sure the weather gods are only allowing us a peek at spring. There are surely a few more bleak, gray, and cold days to come before old man Winter packs his bags.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Oh, Country View Diner Placemat, You Crazy.

So, I was at the Country View Diner across the River in Troy this afternoon for a little lunch with some associates. Whenever I luncheon in an establishment such as this, I make a point to peruse the ads on the obligatory paper diner placemat. Today I found some adolescent humor to share with you all. See below.

Here we have "Doggy Styles (nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Know what I mean?)" dog grooming service. The tagline is priceless- "We'll make your dirty dog feel fresh and frisky." Ha. Ha. Ha. Nothing like a little blatantly sexual double entendre with your french toast and scrambled eggs in the morning. Gets your day started right. Seriously though, the cute little old lady quotient in the joint was high enough to make me blush with the thought of them reading this ad. But I guess it is all in good fun.

Anyhow, I had the obligatory Greek Diner Gyro plate. Pretty good at the Country View, nice lil' Greek salad on the side and they aren't stingy with the meat. Even if it is weird pre-formed Gyro strips (i.e. def. not shaved off a real Gyro meat cone). On the way out I found even more delicious weirdness located in the vestibule.

Don't you want your very own "Bok Choy Boy?" I know I do...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Utica Grind

If you have been reading my drivel for a while, then you will know that I have an enduring soft spot for the plucky polis that is the gem of Central NY. I am, of course, speaking of Utica, NY. We have covered Chicken Riggies, the city's eponymous Greens, and even had a few words about ol' Uncle Charlie (Utica Club). Did you know that Utica even has its own favored style of crushed red pepper? That's right folks, if you look around you may find "Crushed Red Pepper (Utica Grind)" or "Utica Style Crushed Red Pepper."

Apparently, as per the Avico Spice company website, around 1926-"Antonia Vitagliano demanded red pepper without the seeds. It became known as "Utica Grind" now an Avico Spice trademark." Should this post give you an especial jones for the stuff, then you can order the original off the Avico website here. Or you can just go over to Cardona's on Deleware as I did. Every time I buy one of Cardona's pre-packed items I admire the penmanship on the label, it has a certain flair.

Anyhow, as Avico states, the "Utica Grind" is dried/crushed red pepper without the seeds. The texture is a little finer then most commercial crushed red pepper brands, it reminds me of the skin from peanuts. It is all flaky, light and fluffy in a very pleasing sort of way. In terms of flavor, it adds a somewhat slower burn and a less aggressive heat with just a hint of red chili flavor to a dish. I have tried it cooked in pasta sauces and also dabbled in sprinkling it on various things and am becoming some what of Utica Style Red Pepper addict. I even mix the stuff with olive oil for bread dipping purposes, can you live at that speed?

It is one of those strange cases where a slightly different then usual preparation greatly alters the properties of an ingredient. Kind of like how the manner in which you choose chop, crush, or dice your garlic will impart different sorts of flavors to your finished product. It doesn't seem like the Utica grind should be all that different then what you probably have in your spice cabinate, but it is. All part of the myth, magic, and mystery of cuisine. Go get some and see if I am right.

I am scheduled to spend a couple weeks out in the Utica/Rome area come late March, so I am sure more discoveries are to be had. We shall see.
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