Friday, May 30, 2008

Lemme tell you 'bout my lunch

Last night, my bon ami and colleague Mr. Jimmy sent me an e-mail to tell me that he would be providing lunch today. Mr. Jimmy, as always, was true to his word. He brought me a tub of spaghetti, from the Belmont Bi-Rite, and it was goooooood eatin'. Check it out:

The Belmont Bi-Rite's spaghetti won't impress an Italian too much; but it certainly will impress the hell out of anyone who grew up eating Southern-style spaghetti, like my sainted grandmother used to make.

My Granny Ruby's spaghetti recipe went something like this: she'd start with spaghetti noodles that'd been cooked way past the al dente stage; she'd throw in some browned ground beef and a small can of tomato sauce; and then she'd add a lot of black pepper and a little sugar. That don't sound like much, I know, but it was sure one of my favorite things to eat during the long summers I spent at my grandparents' country home when I was a kid.

The spaghetti Mr. Jimmy brought me today tasted a lot like my granny's spaghetti. I now know why he's always telling me that I need to get my ass over to the Belmont Bi-Rite to partake of their plate-lunch cuisine: it's food like my granny - and probably your granny, if you grew up in the South - used to make. Good stuff, indeed.

Belmont Bi-Rite
3116 Belmont Blvd
Nashville, TN 37212

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Re: Cabbage soup

AMGE reader Glenn did not like my cabbage soup recipe. He said this is how cabbage soup is s'posed to be made:

1 lb pork loin, cut into small pieces
1 tbsp butter
1 can condensed beef broth
1 can condensed tomato soup
2 soup cans water
4 cups shredded cabbage
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp sherry (optional)
Sour cream
Salt and pepper


Brown pork in butter. Add remaining ingredients, except sour cream. Cook over low heat, covered, 30 minutes, stir often. Serve with spoonfuls of sour cream. Makes 6 servings.

I won't vouch for the above recipe 'cause, well, I ain't never gonna cook it. Any feller who slices a pork loin and puts the cut-up portions in a stew don't have no ****in' sense, indeed.

Sherry and sour cream in cabbage soup ... yeah, right!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Hydrox cookies'll soon be back, baby!

I was quite chagrined when Kellogg's stopped producing Hydrox cookies a few years ago. I ain't never in my life had much of a sweet tooth; thus, Hydrox's less-sweet-than-Oreos taste was something that I could - and did - enjoy.

I can't tell you how happy I was when I picked up today's Wall Street Journal and learned that Hydrox cookies will soon be back on the market:

"Bowing to more than 1,300 phone inquiries, an online petition with more than 1,000 signatures and Internet chat sites lamenting the demise of the snack, Kellogg Co. has decided to temporarily relaunch Hydrox, the left-for-dead cookie.

"Kellogg quietly killed off Hydrox in 2003, ceding victory to its longtime rival, Oreo, made by Kraft Foods Inc.'s Nabisco unit. Many Hydrox eaters initially thought their cookie had just become more difficult to find, learning only much later that the cookie had been discontinued. The online mourning and efforts to bring it back were the subject of a page-one article in January in The Wall Street Journal. ...

"A Web site that recently listed the top 25 things people miss ranked Hydrox at No. 4, just behind in-store lunch counters and ahead of Howard Johnson restaurants and the popcorn snack 'Screaming Yellow Zonkers.'"

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Fry 'em, mash 'em, or put 'em in a stew ... I do like potatoes!

According to an article in USA Today, Chilean Agriculture Minister Marigen Hornkohl is quoted as stating that 99 percent of the world's potatoes derive from tubers native to Chile.

The head of Peru's National Institute for Agricultural Innovation, Juan Risi, begs to differ. He says Chile's potatoes are mere "grandchildren" of Peru's spuds:

"Peruvian potatoes that originated near lake Titicaca are the true potatoes, and their children spread throughout the Andes."

You know, I could really care less whether potatoes originated in Peru or Chile. They could've come from Mars as far as I'm concerned. Fry 'em, mash 'em, or put 'em in a stew ... I do like to eat the little brown - or red - buggers.

That said, the gov'ment of Peru claims that there are some 3000 varieties of potatoes available in country. If that's true, a Peruvian feller - or a Peru-visitin' feller - could cook and eat a different type of potato every day for over eight years.

A different potato each day, year afer year afer year after year after year after year after year after year? Yeah, I think I could do that ...!

Monday, May 26, 2008

I ♥ cabbage soup

Inspired by my recent visit to Tatry Polish Restaurant, I cooked up a pot of cabbage soup this evening. Here's how I did it ...

Joltin' Django's Cabbage Soup


8 slices lean bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cabbage, cored and roughly chopped
1 large white onion, large-diced
5 carrots, pealed and diced
3 potatoes, pealed and large-cubed
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes


Brown bacon over medium heat in a Dutch oven, 6-8 minutes
Add onions and cook until clear
Add cabbage, carrots, and potatoes; stir well and just cover with cold water
Throw in paprika, thyme, salt and pepper
Cover and bring to a boil
Reduce heat to simmer-low and cook for 2 hours

My pot o' cabbage soup was pretty good. Not quite Tatry-good, but pretty damn good nonetheless.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Tatry jest wielkim restauracją

It don't occur very often, but every once in a while I visit a restaurant and I'm completely blown away. Such happened when I consumed a meal at Tatry Polish Restaurant in Hartford, Connecticut. Let me tell you about it ...

Tatry is in an old house in a thoroughly middle class neighborhood, 'bout four or five miles from Bradley International Airport. It don't look like much from the outside ... but what is it they say about looks being deceiving?

The first thing my companions and I noticed upon settling into a booth was a sign that said all meals are made from scratch. The sign also warned that it can take up to two hours for patrons to get their meal, depending upon what they order. When we placed our order, the waiter/bartender told us that we may have to wait a bit for our meals, because "there's only one stove." I think we all were having visions of a matronly Polish woman busily stirring the contents of boiling pots in a cramped kitchen.

The first thing to arrive at our table were steaming bowls of cabbage soup. Thick and well-seasoned, with large chunks of carrots and onions, this, dear readers, was the best cabbage soup I've ever eaten:

I really wish I'd taken a picture of that bowl after I'd finished eating. I used the bread you see in the above picture to sop up the remaining soup that was clinging to the sides of the bowl. When I was done, the bowl was clean - and I mean clean - as a whistle. (If that ain't a testament to the the quality of Tatry's cabbage soup, I don't know what is.)

As much as I enjoyed my cabbage soup, I really enjoyed the homemade sauerkraut that accompanied my kielbasa dinner. Consisting of firm strips of cabbage with a peppery tanginess, Tatry's sauerkraut was so good that I could have eaten it alone and walked away from the table a happy feller.

I didn't just eat sauerkraut, however. I also had a juicy kielbasa link and an entire boiled potato, which'd been sprinkled with hot paprika. To wit:

When my friends and I left Tatry, I was absolutely stuffed. It wasn't a "Why did I eat so much?" stuffed, though. It was the kind of stuffed that made it easy for me to fall asleep that night -- with visions of cooked cabbage dancing in my head.

If I ever find myself in Hartford, Connecticut again, you can bet your bottom złoty that I'll be making a return visit.

Tatry Polish Restaurant
735 Wethersfield Avenue, # 1
Hartford, CT 06114

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Connecticut-visiting Joltin' Django in Ted's Restaurant

Yours truly was in Connecticut this past week on b'iness. Here's eating adventure number one:

'Bout two weeks before I left for the Constitution State (or is it the Nutmeg State?), I watched a show on the Travel Channel in which Ted's Restaurant, aka Ted's Steamed Cheeseburgers, was prominently featured. I'd never heard-tell of steamed cheeseburgers prior to seeing Ted's on the T.V. I was quite curious ... especially since I knew that I'd soon be heading to Connecticut. "If'n I can," I said to myself, "I'm gonna go to Ted's for a steamed cheeseburger."

Imagine my surprise when I learned that I'd be staying in the same town - Meriden - in which Ted's is located! "If'n I can, I'm goin'" quickly became "Hot damn, I AM goin'!"

It didn't take me long to talk my two travelin' companions - happy carnivores, both - into joining me for a late supper at Ted's our first night in Connecticut. After finding the directions on the Internet, we left out.

The first thing my buds and I marveled at upon entering Ted's was the fact that it ain't very big: there's a 5-seat counter, three booths, a small cooking area, bathrooms, and that's it. The second thing we marveled at was Ted's short menu: steamed burgers, steamed hot dogs, chips, home fries, and drinks.

We grabbed a booth, gave the menu another once-over, and then proceeded to order the same exact thing -- steamed cheeseburger with the works (onions, lettuce, tomato, mayo, relish), home fries, and a soft drink. My bud Chris ordered first, so he got his first ...

At this point I guess I should say a little something about how Ted's steams their cheeseburgers. There's a little box in the cooking area that holds 8-10 burgers. Fresh ground beef is evenly spread in little trays, and the trays are placed in the box. When a burger is finished, the grease is poured off and a big ol' chunk of white cheddar is placed in the tray. A minute passes and the softened cheese is scraped onto the burger.

I really wanted to be blown away after chomping into Ted's steamed cheeseburger. Unfortunately, that just didn't happen. Was it good? Yes. Was it great? Well, not really. The bun on which my burger was placed, and the hunk of soft cheese that adorned it, were outstanding. The meat, however, was a bit dry. Indeed, I don't know how a quarter-pound of ground beef could be steamed and not be dry.

Perhaps if Ted's meat was seasoned a bit (I know it wasn't 'cause I watched the cook put meat into trays and steam it), the lack of juice wouldn't be quite so noticeable. But who am I to tell a restaurant that's been serving burgers for almost fifty years - not to mention being profiled on national television - how to do its business? They're obviously doing something right.

Ted's Restaurant
1046 Broad Street
Meriden, CT 06450

Update: Sorry, but I failed to tell loyal AMGE readers 'bout Ted's home fries. Crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside, Ted's home fries were pretty good. Good, not great ... just like the burgers.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Travelin' man

Joltin' Django's gonna be out of town for a couple of days. Hopefully, I'll have some highjinks to tell you 'bout when I get back.


Monday, May 19, 2008

"[A] little casserole I came up with a few years back ..."

My ami Mr. Jimmy and I were recently having a conversation about hot sauces. He confessed that he's grown quite fond of Trappey's Bull Louisiana Hot Sauce. I told Mr. Jimmy that I really like Trappey's, too -- especially on a little casserole I came up with a few years back.

This recipe ain't fancy, and it certainly is not the healthiest thing you can eat. It does taste pretty damn good, though. So you just go on and enjoy it every now and again when you want a meal with lots o' beef and lots o' cheese.

Joltin' Django's Beef 'N' Noodle Casserole


1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1/2 cup chopped white onion
1 14.5-ounce can stewed tomatoes
2-3 tbsp Cavender's Greek Seasoning
1 box Kraft Macaroni and Cheese
2 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese


Preheat oven to 350
Cook mac-and-cheese according to directions
Brown ground beef in a skillet over medium heat; drain and return to pan
Add onions and cook until softened
Add stewed tomatoes and Greek seasoning to ground beef, stir well
Layer beef, mac-and-cheese, beef, mac-and-cheese, and beef in a square baking dish
Cover with shredded cheese and bake until bubbly, 20-25 minutes

Serve with peas or green beans ... and lots of hot sauce

Saturday, May 17, 2008

$100 Cheesesteak ... WTF?!

Whenever I see a story in which a high-dollar chef is name-checked 'cause he or she's put a haute cuisine spin on an American classic, I just wanna puke. You know - gulpin' hard here - a story like this:

"Sliced, sizzled and slathered with cheese ... the famous Philly cheesesteak serves as an iconic representation of [Philadelphia] and now, an expensive luxury.

"That's because Chef James Locascio, of Rittenhouse Square's Barclay Prime, created ... an upscale version of the sandwich that includes butter poached lobster and shaved truffles.

"'It's every ingredient you want to try in a life time in one,' said Locascio.

"Still, that kind of lavishness doesn't come cheap. For one cheesesteak, expect to pay $100. That is nearly 15 times more than the original."

A Philly cheesesteak ... with lobster ... and truffles? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?!

I've long said that if I ever get a chance to go to Philadelphia, a cheesesteak sammich will be the first thing I'll eat when I get there. Needless to say, I won't be goin' to Barclay Prime to get one. Indeed, I'll save myself $90 by goin' to Pat's; or I'll splurge and eat at Pat's and Geno's. Only the angels know what I'll do with my remaining 80 bucks!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Pizza you (from time to time) can't refuse

When I was in junior high, a few of my closest friends and I would often get one of our parents to drop us off at a local mall whenever we had a half-day of school. Each and every time we did so we'd eat at the Godfather's Pizza near the mall.

I was in 4th grade when the local Godfather's opened. When the kid who lived next door went there right after it opened, he told me, "It's like Pizza Hut's pan pizza with more meat and cheese on it." Godfather's pies were like Pizza Hut's pan pizzas with two major exceptions: Godfather's crust was less greasy and didn't taste mass-produced, and the quality of Godfather's cheese and ingredients was far superior to Pizza Hut's.

From the time it opened until it closed (the summer after I graduated from high school), I absolutely loved going to "my" Godfather's for pizza. (I also liked going 'cause there was a Galaga machine near the kitchen.) I'll tell you how much I liked it:

When I had chicken pox (I was 12), I didn't eat anything for about 5 days. My mom eventually told me that I had to eat something, even if she had to drive five miles to get it. When I finally consented to eat something, what'd I say I wanted? Godfather's, of course!

Like I said, the neighborhood Godfather's closed when I was 17. It didn't take long before every Godfather's in Nashville had closed. With each passing year, I gave up more hope of ever eating there again.

A few days ago, a buddy told me that a Godfather's had opened not too far from his house (and only about 3 miles from my office). I told my bud, "I will be going there when I leave work Friday." I didn't lie. As I was leaving the parking lot this afternoon, I placed an order for a large with pepperoni, sausage, onions, mushrooms and black olives. I couldn't wait to pick it up.

I had so much excited expectation built up before I went to Godfather's that there was no way that it could taste as good as I remembered. The pizza I had (see above pic) was pretty good - the toppings were plentiful, and it had the thick layer of browned cheese that I remembered - but Godfather's signature deep-dish crust has been replaced with a standard "fast food" pizza crust. A real disappointment, indeed. You know, a quality crust is the foundation - literally - of a good pizza. If that's even slightly f'd up, the quality of the whole pizza suffers.

Godfather's "new" pizza is just good enough to make me go back -- every now and again. It sure as hell isn't going to replace Picnic Pizza on Joltin' Django's list of Best Pizza Joints.

Godfather's Pizza

6029 Nolensville Road
Nashville, TN 37211

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Beans, beans, good for your ...

I told my amis Mr. Jimmy and Victoria that I was going to make a pot 'o beans tonight, and that's what I flat did ...

I had a hambone in my freezer that needed to be thawed and eaten, so I started thawing the thing 'bout 7 o'clock last night. (Hambone. I have a cat named "Hambone." Tee hee!)

Before I left for work this morning, I put a pound of dried mixed beans in a pot with about a quart and a half of water. When I got home, I drained the beans and put 'em back in my pot with fresh water. I then threw in my hambone, added some salt and pepper, and let the whole shebang simmer for about 2 hours.

When you're eating beans, you gotta throw in some chopped onions and chow chow ... you just gotta. And you gotta have cornbread. (One of these days, I will show loyal A Man's Gotta Eat readers how to make a skillet of fine-tasting cornbread. Stay tuned.)

You sometimes hear folks say that pork meat-infused beans and cornbread is "peasant food." Sorry, but I disagree with that assertion. Indeed, when I'm eating a pot of beans, I think of myself as eating like a king. So there.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Race dat cheese!

Every heard of cheese racing? The guys at Slash Food tell us 'bout it:

"This is a practice in while [sic] people (mostly like while they are under the influence of alcohol) toss the still-wrapped slices onto a grill, in order to see who's slice will puff up the fastest. Apparently the plastic doesn't melt or burst and the cheese gives off inflating gas. Who knew!"

Here's a pic:

I certainly hope that the idiots who engage in cheese racing have the good sense to scrape the melted cheese onto a hamburger or something.

Now, I don't share the Slash Food disdain for individually-wrapped slices of cheese. Indeed, three or four slices of Kraft American cheese melted between two slices of toasted bread tastes pretty damn good to me. As Hank Hill once said, "No one makes cheese like the Americans."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Sweet 'n' Spicy

I had a big lunch today. So when it came time to think about eatin' dinner ce soir, I decided to make me some rice and just drown it in Tabasco's "Sweet & Spicy" sauce.

I had positive things to say 'bout Tabasco's newest style o' sauce last August, and this is what I said:

TABASCO® has a new Asian-influenced sauce: Tabasco Sweet & Spicy. For months I've been looking for this sauce in local grocery stores, and I finally found it today at my neighborhood Publix Super Market. (Somehow I knew Publix would be the first store to stock the new Tabasco sauce. They're good that way.)

While plain ol' Tabasco will always be my favorite "condiment" from the Tabasco family of sauces, Sweet & Spicy is a darn good thang to pour over one's food.

Sweet & Spicy is not as hot as other Tabasco sauces. It has a slightly sweet taste with just enough heat to tickle the back of a person's tongue. The only drawback with Sweet & Spicy is this: It is very thick. Folks who like to carpet bomb their food with hot sauce, like moi, will find it very difficult to do so with Sweet & Spicy Tabasco.

Tabasco's Web site says Sweet & Spicy "is perfect for dipping ... everything from egg rolls to chicken tenders to French fries!" True enough, but I would add white rice, stir-fried vegetables, and grilled chicken to the mix.

If you're a hot sauce fan, you'll be doing yourself a big favor when you add a bottle of Tabasco Hot & Spicy to your hot sauce repertoire.

If you like sweet and/or spicy foodstuffs, you will love Tabasco Sweet & Spicy. I guarantee it ...

Monday, May 12, 2008

"They who drink beer will think beer."

Inspired by my "Beer Myths" post, JG sends this list of beer words o' wisdom:

You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline - it helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer.
-- Frank Zappa

He was a wise man who invented beer.
-- Plato

Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.
-- Benjamin Franklin

Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza.
-- Dave Barry

People who drink light "beer" don't like the taste of beer; they just like to pee a lot.
-- Capital Brewery, Middleton, WI

Give me a woman who loves beer and I will conquer the world.
--Kaiser Wilhelm II

I would kill everyone in this room for a drop of sweet beer.
--Homer Simpson

They who drink beer will think beer.
--Washington Irving

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Tuck Fofu

I was standing in line at my local Publix today when I overheard a feller - and I use the term "feller" loosely - tell his shopping companion that he "absolutely love[s]" tofu. "Good God," I said to myself.

Tofu has the consistency of a sponge and it tastes like ... well, it tastes like a ****in' sponge, if it has any taste as all. How anyone can "love" tofu is absolutely beyond me.

Men who gotta eat who also eat tofu might should know that eating that crap may make you less of a man. To wit:

"Men who eat just half a serving of soya a day have drastically fewer sperm than those who do not consume such foods, according to a small, preliminary study. ...

"Soya foods contain high amounts of isoflavones, compounds that mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. For this reason, women sometimes increase their intake of soya foods to treat hot flushes caused by declining estrogen levels in menopause.

"Estrogen-like compounds can also have a dramatic impact on the male body. And previous rodent studies have suggested that high intake of soya products can reduce male fertility. This has led scientists to wonder how isoflavones might influence men's reproductive function, which is highly sensitive to hormones.

"Jorge Chavarro at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts, US, and his colleagues identified 100 couples seeking treatment for infertility. Researchers asked the men to provide semen samples and complete a questionnaire about their intake of 15 soya-based foods such as miso soup, 'power bars,' and tofu over the preceding three months.

"An analysis of the data, which controlled for factors such as age and weight, revealed that those men who consumed half a serving of soya-based food each day -- about the equivalent of half a soya burger -- had 65 million sperm per millilitre on average.

"That is about 40 percent less than the typical sperm count of men who do not eat such foods -- normally between 80 million to 120 million sperm per millilitre. Men with counts lower than 20 million sperm per millilitre are generally considered infertile."

Read the rest here.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Tain't no cheese like pimiento cheese

When I was a kid, I would spend a good portion of each summer with my grandparents down in the country (Lincoln County, Tennessee, to be exact). My grandmother always - and I mean always - had a big tub of pimiento cheese in the frig; and every other day I'd eat a pimiento cheese sandwich for lunch with potatoes or beans left over from the previous night's supper. Now let me tell you something: There ain't nothing on earth better on a hot summer day than cool pimiento cheese between two slices of white bread.

A couple of years ago, 2005 I think, I went to Louisville, Kentucky to visit some friends. On the way up there, I stopped at a small grocery store to buy some thing (probably chewing tobacco). I spied a big-ass container of Knott's Jalapeño Pimiento Cheese in a small cooler and I just had to have it.

That Knott's pimento cheese was some of the best pimiento cheese I'd ever had. Sadly, I have not been able to find a single Knott's product in any grocery store or market in the Nashville area. That's not to say that Knott's stuff ain't out there somewhere; I just ain't been able to find it.

I mention all this because a loyal A Man's Gotta Eat reader sent me to a link to a story about pimiento cheese from NPR's Web site. Said story not only includes a recipe for pimiento cheese, it suggests using Duke's mayonnaise to make the stuff. Check it out here.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Chicken and jalapeños (you gotta like the sound of that)

Mr. Jimmy and I had a brief discussion about BBQ sauce today. I told him I was going to post a recipe for one of my favorite quick-and-easy meals. Well, here 'tis:

Joltin' Django's Chicken and Jalapeños


6-8 chicken tenders (or boneless/skinless chicken breasts cut into strips)
2-3 cups quality BBQ sauce (I prefer Stubb's for this dish)
1 cup jalapeños (Trappey's or Mrs. Renfro's)


Preheat oven to 350
Line a shallow baking dish with aluminum foil
Place chicken tenders in dish and cover with BBQ sauce and jalapeños
Tightly cover dish with aluminum foil
Cook for 45-50 minutes
Remove dish from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before removing foil

Make sure you have some good rolls, or a crusty bread, to eat along with this dish. You'll need something so sop up all that spicy BBQ sauce.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

There's the "best" ... and then there's Joltin' Django's BEST

The folks at Consumer Reports (CR) recently released a list of "best" foodstuffs. He're my thoughts on a few of 'em:

Best Barbecue Sauce

According to CR, KC Masterpiece Original is the best BBQ sauce in the land. ("It's versatile, with sweet molasses flavor, some heat, and just enough smoke to make you think grilled," they say.) According to Joltin' Django, KC Masterpiece ain't no good. It's too sweet and it tastes like mass-produced crap in a bottle.

If you want a peppery sauce with an equal balance of tomato and vinegar, try Stubb's. If you want a tangy sauce with just a hint - just a hint - of sweetness, try Sauer's. If you want to splurge on something that will make your kitchen smell like beer when it's cooking, try Budweiser's sauce. These are the only BBQ sauces you'll find in Joltin' Django's kitchen.

Best Hot Dogs

I'll give credit where credit is due and state for the record that CR has picked some damn fine hot dogs for its "best of the bunch" list. Here they are (in no particular order):

Hebrew National Kosher Beef
Nathan's Famous Skinless Beef
Boar's Head Skinless Beef
Hebrew National Kosher Reduced Fat Beef
Boar's Head Lite Skinless Beef
Sabrett Skinless Beef

I like Hebrew National's hot dogs. I like Boar's Head's hot dogs. I like Sabrett's hot dogs. But I freakin' love Nathan's hot dogs (and I've said as much on this Web site). The best Nathan's hot dogs are either kosher or have casings. Period. (Sorry CR).

Best Salsas

I'm not even going to mention CR's picks for best salsa. Most of 'em are pricey salsas that you'll have to order online ... and that says something right there.

As far as I'm concerned, there's only one store-bought salsa that's worth anyone's hard-earned money. That salsa is Herdez-brand salsa. Herdez has just five ingredients: tomatoes, onions, cilantro, serrano peppers and salt. When you're eating it, you'll just swear that it was put together by a Mexican grandma in a big kitchen somewhere. (Come to think of it, it probably was!)

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Top beer myths busted (and I mean BUSTED)

I like beer
It makes me a jolly good fellow

-- Tom T. Hall, "I Like Beer"

A young lady who uses the handle "Greysanatomy" has posted an article at in which she debunks some of the biggest beer myths. Below you'll find a few that I find interesting. Go here to see the rest (and to see a picture of Ms. Greysanatomy ... wow!).

Beat the Beer Belly with Light Beer

OK, light beers have maybe 90-100 calories, regular beers generally have less than 200 calories. A beer lover would say the difference is comparable to the difference between McDonalds and a 5 star restaurant. A dietician would tell you the difference is negligible. So unless you are drinking 300 beers a week, I would drink the good stuff.

Beer shouldn't be Bitter

The bitterness of a beer comes from the hops. Hops are in all beers to balance the sweet malts and to act as a preservative. Some beers have a lot of hops, like India Pale Ales (IPAs) and some beers have less hops, like Wheat Beers. Hops can give a beer complexity and add all sorts of flavors and aromas, like pine, citrus, and earthiness. Hops are why people say beer is an acquired taste, but they also make beer delicious.

The best beers are in green bottles

As it turns out, brown bottles protect the beer from the light much better than green bottles or clear bottles. This myth comes from when there was a shortage of brown glass in Europe after WWII. The European beers were bottled in green instead, so green bottles came to represent imports. This certainly isn't the case anymore.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

'Tis a sad day

'Tis a sad day for ol' Joltin' Django. One of my favorite restaurants has closed.

I went to El Inca Peruvian Restaurant 'bout noon today only to find the place empty. Upon seeing the "for lease" sign in the window, I said ... well, I don't think I'll tell you what I said. Just know that there is probably a rather large blue cloud still floating over the Priest Lake area.

El Inca was mentioned on the very first A Man's Gotta Eat post -- on a list of my all-time favorite restaurants in Nashville and Middle Tennessee. Leave aside the fact that it was the only Peruvian restaurant in Nashville, it served up some damn fine-tasting food. This is what I said last October:

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.

I am going to miss El Inca's green sauce. One regret I have is that I never got around to asking for the complete recipe. As many times as I patronized El Inca, often with friend and family in tow, I'm pretty sure they would've given it to me.

Restaurants come and go, I know; however, it's always a sad day when a truly great restaurant closes. El Inca will be missed ...

Friday, May 02, 2008

Julep-drinkin' days are here again

In case you didn't know, the 134th Kentucky Derby will take place tomorrow. What's horse racing gotta do with eatin' or drinkin'? Well ...

One time I've been to the Kentucky Derby. It was 1998, and I went as a guest of a married couple who'd somehow procured tickets. I got dressed in my best suit (charcoal gray); I snapped my best suspenders into my trousers; and we drove off for Louisville.

My friends and I didn't watch that race in an area populated by fellow well-dressed souls; we were in a kind of "general admission" area with a bunch of rednecky fools. I watched the race -- Real Quiet was the winner -- and I guess I had a pretty good time. When I left Churchill Downs, however, I swore I'd never go back until I could get me a seat somewhere near the Twin Spires. (I ain't been back.)

One of the few pleasant aspects of my one and only trip to the Kentucky Derby was the drinkin' I was able to do there. I'd never had a mint julep prior to my Derby visit, and I ain't had many since. That said, the four or five mint juleps I downed on the grounds of Churchill Downs (say that five times in quick succession) were some of the finest mixed drinks I've ever filtered through my liver.

Now, I didn't know it, but there's actually an official Kentucky Derby recipe for the Mint Julep. It's called the Early Times Mint Julep, because, well, it uses Early Times Kentucky Whiskey. Here 'tis:

Early Times Mint Julep


2 cups sugar
2 cups water
Sprigs of fresh mint
Crushed ice
Early Times Kentucky Whisky
Silver Julep Cups


Make a simple syrup by boiling sugar and water together for five minutes. Cool and place in a covered container with six or eight sprigs of fresh mint, then refrigerate overnight.

Make one julep at a time by filling a julep cup with crushed ice, adding one tablespoon mint syrup and two ounces of Early Times Kentucky Whisky.

Stir rapidly with a spoon to frost the outside of the cup. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.

(Now, if you don't have julep cups at home, use something else. I'll be using highball glasses tomorrow.)