Sunday, December 30, 2007

Gone drinkin'

I'm off to Atlanta. A Man's Gotta Eat will return Wednesday, January 2.

Have a safe and happy New Years Day.

How much do I love hot sauce? Let me count the ways ...

Sometime last November or December, a co-worker asked me how much Tabasco sauce I consumed in a year. You see, I'd taken something for lunch which required a good dousing of Tabasco (probably meatloaf), and I was toting a 12-ounce bottle of Tabasco with which I was gonna do me some dousing.

I'd never really thought about how much Tabasco I consumed in a year. According to certain close friends and members of my immediate family, I ate a lot. So that's how I responded to my co-worker: "A lot," I says.

The more I thought about how much hot sauce I put 'tween my lips, the more curious I became. So, on January 12, I cracked the seal on a new 12-ounce bottle of Tabasco and made a note on my pocket PC. Throughout the rest of the year, I made a note every time I purchased a new bottle of Tabasco. On December 23, I busted open my last bottle of the year ... number 14. Here 'tis:



By my measure, I've filled my belly with about 170 ounces of Tabasco since January 12. That figure includes Tabasco from bottles I've purchased and bottles from which I've carpet-bombed my food in restaurants.

Anyone who thinks that I consume a lot of Tabasco should also condider this: I've also emptied 3-4 34-ounce bottles of Valentina Salsa Picante, a half-dozen 32-ounce bottles of Texas Pete (Mr. Jimmy helped me empty at least 2 of 'em), 2 28-ounce bottles of Sriacha, and at least - at least - a dozen 12-ounce bottles of Trappey's Bull Louisiana Hot Sauce over the past 12 months.

Yeah, I guess you could say I like hot sauce.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Sauce it up and work it like a rib

Earlier this week, the Los Angeles Times published a list of its top reader-submitted recipes from 2007. The following recipe for chipotle ribs caught my attention. I'm not too keen on cooking ribs in an oven, but I'm willing to give it a try ...

Chipotle Ribs

Ingredietns

2 racks (5 to 6 pounds total) baby back or spare ribs
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano, crumbled
2 teaspoons ground cumin
Juice of 2 large limes
4 to 6 chipotles in adobo sauce, minced
1/2 cup peanut oil

Directions

Wash and pat the ribs dry. Remove the silver skin (the membrane on the underside of the ribs): Nudge a blunt knife or the back end of a spoon between the ribs and membrane. When enough membrane is loosened to get a good finger hold, simply pull the membrane off the rack -- it should come off fairly easily.

Lay the ribs in a glass or ceramic dish. Combine the salt, sugar, oregano and cumin and mix well, then sprinkle evenly over both sides of the ribs. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Remove the ribs from the refrigerator, uncover them and let them come to room temperature over 2 hours.

Heat the oven to 200 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, chipotles and oil. Wipe or rinse the ribs to remove the excess salt and sugar, and dry the meat well. Lay them on a baking sheet and spoon the mixture evenly over the ribs.

Bake the ribs until they are tender (a knife inserted between the ribs will slide in with no resistance), 3 to 4 1/2 hours. Slice the ribs to separate them and serve.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Culinary quote of import

In the December 17 issue of the American Conservative, John Zmirak discusses his recent visit to a Dallas-area Whole Foods grocery store. This quote stands out:

"[T]here ... lingered in me a sense of excess. Did one really need this many choices of chard, and was it really healthy to cultivate such delicate sensibilities? It's one thing to shop at farmers markets because you want to support the folks who grow apples in your area. It's quite another to learn how to care, really care, about whether your sea salt comes from Brittany. C.S. Lewis dubbed such exquisite awareness the 'higher gluttony,' which consists not in excessive consumption but undue attention to food. He smelled it in vegetarians, food faddists, and others who made of their bodies not so much a temple as a fetish."

"He smelled it in vegetarians, food faddists, and others who made of their bodies not so much a temple as a fetish." ... I can think of three people I know in whom I smell such, indeed.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

En-chee-la-das!

It pains me to admit that I gained inspiration from Nashville's daily rag of a newspaper; but, tonight, I used a recipe published in Tuesday's Tennessean to dispatch with most of my left-over Christmas turkey meat.

I'm not too damn pained 'cause, well, I did not follow the Tennessean's turkey-enchiladas recipe to a T: I placed big helpings of rice and jalapenos in each and every en-chee-la-da wrap; and I doubled-up on the amount of cheese poured over the whole she-bang.

Check it out:


Don't that look good?!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Ancient Donelsonian secret

My favorite side dish has always been, and I imagine always will be, green beans -- especially well-seasoned green beans. My grandmother made the best green beans, which she seasoned with salt pork and onions, and holy hell I miss eatin' 'em. In fact, my stomach starts rumblin' just thinkin' about Granny Ruby's green beans.

Whenever I would go to my grandparents' house to eat, I'd start picking at the green beans before they'd even been ladled into a serving bowl. And woe unto anyone who didn't scoop some green beans onto his or her plate when we sat down to eat. Once I'd started into 'em, it didn't take long before they were all gone.

It takes time to cook good green beans. If my grandmother was using fresh beans, she'd put 'em in a pressure cooker and cook the you-know-what out of 'em for a couple of hours. Canned green beans didn't take quite as long, but they weren't just poured into a pan and heated through. She would let them simmer until most of the water was cooked away -- which is the secret to making really good green beans. Indeed, if you're not patient enough to let 'em simmer, simmer, simmer (as Justin Wilson was wont to say), then you might as well just eat 'em out of the can.

All that said, one of my mother's friends recently showed me how to cook tasty green beans without having to wait two hours for said beans to soak up the flavor of a big hunk of pork.

Here's what you'll need:


That is a box of Goya Sabor A Jamón de Cocinar (ham-flavored concentrate), which you can find at Wal-Mart, Kroger, Publix and Food Lion. There are 8 packages of concentrate per box, each of which equals the flavor of 1/4 lb of smoked ham.

Now, here's what you do for "quick" green beans:

Drain the canning water from a 1.5 lb can of Allen's green beans. Put beans in pan with just enough water to cover. Pour in one package of Goya ham seasoning and several twists of fresh black pepper. Cover pan and bring just to a boil. Lower heat to medium and cock lid so steam can escape. Cook 25 minutes, or until most of the water is gone. Remove from heat and stir. Re-cover and let rest for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with meatloaf, fried chicken, pot roast, pork chops, steak, country ham, beef stew ...

Monday, December 24, 2007

Svenska Köttbullar

I've never been a big fan of Swedish meatballs. I don't know why, but the little buggers've just never been my cup ... er, my balls o' beef.

I broke down and consumed at least a half-dozen Swedish meatballs at a party last night. (Oh, they was good!) I quickly procured the recipe from the lady who'd brung 'em.

I can't wait to make this for myself:

Svenska Köttbullar (Swedish Meatballs)

Ingredients

2 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/4 cup Heinz ketchup
Pinch of dried basil
1 small white onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp Lawry's seasoned salt
1 sleeve saltine crackers, finely crushed
3 lbs ground beef
3 cans cream of mushroom soup
1/4 block Velveeta cheese (thinly sliced)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk

Instructions

In a large bowl, beat eggs. Add soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, catsup, seasoned salt, pepper, basil, and onion. Mix very well with a whisk. Blend in ground beef. Mix well, using hands if desired. Mix for several minutes until the meat mixture is well blended and very moist. Mix in crushed saltines.

In a small saucepan over low heat, combine mushroom soup and milk; add cheese. When the soup-cheese mixture is completely melted, turn off heat and add sour cream, stirring until well blended.

Heat electric skillet to 300 degrees. Form into meatballs by hand. Drop into electric skillet and brown for about 10 minutes. Roll (using a tablespoon), and brown other side. When the meatballs are browned, cover in skillet for 10 minutes on lower heat, 200 degrees. Then transfer the meatballs to a Dutch oven on low heat.

Cover the meatballs slowly with the cheese-soup mixture. Do not stir meatballs. Roll meatballs with a flat spatula. Never stir meatballs, roll them. Completely cover meatballs with cheese mixture. Cover and simmer for an hour. Make sure you check them and Roll them every once in a while.

Serve over egg noodles or mashed potatoes.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Mmm! I smell bacon!

I've said it before, and I'll say it again:

In my humble opinion, there ain't a single damn foodstuff that can't be improved with a few strips of bacon -- or a big glob of bacon grease!

Check this out:


"It's official. After seeing bacon chocolate, I thought there wasn't a thing that hadn't been infused with the salty, smoky awesome-ness that is bacon.

"Until I saw these cookies from Never Bashful with Butter.

"Granted, the bacon isn't inside the chocolate chip cookie -- rather the cookies are made up with maple flavored icing, the adorned with pieces of bacon. It all started on a dare between blogger 'Muffin' and her husband. After much debate about whether cookies could be made better with the addition of bacon, she came up with these.

"Based on the photo alone, if you ask me, she most certainly proved her point!"

Friday, December 21, 2007

Le meilleur pain congelé

Just like my sainted grandpère, I love bread. Any bread: white, wheat, multi-grain, potato, rye, pumpernickel, yeast rolls, homemade biscuits, etc. Yup, if something's made with flour and baked, chances are I'll eat the hell out of it.

About two years ago, I discovered a bread that quickly made its way close to the top - if not all the way to the top - of my list of favorite breads:


That, mes ami, is a Le Petit Français (LPF) frozen baguette. Like so many unique-to-Nashville foodstuffs, LPF baguettes're only available at Publix Super Markets. "What's the big deal about 'em?" you ask. Well, let me tell you ...

This bread is unlike any other frozen bread that you can find in any grocery store in this city. From the first bite to the last, you will swear that you bought a baguette in a bakery; or you will insist on telling yourself that you were served a baguette in an upscale bistro alongide something braised in vin ... or something made with lots o' butter and cream. (Indeed, LPT baguettes taste so much like a baguette I had at a French restaurant -- Le Beaujolais -- in NYC's Theatre District in August 2001, it ain't even funny. Perhaps that is why I like 'em so much.)

Here's the skinny on LPF baguettes straight from the baker's mouth:

"One bite and you will recognize the distinctive taste of our select unbleached wheat flour, natural spring water and four generations of baking expertise. We are bakers, not chemists, so freezing is our only preservative. Le Petit Français baguettes are produced by the renowned bakers at S.A. Boulangerie Neuhauser located in a village in the Alsace-Lorraine, France."

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Hoagie hamburger? No, thank you ...

I rarely eat fast food hamburgers. When I do get a hankering for a fast burger, I usually head to Wendy's. This is what I wrote in a company newsletter a few months ago:

"[A] Double 'n' Frosty is a temptation that I sometimes find so very hard to resist."

Earlier this year, Wendy's asked customers to send in ideas for a new hamburger. The winning entry, which was announced two weeks ago, is the Philly Style Hoagie Burger:


That was the most original entry? Grilled hamburgers topped with salami? I'll bet it took all of 5 seconds to conjure up that culinary creation.

When I see the Hoagie Burger on the menu at my local Wendy's, I don't think I'll be ordering one. Not that I have anything against salami, mind you; but if I'm going to eat salami - or any deli meat, for that matter - I want it on a fresh hoagie bun, dammit.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sauce me!

The company that produces the World's Best Mayonnaise, C.F. Sauer Co., also makes a damn good BBQ sauce. Here 'tis:


I usually shy away from BBQ sauces that feature sugar as a major ingredient. Sauer's does list sugar amongst its ingredients; however, Sauer's has enough pepper and spice in its blend to burn away its already muted sweet flavor.

The only grocery store in the world in which I've been able to find Sauer's BBQ sauce is a little food mart in Camden, TN. I cannot drive through Camden - which I do quite often on my way to my aunt's cabin on Kentucky Lake - without stopping to get me a half-dozen bottles of my second-favorite BBQ sauce in the world (click here for my favorite).

Last night, I cooked a small pork roast with new potatoes, onions and peppers. While the meat - which I'd seasoned with a rub of cayenne, garlic salt, and Cavender's Greek Seasoning - was plenty flavorful by itself, it was absolutely mouth-watering when I added a couple o' squirts of Sauer's.

If you spy Sauer's BBQ sauce in a Nashville-area grocery store, drop me a line and tell me where. Joltin' Django will appreciate it.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Gimme my Dickel!


There are two things you can count on seeing when you visit ma maison: my cat, Hambone, and several bottles of George Dickel Tennessee Whisky. Jack Daniel's may be the world's best known Tennessee whiskey - hell, the world's best known whiskey period - but it is not anywhere near as good as Dickel No. 8 or Dickel No. 12. Not only does Dickel have a smoother taste than its more-famous cousin, it leaves less of an acohol burn on the back of one's tongue as well.

That said, we Dickel fans awoke to a bit of bad news today (I thought my favorite liquor store's supply of "black label" Dickel was a bit thin):

"One item may be missing from holiday parties this year: George Dickel Whisky No. 8. It's scarce because the Dickel distillery shut down production from 1999 to 2003, trying to reduce inventory of the Tennessee sippin' whiskey. It worked.

"And since whiskey must age, it's too early for a new batch.

"Dickel has taken out ads in several newspapers, apologizing for the shortage. The ad blames the situation on 'an incredible surge in demand for George Dickel No. 8,' but it's been known for years that the shortage was coming.

"Other Dickel brands — Superior No. 12, Barrel Select and Cascade Hollow Batch — are still available.

"Diageo PLC, the British beverage giant that owns Dickel, declined to provide production figures, citing competitive reasons. ...

"'It's a temporary setback,"' said Gary Galanis, a vice president for Diageo. 'No. 8 will be back in early 2008.'"

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Je vais à Paris

I've been invited to a Christmas party tonight in Paris, TN. A Man's Gotta Eat will return Sunday, December 16.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Un nouveau slogan

When I started A Man's Gotta Eat, I envisioned it as a Web site on which I would post restaurant reviews. Thus my original slogan: "Because no man should settle for a restaurant best known for its grilled-chicken salad." AMGE's scope has expanded to include my thoughts on all things eating, drinking and smoking. I thought a new slogan was in order. Here 'tis:

"A Man's guide to filling his belly, pickling his liver, and clouding his lungs in Nashville, Middle Tennessee, and parts beyond. 'Because no man should settle for light beer, tofu, skim milk, smoke-free bars, or restaurants best known for their grilled-chicken salads.'"

Thursday, December 13, 2007

What will they think of next?

When I was a kid, it seemed like only the wimpiest of wimpy children insisted on having the crust cut off their bread ... probably because their parents over-indulged them by doing things like, well, cutting the crust off bread.

Speaking of over-indulgence, I went to elementary school with a kid whose mother picked out each and every chunk of chicken from cans of Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup 'cause, as my classmate told me several times, "The chicken taste[d] funny." Just thinking about it makes my eye sockets hurt from deep eye-rollin'.

That said, I would've never dreamed of asking my mother or father for crustless bread. First, 'cause I preferred crusted bread from my first sandwich onward; and second, because I knew damn-well how my parents would've responded to a request for crustless bread: "I'M NOT CUTTING THE CRUST OFF YOUR @$#%&* BREAD!."

AOL points out that you can now purchase bread with the crusts already cut off:

"Sick of cutting the crust off your [wimpy] kid's bread? The answer: Crustless bread. Available in Spain since 1999, under the Bimbo brand, it was introduced as IronKids Crustless in the U.S., but is not widely available."

Here's a picture:



What will they think of next? Chickenless chicken noodle soup?!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Joltin' Django's Big Boy Burger

I called my cancer-stricken neighbor, Vince, this morning to see how he was feeling (he had a treatment on Friday, and it really knocked him for a loop). I asked if he'd been able to eat much over the past few days and he said no. Then he said, "I would really love to have a grilled hamburger, even if I could only eat a few bites."

I told Vince I would stop and pick up some ground beef on my way home this evening, and by God he and his -- Vince has two kids -- would get a grilled hamburger ce soir.

Here're are the burgers, which'd been drizzled with Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce, before I put 'em on the charcoal grill (apologies to Hank Hill):


Here's my hamburger 'fore I tore into it (unfortunately, the big slices of onion and tomato aren't visible):


Does that look good, or what?!

Update:

Creeder Reader Kim W writes to ask, "What kind of buns did you use?"

I used Sara Lee whole wheat "deli" buns ... Joltin' Django's favorite hamburger buns!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Haricots rouges et riz à ma maison (redux)


Over the weekend, my aunt phoned to say that she'd be in Nashville today and tomorrow. She put in a request for my should-be-patented red beans and rice, and I was all to happy to oblige (see above picture).

Here's the recipe I used:

Joltin' Django's Red Beans & Rice

Ingredients

1.5 lbs red kidney beans
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large bell pepper (diced)
1 large white onion (chopped)
1 clove garlic, minced
2-3 heaping tablespoons Luzianne Cajun Seasoning
1 lb andouille sausage (sliced into quarter-inch cubes)
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Soak beans in large heavy-bottomed pot for 6-8 hours. Strain beans and wash in cold water. Set beans aside.

Place pot on stove and heat for 5 minutes on medium head. Add olive oil, bell pepper, and onion, saute until onions are clear. Add garlic and saute for 10-15 seconds. Remove pot from heat.

Pour beans into pot and cover with water. Add Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper and stir well. Place pot on stove and bring beans to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a slow simmer. Cook for one hour.

Add sausage to beans and add more Cajun seasoning if needed. Cover pot and cook - again, on slow simmer - for 2 1/2-3 hours.

Serve beans over white rice (I prefer Zatarain's), with healthy dashes of your favorite hot sauce.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Fifth Taste

Sweet, sour, salty ... umami?!

Chicken soup, soy sauce, premium Parmesan, and anchovies ... until now, I never knew these favorite foodstuffs tickled a distinct part of my palate!

This is so very interesting.

Don't get between a man and his mac 'n' cheese!

This morning's Tennessean has a short article 'bout macaroni and cheese. Said article quotes a nutritionist - who bug me almost as much as vegans and environmentalists do - who says macaroni and cheese is "lethal" Yes, lethal (I couldn't make up such stupidity if I tried):

"[Macaroni and cheese] may not be good for you, warns nutritionist Robin Flipse. 'As an entree, it's lethal.'

"Mac & cheese has pluses — it's calcium-rich and has protein aplenty. 'But even if you use reduced-fat cheese, you can't make this low in calories,' Flipse says."

Reckon what Flipse would say 'bout this:



Reckon what's the lethality of Joltin' Django's patented nouilles et fromage?

Friday, December 07, 2007

Oh, Melinda's


Earlier this week, I was perusing the available hot sauces at my local Publix when I spied Melinda's Extra Hot Sauce. As soon as I saw "extra hot" and "habanero" on the label, I says to myself, "This I must have."

As is the case with most habanero sauces, Melinda's has a fruity aroma and taste. (I think it's almost as much fun smellin' habanero peppers as it is to eat 'em.)

How does Melinda's taste? Like I said, it has a wonderfully fruity taste, but it's not as hot as I'd like from a sauce made from habanero peppers. Indeed, the heat-level of Melinda's is on par with regular Tabasco sauce.

Thus, my Melinda's verdict is:

Tastes great, tain't hot enough.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Country cooking, French-style

I'm so petit français it ain't even funny!

That said, Joltin' Django received his first official 2007 Christmas gift ce soir. Here 'tis:


First time I cook from this book, if you will, I'll be sure to post pics.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Picnic Pizza keeps on rulin'!



Earlier this evening, my best bud of all time, Bruce D, visited Chez Allison so's he could retrieve a Christmas CD I'd burned for him. Upon entering ma maison, Big Bruce asked if I'd eaten dinner. When I said "Non," Bruce asked, "Why don't we go to Picnic Pizza?" He didn't have to ask twice ...

As promised, the following (first published in August 2007) will be re-posted each and every time I visit Picnic Pizza:

I never get tired of talking about Picnic Pizza, aka Angelo's Picnic Pizza & Italian Restaurant. Picnic Pizza has been in business in Nashville for almost 25 years, and I've been raving about their pizza almost since day one.

What's so great about Picnic Pizza's pies? Well, each pizza starts with homemade dough, hand-rolled by Angelo himself; a zesty tomato sauce, perfectly spread, is added; then comes fresh-grated mozzarella cheese; and the whole shebang's topped with the best pepperoni, Italian sausage, mushrooms and peppers I've ever eaten. Picnic Pizza' pies are sliced into big NYC-style slices (Angelo e la sua famiglia hail from Brooklyn) and are served piping hot.

When Picnic Pizza moved to its current location in 2000, Angelo added a lunch buffet. For the past seven years, Priest Lake/Antioch residents have had a place in which they can gorge themselves on the best Italian food Nashville has to offer: pizza, of course, stromboli, spaghetti and marinara, sausage and peppers, fried eggplant, baked penne with vegetables, and a well-stocked salad bar, which features a damn fine vinegar 'n' oil dressing.

Nashville has a lot of Italian restaurants that claim to have the best pizza in the city. I've eaten at most of 'em and I've come to this conclusion: There ain't a pizza joint in town that can hold a candle to Picnic Pizza. Indeed.

Angelo's Picnic Pizza
2713 Murfreesboro Road
Antioch, TN 37013

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

"Best cheap wines"

AOL's foodie blog says Trader Joe's Coastal Cabernet is an excellent "cheap wine" ...



... I cannot disagree.

You can find Trader Joe's wines at Liquor World in Antioch (Hickory Hollow). Be sure to tell 'em Joltin' Django sent you.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Chicken soup for the Joltin' Django

What is it they say about "best-laid schemes" ...?

Yesterday, I decided to make a big pot o' homemade chicken soup. I was going to accurately measure my portions and provide the recipe for my readers. Furthermore, I was going to document the process with my digital camera to show folks what a mean pot of chicken yours truly can make.

Well, things didn't progress like I wanted. I took a picture of all my "stock" ingredients in the pot waiting to be simmered; but before I could do anything else, a couple of friends stopped by. They agreed to stay for dinner, and I was too busy entertaining them to measure portions and take pics.

Here's the one picture I did manage to take; it shows two chickens in a pot with carrots, celery, onions, garlic, kosher salt and fresh black pepper:



Sometime in the very near future I'll be posting my chicken soup recipe in all its glory. Hopefully, I'll have a bunch o' pics, too.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

THE best hot dogs, period

The best store-bought hot dogs on the planet are Nathan's Kosher Beef Franks. Regardez:


No artificial colors or flavors. No by-products. Just all-beef goodness.

You can find Nathan's hot dogs at various grocery stores in and 'round Nashville: Wal-Mart, Publix, Kroger, Food Lion. However, if you want the Kosher franks - which are the tastiest franks in the Nathan's hot dog line, if you will - you'll have to visit the Kroger on Harding Road, in Belle Meade, or the Kroger on Hwy 70 in Belleview.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Bacon makes it better!


In my humble opinion, there ain't a single damn foodstuff that can't be improved with a few strips of bacon -- or a big glob of bacon grease! Check this out:

"Bacon Would Be Delicious On...

"We at AOL Food strive every day and in every way to say 'yes' to bacon in its myriad, munchable forms. From tippling bacon martinis at Las Vegas' Double Down Lounge and evangelizing about Vosges' bacon chocolate bar to candying it and churning up our own bacon ice cream, we've taken bacon in almost every way imaginable. Still, we can always dare to dream..."

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Varallo Famous Chili

Yesterday, a co-worker who'd recently overheard me getting all worked up over Varallo's chili gave me this ...



... which I ate for dinner ce soir.

Verdict:

Varallo Famous Foods Chili With Beans is, without a doubt, the finest canned chili I've ever eaten.

Unlike practically every canned chili I've ever consumed, Varallo Famous Chili has visible chunks of tomato in its sauce -- not to mention chunks of ground beef that taste like, well, chunks of ground beef.

Now, Varallo chili is a tad on the salty sice (which is true of most canned foodstuffs). Hit it with a dollop of sour cream, like I did, and you won't know no difference!

SIDEBAR:

I have no idea if Nashville's Varralo-brand chili has any past/present relationship with Nashville's Varallo's restaurant. I'm looking into the matter; and I will fo' sho' give my readers a heads-up when I have more info, indeed.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Sweet smoke


A little over a month ago, I spied a box of Swisher Sweet Perfecto cigars in a "clearance" shopping cart at a local chain drug store. It seems that the drug store was ridding itself on all non-cigarette tobacco products. I turned the box over and looked at the clearance price: 11 bucks for a box of 50 cigars. It was a deal I simply could not pass up.

If I'd ever smoked a Swisher Sweet cigar prior to purchasing an entire box of 'em, I certainly don't remember it. I do remember, however, that I once worked with a feller who smoked 8-10 Swisher Sweets a day; and I remember him telling me several times that one of the great pleasures of smoking Swisher Sweets was the fact that the cigars are, well, sweet. And so they are.

The first thing you notice when you place a Swisher Sweet cigar in your mouth is the extremely sweet residue on the puffing end. You might expect that said residue would rub off once the cigar was lit and smoked for a while. Wrong. The cigar stays sweet from the first puff until it becomes a stump that must be discarded. When Swisher said Sweet, they meant it.

So, the cigar is sweet. How does it smoke? I won't lie and say that Swisher Sweets are the best tastin' cigars I've ever smoked. They are quite mild, though; and I can honestly say that they are better than some of the "premium" cigars I've smoked in my life -- which tasted like burnt rubber and left a God-awful aftertaste in my mouth that lasted for hours.

Like I said, Swisher Sweet Perfectos aren't the best cigars in the world. They do, however, provide a mild, somewhat flavorful smoke that one can enjoy whilst mowing the yard, taking a stroll, or to calm one's nerves on traffic-choked roads on the way home from work (as I did today -- see above pic).

Monday, November 26, 2007

Swill is swill, fancy ad campaign notwithstanding


Anheuser-Busch can re-market its rice-infused swill 'til the cows come home. I won't be drinkin' it ...

"Anheuser-Busch (NYSE:BUD), noting the growing premium/boutique beer market share, is taking a new tack in its 2008 marketing. It will emphasize the quality of ingredients and brewing techniques in its core brands, Budweiser and Michelob. The strategy is an attempt to give them some of the cachet that has pushed sales of imports, such as those of its equity partners Grupo Modelo and Tsingtao.

"According to the Wall Street Journal (subscription), the company will drop about $30 million on this campaign, while also increasing spending on more of the youth-oriented, humor-infused messages that promote Bud Light.

"BUD is reacting to two challenges: declining/flat sales of its mainstream suds, and the competition posed by the recently announced partnership of SABMiller and Molson Coors (NYSE:TAP) to mutually market their products in the U.S. Anheuser-Busch successfully raised prices on its products in 2007, but I wouldn't expect such a move in 2008, in light of this competition.

"In a campaign designed to elevate public perception of the quality of a brand, the danger lies in also elevating the public perception of the brand's cost. Too often, companies fail to find the right balance that persuades the public that they are getting a bargain, better quality for the same price. Or, in the words of a current Miller High Life campaign I feel is one of the best I've ever seen, 'A tasty beer at a tasty price.'

"In a flat beer market, BUD's increased spending might just be enough to keep from sliding back, not a result likely to bump the stock price from its doldrums of the past 12 months."

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Gimme my white bread 'n' mayo, dammit!


An anonymous numbnut on AOL's food blog says there are three secrets to making "the best sandwich ever":

1. Replace white bread with 100 percent whole grain bread. (Tip: Make sure the first ingredient listed is whole wheat flour.)

I like whole grain bread as much as anyone. However, there are some sandwiches that require white bread: bologna and tomato sandwiches come to mind. I have eaten bologna-on-wheat several times when I didn't have any white bread; and after each and every bite, I said the same thing, "Damn, I wish I had some white bread."

2. Substitute the lettuce with spinach and a tomato, adding real nutrition and deep green and red colors between the bread. Don't worry! Most people never notice the difference when nutrient-rich spinach replaces lettuce on burgers, subs and sandwiches. The resulting sandwich provides greater quantities of key nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin A and folic acid.

Yeah, I know iceberg lettuce has virtually no nutritional value. But can you imagine eating anything other than shredded iceberg lettuce on a big-arse hoagie? If I ever see a guy eating a hoagie with spinach, I'm gonna ask him this question: "Does your husband like spinach on his hoagies, too?"

3. Forget the mayo. Instead, slather the bread with low-fat yogurt or a variety of mustards, including Dijon, coarse-ground, spicy brown and wasabi. Get even more daring and spread some salsa, cranberry sauce, mango chutney or sauerkraut on the bread, all of which add great taste, extra nutrients and no fat.

Any guy who puts cranberry sauce or mango chutney on a sandwich should be kicked square in his BB-sized nurts. 'Nough said.

There is nothing wrong with eating the occasional white-bread sandwich. There's nothing wrong with putting iceberg lettuce on your hoagie or hamburger, if that's what you prefer. And there is nothing - and I mean nothing - wrong with putting a dollop of mayo on your favorite sammich. If you listen to the food fascists, however, doing any one of these things - even if it's only once a week - will make you a fat slob. Balderdash.

Pass me my Duke's, dammit!

UPDATE:

Mr. Jimmy sends us this point-by-point response to AOL's "best sandwich ever" post (his thoughts are in red):

How to Make the Best Sandwich Ever
(then ignore this article)
From the Editors at Netscape

Want to impress the spouse and kids with a sandwich to end all sandwiches, the one they'll beg for every time you walk in the kitchen?
(yeah, I beg for spinach and chutney everywhere I go!)
All it takes are a few "secret" ingredients that not only add zing and zest, but also boost the nutritional value. But sssh! We won't tell them what's in it if you won't.
(ssshiiiiiitttttt! you won't have to)

First step: Get rid of the mayonnaise and lettuce. To turn a plain old meat and cheese sandwich from "blah" to "ah" you need a whole new set of accompaniments.
(second step, make sure you have a decent whisky to wash it down - Jim Beam is good and won't break the bank - 'cause what's following is gonna make you gag. Hows about we get rid of you and keep the mayo and lettuce?)

1. Replace white bread with 100 percent whole grain bread. (Tip: Make sure the first ingredient listed is whole wheat flour.) Whole grain bread is rich in fiber and micronutrients, including folic acid, magnesium, and vitamin E.
(hey, twig-boy, the first ingredient in any good premium white bread is 100 percent wheat flour, unbleached AND unbromated, what a tampon!)

2. Substitute the lettuce with spinach and a tomato, adding real nutrition and deep green and red colors between the bread. Don't worry! Most people never notice the difference when nutrient-rich spinach replaces lettuce on burgers, subs and sandwiches. The resulting sandwich provides greater quantities of key nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin A and folic acid.
(I trust what you mean, "editors" is substitute lettuce for spinach and add tomato, you aren't substituting anything for tomato; if "most people never notice the difference", how does that take it from "blah to ah"?)

3. Forget the mayo. Instead, slather the bread with low-fat yogurt or a variety of mustards, including Dijon, coarse-ground, spicy brown and wasabi. Get even more daring and spread some salsa, cranberry sauce, mango chutney or sauerkraut on the bread, all of which add great taste, extra nutrients and no fat.
(Forget the mayo?! What, are you some kinda retardo? How does low-fat yogurt "add great taste"? It has NO TASTE. It's purely a filler, you have to add something to it, that's why nobody in their right mind eats plain yogurt by itself, you add fruit or some other food to it. Cranberry sauce is actually good as a condiment but only on a turkey sandwich with mayo! And if you serve your friends and guests a sandwich with coarse mustard and chutney as dressings you are going to 1)have a lot of leftovers, 2)have few friends, and possibly 3)be wearing what you serve.)
But beware! As you get creative with sandwich condiments, choose items that won't add empty calories. "Healthy condiments can be used by everyone, whether for plain food or gourmet, carnivore or vegetarian," Fitch-Hilgenberg said. "The condiments we choose are only limited by our imagination."
(Beware? Finally some truth! Empty calories, what, like mustard and chutney and cranberry sauce? They're all empty calories! Mostly sugars and vinegar. Do you even read the labels? And this - "The condiments we choose are only limited by our imagination." You have no imagination if your idea of a good sandwich is tofu with coarse brown mustard, yogurt and spinach. Try this on for size: Premium white bread from Great Harvest Breads, a few slices of home-grown tomatoes, a little salt & pepper, Duke's Mayo. Add some Melinda's Hot Sauce if desired (Habanero if you pee standing up). I challenge anyone to make a better wholesome, satisfying sandwich using the advice (sic) in this article.)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Feast your eyes upon Joltin' Django's mac-and-cheese

As promised, here're a couple of pictures of Joltin' Django's Thanksgiving mac-and-cheese:



If you stop by Chez Joltin' Django today, don't expect no left-over macaroni and cheese. It was all - and I mean all - gone by 3 p.m. yesterday. If that ain't a tribute to my mac-and-cheese, I don't know what is!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Pour me a pint, mate


Ever wondered what you'd pay for a pint o' Guinness in a bar on the other side of the globe?

A chart in yesterday's Wall Street Journal lists the price, averaged and converted to the nearest U.S. dollar, for a pint of the Good Stuff in:

Sydney, $3.84
New York, 4.67
Jakarta, 5.90
Hong Kong, 6.21
Bangkok, 6.25
Kuala Lumpur, 6.35
Dublin, 6.49
London, 6.57
Brussels, 7.11
Frankfurt, 7.11
Rome, 8.15
Tokyo, 8.47
Shanghai, 8.98
Paris, 9.63
Singapore, 9.66
Manilla, 9.99
Seoul, 14.99

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

This Thanksgiving, [blank] the food fascists

[Editor's note: This article is also posted at my political blog, The Nigh Seen Creeder.]

In addition to Thanksgiving Day itself, there are quite a few certainties during Thanksgiving Week: falling leaves, 14-pound day after Thanksgiving newspapers, Christmas commercials, football games featuring the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions, and "very special" holiday-themed movies on Lifetime.

Something else we can count on 'round Thanksgiving are bevies of "experts" coming out of the woodwork to tell us how much/what we should eat when turkey-time arrives. They say, "Don't overdo it" ... "Substitute [this] for [that]" ... "Avoid [this] entirely." If and when I ever come face to face with one of these food fascists, this is what I'll tell him or her:

Give me a blankin' break, you blankety-blank.

In the United States, there are two holidays during which food plays an important - nay, integral - part: Thanksgiving and Christmas. (While it's not an official holiday, I guess you could add Super Bowl Sunday to the list; but that day is known as much, if not more, for drinkin' than it is for eatin'.) Not only is food itself an integral part of these holidays, there are certain foodstuffs that are associated with 'em as well:

Turkey, giblet gravy, dressing, mashed taters, ham, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, rolls as big as your head, pumpkin pie, and assorted candies, cakes, wines and cheeses. We don't have a constitutional right to these things on Thanksgiving and Christmas, but we sure as hell should.

Which brings me back to the food fascists. This past weekend, MSNBC re-posted an AP story from 2004 in which an anonymous author made the following statement vis-à-vis Thanksgiving:

"[Here's] what your plate should look like: a serving of turkey no larger than a deck of playing cards and half a cup each of two starches. (A half-cup is about the size of a computer mouse.)

"And that’s being generous."

The above-mentioned article also features this little chart:

● Try eating a little of everything, but that means just a few bites.

● Eat only the unique foods. Mashed potatoes and turkey may be traditional, but they also are easily had any day of the week. Instead, use those calories for ... more seasonal items.

● Fill up on salad and vegetables before heading for the turkey and candied sweet potatoes. Then if you are still hungry, hit the vegetables again after the turkey to reduce the amount of dessert you eat.

● Visualize your stomach; it’s about the size of two fists. If the food on your plate won’t fit, cut back.

Slices of turkey no bigger than a deck of cards?! A half-cup of dressing?! No mashed taters?! Salad?! See what I mean about wantin' a blankin' break?

Look, I'm a big boy. I don't need anyone - anonymous online "experts" included - to tell me what to eat and/or how much to eat during the holidays. I'll admit, I usually eat too much on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day, as well as each day after (them left-overs gotta go somewhere). I'm smart enough to know, however, that if I engage in a two-day pig-out twice a year, I'm not going to freakin' die as a result; and I know that I'm not going to contract diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, herpes, HIV, etc. if, at one sitting, I eat enough turkey breast to fill my 7 3/8-size Brooklyn Cyclones hat.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: when a man's gotta eat, a man's gotta eat ... especially at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I don't need no busybody, know-it-all food fascist to instruct me otherwise.

Pass the gravy ...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

How a man who's gotta eat makes mac-and-cheese

The "Living" section in yesterday's Tennessean featured a recipe for macaroni and cheese, Martha Stewart-style. I just about choked when I gave it the ol' look-see.

The caption above Martha's mac-and-cheese recipe said "Recipe Of The Day." As far as I'm concerned, it should've said "Recipe That Should Never Again See The Light Of Day." I mean, as much as I like nutmeg, Gruyere cheese, and cubes of white bread, I would never - and I mean never - put such in a dish of homemade mac-and-cheese.

As a service to my readers, I'm posting my recipe for macaroni and cheese. I hate to toot my own horn, but it's a damn-fine recipe (TOOT!). In fact, my father has already put in a Thanksgiving Day request for Joltin' Django's mac-and-cheese.

I'll post a picture of my just-outta-the-oven macaroni and cheese on Friday. Stay tuned.

Joltin' Django's Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients

1 lb elbow macaroni
6-8 cups cold water
1/4 stick butter
12 ounces Velveeta cheese, cubed (DO NOT use light or 2 percent)
1 1/2 cups WHOLE milk (see previous post)
4 cups mild cheddar cheese, shredded
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Bring lightly salted water to a boil in a large pot. Add macaroni, bring water back to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-high. Simmer macaroni until very tender (12-15 minutes). Remove pot from stove and drain.

Return macaroni to pot. Add butter, Velveeta cheese, one cup of cheddar cheese, milk and A LOT (at least one heaping tablespoon) of black pepper. Mix until no large lumps of cheese remain.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour macaroni mixture into a deep baking dish. Top with remaining cheddar cheese. Place dish in oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until cheese on top is completely melted and smooth. Place oven on broil and allow cheese to turn golden brown (should take no longer than 2-3 minutes). Remove dish from oven and allow mac-and-cheese to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Ain't no taters like mashed taters ('cept for tater pancakes)

When it comes to taters, I like mine mashed -- just like Bobby Hill ("Spoons! Can I assume the potatoes will be mashed tonight?").

Whenever I make mashed potatoes (recipe follows), I always - and I mean always - make more than I and my friends/family can eat during one meal. Why? 'Cause with left-over mashed potatoes, a feller can make potato pancakes ... my second-favorite way to eat taters.

Last night I made a big-arse pot of mashed taters to eat with some homemade meatloaf. Tonight, I'm makin' potato pancakes (I'm including that recipe, too). If you're in the neighborhood, be sure to stop by. You will NOT be hungry when you leave ma maison. Gar-un-damn-teed!

Joltin' Django's Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients

5-6 large Idaho potatoes
1/2 stick butter (salted or unsalted)
1 1/2 cups WHOLE milk (use skim or 2 percent milk and you'll get a beatin')
1 tablespoon salt (divided in half)
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Peel and quarter potatoes. Place in pot and cover with water. Add 1/2 tablespoon salt. Bring potatoes to a boil. Cover and reduce to a brisk simmer. Cook potatoes until fork tender (15-20 minutes).

Drain potatoes and return to pot. Hand mash (men who gotta eat DON'T use mixers) potatoes until no lumps remain. Add butter, milk, remaining salt, and A LOT of black pepper. Stir potatoes with a large mixing spoon until all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. Serve immediately.

Joltin' Django's Potato Pancakes

Ingredients

3-4 cups leftover mashed potatoes
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 egg
Splash of WHOLE milk (see previous recipe)
Vegetable oil
Sour cream

Directions

Mix potatoes, flour, egg and milk in a large bowl. Set aside.

Pour enough oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet to reach the first joint on your middle finger. Heat oil over medium heat. When a small flake of the potato mixture will sizzle, the oil is ready.

With a large serving spoon, scoop up a heaping portion of the potato mixture. Place in oil and flatten with the back of the spoon (pancakes should be about a quarter-inch thick). Cook until one side is golden brown, about 3-4 minutes, flip and repeat on other side. You should be able to cook 4 or 5 pancakes per batch.

Serve each pancake with a hefty dollop of sour cream.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Shoney's is back, baby


Before my grandmother entered a nursing home, my mother and I often took her to our local Shoney's after church on Sundays. I was never a big Shoney's fan, but my sainted Granny Ruby absolutely loved the Shoney's Breakfast Bar.

From 1997-2002, I reckon that I ate at Shoney's well over 200 times -- no kidding. During that period, the quality of most of the food served there declined precipitously. The dining room's floor was often dirty, and the bathroom floor was even more dirty. And if the entire staff of servers had been replaced by monkeys, customers probably would've enjoyed better service.

When my grandmother could no longer get out and about, I vowed that I would never, ever go back to Shoney's -- unless I was starving to death and that was the only place in which I could find nourishment.

Well, I broke my vow. Last month, my mother and I went to Shoney's after visiting the Nashville Flea Market. I ordered a cheeseburger and fries, and let's just say - I'm borrowing a line from Pulp Fiction here - it was a very tasty burger. The fries weren't bad, either. What impressed me the most, however, was the fact that the restaurant (the same one I used to visit with my grandmother) had been spiffed-up since the last time I'd dined there, and both the dining room and the bathrooms were clean. Upon leaving the restaurant I made a new vow:

Whenever I have a hankering for a quick, cheap, quality hamburger, I'm going to Shoney's.

Be sure to check out the profile of Shoney's, Inc.'s new owner in this morning's Tennessean. A sample:

"The Nashville-based res taurant chain's new owner, CEO and Chairman David Davoudpour, said he is determined to bring the brand back. Since he acquired the company in January, Davoudpour has taken over several underperforming franchise locations and turned them into company-owned restaurants. He has vowed to use fresh — not frozen — meat and fruit products and try to improve service through spot checks of stores and better employee training.

"'We want every restaurant to shine,' Davoudpour said. 'Basically, I want to be the model of excellence.'"

Friday, November 16, 2007

Don't want no stinkin' ham soda


I love latkes, and I love ham. But I don't want no latke and/or ham soda:

"Coming soon next to the Coke and Pepsi in a store near you: ham-and latke-flavored soda to make your holiday feast complete.

"It even will be kosher, the company making it says -- including the ham.

"Jones Soda Co., the Seattle-based purveyor of offbeat fizzy water, is selling holiday-themed limited-edition packs of flavored sodas.

"The Christmas pack will feature such flavors as Sugar Plum, Christmas Tree, Egg Nog and Christmas Ham. The Hanukkah pack will have Jelly Doughnut, Apple Sauce, Chocolate Coins and Latkes sodas.

"'As always, both packs are kosher and contain zero caffeine,' Jones said in a statement.

"The packs will go on sale Sunday, with a portion of the proceeds to be given to charity, the company said."

What the world's crappiest pizza costs 'round the world


In case you've ever wondered how much you'll be paying if you order a pepperoni pizza from Pizza Hut in various villes around the world ...

A small chart in yesterday's Wall Street Journal - page D3, subscription required to view complete chart - provided the price for one large Pizza Hut pan-crust pizza with pepperoni, averaged and converted to the nearest U.S. dollar, in the following cities:

Manilla, $6.58
Jakarta, 7.95
Sydney, 8.93
Bangkok, 10.74
Shanghai, 13.81
Singapore, 15.46
Tokyo, 17.99
Seoul, 18.39
Brussels, 20.81
London, 27.89
Paris, 27.60

I gotta tell you, any American who travels to France and visits a Pizza Hut - nay, any American who travels to France, visits Pizza Hut, and pays $27 for a pizza therein - should be slapped three times and have his or her nether region stuffed with les hors d'oeuvres escargots de Bourgogne.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Fine phở in South Nashville (update)


Don't know why, but I couldn't get a pic to attach to last week's "let's-hear-it-for-phở" post. I'm posting the "phở" review, with picture, again; and I urge anyone reading this to head to King Market at his/her earliest opportunity. (Hell, I had me a big-arse bowl of King Market phở just today! My fourth in two weeks!)

Check this out ...

A new Asian grocery/café, King Market, recently opened about a half-mile from my place of business. I've had lunch at the King Market three times during the past week; and I've enjoyed - and I do mean enjoyed - the same dish each time my legs have been thrust under one of the King Market's tables. (If that ain't a Man's Gotta Eat Tribute, I don't know what is!) What's so great about King Market? Well, here 'tis:

One of my very favorite ethnic dishes is pho soup. King Market's pho is the above-mentioned "same dish."

What's phở, you ask? From Wikipedia:

"Phở (pronounced "fuh") is a traditional Vietnamese noodle soup dish. ...

"Phở is served as a bowl of white rice noodles in clear beef broth, with thin cuts of beef. ...

"The dish is garnished with ingredients such as green onions, white onions, coriander leaves (cilantro), ngò gai (culantro, or long coriander), Thai basil, lemon or lime, and bean sprouts. The last five items are usually provided on a separate plate, which allows customers to adjust the soup's flavor as they like. Some sauces such as hoisin sauce, fish sauce, and the Thai hot sauce, Sriracha, are popular additions as well."

I don't want to sound like an Asian soup-eating schoolgirl here, but the King Market's phở makes my taste buds tingle in such a way that I just want to get on the phone to tell someone 'bout it. It is that good, I tell you what (apologies to Hank Hill). Here's why, in bullet-form:

● One fine clear, beef-infused broth
● A good helping of slivered onions
● A fist-full of perfectly cooked rice noodles
● At least 8 ounces of sliced flank beef
● 2-3 quartered meatballs
● Enough basil and green onions to make a person appreciate the hell out of basil and green onions
● A very large plate of extra basil, red chilies, and bean sprouts (with which a feller can garnish his soup)

Sounds good, don't it?

Six bucks will get a man who's gotta eat a 3/4-gallon bowl of King Market phở. Any small-stomached, needin' to eat man who visits King Market toting a small appetite will leave with plenty of left-overs, indeed.

I'm going back to King Market for a bowl of phở tomorrow. To borrow a line from Andy Griffith, if that ain't a tribute to King Market's phở, I don't know what is!

King Market Asian Grocery Lao/Thai Café
1801 Antioch Pike
Nashville, TN 37211

Monday, November 12, 2007

Don't bet 'gainst the (wine) box!

There are a lot of wine-drinkers who eschew boxed wine like the plague. I'm friends with some of these folks, and I can only hope that they'll check this out ...

Boxed wines ain't just for the cheap-assed these days. Indeed, there are a bunch of high quality/exclusive wines that can only be purchased in boxes. To wit:

"Boxed wines of the past had a deservedly bad rap, but new packaging techniques have enticed makers of excellent vino to get juiced about wine boxes. We sipped and swirled over a dozen of 'em, so keep clicking to get our top picks (and a list of ones to skip) and one heck of a lot of reasons why we think great boxed wine is the wave of the future."

Read the rest here.

Update: A regular Creeder Reader (SD), who asked to remain anonymous, says that she only buys wines in boxes. Good for her. Stick it to the Wine Snob Man!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Haricots rouges et riz à ma maison




When cold winds start to blow, there's nothing I like to make - and, more importantly, eat - than a big pot o' well-seasoned red beans.

Here's what'll soon be cookin' at ma maison:

Joltin' Django's Red Beans & Rice

Ingredients

1.5 lbs red kidney beans
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large bell pepper (diced)
1 large white onion (chopped)
1 clove garlic, minced
2-3 heaping tablespoons Luzianne Cajun Seasoning
1 lb andouille sausage (sliced into quarter-inch cubes)
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Soak beans in large heavy-bottomed pot for 6-8 hours. Strain beans and wash in cold water. Set beans aside.

Place pot on stove and heat for 5 minutes on medium head. Add olive oil, bell pepper, and onion, saute until onions are clear. Add garlic and saute for 10-15 seconds. Remove pot from heat.

Pour beans into pot and cover with water. Add Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper and stir well. Place pot on stove and bring beans to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a slow simmer. Cook for one hour.

Add sausage to beans and add more Cajun seasoning if needed. Cover pot and cook - again, on slow simmer - for 2 1/2-3 hours.

Serve beans over white rice (I prefer Zatarain's), with healthy dashes of your favorite hot sauce.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Classic A Man's Gotta Eat

Over at Nigh Seen Creeder, I told folks that I'm suffering with a nasal passage-burning infection of some sort. Hopefully, I'll be back posting original stuff tomorrow. In the meantime, check out this classic A Man's Gotta Eat post:

Duke's Mayo Rules!


Sometime during Summer 2001, I spied Duke's-brand mayonnaise in a Nashville-area Albertson's grocery store (Albertson's is no longer doing business in Tennessee). I remember thinking, "I've never seen that before," and I moved on to look for whatever I was looking for on the mayo 'n' sich aisle.

Not two weeks later, a co-worker and I were having a conversation about homegrown tomatoes. Said co-worker told me that he loved tomato sandwiches with black pepper and -- Duke's mayo! "What's so great about Duke's?" I asked. My Duke's-loving ami said, and I'm paraphrasing, "It's the best *@#&$! mayonnaise on the !$&#@* planet!"

Having great confidence in my co-worker's tastes, I purchased a small jar of Duke's when next I found myself in Albertson's. It took me a good two weeks to do so, but I finally placed a dollop of Duke's on a sandwich I'd toted to work. As soon as my tongue was introduced to Duke's mayo, I said to myself, "Duke's IS the best *@#&$! mayonnaise on the !$&#@* planet!" Hell, I may've even said such out loud.

At this point, I'm sure men who've gotta eat wanna know what's so all-fired great about Duke's Mayonnaise. Well, I'll tell you:

Most store-bought mayos have a common problem: a tangy, vinegary taste that overwhelms foodstuffs on which or in which they've been placed. Duke's mayo ain't like that. Indeed, Duke's has a rich, creamy flavor with not a hint of "tang"; and Duke's enhances flavors in much the same way as heavy cream enhances sauces. That is, Duke's incorporates into foods, instead of being something that garnishes food.

I have six years of Duke's-eatin' experience under, er, over my belt; and I reckon that I've placed Duke's on many dozens of sandwiches and in dozens of bowls of tater salad. Thus, I consider myself a Duke's expert -- and then some. Believe me when I say (and I say it a lot):

Duke's ... is ... the ... best ... mayo ... ever! And it's Southern-made, to boot!

(In Nashville, look for Duke's mayo at your local Publix or Food Lion.)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Fine phở in South Nashville

A new Asian grocery/café, King Market, recently opened about a half-mile from my place of business. I've had lunch at the King Market three times during the past week; and I've enjoyed - and I do mean enjoyed - the same dish each time my legs have been thrust under one of the King Market's tables. (If that ain't a Man's Gotta Eat Tribute, I don't know what is!) What's so great about King Market? Well, here 'tis:

One of my very favorite ethnic dishes is pho soup. King Market's pho is the above-mentioned "same dish."

What's phở, you ask? From Wikipedia:

"Phở (pronounced "fuh") is a traditional Vietnamese noodle soup dish. ...

"Phở is served as a bowl of white rice noodles in clear beef broth, with thin cuts of beef. ...

"The dish is garnished with ingredients such as green onions, white onions, coriander leaves (cilantro), ngò gai (culantro, or long coriander), Thai basil, lemon or lime, and bean sprouts. The last five items are usually provided on a separate plate, which allows customers to adjust the soup's flavor as they like. Some sauces such as hoisin sauce, fish sauce, and the Thai hot sauce, Sriracha, are popular additions as well."

I don't want to sound like an Asian soup-eating schoolgirl here, but the King Market's phở makes my taste buds tingle in such a way that I just want to get on the phone to tell someone 'bout it. It is that good, I tell you what (apologies to Hank Hill). Here's why, in bullet-form:

● One fine clear, beef-infused broth
● A good helping of slivered onions
● A fist-full of perfectly cooked rice noodles
● At least 8 ounces of sliced flank beef
● 2-3 quartered meatballs
● Enough basil and green onions to make a person appreciate the hell out of basil and green onions
● A very large plate of extra basil, red chilies, and bean sprouts (with which a feller can garnish his soup)

Sounds good, don't it?

Six bucks will get a man who's gotta eat a 3/4-gallon bowl of King Market phở. Any small-stomached, needin' to eat man who visits King Market toting a small appetite will leave with plenty of left-overs, indeed.

I'm going back to King Market for a bowl of phở tomorrow. To borrow a line from Andy Griffith, if that ain't a tribute to King Market's phở, I don't know what is!

King Market Asian Grocery Lao/Thai Café
1801 Antioch Pike
Nashville, TN 37211

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

водочка!


Ever since my drinkin' career began - which, I'm not proud to say, began when I was 17-years-old - I've never really had a taste for vodka, or any clear liquor for that matter.

I've sipped my fair share of vodka over the years, usually from a good friend's supply of Grey Goose, but I just can't seem acquire a taste for something that looks and smells - to me, anyway - a little too much like rubbing alcohol.

That said, I was enjoying a draft beer in a local tavern a few weeks back when I overheard a feller talking about how much he enjoys Saaga 1763-brand vodka. He said, and I quote, "[Saaga] does not burn your tongue like other vodkas." He added, and this ain't a direct quote, "[Saaga] has a refined, spicy[!] taste that you often find in a premium Scotch."

I found the following pro-Saaga blog entry, which seem to confirm the sentiments of my two-barstools-down ami. If you like vodka, you'll find this interesting I'm sure:

"Saaga 1763 Vodka is 40% abv. / 80 proof and created by Master Distiller Arno Narro who recreates the original style of vodka distilled in ancient Estonian manors for hundreds of years. The vodka is made from 90% heirloom Estonian Rye and 10% Tristo summer wheat, which are harvested at the optimum time, carefully sorted , and dried with care. Rye is the Estonian national grain and they have been cultivating it since the 1100's. The rye used in Saaga, actually a blend of two rye's- Tulvi and Vambo, are both not just heirloom rye's, but ancient ones that can be tracked back to when rye first started being cultivated in Estonia, after it had made its way from Asia Minor. These aren't your vapid modern rye's like Matador or Picasso, but flavor packed, spicy, and earthy. ...

"The aroma is exceptionally clean, one of the cleanest smelling vodkas I have yet encountered, with a hint of spice and the essence of rye grains to it. As it opened up after a few minutes in my glass there followed the barest trace of sweet fruit and floral notes. Is is very pleasant on the nose and I enjoyed taking many deep breathes, feeling that it was cleansing me. I know it relaxed me, whether from some aroma-therapeutic ability, or from the alcohol fumes, I know not. I just enjoyed it.

"The taste is clean as well, with a different character than most vodka. Sharp on the tongue and tingling to the lips with a silky, smooth feel to it. It has some interesting spicy notes that immediately made me want to take another sip. Drunk straight out of a snifter at room temperature it was excellent. Chilled shots sipped with dinner were even more so. But on the rocks with a splash of water it was really enjoyable as a floral sweetness joined the clean spiciness. If you like very clean and crisp, premium vodka, then I highly recommend Saaga 1763."

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Praise be to a Southern staple

If you live in the South, you know that there's only one acceptable way to drink tea: long-brewed with enough sugar to make your wisdom teeth ache.

Don't force no hot tea/green tea/organic tea/English tea horse**** on my person. Just gimme this:

"Sweet Tea is a staple of restaurants and homes across the Southeastern United States; so prevalent that a guest has to specifically request 'unsweet' in order to get a brew that won't instantly candy their molars, and enough of a cultural institution that several Representatives in Georgia presented House Bill 819 requiring all food service establishments to serve it. Sure, it was quickly revealed as an April Fools Day prank, but it bespoke the region's reverence for the 'champagne of the South.'"

Monday, November 05, 2007

Enjoyin' the Emerald Isle by way of A-town


Regular Creeder Readers will recall that I spent the past weekend in Atltanta, Georgia (Stone Mountain, to be specific). Saturday night, the friends I was visiting and I had dinner at Fadó Irish Pub and Restaurant, in Buckhead.

Boy howdy, it was good!

First of all, I appreciate the hell out of any restaurant that has Harp Lager on tap. I enjoyed several - and I mean several - pints-plus of Harp at Fadó's. What do I mean by pints-plus? Well, the glasses in which Fadó serves its "pints" hold more than a pint of liquid. I've consumed my share of pint-glasses o' beer over the years, and I know when I'm getting more than I asked for, indeed.

Fadó's food impressed the hell out of me as well. As much as I hate chain restaurants, I must admit that the folks who "run" Fadó have crafted a first-class menu, and then some.

My entrée at Fadó was corned beef and cabbage. Wait, lemme tell you:

I am a certified cabbage freak. I love the looks-like-lettuce stuff. Hell, I even love to smell cabbage when it's cooking (told you I was a freak). Whenever I see cabbage on a restaurant menu, I know immediately what I'm gonna order.

That said, I thoroughly enjoyed Fadó's corned beef and cabbage:

The corned beef had been expertly cooked (a corned beef brisket can be ****ed-up faster than you can say, well, corned beef brisket), meaning it was served in firm slices and was incredibly juicy; and the cabbage was perfectly cooked - i.e., not mushy - and seasoned with just enough salt, pepper, and spices.

If friends hadn't taken me to Fadó, I would've never, ever considered darkening its door. You see, I avoid chain restaurants like the plague ... especially when I'm traveling.

Next time I find myself in a city with a Fadó Irish Pub, I'm gonna have a hard time resisting the urge to visit a hole-in-the wall deli, BBQ joint, or pizza parlor. Yes, Fadó's that good. Check it out when you get a chance ...

Friday, November 02, 2007

Red, red wine headache

I love red wine. However, if I drink more than, oh, a glass and a half of most red wines, I'm almost guaranteed to have a skull-splitting headache the following morning. Looks like I may be able to enjoy more red wine in the very near future:

"Chemists working with NASA-funded technology designed to find life on Mars have created a device they say can easily detect chemicals that many scientists believe can turn wine and other beloved indulgences into ingredients for agony.

"The chemicals, called biogenic amines, occur naturally in a wide variety of aged, pickled and fermented foods prized by gourmet palates, including wine, chocolate, cheese, olives, nuts and cured meats.

"'The food you eat is so unbelievably coupled with your body's chemistry,' said Richard Mathies, who described his new technology in an article published Thursday in the journal Analytical Chemistry.

"Scientists have nominated several culprits for 'red wine headache,' including amines like tyramine and histamine, though no conclusions have been reached. Still, many specialists warn headache sufferers away from foods rich in amines, which can also trigger sudden episodes of high blood pressure, heart palpitations and elevated adrenaline levels. ...

"Mathies suggests the device could be used to put amine levels on wine labels.

"'We're aware of the consumer demand for information. But that has to be tempered by the manner in which wine is made,' said Wendell Lee, general counsel for the Wine Institute, a California industry trade group.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The chili effect


Don't let nobody ever tell you that eatin' hot peppers/drinkin' hot sauce ain't good for you! To wit:

"Doctors are dripping the chemical that gives chili peppers their fire directly into open wounds during knee replacement and a few other highly painful operations. ...

"How could something searing possibly soothe? Bite a hot pepper, and after the burn your tongue goes numb. The hope is that bathing surgically exposed nerves in a high enough dose will numb them for weeks, so that patients suffer less pain and require fewer narcotic painkillers as they heal. ...

"Chili peppers have been part of folk remedy for centuries, and heat-inducing capsaicin creams are a drugstore staple for aching muscles. But today the spice is hot because of research showing capsaicin targets key pain-sensing cells in a unique way.

"California-based Anesiva Inc.'s operating-room experiments aren't the only attempt to harness that burn for more focused pain relief. Harvard University researchers are mixing capsaicin with another anesthetic in hopes of developing epidurals that wouldn't confine women to bed during childbirth, or dental injections that don't numb the whole mouth.

"And at the National Institutes of Health, scientists hope early next year to begin testing in advanced cancer patients a capsaicin cousin that is 1,000 times more potent, to see if it can zap their intractable pain.

"Nerve cells that sense a type of long-term throbbing pain bear a receptor, or gate, called TRPV1. Capsaicin binds to that receptor and opens it to enter only those pain fibers — and not other nerves responsible for other kinds of pain or other functions such as movement.

"These so-called C neurons also sense heat; thus capsaicin's burn. But when TRPV1 opens, it lets extra calcium inside the cells until the nerves become overloaded and shut down. That's the numbness."

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Meatloaf!

By popular request, here's how I make meatloaf:

Joltin' Django's Meatloaf

Ingredients

1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 large white onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
2 eggs
2 heaping tablespoons Cavender's Greek Seasoning
1 tablespoon ground sea salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 can Viette Creole Sauce
1/4 cup ketchup

Directions

Cover 8 X 8-inch baking dish with aluminum foil. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Pour Creole Sauce into a large bowl. Add ketchup. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix ground beef, onion, bell pepper, bread crumbs, eggs, Greek Seasoning, salt and pepper. Fashion mixture into a brick-like loaf and place in baking dish. Cook for 45 minutes.

Remove meatloaf from oven. Drain grease from baking dish. Pour half of Creole Sauce/ketchup mixture over meatloaf. Return to oven.

Cook meatloaf for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cover with remaining Creole Sauce and ketchup. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Serve with fresh-mashed potatoes and green beans.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Vive El Inca! (Actualización)


Now that cold winds are - finally - blowin' in and around Nashville, I think I should mention this:

El Inca has many fine seafood-based dishes on its menu. My favorite, without a doubt, is the mussel soup.

El Inca's mussel soup consists of a flavorful broth full of fresh mussels. Onions and scallions swim at the top of the broth. The heartiness of the soup is made complete with the inclusion of potatoes, spaghetti noodles, and spices.

Like I said, I adore El Inca's dish o' beef, tomatoes, cilantro, onions, and rice. Sometimes when it's cold, however, I just have to eat me a bowl of mussel soup.

Damn, I want one now ...!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Vive El Inca!


Of all the restaurants that have opened in Nashville in the last, oh, five years, El Inca is definitely my favorite. Tucked away in a strip mall between K-Mart and Food Lion, El Inca don't look like much. However, it is a place in which a feller will a feller will eat like he's never eaten before ... and then some.

As far as I know, El Inca is the only Peruvian restaurant in Nashville. Peruvian cuisine is quite unlike the cuisine you find in Mexican or Central American restaurants. That is, no dishes come slathered in chili sauce and/or cheese, and no plates are served which feature a pile of dog food-esque refried beans.

My favorite item on El Inca's menu is lomo saltado: strips of juicy beef, grilled onions, tomatoes and fresh cilantro, served on a bed of rice. (The same dish is also available with chicken -- saltado de pollo.)

As much as I like the food at El Inca, what really makes me keep going back is the "green sauce" they place on each table as a condiment. It consists of olive oil, celery, cilantro, boiled potatoes, and imported Peruvian peppers. Ask nicely and they'll give you a big cup of the stuff to take home ...

Tell 'em Joltin' Django sent you!

El Inca Peruvian Restaurant
2485 Murfreesboro Pike
Nashville, TN 37217

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Great-Aunt Caroline's beef and cabbage casserole

Your truly took in the Jack Daniel's BBQ contest in Lynchburg on Saturday. The food was good, the weather was perfect, and I had a great time. The highlight of my weekend, however, was lunch at my great-aunt's house in Fayetteville earlier today. She served up a beef and cabbage casserole that was out of this world.

I can't wait to make this myself:

Beef and Cabbage Casserole

Ingredients

1 head of cabbage
1 lb ground beef
1 medium white onion, sliced into thin rings
3-4 potatoes, cut into 1/8-inch slices
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can tomato soup
Salt and pepper

Directions

Core and quarter cabbage. Boil in salted water for 20 to 25 minutes. Meanwhile, brown ground beef and drain fat. Pour cream of mushroom soup into ground beef and stir until well mixed.

Place boiled cabbage into a rectangular baking dish. Place sliced onions in a single layer over cabbage; place sliced potatoes in a single layer over onions. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.

Pour ground beef/soup mixture into baking dish and spread evenly. Cover with foil and place in a preheated oven (350 degrees). Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove foil from dish and spread the tomato soup evenly over the ground beef/soup. Bake uncovered for another 15 to 20 minutes. Allow to cool 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Hot fish!

Nashville, TN, is famous for many things: Country music, churches on every other corner, education (Vandy, Belmont, TSU, David Lipscomb, etc.), and numerous printing and publishing companies.

More importantly, however, Nashville is famous 'cause restaurateurs within its city limits created "hot chicken," which will be the subject of a future A Man's Gotta Eat post, and "hot fish" sandwiches, which'll be discussed, well, here:

What's a hot fish sandwich, you ask? It's cornmeal-breaded whiting fillets on white bread, with mustard, slices of white onion, pickles, and hot sauce. Sounds like an odd combo, I know, but a hot fish sandwich is just what the doctor ordered when a feller's hungry, indeed.

My favorite hot fish joint is Ed's Fish House in Priest Lake. Ed's does business out of a trailer in the Compton's Foodland parking lot (Smith Springs Road, 'bout a mile and a half south of Bell Road). Ed has been selling fried fish out of his little trailer for over 25 years. That says a lot about the quality of his food.

Since I'm getting up early tomorrow to head to Lynchburg for the Jack Daniel's BBQ fest, I decided to head over to Ed's to pick up my dinner. It'd been a couple of months since I'd had one of Ed's sandwiches. After taking my first bite, I says to myself, I says, "Man, I gotta get to Ed's more often!"

Ed's fish sandwiches are truly two-hand sandwiches. That is, you'll be using both hands from bite one until all you have left are crumbs. (I guess you could cut the sandwich half, or into quarters, but that's not really a manly thing to do.) The cornmeal Ed uses gives the fish a terrific crunch, and he tops the fish with just enough "stuff" on top to enhance, rather than overpower, the crispy fish underneath.

If you've never had a hot fish sandwich, you can't go wrong by heading to Ed's Fish House for your first.

Ed's Fish House
2808 Smith Springs Road
Nashville, TN 37217

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Love that Frito Pie!


Frito Pie is a protein-rich casserole that should please any man who's gotta eat, indeed. Frito Pie is also a running gag on the FOX television program King of the Hill -- which, by the way, is a fine program for men who want to laugh their arses off.

Earlier today, I engaged in a short conversation 'bout Frito Pie with my colleague Mr. Jimmy. Imagine my surprise when I arrived home to discover an AOL link in which Frito Pie is a topic du jour!

Check this out:

"Pardners, for the record, Frito Pie is as follows ...

"[Frito Pie is] a package of Fritos laid on its back and opened like a cadaver with an incision (X, not Y). Hot chili (which, for the record has beef in it; there is no such thing as vegetarian chili; if you ever encounter authentic vegetarian chili then immediately look around the corner for a leprechaun and a unicorn) is ladled into the bag, and then the whole thing is drenched in shredded cheddar cheese. That's it: no sour cream, no taco lettuce, not even onions. The bag is placed on a paper plate if you're a pantywaist, and the whole mess is presented to you with a plastic fork, a plastic spoon, one (1) paper napkin which will disintegrate within ten seconds of being pressed into service, a beer, and a smile."