Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hot Fish!

I says to myself last night, I says, "A hot fish sammich from Ed's Fish House would sure hit the spot." Well, I went to Ed's and got me the hot fish sammich you see in the pic above. And it flat hit the spot, indeed.

I told you about Ed's Fish House late last year. I'm gonna tell you again ...

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. ...

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, August 28, 2008

Blizzard of Heath!

Yours truly does not have sweet tooth. Except for the 2-3 Coca-Colas I drink each day, I rarely consume anything in which sugar is the main, or a major, ingredient.

If and when I do have a hankerin' for something sweet, I usually head to my local Dairy Queen for a Blizzard -- a Blizzard with chunks o' Heath Bar in it. When it's hot outside, there's nothing, and I mean nothing, that tastes better than a DQ Heath Bar Blizzard!

I encourage any and all Blizzard fans to visit the Blizzard Fan Club Web site. If'n you're willing to enter your e-mail address and your date of birth on said Web site, you'll receive a coupon for a free small Blizzard 'bout a week before your birthday. You can't beat a deal like that!

I finally used my Free Blizzard coupon today (I celebrated my birthday two weeks ago). Nashville's temperature was pushin' 90 degrees 'bout 2 p.m., so a Heath Bar Blizzard was a welcome treat, indeed.

You can't beat a deal like that!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Le basilic est la meilleure épice!

Back in the spring, I planted some basil in a pot on my patio. I established a watering schedule, and I pined for the day when my basil would bloom (and when I could put it in a pot of homemade tomato gravy).

For the longest time, my basil wasn't doing too good. For weeks after it sprouted, it looked stunted and water-deprived ... even though I was giving it a good watering each and every morning at 6 a.m. At one point -- 'bout mid-June -- I was convinced that my basil was going to die.

Well, it didn't die. Sometime around the Fourth of July, it suddenly got green and started growing like the moss in the second Creepshow story. And now, I have a pot of damn fine-looking basil, indeed. To wit:

This holiday weekend, I intend to make a BIG pot of tomato gravy. I've been having a craving for penne pasta, so I'm gonna serve my tomato gravy with some Barilla penne. Stay tuned for pics ...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Oy vey! Large this supermarket is!

I've always admired folks who keep kosher because they not only eat to live, they live what they eat. Plus, some of the companies that produce kosher foods - Streit's, Manischewitz, etc. - turn out some mightly fine packaged foodstuffs. Indeed, I cannot wait for Passover to roll around because it is the only time of year that I can purchase Manischewitz's honey cake mix. I freakin' love me some Manischewitz honey cake.

I ran across this story about Pomegranate, a kosher megamarket, if you will, in Brooklyn. What I wouldn't give to live in Brooklyn. To wit:

Unlike other specialty markets, Pomegranate caters to the thousands of Orthodox Jewish families living in New York City. The store has three kitchens: dairy, meat, and parve (fish, vegetables, fruit and grains). Each has its own on-duty full-time rabbi. Customers can choose from a rich selection of freshly baked challah and homemade cheeses to aged prime beef-rib steaks to an olive bar and sushi bar. The gourmet food market is an obvious business trend. Is the kosher version of Whole Foods the new trend?

I live in Brooklyn, not far from Pomegranate, and I see several smaller gourmet kosher markets on Kings Highway. The prices are not cheap. So, I do not think that Pomegranate will have a hard time competing with existing stores. You can now visit the supermarket that's located on Coney Island Avenue at the corner of Avenue L.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Miss you much ...

I've been haunted in my sleep
You've been starring in my dreams
Lord, I miss you

-- Rolling Stones, "Miss You"

I recently - and by recently I mean exactly three weeks ago today - happened upon a little trailer on Nolensville Road from which hot fish sandwiches and other "soul food" was being dispensed. The little trailer in question, which was doing business in a gas station parking lot, didn't have a proper name (it just had "soul food" painted on its backside), and it had a very limited menu -- limited to hot fish sandwiches (fried whiting fish on white bread, garnished with onions, pickles and hot sauce), fried catfish and fries, and fried bologna on white bread with mustard.

I ate at the Soul Food Trailer exactly three times. First time, I had a hot fish sammich. Second time, I had a fried bologna sammich. And the last time I ate there, August 16, I had me three pieces of fried catfish and three lbs of French fries (I ain't kiddin'). The food served there was obviously very good, or I would not have gone back.

Whilst travellin' down Nolensville Road this afternoon, I noticed that my favorite little soul food trailer was no longer sittin' in the gas station parking lot in which it was, well, sittin' last week. I immediately turned around and made straight for that gas station. I inquired within -- "What happened to the soul food?" -- and no one could tell me nothing. "They just left" ... that's what I was told.


You know, there're very few things in life that disappoint me more than finding that one of my favorite restaurants has gone out of business. Over the years, I've had a lot of favorite restaurants that've closed up shop. My stomach rumbles, and my mouth waters, just thinking about 'em. In no particular order, here're the restaurants I miss most:

El Inca Peruvian Restaurant

I could write about El Inca all day. In fact, one of the earliest A Man's Gotta Eat posts was a review of El Inca. Here's a portion of what I wrote:

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 ...

Man, I miss that place.

Houston's Restaurant

Houston's is the only restaurant on the face of the earth upon which I've ever heaped praise due to the quality of its salads. Houston's salads were filled with homemade dime-sized bacon bits, were covered with homemade dressings (bleu cheese being the best), and featured vegetables that were so fresh that you'd swear they'd been picked that day. I was told, but was never able to verify, that Houston's used produce straight from the Nashville Farmer's Market.

That said, I never went to Houston's just for their salads. No, I went for their grilled steaks and chops, which were every bit as good as the steaks and chops served at Nashville's high-end steakhouses ... and for half the price.

Boo's Hot Chicken

Hot chicken is a delicacy native to Nashville. For the uninitiated, hot chicken is fried chicken - usually a breast quarter or a leg quarter - that gets dusted with a mixture of cayenne pepper and hot paprika as soon as it comes out of the deep fryer. It's served on a couple of slices of white bread, and its topped with a fist-sized pile of dill pickle chips. If you like spicy food, you'll love hot chicken.

Nashville's had a lot of hot chicken joints that have gone as quickly as they came, and deservedly so. Boo's had it a good thing goin': a distinctive pepper mixture ( a unique pepper - the booglea (sp?) - grown only in Louisiana, and an equal amount of hot paprika and sweet paprika), great side items (fried corn and spicy cole slaw, among others), and a rotund proprietor straight out of Cajun central-casting (who was quick with what seemed like an endless repertoire of off-color jokes). Boo's was featured on WNPT's Tennessee Crossroads program 'bout four years ago, and then the place was gone ... replaced with a barber shop.

Boo's always had a steady stream of customers, so I was at a loss as to why the place closed. I still don't know why it closed, but I do know thisdo know this: I miss Boo's!

Elliston Place II

I lived for a short time about a quarter-mile from Elliston Place II -- or The Two, as my friends and I called it -- which was located on Nolensville Road in South Nashville. I never quite understood why the place was called "Elliston Place II," seeing that it was located a good six miles from Elliston Place. (And I was never able to locate Elliston Place I. Perhaps it was in North Nashville!)

The Two turned out some pretty good soul food for lunch and dinner (fried chicken, meatloaf, turkey and dressing, taters, beans, turnip greens, etc.), but it was the all-you-can-eat catfish, served every Friday and Saturday night, that made The Two a go-to place for me. The Two not only served up some of the crispiest catfish in town, they made their own tarter sauce, which was equal parts sweet and tangy and full of chunks of dill pickle.

The Two closed about five years ago. If you know anything about the restaurant scene on Nolensville Road, you can pretty much guess what replaced it.

Cafe Orient

Cafe Orient was owned by a chap from Japan who also had (and maybe still does) a pretty popular catering business. The sushi served there was first-rate, but it was the Thai-inspired dishes that I enjoyed most.

One particular dish featured juicy chunks of pork, and long strips of green peppers, jalapeños, onions, and carrots, which'd been simmered in a spicy, garlic-filled sauce. I would take a spoon and ladle the sauce over white rice, and eat the meat/vegetable mixture and rice separately. It was like getting two different dishes in one ... and I always had plenty of leftovers!

Cafe Orient didn't stay open for very long, a victim perhaps of the fact that it opened right across the street from the well-established - and damn popular - Your Choice Asian restaurant.

Joe's Hot Fish & Soul Food

I discovered Joe's pretty much by accident. I was driving down Nolensville Road one day when I had to turn around to retrieve something I'd left at home. I turned around in Joe's parking lot (Joe's shared a parking lot with a Shell gas station) and came to a dead stop when I saw how many people were standing in line inside the restaurant. Intrigued, I went there for lunch the very next day. And I went back the day after that. To say that I was impressed with Joe's soul food is a profound understatement. Indeed, it quickly made its way to near the very top of my favorite soul food restaurants ... and it was close to my house, which was a plus.

Joe's had a pretty good spread of Southern-style meats and sides, but there were two things served there that kept me coming back for more. First, Joe's had some of the best fried cornbread I'd ever had. A lot of soul food joints have a hard time frying crispy cornbread without having it taste burnt. Not so with Joe's. I never - and I mean never - had a piece of cornbread from Joe's that wasn't cooked to perfection. Second, Joe's was the only restaurant in which I've ever eaten that served fried pork steaks like my Granny Ruby used to make. I probably frequented Joe's two-dozen times, and there were only two times when I went there that I didn't have their pork steaks ('cause they were out of 'em).

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Ron's rules!

I ate dinner tonight at Ron's BBQ & Fish. One of the very first A Man's Gotta Eat posts was a review of Ron's BBQ & Fish. It's just as good now as it was when I reviewed it last August ...

For years I'd tell anyone who'd listen that the Priest Lake/Antioch area of Nashville needed a good meat-and-three/soul food restaurant. Imagine my surprise two years ago when a couple of meat-and-threes opened within a few months of each other. First came Ron's Barbeque and Home Cooked Meals (now Ron's BBQ & Fish), followed by H & T's Home Cooking.

Since it's too hot to cook, I decided that I'd hit both Ron's and H & T's over the weekend. I've always been partial to Ron's, so I figured I'd go there first.

Ron's features some of the best fried fish that I've ever eaten -- whiting fish, mostly, but ol' Ron does fry catfish from time to time. I set out for Ron's this evening fully expecting to arrive home with a big plate of fish. When I saw the massive meatloaf steaming gently under glass, however, my hankering for fish suddenly disappeared.

While it's not as good as my late Granny Ruby's meatloaf, Ron's meatloaf gets real close. It is expertly seasoned and filled with chopped onions. Some restaurants go overboard slathering their meatloaf in tomato sauce or ketchup, but not Ron's. Ron puts just enough tomato sauce atop his meatloaf to serve as a slightly spicy garnishment; and for that he is to be commended.

Alongside my meatloaf I had green beans, macaroni and cheese, and a thick hunk of cornbread. The green beans were seasoned with just enough salty ham; the macaroni was rich and creamy, with bits of oven-singed cheese on top; and the cornbread - which was light, fluffy, and full of cornmeal goodness - was a perfect sop for the spicy meatloaf juices left on my plate.

I waited a long time for a good meat-and-three to come to the southeast corner of Davidson County. Ron's was indeed worth the wait!

Rons BBQ & Fish
2689 Murfreesboro Pike
Nashville, TN 37217

Friday, August 22, 2008

Chicken-checkin', and checkin' chicken, and all that ...

According to A Man's Gotta Eat-reader BP, a McDonald's Southern Style Chicken Sandwich has nothin' on the sammiches served at Chick-Fil-A.

I can't speak to that, since I've never - yes, I've never - eaten at a Chick-Fil-A restaurant. But speakin' of Chick-Fil-A, I can say this ...

On September 1st, you can visit your local Chik-Fil-A sporting your favorite pro/college football team's logo to receive a free order of their "new and improved" chicken strips.

Fast Food Critic has already given the Chik's new chicken strips a thumbs-up. Who wants to don a jersey on Sept. 1 and go with me to Chick-Fil-A to see if the chicken served there is as tasty as the chicken served-up at McDonald's?

Lemme know ...!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I'm lovin' it!

I don't eat at McDonald's very often. I don't have some Morgan Spurlock-style anti-McDonald's bias, mind you. I just don't eat a lot of fast food.

I ordered some books from back in June. Included with all the glossy two-sided advertisements in my order - if you've ever ordered books from Amazon, you know what I'm talkin' about - was a coupon for a free McDonald's Southern Style Chicken Sandwich. I stuck the coupon in my wallet and promptly forgot about it.

Late last week, a co-working buddy told me that he'd had a McDonald's Southern Style Chicken Sandwich, and he said, and this is a di-rect quote, "It was the best fast food chicken sandwich I've ever had. Ever." As he continued to rave about his Mickey D's sammich, I remembered that I had a coupon for a free one in my wallet. I quickly checked the expiration date, which was August 31, 2008, and I told my friend that I was gonna try me one of them sammiches.

On Wednesday, I headed to McDonald's to get me a chicken sandwich. I don't know if it's the best fast food chicken chicken sandwich I've ever had, but it was damn close. The bun was fresh, the chicken was crispy and well seasoned, and there were six - yeah, six - pickle slices on my sammich.

I only have one beef, no pun intended, with the Southern Chicken Sandwich: tain't no condiments on it (a fact that will surely dissuade Mr. Jimmy from ever eatin' one). Next time I purchase one of then Southern Style sammiches - and believe me, there will be a next time - I'm going to take it home and put a big dollop of Duke's on it. Now, I'll be lovin' that!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Oh, how I love chicken and dumplins

This morning, I put a frozen chicken in the sink to thaw. When I got home I boiled the chicken for an hour, in a pot with lots of salt and five unpeeled cloves of garlic.

When the hour was up, I strained the stock and shredded the chicken. I returned the chicken to the pot and put in a lot of black pepper and a little dried thyme. Then I let it simmer for a bit. To wit:

To my simmering chicken I added a package of Mary B's Open Kettle Dumplings, which I let it simmer for a few minutes more ... 20 minutes, to be exact. A bowl of the final result, if you will, looked like this:

Rest assured, I put some hot sauce in my bowl of chicken and dumplins. Who wants to guess what I put in my bowl of chicken and dumplins? Should anyone really try to guess what I put in my bowl of chicken and dumplins?

What I put in my bowl of chicken and dumplins was a quarter-cup of original Tabasco® sauce. Big shock, right?!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Edna! Helper's gettin' cold!

Someone once asked me why I purchase so many different kinds of hot sauce. I explained to him that I will only eat one particular kind of hot sauce in or on the dishes that I enjoy cooking and/or eating. For example, if I make a skillet of Hamburger Helper, it's gonna get a good dousing of Trappey's Bull Louisiana Hot Sauce. If I'm eating chicken, I use Tabasco®. If I'm eating chili or stew, only green Tabasco® will do. (That sounded like something Johnnie Cochran would say!)

Speaking of Hamburger Helper, I made some Monday night. And, yes, it was plum covered in Trappey's hot sauce. I posted a paean to Hamburger Helper 'bout this time last year. Check it out:

I have a confession: I love Hamburger Helper. No, I freakin' love Hamburger Helper. If'n I ever decide that I would look quite smashing as a 400 lb. tub, I will go on an all-Hamburger Helper diet -- Cheeseburger Macaroni or Double Cheeseburger Macaroni, of course.

All kidding aside, let me say this:

Whenever I want something fast and simple for dinner, I'll whip up a box of Helper, open a can of peas, and drench the whole shebang in Trappey's Louisiana Hot Sauce. Heaven in a single skillet, indeed!

Read the rest here.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Beer at the molecular level

Florida State University's Molecular Expressions Web site -- which showcases a large collection of color photographs taken through an optical microscope (commonly referred to as "photo-micro-graphs") -- is a site, and a sight, to behold.

A most interesting feature of the Molecular Expressions site is the BeerShots page. Here you can find photomicrographs of the World's most famous beers, including one of my all-time favorite brews, La Fin Du Monde:

If you want to know more 'bout La Fin Du Monde beer, check out this bit o' text from the label on a bottle in my frig as we, ahem, speak:

"Triple Fermentation 9 percent alcohol. The excellence of triple fermentation through a blend of special yeasts gives this malt beverage LA FIN DU MONDE (The End of The World) an exquisitely robust flavour of exceptional refinement. This 'liquid gold' could only be brewed in the High Lands of America. Brewed and bottled by Unibroue, Chambly, Québec, Canada."

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I was reading a recipe in a magazine at my doctor's office on Friday (Joltin' Django's been a little under the weather for over a week), just as I was being called back to get examined and jabbed with a needle. I hastily copied it down before I departed ... and I cooked it last night. It was pretty good, too.

Doctor's Office Magazine Sirloin Cutlets


1 lb sirloin steak
1/2 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup fresh-squeezed lime
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp oregano
Salt and pepper
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups plain breadcrumbs
Olive oil
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped


Pound steak until quite thin and cut into 3 inch by 3 inch cutlets. Place in a bowl with orange juice, lime, garlic, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Make sure all cutlets are well coated and place bowl in refrigerator. Refrigerate cutlets 10-15 minutes.

Dip each cutlet in egg wash, coat with breadcrumbs, and set aside on a plate. Heat 1/3 cup olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Place cutlets in pan and cook until well-browned on each side (about 2 minutes per side). Add more olive oil if necessary.

When cutlets have finished cooking, place on a rack and tent with aluminum foil. When all cutlets have finished cooking, place on a serving tray and garnish with parsley.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Let's start the Insanity

A co-worker recently bequeathed to me a bottle of Dave's Insanity Sauce. Said bottle had been bequeathed to him many months ago, and he gave it to me after he admitted, 'It's just too hot."

In plain view of my most generous co-worker, and a dozen other co-workers, I took a plastic spoon and gulped a spoonful of Dave's Insanity Sauce. Each and every one of 'em visibly took a deep breath as I consumed something that comes in a bottle bearing this warning: "Use this product one drop at a time.

Now, I ain't even gonna lie to you ... Dave's Insanity Sauce not only gave me a good scorching, it made me sweat like Michael Moore on a Kenyan safari. But, Boy Howdy, it sure did taste good.

Unlike most of the uber-hot hot sauces I've tasted over the years, Dave's packs nearly as much flavor as it does heat. Dave's primary ingredient is tomato sauce, and tomato is the first thing you notice when Dave's first touches your tongue. Then the heat sets in ... a heat that does not quickly dissipate.

If you're a hot sauce novice -- nay, if you're a hot sauce aficionado who thinks you're pushing the envelope when you consume habañero-based hot sauces -- you need to stay the **** away from Dave's Insanity Sauce. You've been warned ...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


It wasn't very long ago when I posted a very favorable review of Stroud's Barbeque here at A Man's Gotta Eat. Here's a portion of what I said:

After I'd applied a good dose of Stroud's hot BBQ sauce to my sandwich, I grabbed it with my both hands and took a bite. This is what I said aloud, to no one in particular: "Man, this is some good barbeque!" And it was good, indeed. The meat was smoky and it was juicy and, by God, I wish I was eatin' some of it right now.

During that visit to Stroud's, I filled out a card to join Stroud's Birthday Club. A sign on the box in which I placed that card promised that I'd receive a coupon for a free pork sammich 'bout two weeks before my birthday rolled around. Well, my birthday is today, and I'm still waiting for that coupon.

To say that I'm disappointed is a profound understatement. If Stroud's is gonna put out a Birthday Club box and promise folks who sign up a free sammich on their birthday, Stroud's should by God do just that.

How much are celebrity chefs cookin' up?

Forbes is out with a list of the "Top 10 Earning Celebrity Chefs":

10. Anthony Bourdain - $1.5 million
9. Bobby Flay - $1.5 million
8. Tom Colicchio - $2 million
7. Mario Batali - $3 million
6. Paula Deen - $4.5 million
5. Alain Ducasse - $5 million
4. Nobuyuki Matsuhisa - $5 million
3. Gordon Ramsay - $7.5 million
2. Wolfgang Puck - $16 million
1. Rachel Ray - $18 million

It ain't hard to figure out why Rachel Ray is number one on this list. She has a half-dozen different shows on the Food Network; she has a line of grossly overpriced cookware; and she probably made a small fortune when she consented to have her panty-clad big booty splashed in the pages of FHM magazine. That said, it pains the hell out of me to know that many times more than Anthony Bourdain and Mario Batali. Pains the hell out of me, I said.

Monday, August 11, 2008

I like the sound of this soup!

Just got the September issue of Men's Journal magazine in the mail, and I found a recipe therein that I cannot freakin' wait to try.

As soon as I get over the terrible cold with which I'm now suffering - that is, when I can taste stuff again - I'm gonna make a big pot o' this:

Mac and Cheese Soup


10 slices thick-cut bacon, cut in quarters
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
14-ounce can low-sodium chicken broth
3 cups milk
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dry mustard
4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni, cooked
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish


In a Dutch over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp, then remove. Add onion and cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and continue cooking until onion is soft and slightly browned.

Mix in flour and cook for two minutes. Add broth and bring to a simmer, stirring often.

Add milk, chili powder, pepper, and mustard; cook for three minutes. Add cheese and bacon, cooking and stirring until well blended, about four minutes.

Add macaroni and return to a simmer. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

How to make a wang do the dang-doodle

Regular readers of this blog are well aware of the fact that I put hot sauce on practically everything I eat. (Mr. Jimmy can testify that he once watched as I put hot sauce on a honey bun, and ate it.)

I have, at last count, some 25 different bottles of hot sauce in my kitchen. I have a bottle of each flavor of Tabasco®; I have 2 big-ass bottles of Trappey's (my very favorite hot sauce); and I have a half-gallon jug of Texas Pete® from which I sometimes swig like I'm drinkin' water or chocolate milk.

What you won't find in my kitchen are bottles of Bruce Foods' Louisiana Hot Sauce. I've never been a big fan of Louisiana Hot Sauce for one important reason: it's just too freakin' salty for my taste.

Yesterday, a friend gave me a bottle of Louisiana Wing Sauce. I didn't say anything, but I was really expecting to dislike the sauce my buddy so graciously gifted to me.

Since I had some leftover fried chicken in my frig, I decided to give the wing sauce a whirl tonight. Boy was I surprised. It had a zippy flavor, was full of heat, and didn't taste like it was equal parts salt and pepper sauce.

Sometime next week, I'm gonna fry up some chicken wings so I can taste my new sauce on just-cooked chicken. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Lunch Box!

When I was a kid (by "kid" I mean age o' 5 to 10-years-old), I had two lunch boxes: a Star Wars box that was bedecked with stickers from packs of red, yellow and blue Star Wars cards; and a National Football League box that featured 70s-style facemasks and a list of Super Bowl champions.

While I still have my Star Wars lunch box, I pulled all the stickers off and gave it a good cleaning years ago. Maybe I'll get some bucks for my box one of these days.

Check this out:

"A 1954 Superman lunchbox broke records when it sold for a whopping $11,500 in auction. Though most vintage boxes won't score a sliver of that price, many good-condition carriers still hold their weight in worth. Here's a countdown of classic lunchboxes' blue book value. Who knows? You might have some cold hard cash collecting dust in your attic!"

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Happy Birthday to me!

This blog is now officially one-year-old. Please to enjoy one of the very first A Man's Gotta Eat posts -- a post that still tickles me to this day:

There are few things in this world I like more than homegrown tomatoes. I like 'em so much that I've been putting out a dozen tomato plants for the past, oh, ten years or so.

This year, for the first time since I started growing my own tomatoes, I've had a problem with squirrels eating the fruits of my labor, literally. When I first noticed that I had a lower yield, if you will, than in years past, I thought it might have something to do with the drought we've been experiencing. Thus, I started a very systematic watering program lest late summer come and, bam, no tomatoes.

One morning as I was leaving for work, I spied a squirrel on top of my storage shed munching on what looked like a grape. As I opened the gate to enter my back yard, the squirrel took off and what he'd been eating rolled off the roof of my shed. It was one of my damned tomatoes!

My tomato plants are tied to metal stakes. A little over a month ago, I started spraying the stakes with Pam (and I trimmed the low-hanging vines off my plants). The amount of half-eaten tomatoes in my yard declined precipitously, so I assumed that I'd taken care of my squirrel problem. Of course, trying to stop a squirrel from eating something that he's hell-bent on eating is akin to trying to stop water from running downhill (just ask anyone who has bird-feeders). This morning, I learned that my squirrel problem is far from solved.

As I was getting into my car this morning, I happened to glance up at the security light in my backyard ... and this is what I saw:

That's a big tomato. Sitting on top of a light pole. 25 feet in the air.

Damn them squirrels!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Yes, Sir Pizza!

When I was a little kid, and by "little" I mean 5 or 6-years-old, there was a Sir Pizza restaurant on Nolensville Road near what is now the Nashville Zoo. I remember going to that restaurant several times, but I don't really remember anything about the pizza served there. What I do remember is the cartoon booth - that is, a little booth in which a child could sit and watch a cartoon for a quarter - that enticed me and my friends to keep jumping out of our seats as our parents told us to "Sit down and eat!"

Last night, I ate at Sir Pizza for the first time in many, many years. Sir Pizza is a bit of a fixture in Middle Tennessee, and I even did some business with 'em a few years back, so I'm a little bit embarrassed that it took me so long to go back there and get me some pizza pie. But last night, get me some pizza pie I did. Let me tell you 'bout it.

A good buddy and I went to the Sir Pizza just across the Davidson/Rutherford County line (in Lavergne, TN). When we placed our order - for a 14" with pepperoni, Italian sausage, onions, green peppers, and black olives - the kid behind the counter said, "Do you want two-for-one?" What he was asking was: Did we want two large-ass pizzas with pepperoni, Italian sausage, and onions for the price of one? Of course, we said "Yes!"

We ate one pizza, boxed-up the other, and then went to my parents' house where we presented a big-ass free pizza to my father. Oh, and then we went bowling. (There's a brief mention of my bowling adventure over at The Nigh Seen Creeder.) Now, 'bout Sir Pizza's pizza ...

I've always been a sucker for thin crust pizza, and it pleased me to learn that Sir Pizza only sells thin crust pizzas. Now, by thin crust I don't mean a Pizza Hut-style thin crust that looks and tastes like a saltine cracker. Instead, I want a thin crust that's not only thicker than a blackjack hand, but also can hold a lot of toppings. And that's just what I was served at Sir Pizza.

Sir Pizza - and this is the one thing I remembered from my last visit there - puts a one-of-a-kind-tastin' Italian sausage on its pies. Not only is the sausage in question one-of-a-kind, it's also incredibly tasty. Indeed, more than once whilst eating tonight, I picked pieces of sausage off my slices of pizza to eat alone 'cause, well, Sir Pizza's sausage is unique among Nashville-area pizza restaurants.

Finally, let me say this: If you order a pie from Sir Pizza, expect a thin crust that'll have toppings almost to the very edge of the crust. And the toppings will not taste mass-produced. Instead, they'll taste ... well, you'll be eating something that tastes like it came from the I-talian joint down on the corner.

I'm gonna do two-for-one again at Sir Pizza next Tuesday. Who wants to join me?

Monday, August 04, 2008

Real Gusto!

Several years ago, my ami Mr. Jimmy introduced me to the term "lawnmower beer." A lawnmower beer is a beer that hits the spot when you finish mowing the yard or working on the car, or when you finish some other domestic chore that's not officially complete until you're half-tipsy.

My very favorite lawnmower beer is Fall's City Beer. There's more than a bit of nostalgia behind my admiration for Fall's City (I can remember my dad drinking Fall's City when I was a kid), but my main reason for liking it is the fact that it don't taste too bad for something that costs only $3.50 for a six-pack. I won't be drinking Fall's City whilst smoking a fine cigar or eating a steak any time soon; what I will do, however, is drink one - or two, or three, or four - when my sweaty brow needs to be cooled with an ice-cold brew.

That said, the Associated Press recently reported that Schlitz Beer is making a comeback:

It's the beer that made Milwaukee famous. Now Schlitz is making the city nostalgic.

That beer with the old-time mystique is back on shelves in bottles of its original formula in the city where it was first brewed more than a century and a half ago.

Schlitz was the top-selling beer for much of the first half of the 20th century. But recipe changes and a series of snafus made the beer — in many a drinker's opinion — undrinkable, turning what was once the world's most popular brews into little more than a joke. But after decades of dormancy, the beer is back.

Schlitz's owner, Pabst Brewing Co., is re-creating the old formula, using notes and interviews with old brew masters to concoct the pilsner again. The maker of another nostalgic favorite, Pabst Blue Ribbon, it hopes baby boomers will reach for the drink of their youth, otherwise known as "The Beer That Made Milwaukee Famous." They also want to create a following among younger drinkers who want to know what grandma and grandpa drank.

In Milwaukee, the comeback is creating a buzz. Stores are depleted of their stock within days. They're taking names for waiting lists and limiting customers to just a few six- or 12-packs each.

Schlitz had pretty much run its course by the time I was old enough to (legally) beer. I do, however, remember hearing folks talk about how crappy it tasted before it was mercifully pulled from the market. Even with all that bad-mouthing in the back of my beer-lovin' brain, I can't wait to try Schlitz when it finally makes its way to Nashville. Hell, if it's as good as the old timers say it is, it just might supplant Fall's City as my favorite lawnmower beer.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

God save British baked beans!

[Editor's note: The pot you see in the picture above belonged to my grandmother. It is perhaps my very favorite thing in which to cook things ... and I wouldn't take $1,000 for it.]

One of the things I most like about shopping at Publix Supermarkets is the fact that I can find things there that are not available in any other grocery store in town.

Publix recently added an entire section of British foodstuffs, mainly candy, condiments, and mixes for making things like shepherd's pie and chip shop curry sauce. The first time I happened upon Publix's Brit-food section, I couldn't help but be drawn to the can of Heinz Baked Beans. I couldn't help but immediately think about The Who's The Who Sell Out album -- you know, the one on which Roger Daltry is pictured sitting in a tub of baked beans holding an enormous blue Heinz can. That can hasn't changed at all in the last 41 years. I had to get me some!

The first thing I noticed when I tried imported Heinz baked beans was the fact that it wasn't nearly as sweet as the baked beans produced by American companies. I was quite impressed. I was so impressed, in fact, that I went back to Publix the next day and purchased three more cans!

For the past few weeks, I've been telling anyone who'll listen that Heinz Baked Beans are my very favorite baked beans. After my experience last night, I've had to change my tune.

I went to Publix to get some things to serve alongside the hamburgers I planned to grill. Publix had a new brand of British baked beans, Branston, and it was a little bit cheaper than Heinz. "What the heck," says I, "I'll try 'em." Try 'em I did, and they quickly supplanted Heinz as my new favorite.

Branston's beans come in a rich tomato sauce, which is slightly thicker than the one you get with Heinz Baked Beans. In addition, the sauce is a bit tangier than Heinz's, as well as a bit less salty. All in all, Heinz beans are great ... but Branston-brand is a little more great.

Next time I got to Publix, I'm gonna buy me a case of Branston Baked Beans. You think I'm exaggerating, but I ain't. So there.

How now, BeerLao?

One day last week, a buddy and I were discussing a Laotian beer called Beerlao. Our discussion had been sparked by a Wall Street Journal article 'bout said beer, which you can read here.

When my bud mentioned that he would be visiting a local beer and liquor warehouse that very afternoon, I said, "Hey, see if they have Beerlao." Well, he not only looked for it and found it, he bought some for me. Here's the verdict:

Beerlao tastes just like you'd expect a beer that's brewed by unapologetic Commies would taste. It's a little bland for an import, and it leaves a funny taste in your mouth after you swallow.

I was dreading having to tell my bud that I didn't really like the beer he brung me. Much to my surprise, however, he agreed that Beerlao ain't nothin' to write home about.

Friday, August 01, 2008

It's tomato soup, served ice-cold (apologies to Lisa Simpson)

I love - no, I freakin' love - gazpacho. Gazpacho often gets a bad rap, but when it's made right, it is really, really good.

The best gazpacho I ever consumed was in a French (!) restaurant in New York City's Theatre District in 2003. It had big honkin' pieces of tomato and cucumber, and it was spicy as all get-out. When I got home, I tried to replicate that gazpacho dish - 'bout three times over - but I just couldn't do it.

It's been five years since I last tried to make a pot o' gazpacho. The following recipe - from - arrived in my e-mail box today, and I can't wait to try it. I'm pretty sure that it won't taste like the all-from-scratch soup I had at the French restaurant five years ago; but it looks pretty tasty nonetheless. To wit:

Campbell's® Quick Gazpacho


1 can (10 3/4 oz.) Campbell's® Condensed Tomato Soup
1 cup water
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1 medium cucumber , seeded and chopped
1 small green pepper , chopped


Mix soup, water, vinegar, oil, onion, garlic, cucumber and pepper.

Refrigerate for 3 hours.

Serve with fresh-baked croutons.