Wednesday, December 31, 2008

(Pinto) beans, beans, good for New Year's Eve!

It's traditional in the South to eat black-eyed peas on New Year's Eve for good luck. This year, I flaunted tradition by making a big pot of pinto beans.

I had a pretty good chunk of left-over Christmas spiral ham, with a sweet glaze, that needed to be either cooked or frozen. And since I didn't want it taking up space in my freezer, I cubed it and made a big pot o' pinto beans (I'm pretty sure black-eyed peas wouldn't taste too good after simmering in a pot with sweet-glazed meat):

What I did was this:

First, I soaked a pound of beans for about 8 hours. Then I cubed about a pound of leftover ham into half-inch cubes. I drained the soaking water from my beans and added the meat. I covered my beans 'n' meat with water, and I added, oh, about two tablespoons of salt and two tablespoons of fresh-ground black pepper. Then I let it simmer, simmer, simmer (apologies to Justin Wilson) for about 2 hours. Then I served:

What you see there is a bowl of pinto beans, served over cornbread and topped with chopped onions ... and a lot of Tabasco® sauce. 'Twas mighty good to eat, lemme tell you, especially since it was my last meal of 2008!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Joltin' Django's Favorite Phở

Folks, I could eat this every day:

What you seen in that bowl is $6.50-worth of King Market phở, which I garnished today with lots of extra chilies, basil, bean sprouts ... and Sriracha hot sauce.

I first wrote about the King Market's phở back in November 2007. Here's what I said:

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-and-a-half 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.

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

Monday, December 29, 2008

Doing unto others ...

This Christmas, I did more - a lot more - cookin' for others than I did for myself, or for ma famille (for the first time in a long time).

I prepared ten pounds of mashed potatoes for homeless folks at my church two weeks ago; and I cooked up at least - at least - three gallons of homemade chicken soup for the folks participating in my church's drive-through nativity the following weekend. Then, on Christmas Eve, I cooked up a big pot o' green beans for, again, the homeless who'd gathered at my church looking for a warm meal and a warm bed.

I mention all this not to insinuate that I'm a holier-than-thou man who's gotta eat. Indeed, I mention it in the context of this Web site because I'm slowly learning how to "expand" my recipes to feed more than a handful of people. Such learnin' will serve me well if and when - emphasis on when - I start serving food to a mass eatin' public.

Here're a couple o' pics from my Christmas Eve green beans:

I was forced to use two big cans of Del Monte string beans, instead of Allen's pole beans, 'cause that's all Wal-Mart had on Christmas Eve. But that was okay. My beans were still good ... even though Del Monte's string beans are heavy on strings, indeed.

I cooked my green beans like this:

I poured off the can-water from my beans, then I put 'em in a stock pot. I cubed three potatoes, and I put the taters in the pot. Then I sliced three big hunks off a slab of country bacon ... and I put 'em in the pot. I added a little salt and pepper, and I threw in about two tablespoons of sugar (my, er, my Granny Ruby's secret).

And not a bean or string was left in that pot ...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Next to opening presents and passing out on the couch in a turkey-fueled haze, my favorite part of Christmas Day is watching A Christmas Story over, and over, and over again on TBS (DirecTV channel 247). Well-written, poignant, and uproariously funny, ACS will always be my favorite Christmas-themed movie -- mainly because of dialogue like this:

The Old Man [Reading the newspaper]: Did you hear about this guy who swallowed a yo-yo?
Mother: Swallowed a yo-yo?
TOM: Yeah, this clodhopper down in Griffin, Indiana.
M: There's the silliest things in the newspapers.
TOM: What do you mean "silly?" Tha-that's real news! That's not like that politics slop!

I'm gonna be watchin' A Christmas Story, and eating fried turkey, tomorrow; and then I'm gonna be out of town a few days (ducks aren't gonna shoot themselves). A Man's Gotta Eat will return Sunday, December 28.

Monday, December 22, 2008

It's that Latke time of the year

As has been my tradition for at least ten years, I made a big batch of latkes on the first night of Chanukah (Hanukkah). It might offend some to learn that I actually took my big plate of latkes to church to serve to the folks who were participating in the drive-through Nativity. I don't think Jesus would really mind, though. After all, he was Jewish.

(Notice the ceramic Chanukah salt shaker in the pic. I got it in a salt-and-pepper shaker set at Publix last year a few days after Chanukah had ended. I only paid $3 for the set; it'd been marked down from $10!)

I don't have an official recipe for my latkes. I've made 'em so many times - and not always during Chanukah - that I can more or less whip 'em up without thinking about it. If I'm ever asked how I make 'em, this is what I'll say:

Joltin' Django's Latkes


5-6 large Idaho potatoes
1 large white onion
1/3 cup matzo meal
2 eggs
1 tablespoon salt and 1 tablespoon black pepper (or to taste)
Vegetable oil


Pour oil in cast iron skillet to a depth of one inch. Heat oil to medium.

Peel potatoes. Large-grate potatoes and onion. (Place grated potatoes between very wet paper towels as you go to prevent them from turning brown). Place grated potatoes and onion in a large mixing bowl. Add matzo meal, eggs, salt and pepper. Mix well.

Scoop up a golf ball-sized portion of the latke mixture with a spoon, drop it in the oil, and flatten it with the back side of the spoon. Repeat 3 or 4 times, being careful to not allow latkes to touch. When latkes have fried for one minute, use a small spatula to lift them from the bottom of the skillet.

Making sure that each latke is floating in the oil, fry for 3 minutes. Flip latkes and cook for an additional 3 minutes. You can cook them longer if you prefer them extra-crispy.

Tradition says you serve latkes with applesauce. I usually serve mine with sour cream.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

My kind o' global warming

Apparently, folks around the world are eating more hot peppers and pouring ever-hotter hot sauces on their foodstuffs (and that just warms my heart, literally). The Economist tells us 'bout it:

Tasteless, colourless, odourless and painful, pure capsaicin is a curious substance. It does no lasting damage, but the body’s natural response to even a modest dose (such as that found in a chili pepper) is self-defence: sweat pours, the pulse quickens, the tongue flinches, tears may roll. But then something else kicks in: pain relief. The bloodstream floods with endorphins—the closest thing to morphine that the body produces. The result is a high. And the more capsaicin you ingest, the bigger and better it gets.

Which is why the diet in the rich world is heating up. Hot chilies, once the preserve of aficionados with exotic tastes for cuisine from places such as India, Thailand or Mexico, are now a staple ingredient in everything from ready meals to cocktails.

One reason is that globalisation has raised the rich world’s tolerance to capsaicin. What may seem unbearably hot to those reared on the bland diets of Europe or the Anglosphere half a century ago is just a pleasantly spicy dish to their children and grandchildren, whose student years were spent scoffing cheap curries or nacho chips with salsa. Recipes in the past used to call for a cautious pinch of cayenne pepper. For today’s guzzlers, even standard-strength Tabasco sauce, the world’s best-selling chili-based condiment, may be too mild. The Louisiana-based firm now produces an extra-hot version, based on habanero peppers, the fieriest of the commonly-consumed chilies.

Read the rest here.

Let me just say that I enjoy the hell out of the habanero-based Tabasco sauce mentioned in the above excerpt. I once poured it on a honey bun I was eatin' (you can ask Mr. Jimmy if you don't belive me).

Friday, December 19, 2008

Ordering pizza pies on the Interweb

I don't order chain-store pizzas very often. When I do, however, I get 'em from Papa John's. Why? I once ordered me a pie from Papa John's via their Web site, and then I started receiving some pretty serious online offers from Papa John's on an almost daily basis. (Last week, I took 'em up on their $10 extra-large two-topping offer.)

Why do I mention this? Well, the Wall Street Journal has published an article in which it informs readers that pizza pies can be purchased online, via text message, or via Facebook. To wit:

Pizza chains are offering even more ways to satisfy your carb cravings.

Now instead of just picking up the phone, pizza eaters can order a pie digitally -- over the Web, through cellphone applications and even via Facebook, a social-networking site. Moreover, couch potatoes can order a Dominos pizza from their TV by using the broadband TiVo service available to subscribers.

It's all a push to stay competitive with what may be the country's most popular food.

"Right now, the No. 1 food that people bring home is pizza, no doubt," says Harry Balzer, vice president of NPD Group, a consumer-marketing firm. "It's the third-most-popular food ordered in restaurants [behind burgers and fries] and the No. 1 food ordered by children under the age of 18," Mr. Balzer adds.

But the major pizza chains, such as Pizza Hut, a unit of Yum Brands Inc., Domino's Pizza Inc. and Papa John's International Inc., are fighting for their share of the pie these days. Mr. Balzer cites the growing number of restaurants offering take-out meals, as well as the growth in supermarkets that offer frozen, restaurant-quality pizzas.

To keep customers coming back, major pizza chains are adding more menu items, such as appetizers and desserts, and offering more ways to order. We tested some of these ordering methods to see if technology offers an edge when ordering slices.

Read the rest here.

That ain't news ...

Yesterday's Atlanta Journal-Constitution featured an article with this bold-type headline:

Hours of low-temperature cooking yield tender, juicy meat

Given that low-and-slow-cooked pork and beef is a Southern specialty, I find it almost - nay, very - insulting that a major Down South newspaper felt compelled to tell its readers that cooking meat at a low temp. for a long period of time yields juicy and tender meat.

Next thing you know, the AJC will be running these foodie newsflashes:

Rolling chicken in flour and cooking in hot oil yields a tasty treat

Bacon grease can perk up a simple green bean dish

Country ham is fabulous; No, we're not talking about the Blue Collar Comedy Tour

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Joltin' Django's salade de poulet

Remember my big box of Duke's mayonnaise? Well, tonight I used a big bunch of it to make what may be the best chicken salad I've ever made. Here's how I did it:

Joltin' Django's Chicken Salad


2 large cans chicken breast
2/3 cup Duke's mayonnaise
1 small white onion, minced
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons dried chives


Drain chicken and place on a cutting board. Use a knife and fork to finely shred chicken. Place in mixing bowl and add remaining ingredients. Mix very, very well.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill for one hour. Serve on white bread with lots of hot sauce (I used Melinda's).

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

How to smell like a Man Who's Gotta Eat

I can't tell you how many times I've opened a "men's magazine" and had my nose assaulted by some sweet-smelling parfum pour les hommes that made me say, aloud or to myself, "The only fellers who smell like this probably have a lot of Madonna tunes on their iPods."

That said, you won't find a more manly-smelling man who's gotta eat than one who wreaks of grill-smoke. Thanks to the folks at Burger King, a needin'-to-eat feller need not stand over a charcoal grill to smell like a Man. All he needs to do is, well, check it out:

Still can't think what to get him for Christmas? Socks don't seem to cut it any more? Fret no longer because Burger King is here to help.

The mass purveyor of grilled meat is offering, for a limited time, something even better than their usual piles of beef patties. This week, American men were given the chance to smell like their favourite meat snack with the launch of Flame, Burger King's contribution to the perfume market.

The company describes Flame as "the scent of seduction with a hint of flame-broiled meat".

Astonishingly, this elixir costs a mere $3.99. By contrast, one of its competitors, Chanel No 5, for example, costs more than $80.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Be good be good!

Be good Be good
Be good be good be good
Be good be good be good be good (Johnny)

-- Men At Work

For the longest time, Joltin' Django's had three favorite BBQ sauces: Stubb's and Sauer's, both of which are commercially available, and Irish Picnic BBQ Sauce, which is only available each July at the Irish Picnic in McEwen, TN.

I've just added another sauce to my list of favorites: Johnny Harris Famous Bar-B-Cue Sauce. It's a good Southern-made sauce! To wit:

One thing I can't stand is a sweet BBQ sauce. Stubb's and Sauer's ain't sweet, and Irish Picnic sauce especially ain't sweet. Johnny Harris Sauce lists sugar on its list of ingredients ... after some dozen other ingredients.

Johnny Harris has just the right blend of tomato and vinegar, with a generous helping of black pepper-infused heat. I put a generous dollop - actually about five generous dollops - on some country pork ribs I cooked tonight, and damn they was good.

Get you some Johnny Harris BBQ sauce one of these days. You'll be glad you did.

Joltin' Django can flat smash a tater

I cooked up 10 lbs of mashed potatoes for my church's Room in the Inn program over the weekend. I'd cooked smashed taters before - and I'd done a damn job doin' it - but I'd never cooked so many taters for so many people before.

Cooking quality mashed potatoes ain't hard. All you need is potatoes, whole milk, real butter, salt and pepper. That's what I used to make my church taters:

I hesitate to toot my own horn when discussing what I altruistically-produced, if you will, but my 10 lbs of potatoes were completely gone 20 minutes after they'd been served. Indeed, I was cleaning my pot while folks were still eating fried chicken, several different casseroles, and various cakes and pies.

Lemme know if you want my recipe ...

Friday, December 12, 2008

I was put here to party and I was born to ... eat venison steaks!

I recently got me some venison round steaks from my born-to-boogie ami (yes, H. Williams is the H. Williams) ...

I cooked up my venison steaks tonight ...

... and here's how I did it:

Joltin' Django's Venison Round Steaks


2-3 lbs venison round steaks (cut into 3" x 3" cubes)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons black pepper
1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
2 eggs, very slightly beaten
Vegetable oil


Place venison steaks in a shallow pan and just cover with milk. Cover pan with foil and "rest" steaks in the refrigerator for at least one hour (this will help tenderize 'em and take away any "gaminess" they may have).

Heat vegetable oil in an iron skillet over medium-high heat (oil should be about one inch deep).

Mix flour, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper in a bowl; beat eggs in a separate bowl.

When oil is hot (a small pinch of flour should start sizzling when dropped in the skillet), dredge venison steaks in flour, dip in beaten eggs, and then dredge in flour again.

Drop steaks in oil and fry 'em about 4 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels.

Dust with additional cayenne pepper, if you can take it, and partake.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sounds good to me!

From today's funny papers ...

Jalapeño Juice. Tabasco Shake. Wasabi Pop. Ain't none of 'em hellish to me. In fact, if heaven don't have at least one treat laced with wasabi or Tabasco or cayenne peppers, I don't want to go!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Chuck you!

I can't tell you how much I freakin' hate Chuck E. Cheese's.

First of all, the whole damn place is basically a germ factory. And second, I was once forced - yes, forced - to threaten a pimple-faced Chuck E. Cheese's employee over a plate of salad.

If you want to know the full story 'bout me almost getting physical with someone over a plate of lettuce, you're gonna have to request it via e-mail. Needless to say, after that "threatening" experience, in 2002, I ain't been back to Chuck E. Cheese's.

That said, this article in the Wall Street Journal 'bout violence at Chuck E. Cheese's made me laugh, laugh, laugh (mainly 'cause I can relate!) ...

In Brookfield, Wis., no restaurant has triggered more calls to the police department since last year than Chuck E. Cheese's.

Officers have been called to break up 12 fights, some of them physical, at the child-oriented pizza parlor since January 2007. The biggest melee broke out in April, when an uninvited adult disrupted a child's birthday party. Seven officers arrived and found as many as 40 people knocking over chairs and yelling in front of the restaurant's music stage, where a robotic singing chicken and the chain's namesake mouse perform.

Chuck E. Cheese's bills itself as a place "where a kid can be a kid." But to law-enforcement officials across the country, it has a more particular distinction: the scene of a surprising amount of disorderly conduct and battery among grown-ups.

"The biggest problem is you have a bunch of adults acting like juveniles," says Town of Brookfield Police Capt. Timothy Imler. "There's a biker bar down the street, and we rarely get calls there."

It isn't clear exactly how often fights break out at Chuck E. Cheese's 538 locations. Richard Huston, executive vice president of marketing for the chain's parent company, CEC Entertainment Inc. of Irving, Texas, describes their occurrence as "atypical," saying he has heard of "four or five significant adult altercations" this year. But in some cities, law-enforcement officials say the number of disruptions at their local outlet is far higher than at nearby restaurants, and even many bars. "We've had some unfortunate and unusual altercations between adults at these locations," Mr. Huston says. "Even one is just way too many."

Read the rest here.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Channeling my inner Ben Matlock ...

It's no secret that I love Nathan's with-casing hot dogs. Until today, I'd never had a Nathan's Cheddar Cheese Beef Franks hot dog. I'd seen 'em in the "dog section" of my local Publix, but I'd never even thought about giving 'em a try. You see, I'm pretty loyal to them Nathan's with-casing hot dogs. Did I mention they're my favorite hot dogs?

I visited my local Publix this afternoon to pick up a few things, none of which were hot dogs. I just happened to pass the dogs and luncheon meat when something I seen out of the corner of my eye caught my attention: Nathan's Cheddar Cheese Beef Franks, buy-one-get-one-free. I couldn't pass up a deal like that ... and, boy howdy, I'm glad I didn't (pass it up, that is).

I was never a big fan of cheese-infused hot dogs when I was a kid. I guess that's 'cause pre-packaged "cheese dogs" were a menu staple at my elementary school. I'm pretty sure the hot dogs were made out of soybeans and sawdust, and I don't even want to think about what was in that cheese. All I know is the wrinkly-looking things smelled like holy hell after they came out of the microwave. That was enough to turn me off of cheese dogs for a long, long time. Hell, it's amazing that I didn't develop a lifelong revulsion for hot dogs after smelling and looking at those wretched meat-and-cheese tubes in a bun.

Well, Nathan's cheese dogs are nothing - and I mean nothing - like the cheese dogs of my youth. They were full of Nathan's beefy goodness, as one would expect, and they were infused with a semi-sharp cheddar that provided a perfect balance of cheese and dog. That is, there wasn't so much cheese that you couldn't taste the dog; and, likewise, Nathan's signature mixture of beef and spice didn't make me say, "Where's the cheese?" I guess what I'm trying to say is this: I had me one hell of a hot dog tonight. Actually, I had two.

Usually when I eat a hot dog, I top it with chopped onions, a quality mustard, or some Heinz Piccalilli Pickle. A Nathan's Cheddar Cheese Beef Frank is so good, it don't need none o' that. Indeed. I ate my Nathan's cheese dogs with no adornment other than a bun. And I kinda felt guilty about eating the bun.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Fat Tire is so bloody phat ...!

I invited a friend to come over and watch today's Titans-Browns game wi' me. To thank me for my hospitality, my buddy brought me a big bottle of Fat Tire Amber Ale. (For the record, folks who bring me beer immediately cease being my "friend" and immediately become my buddy.) I'd never had Fat Tire beer before, but, by God, not many days are going to pass before I have it again.

I've always been a big fan of ales. If you know anything about beer, you know that an ale has a robust, almost fruity, flavor; it has a distinctive amber appearance when poured in a glass; and it produces an extra-frothy head that's a scourge to anyone sporting a moustache. Well, all that's why I like to pour me an ale when I'm gonna watch a ball game, read a book, or smoke me a cigar.

Fat Tire Amber Ale isn't the best ale that's I've ever poured over my lips ... but it's damn close. That ain't no ****, neither (apologies to Gunnery Sgt. Hartman). Fat Tire Ale has a rich flavor that just assaults the back of your tongue with hints of semi-dark chocolate and citrus, and then it makes peace in your belly as you're thinking to yourself, "I'm gonna enjoy the next gulp even more!"

I'm not no drunk or nothing, but I absolutely cannot wait until I can get to my favorite beer-'n'-wine warehouse to get me more than one bottle of Fat Tire Amber Ale. Yeah, it was that good.

POSTSCRIPT: Speaking of beer glasses, I got my favorite beer glass at a Memphis Redbirds game in August 2007. Here's Fat Tire Ale in said beer glass:

Les haricots rouges et le riz de ma maison

I was asked just yesterday if I have a good recipe for red beans and rice. I do. And here 'tis:

Joltin' Django's Red Beans & Rice


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


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.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Trouble this ...

I received an e-mail from Melbytwelve today in which ... well, here's something di-rect from said e-mail:

[Y]ou probably only have trouble cooking 50 cents packs of powder macaronni (sic) and cheese.

Trouble this, bitch:

For legal reasons, I'm not gonna tell you how to contact Melbytwelve. If you're hell-bent on tellin' him what you think, however, think about this: An Oyster Loves livin' in the Gulf of Mexico.

UPDATE: A few folks sent e-mails to ask what may have provoked Mr./Ms. Melbytwelve, and if there was more to his/her e-mail that I didn't let on. Let's just say that the whole of Melbytwelve's e-mail was an assault on everything I like to eat, cook, and drink. Since I haven't made powdered macaroni and cheese in ages, well, suggesting that I only use powder to make mac-and-cheese kinda got to me. So there.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Gimme, gimme, gimme!

There's a major perk that comes along with being a semi-successful eatin'/drinkin'/tobacco-usin' blogger: free junk from companies that want you to eat, drink, or huff their stuff. Most of it is indeed junk. But every so often a blogger gets something that he or she can really enjoy (like Duke's mayonnaise).

A few months back, I got a free sample of Red Man snuff from the Pinkerton Tobacco Company. The folks at Pinkerton asked me to sample the snuff and then send back a short questionnaire. I tried the snuff - first time I'd dipped snuff in 20 years - and then I told the truth on the questionnaire: I prefer loose leaf Red Man to Red Man snuff.

I was just a wee bit surprised when I opened my mailbox today to find a box from the Pinkerton Tobacco Company. Said box contained a "limited edition" Red Man tin with three cans of snuff. I thought to myself, "Wow. These guys really want me to switch from the pouch to the can!"

Well, I ain't gonna switch from the pouch to the can, but I am gonna enjoy every little bit of tobacco in my free cans o' Red Man snuff. And then I'm gonna stick that empty tin on my desk at home and fill it with something ... like Duke's mayonnaise!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Godfather's Pizza (redux)

A bud and I ate Godfather's pizza tonight whilst watching the Middle Tennessee/Louisiana-Lafayette football game. I wrote a little something-something about Godfather's pizza-pies a few months back. My opinion ain't changed much ...

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

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

It swallows all right ...

A Philly-area restaurant, Swallow, has ditched its litany of nouveau-Italian dishes in favor of a menu devoted entirely to a classic American side dish: macaroni and cheese. Swallow's owners say they made the move in order to help folks deal with the current economic downturn.

After taking a gander at Swallow's menu, I have a couple of questions:

Since when is a 12-dollar plate of mac-and-cheese an "economical" dish? Who in the hell puts sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, broccoli, or cauliflower in mac-and-cheese?

As any Southern grandmother can tell you, all you need to make great macaroni and cheese are these ingredients: elbow macaroni, shredded cheddar, milk, butter, flour, salt and pepper. With $12-13 in hand, you can buy enough of said ingredients to send a dozen people away from your house just stuffed to the gills with mac-and-cheese. And I guaran-damn-tee won't none of 'em be saying, "Boy, if only that'd had some sun-dried tomatoes/olives/cauliflower in it!'

Monday, December 01, 2008

Serendipity, part two (the Wendy's connection)

Joltin' Django spent Thanksgiving 2008 in a hunting cabin on Kentucky Lake -- in Big Sandy, TN. On my way home Saturday night, I stopped at Wendy's for my first non-turkey meal in two-and-a-half days. What I got was a Buffalo-Dipped chicken sandwich and a Frosty™. Here's my sammich:

Yesterday, I received a "fast food" e-mail from AOL yesterday featuring a link to reviews of food and beverage offerings at some half-dozen fast-food joints. Imagine my surprise when I spied a review of Wendy's Buffalo-Dipped sammich. Here's what AOL said:

Wendy's Buffalo Dipped Chicken Sandwich

Grade: F

A fried chicken patty meets a sickly, stinging, neon orange sweet-and-sour sauce in a sandwich we wouldn't inflict on our worst enemy. One puckery, cloying bite scorched the throats of the testers and caused at least one to skip dinner that night. The taste of the chicken? We wouldn't know, because it was so completely overpowered, but it sure wasn't anything we'd call "Buffalo."

I couldn't disagree more.

First, I think it's kind of funny that the throats of AOL's testers were "scorched" after eating Wendy's Buffalo chicken sammich. I mean, who'd they hire to test that sammich? Ten-year-old girls?! Wendy's Buffalo sauce is right tasty, but the heat level is anything but scorching. If you've ever had Frank's RedHot Pepper sauce, well, that's about the heat level you can expect from Wendy's Buffalo sauce. (Experienced hot-saucers now know exactly what I mean about AOL's hiring 10-year-old girls as taste-testers.)

Second, not only was the chicken in my Buffalo-Dipped sammich extra-juicy, I in no way thought that the sauce was so overpowering that I couldn't appreciate how expertly the chicken'd been cooked. Furthermore, the sammich was bedecked with crisp lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles ... and damned if I didn't think it was the finest Buffalo chicken sammich I've ever had. (It's certainly better than Ruby Tuesday's Buffalo chicken sammich, and probably less expensive by 3 or 4 bucks.)

I don't eat a lot of fast food. Indeed, prior to eating at Wendy's on Saturday, it'd been two months since I'd visited a fast-food joint. It ain't gonna be another two months before I "go fast-food" again, however. I'm going back to Wendy's tomorrow to get me another one of them Buffalo Dipped sammiches. I'd invite the foodies from AOL to join me, but I'm sure they'd harangue me with a whole bunch of this-porridge-is-too-hot weeping and sniveling.

Serendipity, part one (the Bar-B-Cutie connection)

'Bout two weeks ago, I told you about my experience eating - er, choking down - Bar-B-Cutie's chopped pork. Here's what I said:

I'm going to be brutally honest: I don't know what kept me from choking to death whilst eating [my Bar-B-Cutie BBQ] sandwich. ... Even after drowning the meat in BBQ sauce, I felt like I was trying to swallow shredded newspaper. If the meat'd not had small bits of smoked skin, I would've sworn that I was eating Whitt's dreadfully dry bar-b-crap. (Whitt's is just all gray meat and gristle.)

Well, imagine my surprise when I came home Saturday to find a glossy direct-mail ad from Bar-B-Cutie's catering division. To wit:

"Bring [Bar-B-Cutie] Barbeque To Your Office!" the ad says. I hate to say it, but I'd be more comfortable bringing raw mountain oysters to my company's Christmas party than Bar-B-Cutie's dreadfully dry cooked pork.

That said, I will give Bar-B-Cutie props for placing on its catering mailer a young lady who flat knows how to wear a pair of tight white jeans ... indeed!