Tuesday, August 31, 2010

(I still) love that chicken from Popeye's

A Popeye's chicken joint recently opened near my office. I haven't been able to visit yet. As you may or may not know, I've been out of town for a while.

For my money, I've always prefered Popeye's over Kentucky Fried Chicken. It's spicier and less greasy, and, well, Popeye's has red beans and rice.

The folks at Slashfood.com recently did a Popeye's vs. KFC taste-test. I'm sad to report that the Colonel won. This only proves one thing: the folks at Slashfood.com don't know what the you-know-what they're talking about.

I'm going to do a little Popeye's/KFC taste-testing of my own soon. Stay tuned for the results.

If'n you care to read it, here's the Slashfood.com article.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Adventures in the Nutmeg State (part one)

Remember the Seinfeld episode in which Drake's Coffee Cakes were mentioned several times? No? Perhaps this'll jog your memory ...

JERRY: Gina, do you know what a Drake’s Coffee Cake is?
GINA: Of course, the plane cake with the sweet brown crumbs on the top. ... I haven’t had one of those since I was a little girl.
JERRY: Really? You should be ashamed of yourself. I want you out of here!

My job requires that I have to fly up to Connecticut a couple o' times a year. Each time I go, I bring back boxes of Drake's Coffee Cakes for friends and co-workers who, more or less, say that I'll be sorry if'n I don't return with the things.

I can't blame my bring-back-Drake's-or-else friends for threatening me so. If you've never had one, here's why they're so good: moist cake with lots of crumbly cinnamon on top ... they're so damn tasty, you can't eat just one.

Ask nicely and I just might give you one from my stash.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Not the best of ideas

I like Pop-Tarts, but this is ridicu-rus:

It might not be the healthiest breakfast choice you can make, but for those hungering for a Pop-Tart and roaming the streets of New York City, your prayers have been answered.

The iconic toasted confection opened a flagship store and cafe in Times Square. ...

According to the New York Times, Kellogg's, the company that has made Pop-Tarts since the late 1960s, is renting a 3,200-square-foot space until January, at which point they will consider whether New York needs a permanent tart-aria.

What's on the menu at the new outpost?

According to the New York Times, the menu includes:

1. Fluffer Butter, marshmallow spread sandwiched between two Pop-Tarts frosted fudge pastries
2. Sticky Cinna Munchies, cinnamon rolls topped with cream-cheese icing and chunks of Pop-Tarts cinnamon-roll variety
3. Ants on a Log: celery, peanut butter and chunks of the Wild Grape version
4. Pop-Tarts Sushi, three kinds of Pop-Tarts minced and then wrapped in a fruit roll-up.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Tain't no ham like Benton's country ham

If you've never had country ham from Benton's in East Tennessee, you have most certainly missed out. The current Nashville City Paper has a story 'bout Benton's. A sample:

Every week [Alan] Benton will get 400 to 600 hams trucked in, and a similar amount of bacon bellies. "We want our hogs as quick as possible after slaughter," Benton said, for quality’s sake.

The meats are smoked with a blend of hickory and applewood. About 75 percent of the blend is hickory.

From there the meats are cured: bacon for five to six weeks, and hams from 14 to 23 months.

A variation of the old Benton family recipe — a mixture of salt, brown sugar, black and red pepper — is heaped on to the hams and bacon bellies to cure. After a couple of weeks in a cooler with this mix seeping into the meat, the hams are hung in a sock to form them into the familiar shape you see at your butcher. Meanwhile, the bacon hangs from a rack. A few weeks more, and the socks are removed and the ham is in its final, but long, stretch of racking until it reaches the desired age.

"It’s like making whiskey," Benton said. "Anybody can tweak it, but it takes time, perseverance and patience. There are no secrets."

Benton's was featured on Chattanooga's public television station, WTCI, a few months back. You can see the video here. Why Nashville's WNPT doesn't show this excellent program is beyond me.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Old Bay® makes it better

Old Bay is a staple spice here at Chez Allison. I gotta thank AMGE reader Michelle for forwarding the following shrimp recipe featuring, you guessed it, Old Bay seasoning:

Looking for a casual dinner cooked on the grill? Here is one of those simple recipes that never goes out of style. Old Bay is the secret ingredient here and works magic on many foods, but is particularly delicious on seafood.

Make sure to use 13- to 15-per-pound count shrimp that have been peeled and deveined with the tail left on (this makes a pretty presentation). They also fit nicely on skewers. You also can buy the shrimp with the shell on and follow the recipe; make sure to have a bowl for the shells and plenty of napkins since it is a bit messy.

Shrimp are best if cooked until just opaque. A good way to tell when they are cooked through is when the shrimp become bright orange on both sides.

Skewers have changed in the past few years. Now you can find flat ones that make all the difference when cooking. Flat skewers are best because they won't turn the food, which makes it easier to cook everything evenly. Look for 9- or 10-inch length bamboo or stainless steel skewers. You can find them at your local cookware store or online. If you're using wooden skewers, be sure to soak them for an hour before using.

Serve some vegetable rice, cooked black beans or corn on the cob as a side dish.

Let the party begin.

Grilled Shrimp With Old Bay Tequila Lime Marinade


1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup tequila
2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste


2 pounds large shrimp, 13- to 15-count-per-pound, shelled, deveined and tail attached
Wooden or stainless steel skewers, flat ones work best


Lime slices
1 bunch watercress

To prepare the marinade: Whisk together the marinade ingredients until combined. Taste for seasoning.

If using wood skewers, soak them in cold water for at least 1 hour. This will prevent them from burning when grilled.

Thread the shrimp on the skewers (3 to 4 to each skewer). Lay in a shallow, nonaluminum dish, large enough to hold the skewered shrimp.

Pour marinade over the shrimp and marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours.

Prepare the barbecue for medium-high heat grilling. Grill the shrimp on each side for about 3-4 minutes, until they are bright orange and desired doneness. Remove from the grill and arrange on a platter. Garnish with the lime slices and fresh watercress. Serve immediately.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Now that's good cucumber cola!

The very last "exhibit" at the World of Coca-Cola museum/celebration of all things Coke features tasting stations at which you can sample some 60 different Coke products from around the globe. Some of 'em are pretty tasty, but the majority of 'em lead you to ask yourself, "How in God's name can anyone drink this?" Just goes to show how much tastes differ from one country to the next. 'Tis not such a small world after all.

The folks at Wallet Pop tell us about some of the 'round-the-world variations of Pepsi. Can't say I'm dying to try any of 'em:

Pepsi Ice Cucumber, Japan: Kevin Corrigan spent $15 on eBay to taste-test the product. He found that it did indeed taste like cucumber, or "like you're drinking a sweetened salad." It did not, he found, taste anything like Pepsi.

Pepsi Fire, Southeast Asia: Matt on the blog X-Entertainment described this version of Pepsi, spiked with cinnamon, as "a car accident between a can of Pepsi and a bottle of ground cinnamon." In a glass, It looks like regular Pepsi.

This drink, with the tag line "Cola on fire," was released with a companion type, Pepsi Ice, described as an "Ice mint cola." Pepsi Ice is the color of a swimming pool, and the blogger compared its flavor with mouthwash.

Pepsi Azuki: Like Kit Kat, Pepsi has run some peculiar flavors up the snack flagpole in Japan. One of the most puzzling was Pepsi Azuki, which came out for sale last fall. The azuki bean is the second most popular legume in Japan, but, according to Japanese Snack Reviews, the soft drink "smells like someone threw up in their bean cake." Harsh. The writer describes the taste as "jasmine with a red bean chaser."

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Café Orient, RIP

Back in August '09, I told you about some of my favorite defunct Nashville eateries, one of which was Café Orient in Antioch. Here's what I said about the place:

Café 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!

Café 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.

I was driving past the strip mall in which Café Orient was located today when I spied this on the big sign out front:

I drive past that sign every day on my way home from work. I'd never noticed that Café Orient was - and is - still being "advertised," four years after it closed. Now I'm not going to be able to not look at that sign every time I pass it.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Mmmm, lasagna

Yesterday was National Lasagna Day (I didn't know there was such a "holiday" until today, or I would've posted this last night). In honor of Day-After National Lasagna Day, I'm finally getting around to posting my famous lasagna recipe -- famous to the many co-workers who've sampled it over the years, some of whom got to sample some last week (which you see in the picture above).

Anywho, here's the recipe ...

Joltin' Django's Famous Lasagna


1 box of Barilla no-boil lasagna noodles
2 eggs
2 15-ounce containers ricotta cheese
3 cups pre-grated (in a bag) mozzarella cheese
3 cups fresh-grated mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 1/2 lbs ground Italian sausage, browned
Tomato sauce (recipe here)


Preheat oven to 375°.

In bowl, combine beaten eggs, ricotta cheese and the two cups of the mozzarella cheese and parmesan.

In a 13x9x3 pan, spread 1 cup of sauce on bottom of pan. Layer 4 uncooked lasagna noodles (they will overlap), then 1/3 part of the ricotta cheese mixture, half the browned meat, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, and 1 cup of tomato sauce.

Next, layer 4 uncooked lasagna noodles, 1/3 part of the ricotta cheese mixture, and 1 1/2 cups sauce. Then layer 4 uncooked lasagna noodles, remaining ricotta mixture and remaining meat, and 1 cup of sauce.

For the top, layer 4 uncooked lasagna noodles, remaining sauce (spread it so that it drips down the sides of the pan), and three cups fresh-grated mozzarella.

Bake covered with foil for 60 minutes.

Uncover and continue cooking until all the cheese is melted on the top (10-15 minutes).

Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Company I won't be keeping again

About ten years ago, a friend of mine embarked on an ill-fated adventure as a bar-owner on Nashville's 2nd Avenue. I him do some work on the interior of the bar when it was in its "opening soon" phase, most of which was gratis (with hopes that I'd be able to drink gratis once the place got up and running). He did, however, treat me to lunch several times, and one of the places in which we regularly ate was San Antonio Taco Co. on Commerce Street.

I didn't really remember much about my dining experiences at San Antonio Taco Co. (or "Satco" to the hipster doofi set), but I must have been thoroughly underwhelmed by the place 'cause it took me a long time to go back. Well, I did go back; and I must say that I don't care if it takes me another ten years to go back to a restaurant that serves tacos that're only marginally better than the tacos served at Taco Bell (I'll have more to say about Taco Bell at a later date).

Prior to a recent Bluegrass show at the Ryman Auditorium, a friend and I visited the ducked into the Commerce Street San Antonio Taco Co. for a quick pre-concert meal. I'd forgotten that you don't just walk up to the counter and place orders. You write down your order on a little slip of paper, and then you walk five feet and hand said slip of paper to an employee who was just scratching his ass while you searched for the one pencil - out of 50 on hand - that will actually write. Now, while the f'ed-up ordering system at San Antonio Taco Co. is pretty bad, the food is even worse.

First of all, I made the mistake of ordering some chips and guacamole as an "appetizer." They chips-'n'-guac consisted of a small tray containing about 2 lbs. of chips and 2 ounces of guacamole. The guac was pretty good, but the chips were coated with enough salt to line the rims of about four-dozen margarita glasses. I think my systolic went up by 20 after about four chips. Then came the tacos.

It's pretty difficult to mess up a taco ... but messed up tacos seems to be all San Antonio Taco Co. serves. There was hardly any beef in the beef tacos I ordered, or any chicken in the chicken tacos served to my friend. That was strike one. The tortillas were cold, like they'd just been taken out of the refrigerator, and they didn't taste like they were "homemade," as TheSatco.com says they are (maybe "homemade" is Satcospeak for "storebought"). That was strike two. And my friend and I stated several times that we would've been better off stopping at Taco Bell for cheaper tacos with just as meat in 'em as the ones we were eating. That was strike three and four.

They only good thing about my visit to San Antonio Taco Co. -- and, yes, I was able to find something good there -- was the salsa and pico de gallo served on the fixin's bar. Both the salsa and pico tasted very fresh, and both were loaded with cilantro (always a plus for me). If not for the heaps of salsa and pico I loaded on to my tacos, which you can see in the picture below, I doubt if I'd have been able to finish my meal.

I'm sure there are some folks who really enjoy the San Antonio Taco Co.'s food. Actually, I know people enjoy it because the place was packed when I went there. How anyone can eat that dreck, though, is totally beyond me. Needless to say, someone will have to literally drag me into the place if I ever find myself inside the San Antonio Taco Co. again.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tomato n Duke's

Homegrown tomatoes, homegrown tomatoes
What'd life be without homegrown tomatoes?
Only two things that money can't buy
That's true love and homegrown tomatoes

-- Guy Clark

Anyone who knows me personally is well aware of the fact that I start getting bummed out around the first of June. That's when it really starts to get hot in these parts, and there're few things I hate more than 90-degree temperatures on a daily basis. One thing I do look forward to in the summer, however, is homegrown tomatoes -- my homegrown tomatoes, especially.

This year, I shook things up a bit by abandoning my preferred beefsteak tomatoes in favor of Bradleys. Having samples some two-dozen tomatoes from my personal vines I must say that I made a wise decision. Bradleys might not grow as big as beefsteak tomatoes, but they have a much sweeter taste ... and dammed if they don't taste a whole lot better on a tomato sandwich (with Duke's mayo, of course).

Ask nicely and I might give you some!

UPDATE: Mister Jimmy has a post 'bout Tennessee tomatoes. Check it out here.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A man could buy a lot of Nathan's hot dogs for $69

Man, somewhere Ben Matlock is reading this ... and he's rolling his eyes (as am I):

New York City's Serendipity 3 restaurant has a history of doing stunts to make the Guinness World Records. They've scored twice before -- with the World's Most Expensive Ice Cream Sundae and the World's Largest Hot Chocolate -- and on Friday, they did it again with the World's Most Expensive Hot Dog, which will sell for $69.

So how do you get a hot dog to cost nearly 70 bucks? First, you start with a regular Serendipity 3 foot-long beef hot dog, which already sells for $8.50 -- a little more than your average street dog in New York (and a lot tastier, I'll admit). Then you use the tried and true pre-recession stunt of chefs around the world: Add foie gras, then add truffles, repeat as necessary until the price tag explodes. (The other surefire fancifier -- caviar -- would taste a little gross on a hot dog, though Serendipity 3 puts it on a burger.)

To be more specific, this particular "Haute Dog" (as it's being marketed) is grilled in white truffle oil and is served on a chewy pretzel-bread bun (sort of like a cross between a soft pretzel and a baguette) that's toasted with white truffle butter. It's topped with foie gras pâté with black truffles. Condiments (served on the side) include Dijon mustard with black truffles, caramelized Vidalia onions and ketchup made with heirloom tomatoes (more like a tart tomato relish).

Monday, July 26, 2010

Okay, now I'm officially back ...

After trips up North, and trips down South, and lots of work -- lots of work -- in between, I will finally be posting on a regular basis again. I know I promised such a few weeks back, but this time I really mean it. Promise.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned ...

Joltin' Django

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A thing that makes me go, "Huh?!"

From the Louisiana Cookin' blog:

Only in Louisiana

Here's a new twist on how to serve burgers and if you don't cook, give this handy little guide to someone that does and request them.

Handmade ground beef patties, topped with sharp cheddar cheese, wrapped in a bacon weave, then the next step, add hotdogs as the heads, legs with slits for toes and tail.

Next step. Place on an oven rack, covered loosely with foil and baked for 20-30 minutes at 400 degrees. A little crispy, not too crunchy ... just how a turtle should be, no?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Re: L'olio d'oliva

Given that you can purchase bottles of "extra virgin" olive oil for $2-3 at your local Dollar General, this shouldn't surprise you none:

Many of the olive oils lining supermarket shelves in the United States are not the top-grade extra-virgin oils their labels proclaim, according to a report from the University of California, Davis.

Researchers analyzed popular brands and found 69 percent of imported oils and 10 percent of domestic oils sampled did not meet the international standards that define the pure, cold-pressed, olive oils that deserve the extra-virgin title.

"Consumers, retailers and regulators should really start asking questions," said Dan Flynn, executive director of UC Davis' Olive Oil Center, which conducted the study in partnership with the Australian Oils Research Laboratory, in South Wales.

Funding for the study came in part from California olive oil producers and the California Olive Oil Council, a trade group that works to promote locally produced oils.

Although the survey's sample size was relatively small and selected at random — 19 widely distributed brands purchased from retailers in San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento and Los Angeles — the study held the claims on their labels to a scientifically verifiable standard, said Flynn.

The results came as the U.S. Department of Agriculture prepares to adopted scientifically verifiable standards for nomenclature such as "virgin" or "extra virgin," in an effort to clear up concerns about labeling accuracy. The standards will be implemented in October, and are similar to those upheld by the International OliveCouncil.

The "extra-virgin" designation indicates that the oil was extracted without the use of heat or chemicals, is pure, satisfies a taste test and falls within chemical parameters established by the IOC.

The United States is the world's third-largest consumer of olive oil, 99 percent of which comes from foreign producers.

For the record, this is Joltin' Django's preferred extra-virgin olive oil (don't look for it at your local dollar store) ...

Friday, July 09, 2010

How now, chow chow (redux)

I'm a man who's gotta eat who loves him some good chow chow:

My grandmother canned all kinds of things. Green beans, pickled cucumbers, stewed tomatoes ... you name the vegetable and chances are she canned it at once time or another.

Something else my grandmother canned -- or "put up," as she called it -- was chow-chow. My parents and I'd drive down to my grandparents' house on a Sunday and chow-chow was always on the table. We'd scoop big portions of the stuff onto the pinto or mixed beans my grandmother always served when she cooked a big meal.

For the uninitiated, chow-chow is a Southern relish made out of chopped cabbage, onions, peppers, mustard, vinegar and sugar. It's used to give a sweet-and-sour kick to soups, stews, or slow-cooked beans. Some folks, my self included, don't need to be eating soup, stew, or slow-cooked beans to enjoy chow-chow; indeed, I often spoon it on meat, or just put a big pile of it on my plate to enjoy alongside whatever else I'm eating.

Speaking of chow chow ...

I'm hoping to get up to Granny's soon. Stay tuned for details.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Another one bites the dust

Back in April, or maybe it was March, I took notice of a little Indian joint, name o' Bombay Garden, located near a music store I frequently frequent (for guitar string-purchasing purposes, you see). The "$5.99 Indian Lunch Buffet" sign strung atop the restaurant's storefront drew me right in, and, lemme tell you, I enjoyed the hell outta the food I ate there.

I snapped some pics, two of which you can see here:

and here:

I so enjoyed my eatin' off o' the Bombay Garden buffet so much, I failed to jot down -- or even make a mental note -- of the names of the dishes I was eatin', all of which were clearly noted on the buffet table(s.)

"Not to fear," I says to myself upon leaving the place, "I'll go back in a couple o' days, and I'll take more pics, and I'll make a note 'bout everything I eat -- and I'll post it all up on A Man's Gotta Eat."

Well, sad to say, it took me more than a couple of months to find time to go back to Bombay Garden; this is what I got to see in Bombay Garden's window when I returned:

Bombay Garden is still on vacation. Indeed, the folks who own it are SO on vacation that they took the restaurant's tables, chairs, and other fixtures with 'em.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

"What the ...?!" pic of the day

I was travelling past the Steak Out on Lebanon Road today when I spied this banner hangin' in the window:

The fact that the Tennessean's readers think Steak Out serves the best burgers in town -- instead of Rotier's, Brown's Diner, Gabby's (I can think of about a dozen different restaurants that serve better burgers than Steak-freakin'-Out) -- says a lot about ... well, I think you know what I'm talking about.

Men eat meat, women eat chocolate

Interesting ...

So what is it with certain foods (and drinks) getting the boys vs. girls treatment? There may be a few male stars — like Joaquin Phoenix and Tobey Maguire who are vegetarians, and women may be joining the ranks of bloody-aproned butchers, but in the American consciousness, real men still don't eat quiche and women stick with chocolate, tofu and yogurt. This could easily be the handiwork of the evil geniuses on Madison Avenue, but might these clichés also arise from some long-buried grain of truth? Are genetic differences responsible for our gendered eating? How many of our eating patterns come from gender socialization, and how many are hereditary? And why is it that food rarely seems to be categorized this way outside the U.S.?

Marcia Pelchat is a sensory psychologist specializing in food and beverage selection at the Monell Chemical Senses Center. Women, she said, are genetically predisposed to prefer sweeter tastes, with greater sensitivity to bitterness. As a result, cocktails and alcoholic drinks aimed at women tend to be sweet — as an attempt to mask the burn — and colorful (because, you know, pink will make anything more palatable). Drinks for men, on the other hand, tend to let the bitterness take the fore: "Men who drink hoppy drinks don't just not notice the bitter taste, they actually like it," Pelchat said.

Others, like Yale University’s David Katz, said some of our gender-driven eating can be explained by evolution. Men, as hunters, see meat as a reward and also need more protein than woman in order to build muscle mass. "Men and women have differences in physiology which might have to do with access to different kinds of food," said Katz, who is the director of Yale’s Prevention Research Center. That is, the different caloric requirements of men and women may be because we had differing access to foods as cavemen and cavewomen. We’re only continuing along those patterns today.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Just so you know, we won ...

The popular account of America's involvement in Vietnam is "we lost."

I hate to get political here on AMGE, but the simple truth is: our troops on the ground, and in the air, kicked the shit out of Commie troops up until '73 ... and then Kissinger and the "Watergate" Congress of '74 went and threw it all away.

See The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Vietnam War and/or This Time We Win: Revisiting the Tet Offensive if'n you don't believe me.

That said, there's a scene in Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket in which a Marine colonel opines that "inside every [Vietnamese], there's an American trying to get out."

Vietnam already has multiple Golden Arches and lots o' KFCs, and it'll soon have a Carl's Jr./Hardee's -- home of the über-American Thickburger! -- in its Commie midst. Check it:

Just on the heels of the 35th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, here comes more evidence that the domino theory was bunk (or, at least, that the dominoes fall easier in the other direction): Carl's Jr. has just opened its first outpost in Vietnam -- in Ho Chi Minh City to boot.

Puttin' it in a historical context ... looks like the U.S. has finally won the battle for hearts and minds (and stomachs), n'est-ce pas?!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

At-home doughnuts? No thanks

I do love me a good doughnut -- or is it donut?

I don't love 'em like Homer Simpson loves 'em, but there ain't many things I like better in the a.m. than a maple-glazed from the local Dunkin' Donuts. (There's yer "donut" ...!)

Today's Los Angeles Times tells us that makin' doughnuts at home is easy as snap. Check it:

There's something magical about the doughnut. You don't have to be Homer Simpson to swoon when you're greeted with all those bright colors and sparkly decorations in a doughnut shop display case. But no matter how wonderful they may appear, it's hard to find a store-bought doughnut that compares with homemade.

And believe it or not, they're really not hard to make. You can whip up a batch of cake doughnuts in about an hour. Put together a batch of yeast-raised the night before, and all you have to do is fry them the next morning. Making breakfast for someone special? Try a batch of French crullers, their thin, golden crusts yielding to the most delicate, lightly flavored interiors.

Look, I'm all for home-cooking. But why in God's name would you go to all the trouble and expense to make doughnuts at home when you can just get in your car and head to the local Dunkin' Donuts or Krispy Kreme? Even if you don't live near a Dunkin' or Krispy, you probably live near a Wal-Mart. And, I can tell you, Wal-Mart's doughnuts are pretty damn good (the maple-glazed are AAA to Dunkin's Major League).

Not unlike Ms. Lucy, I'm a messy cook. I can only imagine what my kitchen would look like if'n I whipped up a batch of doughnuts ... and it wouldn't be pretty.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

1.1 miles from my house ...

Here's what I like 'bout the Homestyle Bakery:

Oh, and I like this ...

The chocolate on Homestyle's chocolate doughnuts ain't brown sugary sugar, a la Krispy Kreme, it's made o' honest-to-God chocolate.

Get thee here with your sweet tooth -- and be sure to tell 'em that Joltin' Django sent you.


Homestyle Bakery
2709 Murfreesboro Pike
Nashville, TN 37013

Bad news ...

My favorite Southeast Nashville Mexican buffet (you can read 'bout it here and here and here) has closed.

Don't know if it's 'cause of the flood, or 'cause of bad business ...

Pancho's closed, that's all I know.

It sucks.


Tuesday, June 01, 2010

J'aime ce potage, en effet!

Here's a recipe for Creole/Cajun onion soup, courtsey of one Jason Murphy (who lives at 39 Rue de Jean, N'Awlins, if'n you wanna put pen to paper and thank him for this recipe):

Onion Soup Gratinée


2 tablespoons olive oil
10 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 cups sodium-free chicken stock
2 cups sodium-free beef stock
2 tablespoons brandy
2 tablespoons sherry
Salt to taste
25 slices baguette, diagonally cut and toasted
25 slices Gruyére cheese


Heat a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and heat. When the pan is hot, add the onions. Stirring constantly to prevent burning, reduce the heat to medium. Keep cooking and caramelizing the onions until they begin to brown and all the natural sugars are out, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock and beef stock and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Add the brandy and sherry. Season to taste with salt.

To serve, preheat the oven to 400ºF. Ladle the hot soup into deep ovenproof soup bowls (or bistro bowls), leaving room for the toast and cheese. Top each with two or three toast points and two or three slices Gruyére cheese. Bake the soup in the bowls for 8 to 10 minutes or until the cheese is brown and bubbly. Serve immediately.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Me likey!

I think I'm addicted (addicted)
I got an insatiable need
I think I'm addicted (addicted)
Finally it happened to me

-- The Juliana Hatfield Three

I've never been a big fan of Ramen noodles. Every time I've ever eaten 'em, I've burped 'em for about three hours afterward (and it ain't been "good" burps, if you know what I mean).

I recently ran across a new item in the Kosher section of my favorite Publix supermarket which -- even though I could tell from the packaging was Ramen noodle-like, if you will -- I couldn't help but purchase: Tradition instant mac-'n'-cheese in a cup.

If you're a regular AMGE reader, you know that I do love me some mac-'n'-cheese. I love makin' it, and I especially love eatin' it. That's why "instant" mac-'n'-cheese intrigued me so.

I wasn't expecting much from a $1.10 cup of instant mac-'n'-cheese ... but, boy howdy, what a cup it was. Indeed, the incredible cheese flavor of said cup made me forget that I was eating those little loopy Ramen-style noodles; and I found myself literally scraping every bit of cheese sauce from each and every corner (!) of my mac-'n'-cheese cup.

Over the course of the past 14 days, I've had me 7 of these instant cups o' mac-'n'-cheese (and I went to Connecticut for four days during which I didn't "imbibe").

See what I mean about being addicted ...?!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Bon anniversaire!

In my humble estimation, there ain't many things in this world that're better-tasting than a grilled cheese sammich made with Wonder Bread.

So there.

That said ...

Who doesn't love Wonder Bread?

With its soft white center and melt-in-your-mouth crust, used in making everything from peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to grilled cheese, its been a staple on American tables. And lately it's received celeb endorsement too, making an appearance in Lady Gaga's "Telephone" video.

Advertised for the first time on May 21, 1921 -- after Taggart Baking Co. in Indianapolis "spent 1920 perfecting the quintessential American white bread" -- Wonder Bread is still going strong after 90 years on our plates, the Leesville Daily Leader reported.

The bread was named by Elmer Cline who was inspired by the International Balloon Races in Indianapolis. Ever since, the iconic red, yellow and blue balloons have featured prominently on the loaf's packaging, the paper reported.

When Wonder Bread became one of the first sliced loaves on the market in 1930, sales took off and it became the American staple we know today.

Read the rest here.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Hey, ya'll

Paula Deen. I go outta my way not to see her on TV.

Paula Deen can wield a seasoned-skillet alright, but the "Hey, ya'll" crap got old a long time ago. And then some.

That said, a family friend recently visited Paula Deen's rest'runt in Savannah, GA, and she brung me back a bottle o' Ms. Deen's signature hot sauce ...

I'll admit that I wasn't expecting much immediately prior to sampling Ms. Deen's sauce. After gulping down a teaspoon of Ms. Deen's stuff, however, I was loudly admitting -- to no one in particular -- that I have new found respect for the silver-haired honey. Here's why ...

If you like Bruce Foods' Original Louisiana Hot Sauce, you'll LOVE Paula Deen's hot sauce. Ms. Deen's sauce has all the kick of the "original" Louisiana Hot Sauce (plus a big little more), and it's about one-quarter less salty -- not that I have anything against salt, but when I'm guzzling a hot sauce (literally), I want to taste the peppers 'n' not the salt.

And so it goes with Paula Deen's sauce ...

It has lots of cayenne flavor, and it has more heat than you'd expect from a celebrity hot sauce. Bowl o' chili, bowl o' gumbo, roasted chicken ... I can't think of nothing that Paula Deen's wouldn't be good on.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ein gutes schnitzle

When it comes to German food, I'm a big fan of the schnitzle. To date, I've never had a chicken schnitzle. After seeing this pic ...

... chicken schnitzle is now on the top of my wanna-eat-it list, and then some.

Read more here.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Oooh, that smell / The smell of [White Castle] surrounds you

I prefer Krystals to White Castles ... AMGE readers know this already.

That said, I think I could sleep easy at night if'n the only candles in my house were White Castle-smelling candles. Indeed.

Check it:

"Hey, what's that smell?"

"What smell? Kumar..."

White Castle, the iconic hamburger chain that inspired stoners everywhere with its title role in the movie Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle has just released a scented candle. Hamburger-scented, of course. Mind you, this is the same company that sells burger-scented air fresheners so, in some bizarrely cosmic twist of logic, this makes sense. And even if it doesn’t make sense, at least the proceeds are going to a good cause.

The burger chain has partnered with Nest Fragrances founder Laura Slatkin, designer of fragrances for Vera Wang, Elton John, and Princess Diana, to create a truly distinctive scent. Described by one industry magazine as "the steam-grilled-on-a-bed-of-onions scent of America's first fast food hamburger" the candles are being offered throughout the month of May for 10 bucks. The proceeds support Autism Speaks which raises funds for autism research and advocacy.

Actually, the first run of candles – modeled after White Castle’s cardboard burger packages – has already sold out. More will be coming in. Keep an eye open and, hopefully, you’ll have an easier time getting to White Castle than Harold and Kumar.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Re: Back

I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaack
I'm back in the saddle again

-- Aerosmith, "Back in the Saddle"

Look here:

For the past couple o' months, I've been working loooong hours ... most of which have taken place from 11 a.m. 'til 11 p.m. As of today, that's over.

I'm still going to be working long hours for weeks to come. But, thank God, each and every long hour I work from here on out will be, well, worked when the sun's up!

Joltin' Django's most hate-filled haters can now rest un-easy ... I didn't finally succumb to skin/testicular cancer. Here's what I have to say to you:

I'm still here! 'N' you're gonna be hearing from me in the weeks and months to come!

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sammy Hagar says: There's only one way to, er, grill ...

From today's Tennessean ...

Melanie Campanis, right, uses a solar cooker as her daughter, Sophia, looks on at their home in Nashville.

A ... solar ... cooker?!

With all apologies to Hank Hill, if you're going to cook outdoors, you better by-God use a charcoal-fired grill, in all its smoking glory.

I mean, what's the use of cooking outdoors if'n you don't stink up the neighborhood with your bag of Kingsford® and a pound or three o' well-marinated chicken/pork/beef ...?!

(In the pic above, I betcha Melanie Campanis is cookin' some kind o' soy crap on her solar cooker; and I betcha Ms. Campanis voted for Al "50 Suit" Gore back in '00.)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Oh, good heavens

7-Eleven is branching out from the Big Gulp® to what will no doubt be big gulps of beer-flavored water:

This week, convenience-store chain 7-Eleven announced it would begin carrying its own budget brand of beers, dubbed Game Day. The news made me do a double take, nearly causing me spit out the sublimely hoppy Stone IPA I was drinking. Was 7-Eleven angling to be my low-cost craft-beer salvation?

Mmm...not exactly. As expected, the decision was driven less by a desire to sell great brews than the bottom line. Beer purchases in convenience stores dipped 4 percent last year, according to research group SymphonyIRI -- nearly double domestic beer sales' 2.2 percent decline.

But the silver lining is that purchases of sub-premium beers (Keystone Light, Natural Light) actually ticked up. Customers haven't stopped drinking. They just want to pay less for a buzz.

Look, if 7-Eleven's beer tastes 50 percent better than Keystone or Natural Light, it'll still taste like crap. And I won't be trying it.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A tasty treat (and a tasty deal)

When warm spring winds start to blow, there's nothing I like better than a Blizzard from the DQ®. And for the next week, well, check this out ...

Buy any-size Blizzard and get a second one for a quarter at Dairy Queen? That is a delicious deal. DQ locations are celebrating the 25th birthday of the Blizzard starting April 19, 2010.

Fans of this classic soft-serve ice cream treat blended with sundae toppings, pieces of cookies, brownies, or candy can party along with DQ during Blizzard Customer Appreciation Week (April 19 to 25).

For the record, a Heath bar Blizzard is my favorite.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Hoo-ray for Ed's Fish House

I first told AMGE readers about Ed's Fish House back in 2007. Here's a bit of what I said:

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.

I'm pleased to announce that Ed is now serving plate lunches and chicken wings. I've yet to have anything from Ed's other than hot fish. However, if his plate lunches and wings are only half as good as his fish sammiches, well, they're pretty damn good.

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

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Pizza rules!

Nick Sherman likes pizza ... a lot. So much so that he not only started a pizza blog, but he's eating nothing but pizza throughout the month of April. Let's hope he has a warp-speed metabolism as he continues his culinary adventure.

Check out Sherman's blog here. Here's a pic he took at Lombardi's in Manhattan ... at which I once ate the best pizza pie I've ever had in my life:

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

You gotta love cilantro. Or maybe not

I don't know how anyone could not not like cilantro. There are a lot of folks who don't, however, and there may be a scientific reason to explain why. The New York Times tells us 'bout it ...

Food partisanship doesn’t usually reach the same heights of animosity as the political variety, except in the case of the anti-cilantro party. The green parts of the plant that gives us coriander seeds seem to inspire a primal revulsion among an outspoken minority of eaters.

Culinary sophistication is no guarantee of immunity from cilantrophobia. In a television interview in 2002, Larry King asked Julia Child which foods she hated. She responded: "Cilantro and arugula I don’t like at all. They’re both green herbs, they have kind of a dead taste to me."

"So you would never order it?" Mr. King asked.

"Never," she responded. "I would pick it out if I saw it and throw it on the floor."

Ms. Child had plenty of company for her feelings about cilantro (arugula seems to be less offensive). The authoritative Oxford Companion to Food notes that the word "coriander" is said to derive from the Greek word for bedbug, that cilantro aroma "has been compared with the smell of bug-infested bedclothes" and that "Europeans often have difficulty in overcoming their initial aversion to this smell." There’s an "I Hate Cilantro" Facebook page with hundreds of fans and an I Hate Cilantro blog.

Yet cilantro is happily consumed by many millions of people around the world, particularly in Asia and Latin America. The Portuguese put fistfuls into soups. What is it about cilantro that makes it so unpleasant for people in cultures that don’t much use it?

Some people may be genetically predisposed to dislike cilantro, according to often-cited studies by Charles J. Wysocki of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. But cilantrophobe genetics remain little known and aren’t under systematic investigation. Meanwhile, history, chemistry and neurology have been adding some valuable pieces to the puzzle.

Read the rest here.

Bière au déjeuner? Oui!

European workers make some crazy-ass demands (i.e., 30-hour workweeks, month-long vacations, the right to retire before they get their first gray hair, etc.) and then wonder -- wonder, not worry about -- why their productivity lags behind that of American and Japanese workers.

What's the latest crazy-ass demand made by workers on the Continent? The right to drink on the job, of course! The Wall Street Journal tells us about it ...

Michael Christiansen, a truck driver turned union representative, is fighting hard to preserve one of the last, best perks of the beer industry: the right to drink on the job.

Mr. Christiansen's union brethren are wort boilers, bottlers, packers and drivers at Carlsberg A/S, Denmark's largest brewer. For a century, they've had the right to cool off during a hard day's work with a crisp lager.

But on April 1, the refrigerators were idled and daily beer spoils were capped at three pint-sized plastic cups from a dining hall during lunch hour.

Now that I think about it, three pint-sized cups of beer at lunch would probably hit the spot!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Da best

Men's Health has posted a list of the best and worst" sauces and condiments. You can see it here. I was pleased to see one of my favorite sauces in the "best" list. One of my favorite condiments was on the list, too. And any Web site that favorably name-checks my favorite extra virgin olive oil, well, that's a good thing (sorry Martha).

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sad news

Last time I put my legs under a table at the Loveless Cafe was about two years ago. I went there for dinner and I left very underwhelmed. The fried chicken was hard as a rock -- if you've ever had fried chicken that was over-cooked, you know what I mean -- and the green beans had gone from a can to my plate, literally.

My last Loveless experience would've been a total wash-out if not for the place's signature biscuits. Man, those bicuits. (I could live offa Loveless biscuits and red-eye gravy, indeed.)

Fresh, flaky, and full o' buttermilk flavor ... the biscuits served at the Loveless is the only reason folks should vistit the Loveless, indeed.

That said, this really bums me out ...

Carol Fay Ellison, better known as Loveless Cafe's Biscuit Lady, died on Monday after a 3½-week hospitalization. She was 48.

Ellison began her career at Loveless Cafe as a dishwasher when she was a teenager. Owner Tom Morales said she went on to become the face of the restaurant with her made-from-scratch biscuits and preserves. ...

After several years working as a dishwasher, buser and line cook, Ellison started baking biscuits at Loveless in 1987. Ellison — who learned how to make biscuits by watching her mother — fiercely guarded her recipe.

She would say only that the recipe came from previous owners of the Loveless Cafe and that she tweaked it a bit by adding a secret ingredient.

Morales said that secret ingredient was love.

"She put pride in it. She put love in it," Morales said. "That's what made them so good."

Monday, April 05, 2010

Note to AMGE fans

Joltin' Django is workin' at night (and during the day) now. I'm still gettin' used to my new sched-yule, but I'll be back starting Sunday, April 11.

Thanks for reading ...

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Joltin' Django's Easter dinner ...

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.' " Then they remembered his words.

– Luke 24:1-8 (NIV)

This here Easter, Joltin' Django put on his plate slices of Honey Baked Ham®, mac-'n' cheese, and Glory-brand green beans.

To wit:

Now, who wants left-overs ...?!

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Re: Chess pie

Mr. Jimmy read my post 'bout chess pie, and he purchased for me a made-from-scratch ...

... piece o' chess pie from the Belmont Bi-Rite.

It was very, very (very) good ...

... but Kleer-Vu's chess pie is better.

So there.

Friday, April 02, 2010

What took me so long?

When I was a kid, my grandparents lived in a town which had two fast-food restaurants: Dairy Queen and Hardee's. Whenever I would visit, my grandfather would let me tag along when he went to the cattle auctions. We would always stop at Hardee's on our way home. My grandfather loved Hardee's hamburgers. He got me to likin' 'em too, and for years my go-to place for a quick hamburger was Hardee's.

When Hardee's made their famous switch to "thickburgers" and the like, the CEO of the company took to the airwaves and announced that Hardee's was changing its menu because corporate bigwigs realized their burgers "weren't very good." I sent 'em a letter and told 'em that their our-burgers-suck-so-we-have-to-make-a-change ads were an insult to every person who'd been going out of their way to visit Hardee's ... like me. I told 'em I wouldn't be trading with them any more -- as my grandfather used to say.

Hardee's sent me a bunch of free coupons along with a letter telling me that if I decided to trade with 'em again, I'd like what I saw, er, tasted. I chucked 'em and said to myself, "Thanks, but no thanks." I vowed I'd never darken Hardee's door again. It was a silly vow, I know, but my principles were at stake. The old hamburgers were good enough for my grandfather, and they were good enough for me. And, by God, I wasn't going back.

Well, I did go back. I had to undergo - endure - some painful oral surgery, I ate nothing but chicken broth and a few yolk-free egg noodles for almost five days. Sitting at my desk one day last week, completely famished, I decided that what I needed was a hamburger. And fast. So I stopped at the Hardee's near my office on my way home. (The fact that I had a coupon (!) kind of helped me decide to stop at the restaurant with the big yellow star on its facade.)

Here's what I got ...

That there's a Hardee's Six-Dollar Thickburger, and it might just be the best fast-food hamburger a man who's gotta eat can eat -- even though Hardee's goes a bit crazy with the mustard and ketchup (see above pic).

The burger itself was thick and juicy, and it was dusted with just enough salt and pepper to make it oh-so-tasty. You gotta have mad respect for a fast-food joint that uses red onions, and Hardee's does just that. And I loved the fact that Hardee's uses thick slices of sweet pickles on its big burgers. (Joltin' Django loves him some some sweet pickles.)

I guess what I'm tryin' to say is this: Hardee's Six-Dollar Thickburger is the best fast-food burger around. Period.

Oh, and I'm not boycottin' Hardee's no more. Indeed.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Attention, s'il vous plaît

My people ...

(The late Merle Kilgore was a family friend, and when he'd enter a room full o' people he'd put his arms in the air and say, "My people ...")

Joltin' Django is workin' at night now -- hell, Joltin' Django is workin' day and night now.

Bloggin' has been on my back-burner for the past several days; however, I should be back on a day-to-day bloggin' schedule next week.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Happy Passover!

I'm not Jewish, but I love it when Passover comes 'round. You see, the fine folks at Manishevitz make avaible certain foodstuffs at this time o' year, which're only available at this time o' year. Like this ...

That Manishevitz marble cake looked real pretty for about 45 minutes here at Chez Allison before it was all gone. I went back to Publix to get another'ne ... and I got skunked.

Maybe next year!

"It's a horseshoe town."

Back in 1993, yours truly went on a "French-immersion" trip to Montréal. For two weeks I "lived" in a hotel room in an English-speaking section of Mon-ree-al; and I spent most of my time drinking Québec's finest high-alcohol beers and chasing ... this is a family-friendly blog, so I'll not talk about what all I "chased."

During my two-week stint in Montréal, I was introduced to poutine. If you've never heard of poutine, here's what you should know: It's a specialty dish in Montréal, and it consists of thick-cut fried potatoes, brown gravy, and cheese curds. Oh, and a small order of 'em comes on a hubcap-sized plate.

I've eaten some very unhealthy things over the years ... but the large order of poutine I ate in Montréal has to be the most unhealthy, indeed.

I couldn't help but think about my experience(s) with poutine when I read this ...

Field House Pizza and Pub has written a dubious new chapter in the history of this city's signature dish. "We made something very unhealthy even unhealthier," co-owner Tom Hart says.

That's saying a mouthful, considering the dish he sought to outdo: the horseshoe sandwich, a platter-size, open-face Springfield original, consisting of bread, meat and a pile of French fries smothered in a thick cheese sauce.

Field House adds an extra layer of grease by stuffing the meat and fries into a tortilla, which stands in for the bread, and dunking the mass in a deep-fryer before ladling on the cheese sauce. The resulting colossus, called the "Shoe Burrito," weighs in at 2,700 calories—the equivalent of five Big Macs.

"It's a horseshoe town," says Rick Sennings, Mr. Hart's partner.

Read the rest here.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Aucun merci

An article in the March 3 Metromix Nashville tells us 'bout absinthe ...

Just mention the word "absinthe" and peoples' minds turn immediately to the urban legends they've heard about the spirit described as "the green fairy." It'll make you hallucinate. It'll send you into a murderous rage. It's illegal in the United States.

To which we say: false, false and, as of three years ago March 5, false.

The history of absinthe is as complex as the spirit itself. Originating in Switzerland as a distilled product of anise, fennel and absinthium wormwood, absinthe became extremely popular in France in the latter 19th/early 20th century, thanks to its popularity with the bohemian culture of the day.

Read the rest here.

After watching an episode of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations program recently, in which he tried absinthe during a visit to France, I purchased a small bottle of Absente absinthe at my favorite local liquor store. I can say without equivocation that it was the last bottle of absinthe I'll ever buy.

Absinthe smells like prescription cough medicine; and straight-up it tastes like prescription cough medicine with wee bit o' liquorice thrown in for "flavor." I prepared my absinthe just like it said on the bottle, i.e., pouring it over sugar and adding cold water, but it didn't improve the flavor, at all.

Honestly, I don't know how in God's name Van Gogh et al. drank the stuff back in the day, let alone drinking it to excess. To borrow a line from Bart Simpson, absinthe is one craptacular concoction.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Faites cuire une sauce piquante

John Folse is one of my favorite "celebrity" chefs. And a sauce piquant, whether it's made with chicken, game meat, or seafood, has long been one of my favorite Cajun/Creole dishes.

Here's a great seafood sauce piquant recipe, courtesy of Chef Folse ...

[Note: One trick I came up with a long time ago is to add a little tomato juice (a third of a cup or a half-cup, depending on the size of your sauce piquant) to your sauce picuant for a little added tang and sweetness.]

Louisiana Seafood Sauce Piquant


1 pound (21-25 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat
1 pint select oysters in liquid
1 pound redfish, cubed
½ cup oil
½ cup flour
1 cup diced onions
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced bell peppers
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 tbsp minced jalapeños
2 whole bay leaves
½ teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon basil
1 ½ quarts fish stock
1 cup sliced green onions
1 cup chopped parsley
salt and cracked black pepper to taste


The foundation of sauce piquante definitely came from the early Spanish. Since then, the popular dish has been altered by the Cajuns of bayou country and is often made with seafood.

In a 1-gallon heavy-bottomed saucepot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Whisk in flour, stirring constantly until dark brown roux is achieved. Add onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic. Sauté 3 – 5 minutes or until vegetables are wilted. Stir in diced tomatoes and jalapeños. Blend well then add bay leaves, thyme and basil. Slowly add fish stock, one ladle at a time, stirring constantly until all is incorporated. Bring to a low boil, reduce to simmer and cook 30 minutes. Add additional fish stock if necessary to retain volume. Add fish, shrimp, oysters and oyster liquid and continue to cook 5 – 10 additional minutes. Add green onions and parsley. Season to taste using salt and pepper. When shrimp are pink and curled, carefully fold in lump crabmeat. Adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve over hot white rice or pasta.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Gettin' something off my chess

Today's Tennessean has a great article about chess pie ...

Chess pie, after all, is a Southerner's crème brûlée. The spoon cracks a thin yet crisp toasted-amber layer before slipping through buttery egg goo and gently bumping against firm crust. It's like pecan pie without the nuts, the syrupy sweetness balanced by a touch of cornmeal, vinegar or buttermilk.

Although we claim it as our own, chess pie isn't necessarily Southern, and, like its filling, its history is murky. In his book Southern Food, local author and historian John Egerton said the British had a "cheese pie" with similar ingredients. Older Southern cookbooks included similar pies with names like transparent pie and Jefferson Davis custard.

Read the rest here.

The Tennessean's article includes a list of restaurants and stores in which you can purchase quality chess pie. I'm chagrined that Murfreesboro's famous Kleer-Vu restaurant was not included. I say this with some authority, having consumed at least 100 slices of chess pie therein over the years: Kleer-Vu serves the best chess pie around.

Let me know when you want to go and I'll prove it to you.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Fire in the hole!

I tell you, the more I hear about the so-called "ghost chili," the more I want to try one ...

The Indian military has a new weapon against terrorism: the world's hottest chili.

After conducting tests, the military has decided to use the thumb-sized "bhut jolokia," or "ghost chili," to make tear gas-like hand grenades to immobilize suspects, defense officials said Tuesday.

The bhut jolokia was accepted by Guinness World Records in 2007 as the world's spiciest chili. It is grown and eaten in India's northeast for its taste, as a cure for stomach troubles and a way to fight the crippling summer heat.

It has more than 1,000,000 Scoville units, the scientific measurement of a chili's spiciness. Classic Tabasco sauce ranges from 2,500 to 5,000 Scoville units, while jalapeno peppers measure anywhere from 2,500 to 8,000.

... I just hope I don't do this:

Monday, March 22, 2010

"You get smart when you eat fish"

Fish, as you're probably aware, has been a staple of the Japanese table for centuries. The Wall Street Journal reports, however, that fish consumption in Japan has been steadily declining. Indeed, [p]er capita fish-eating fell below that of meat in 2006." And the average Japanese household now spends 23 percent less on seafood than it did in 2000.

Japanese bureaucrats and seafood industry execs are taking drastic steps to arrest the decline in fish consumption. For example, one seafood trade group has enlisted one of Japan's most famous rock bands, Gyoko, to sing the praises - literally - of eating fish. Here're some lyrics from Gyoko's "Fish Heaven":

Fish, fish, fish
You get smart when you eat fish
Smart, smart, smart
Fish, fish, fish
You get healthy when you eat fish
Healthy, healthy, healthy

Doesn't that sound like something from a Simpsons episode?!

Read the entire article here.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


A few weeks back, a colleague told me that Caesar's Ristorante Italiano - one of my favorite restaurants in Nashville - had closed. I phoned the place in the middle of the day and got no answer. I assumed the worst.

Well, Caesar's hasn't closed; it's just changed hands. Kind of a bummer 'cause I always enjoyed chatting with Caesar when I visited.

I had hoped to do a review of Caesar's back around the first of the year, but I had a problem with my digital camera and it just never happened. I did eventually retrieve the pics I took at Caesar's during my most recent visit ... but now that it's under new management, I'm gonna have to go back (as if I needed an excuse to eat at Caesar's.

All I'll say at this point is this: if the pizza on the Caesar's lunch buffet is as good as it was, and if they still serve those wonderful meatballs, I anticipate giving them a favorable review. Here's a pic to tide you over until I can get back:

Caesar's Ristorante Italiano
71 White Bridge Road
Nashville, Tennessee 37205

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Stay tuned ...

Joltin' Django's gonna be out-of-pocket for the next few days. A Man's Gotta Eat will have new posts starting Sunday, March 21.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Of Meatballs 'n' Men Who Gotta Eat

Once upon a time - 'bout ten years ago, I guess - I embarked on a crusade to find the perfect meatball recipe. I scoured the Interweb and cookbooks 'til I found about two dozen meatball recipes which seemed to be the most promising.

A majority of the recipes called for meatballs to be fried before stewing in a tomato sauce. Some, however, called for meatballs to be baked for a bit before getting tossed in tomato sauce. I tried all the fried 'n' baked recipes ... and with each one, it was like biting into golf balls made of dense, dry meat.

Then I found a meatball recipe which called for the little round buggers -- made o' ground beef, ground pork, fresh breadcrumbs, eggs, salt pepper, fresh basil and parsley -- to be slowly poached in a savory tomato "meat sauce." I tried it once, and it became my preferred way to cook meatballs.

Unfortunately, I can't recall the cookbook which inspired me so. Oh, well. Click here for proof of the inspiration.

All that said, this Slashfood.com story caught my attention ce soir:

Take approximately 327 pounds of beef chuck, season it and cook it over a day and a half. The end result? One humongous meatball that should beat the world record set by a restaurant in New Hampshire last November. At least that's what a group of staff and students at Glen Oaks Community College in Michigan are hoping.

On Monday, after cooking for 32 hours, the behemoth was removed from the oven and placed on a scale (by a forklift). It came in at a little over 400 pounds, but that included the rack and wrapping.

Just in case you were concerned about people surreptitiously placing their chubby fingers on the scale to jack up the weight, have no fear. The weigh in was overseen by official witnesses for the Guinness World Records. (Who knew that could be a job?)

The pic:

That meatball mighta been big; but there ain't no way it was as flavorful or juicy as a meatball that got plucked from a pot o' Joltin' Django's savory "Sunday gravy." Indeed.

Truth be told, I'll bet that ****in' thing was hard as a rock, hard as a rock ... and then some (apologies to BulletBoys).

Monday, March 15, 2010

Le bon confort

One of my favorite things to cook at home is a big skillet of Italian sausages, onions, and green peppers ...

A dish that good-looking ain't hard to re-create:

Get you a package of Italian sausages (I prefer spicy Johnsonvilles). Use a really sharp knife to cut 'em into inch-long slices. With the same knife, chop up a couple o' green peppers and a couple o' onions (white onions, preferably). Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a non-stick skillet and brown your sausages over medium heat, turning frequently. When the sausages are cooked through, remove 'em to drain on paper towels and pour off all but about a tablespoon of the accumulated grease in the skillet.

Throw the onions and peppers into your skillet and cook 'til the onions are clear, 'bout 5 minutes. Then throw your sausages back in, along with a healthy pinch of sweet basil ... and an even healthier pinch of red pepper flakes. Stir it all up and enjoy the hell outta it.

With all that said, it's my duty as a bloggin' foodie (!) to say this:

Joltin' Django's sausages 'n' onions 'n' peppers are damn good, but they're not as damn good -- perhaps I should say my stuff ain't as ***damn good -- as the sausages 'n' onions 'n' peppers served on the buffet at Angelo's Picnic Pizza.

And, as I'm very often wont to say, that ain't no shit, neither.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

I hate to hear this ...

With all due respect to Slashfood.com, I seen this on AgDay two weeks ago:

What's worse than having to endure a long, hard winter? Enduring a long, hard winter as a crawfish.

Crawfish hate the cold. When the temperature dips, they respond in kind, burrowing into the mud and refusing to eat. That means the few critters that have wriggled into farmers' traps this season are too puny to impress the many Louisianans who traditionally feast on crawfish during Lent.

"Mother Nature's throwing us a curve ball, and the trouble is she keeps throwing them," says Stephen Minville, director of the Louisiana Crawfish Farmers Association.

Minville's 2010 harvest stands at about 30 percent of his typical year-to-date haul, with the most successful farmers topping out at 40 percent. "Optimism is running out," Minville says.

Read the rest here.

I hate to think what my annual Spring crawfish boil's gonna cost me this year, indeed.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Joltin' Django ♥ grinders (redux)

I met up with one of my b'iness partners at Rudino's ce soir. Restaurant-reporting wasn't foremost on my mind, so ... please to enjoy this blast from the past from the AMGE archives:

I've said it before and I'll say it again: the quality of a grinder/hogie/sub is almost wholly dependent on quality bread. The bread at Rudino's is is very quality, and then some.

Now, thick and doughy Rudino's bread is not. Instead, it is thin enough to be crispy on the outside, with a firm middle that don't become mushy when pressed against meat and condiments; and it is just thick enough to hold a half-pound of meat, vegetables and cheese without falling apart in a feller's hands.

As for my steak sandwich, it began with Rudino's signature crispy bread ... turned out, if you will. The overturned top-half of the bread was served with a big-assed portion of browned Swiss cheese. On the bottom bread, if you will, there was a pile of grilled beef, sautéed onions and green peppers, and fresh mushrooms.

I smashed the sandwich together, after adding a goodly portion of provided hot sauce, and I chowed down. This is my verdict:

The meat, cheese and vegetables I et on my Rudino's sub, er, grinder, last night did not set the world on fire. However, the bread was so very crispy - and the Swiss cheese was so expertly melted - I kept telling myself:

"This is a damn-fine sandwich ... and I can't wait to eat another one."

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Paging Norm Peterson ...

I like the sound of this:

According to a South Korean study set to be published in the May 2010 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, booze that's been brewed or distilled with enriched oxygen can effectively alleviate hangover side-effects. Science Daily reports "high-oxygen water can enhance the survival ability of mice and fatigue recovery" of mice that hit the bottle. The South Korean study tested 49 volunteers and discovered that elevated oxygen concentrations in alcoholic drinks accelerates the metabolism and elimination of alcohol. Here's a pull-quote direct from Science Daily littered with smartypants scientific jargon:

Results showed that elevated, dissolved oxygen concentrations in alcoholic drinks can accelerate the metabolism and elimination of alcohol. For example, the time to reach 0.000 percent blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for the 240 ml of 19.5 percent alcoholic beverage with 20 ppm dissolved oxygen concentration was 20.0 min faster than with 8 ppm (257.7 min). The time to reach 0.000 percent BAC for the 360 ml of 19.5 percent alcoholic beverage with 20 ppm (334.5 min) and 25 ppm (342.1 min) dissolved oxygen concentration was 23.3 min and 27.1 min faster than with 8 ppm, respectively.

"The oxygen-enriched alcohol beverage reduces plasma alcohol concentrations faster than a normal dissolved-oxygen alcohol beverage does."..."This could provide both clinical and real-life significance. The oxygen-enriched alcohol beverage would allow individuals to become sober faster, and reduce the side effects of acetaldehyde without a significant difference in alcohol's effects. Furthermore, the reduced time to a lower BAC may reduce alcohol-related accidents."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Re: Ravioli Casserole

Back 'round Christmas, I got me this recipe from one Mister Jimmy:

I gave it a whirl ce soir and it was pretty damn good:

I like me a good casserole, I tell you what.