Sunday, January 31, 2010

"Eat if you have a strong stomach"

I have a bunch of old cookbooks that belonged to my grandmother. I was flipping through one of 'em today, the Flintville Homemakers Club Cookbook, when I came across this gem of a recipe (click pic for a better view):

Is that great, or what?!

Perfect for a cold, cold evenin'

With snow on the ground and Jack Frost nippin' at Nashville's nose, I thought tonight would be a good night to enjoy some o' my patented potage de boeuf. I told you about it back in 2008:

I thawed some ground beef today fully intending to make a big pot of chili when I got home from work. Since I had some carrots that needed to be consumed, I decided to make a pot of soup instead.

After browning my ground beef, well, I just winged it from there. I was going to use tomato sauce, but I couldn't find any in my pantry. I'm glad I didn't have tomato sauce because tomato soup gave my concoction a sweet flavor that contrasted nicely with the spiciness of the Creole seasoning and cayenne.

Joltin' Django's Beef Soup


2 lbs ground beef
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion, diced
2 large carrots, diced
3 potatoes, cubed
1 11.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 10.75-ounce can condensed tomato soup
1 11-ounce can corn niblets, drained
1 11.5-ounce can green peas, drained
2 tablespoons Creole seasoning
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups water
Salt and pepper to taste


Brown ground beef in a heavy-bottomed pot, drain. Return ground beef to pot and add garlic, onions, and carrots. Stir over medium heat until onions become clear and carrots begin to soften. Add remaining ingredients and water. Simmer for 35-45 minutes. Add additional Creole seasoning if needed.

Recommended hot sauce: Trappey's Bull® or Texas Pete®

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Remembrance of candy bars from Joltin' Django's past

Today's Wall Street Journal has a fascinating article about regional candy bars that are slowly going the way the dodo. Check it out here.

One passage in the article is of particular interest to me. To wit:

"Also gone (but not forgotten) is the curiously alluring Marathon Bar, a braided rope of chocolate and caramel whose wrapper featured a ruler on the back."

When I was a kid, Marathon bars were my favorite. I Think I was about 8-years-old when they disappeared. Not only did the things disappear, but my memory of what the little buggers were called disappeared as well.

For years I routinely asked folks my age if they remembered the "candy bar with latticed caramel covered in milk chocolate." The most common responses I received were polite "nos." Every once in a while, however, I'd get a "I don't know that the hell you're talking about."

I'd pretty much given up on ever figuring out what that damned candy bar was called. But then I went to Publix one day and ...

In case you didn't know, Publix supermarkets devote a small portion of their international aisle to foodstuffs from the United Kingdom. There you can find HP Sauce, real Heinz Baked Beans, chip-shop fish batter and curry sauce, and a lot of British candies.

A couple of years ago, I was perusing the British candy bars at the Nipper's Corner Publix when I spied a thin, rectangular candy bar called a Curly Wurly. I picked it up and through the wrapper I could feel the latticed texture of the what's-it-called?candy bar from my youth. "Could it be?!" I asked myself.

I grabbed a couple of Curly Wurlys and made a beeline for the checkout. As soon as I got in the car I opened one of 'em and took a big bite. Suddenly, I was 8-years-old again, sitting on my Murray Hillcat bike enjoying a ... Curly Wurly?!

When I got home I googled "Curly Wurly" (after eating the second candy bar I'd bought, of course). I discovered that once upon a time, Curly Wurleys were once available in the U.S. under the name Marathon Bar. "Marathon Bar!" I said. "That was the name of that damned candy bar!"

I don't eat a lot of candy, bar-style or in general. But damned if I don't grab a handful of Curly Wurlys every time I go to Publix. I think I'll have me one right now ...!

Friday, January 29, 2010

"It is much more gratifying to eat some grilled pork than to take Viagra."

I've always thought Argentine President Christina Fernandez is a left-wing loon. After reading the following story, however, I have new respect for her (HT: Mr. Mordecai):

Argentina's president thinks eating pig meat is really sexy.

Many people in this beef-loving nation reacted with surprise Thursday after Cristina Fernandez promoted pork in a speech during which she not only said pork is better than Viagra, but suggested she's personally proven it.

"I didn't know that eating pork improved sexual activity," Fernandez said in a meeting with representatives of the swine industry late Wednesday. "It is much more gratifying to eat some grilled pork than to take Viagra."

She even joked that "it was all good" after she enjoyed some pork with her husband, former President Nestor Kirchner.

"I think they might be right," Fernandez said to a laughing audience.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Metromix this

The Metromix freebie newspaper is out this week with its list of "best" Nashville this's and that's. Rotier's gets a nod as "Best Burger," and Martin's Bar-B-Que is Metromix's choice for best pulled-pork joint.

Regular AMGE readers will recall my recent name-checking of both Rotier's and Martin's (see here and here). I had good things to say - incredibly good things to say, in fact - in my posts about both eatin' places; but I was not so bold to declare that either of 'em were the best in Nashville.

My search for Nashville's best burger is ongoing, as is my search for the best 'que in town. Will I agree with Metromix and declare that Rotier's serves Nashville's best burger? Is Martin's really the joint in which you can really find "Nashville's" best barbeque ...?

You'll find out in the coming weeks and months.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

This story crackles me up

Joltin' Django loves him some pork cracklins, aka cracklings. I'm particulaly partial to packages of Brim's Pork Cracklin Strips, like what you see in the above pic.

Bein' a confirmed fan o' cracklins, I do like the sound of this ...

Members of an eastern North Carolina historical organization are trying to stimulate interest in Colonial-era pig preparations they claim the current crop of pork devotees has unfairly overlooked.

"Cracklings have gotten a lot of bad press," sighs Sarah Weeks, a volunteer for the Perquimans County Restoration Association. But she insists, "People can add them to any savory recipe," she insists.

While a few high-end chefs have toyed with cracklings, Weeks would like to shift the crunchy, salty byproduct of rendering lard from the amuse plate to the kitchen pantry. That's why she's enlisted an ally to show up at the association's hog-killing festival this weekend with crackling-streaked biscuits.

Cracklings won't be the only piggy product showcased at the festival: Doug Layden -- whose country market still does a steady business in hoop cheese and Dan Doodles, the sausage-stuffed intestines that eastern North Carolinians plop in their collard green pots – will lead a whole hog-butchering workshop.

The historical association typically focuses on the Colonial period, but Layden's planning to recreate an early 1800s butchering session (minus the slaughter, which will be done out of public view). Weeks explains the group couldn't track down the tools favored by early European settlers.

"They did a lot of things with massive cleavers," Weeks says. "Think about what they used to chop heads off with in medieval times."

Instead, participants will use relatively safer hacksaws to take apart the pig, gradually transforming the animal into sausage, souse and chitterlings. Although only a few local families maintain the centuries-old tradition of festive hog killings, Weeks says the thriving locavore movement has helped draw young eaters to the event, now in its second year.

"There's a lot of interest in this right now," he says.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Angelo, RIP

It is my sad duty to report that Angelo Lamattina, of Angelo's Picnic Pizza fame, has passed.

The last time I saw Angelo was not too long after he found out that he had cancer. When I told him I'd be praying for him, he smiled and said, "I'm gonna beat this thing!" He was tossing a pizza dough as he said it.

Angelo didn't beat it ... but his smiling and tossing that dough is a memory that I'll never forget.

Search the A Man's Gotta Eat archives and you'll find many mentions of Angelo's Picnic Pizza, my favorite Nashville pizza joint.

That said, if you search for me tommorrow evening, you'll find me at Angelo's eating one of these ...

Angelo, you will be missed.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Tapadh leat!

If only my late Burns-lovin' friend/co-worker/"cousin"/fellow-politico David could've seen this:

American Scots will have an added reason to send their kilts flying Monday as they celebrate the birthday of poet Robert Burns. After a 21-year ban, the U.S. is planning to allow imports of haggis, a traditional Scottish dish. ...

Scotland's rural affairs secretary, Richard Lochhead, said, "I am greatly encouraged to hear that the U.S. authorities are planning a review of the unfair ban on haggis imports. We are in regular contact with the industry on this issue and believe that reversing the ban would deliver a vote of confidence in Scottish producers and allow American consumers to sample our world-renowned national dish."

He added, "It's time for the U.S. authorities to deliver a Burns Night boost and recognize that Scottish haggis is outstanding quality produce."

Cuz Dave: I'm gonna eat me some from-Scotland haggis, soon, in your honor.

I promise.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Damn, damn, damn!

Damn, damn, damn!

-- Florida Evans

Xavier's Home Cooking has been on my short list of go-to places for a couple of months. For one reason or another I just haven't been able to get over there for lunch. It now looks like it's gonna be a while before I get to sample some of Xavier's "excellent home cooking" (quote courtesy of my bud Scott):

Xavier's Web site indicates that the restaurant is going to reopen in another location. To be honest, the old location - on a stretch of Nolensville Road that is, how shall I say it, very international - probably wasn't the best place for a soul food joint.

Here's hoping Xavier's reopens soon. I promise that I'll be one of the first patrons if and when it does.

I got a new favourite

I have been a fan of CAO cigars for quite some time. (Disclaimer: I once did business with CAO - it is, after all, a member in good standing of the Nashville business community. For several years my humidor was stocked with "promotional" cigars that were given to me by the fine folks at CAO.) Always partial to CAO's maduro cigars, I decided to take a chance on a box of Criollo Conquistadors ... mainly because they were on sale at Thompson Cigar Co. On sale or not, I now have a new favorite CAO cigar.

The CAO Criollo Conquistador has a very complex flavor with plenty of cedar, earthy tobacco, and light coffee character. In addition, Macanudo cigars are very well constructed. The three I've smoked so far all burned evenly until they had formed an even inch, inch and a half ash. To borrow a line from Barney Fife, that right there is a mark of a fine cigar, indeed.

A box of 25 Conquistadors will set you back about 140 bucks, but they're worth every penny. (A single will run you 7-8 bucks at your local tobacconist.) Talk to me nice and, hell, I might even share one of my remaining Conquistadors with you!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Kickin' it with curry

Years ago, there was a wonderful little Asian restaurant on Nolensville Road (the name escapes me, and it's been gone for so long that I don't think I could think of the name if my life depended on it). The house specialty, as far as I was concerned, was a dish consisting of tender pieces of chicken served with a spicy curry sauce. I happened to mention the curry chicken at that long-defunct restaurant during a recent conversation with a friend, and he suggested that I check out Kikkoman Thai Red Curry Sauce, which I did tonight.

First I cut two large boneless, skinless chicken breasts into 1-inch pieces. Then I browned the chicken in a little olive oil until each piece was almost cooked through. I poured a copious amount of Kikkoman Curry Sauce over the chicken, covered the pan, and let my chicken 'n' sauce cook - nay, steam - for about 10 minutes.

When the chicken was finished, I plated it up with some steamed Vietnamese rice I got at my favorite international market ...

Verdict: Kikkoman Thai Red Curry Sauce is darn tasty stuff (it has a perfect balance of chili and coconut milk), but it didn't pack much heat. Indeed, several squirts of Sriracha were needed to get the heat level up to what I consider, ahem, adequate, and that kinda overpowered the flavor of the curry 'n' coconut.

Kikkoman Thai Red Curry Sauce is good stuff, don't get me wrong, but I was really expecting more heat. Oh, well ... head to your local Publix if you wanna give it a try.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Whoppers 'n' beer (doesn't have much of a ring to it, does it?)

It's been a long time since I've had a Whopper, but I'm pretty sure I didn't pine for a $4 Budweiser whilst eatin' it ...

Gimme a Whopper, fries — and a beer.

Those words are no longer wishful thinking. Friday, Burger King will unveil plans to sell beer and burgers at a Whopper Bar — a new BK concept to compete with casual dining restaurants — in Miami Beach's tourist-heavy South Beach. The South Beach Whopper Bar is scheduled to open in mid-February.

Don't look for beer at conventional Burger Kings. That's not in the plans. But more Whopper Bars — which offer an assortment of burgers, toppings and beer — could be on tap in tourist hot spots such as New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas, says Chuck Fallon, president of Burger King North America.

A brewski at the new Whopper Bar — served in special aluminum bottles to keep them extra cold — fetches $4.25. Or, order beer as part of a Whopper combo and your bill will be $7.99 — roughly $2 more than the same combo meal with a fountain drink.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

J'aime le vinaigre

I'm a vinegar freak, and as such I appreciate the hell outta this ...

Like primary colors to a painter, fat, salt and acid are the essential ingredients chefs use to flavor their masterpiece meals. Many home cooks know how to use fat (either oil or butter) and salt of course, but they skip on the acid, things like vinegar for example.

If you love to cook, try going beyond plain white vinegar and experiment with white balsamic, sherry vinegar (not to be confused with sherry cooking wine), rice wine vinegar or dark rich balsamic. Each one has a unique flavor from slightly sweet to rich, and all can work wonders in stir-fries, one-pot meals and even desserts.

Consider vinegar a skinny staple, because it's low in calories and high in flavor, costs very little and stores well for months in your cupboard. Recent studies show that acetic acid, the main component of vinegar, may help control blood pressure, blood sugar levels and fat accumulation. Even better, its wonderful flavor is entirely versatile--with its tart tang capable of making a good recipe great.

Balsamic Salmon

Serves 4

4 6-ounce salmon filets
2 large oranges, thinly sliced
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a 9×12-inch baking dish with aluminum foil. Place both filets of salmon in the dish, so they are not touching. Sprinkle each filet with salt and pepper and layer the top with 3-4 slices of orange per filet.

Drizzle balsamic and olive oil on top. Bake 15-20 min, checking occasionally throughout cooking. Add a little water or more vinegar if the balsamic becomes too dark or begins to burn. Serve immediately.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Ron's rules!

One of the very first posts here at AMGE was was review of Ron's BBQ & Fish. Here's a portion of what I said:

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!

I got a wild hair on my way home from work this afternoon and decided to hit Ron's for supper. I not only enjoyed Ron's meatloaf, green beans, and mac-'n'-cheese as much as I did back in '07, the portions were such that I have enough left over for lunch tomorrow (see pic above). Not bad for 7 bucks, huh?!

Ron's BBQ & Fish
5359 Mt. View Road
Antioch, TN 37013

Give 'em what you can

There are several different charities to which ol' Joltin' Django donates his hard-earned money. My favorite food-related charity is the All American Beef Battalion. What's that, you ask? Well, I'll tell you.

The All American Beef Battalion is a group of dedicated individuals involved in the domestic beef industry who organize and sponsor steak feeds to thank America's fighting men and women as they prosecute the global war on terrorism. In addition, they strive to "foster among the people of the United States an appreciation, respect, and honor for our Armed Forces Military Service Members whose sacrifices have and will continue to make our freedoms possible" (from the Beef Battalion's Web site).

Sounds like a noble cause, n'est-ce pas? If you have a few bucks - or many bucks - to spare, how 'bout you say thanks to the folks who keep us free by buying 'em a steak? Here's where you can do just that:

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Wipe that smile off your, er, snout!

Back in October, I went to the Jack Daniel's BBQ competion in Lynchburg with my bluegrass-pickin' buddy David. We couldn't help but notice how many participants' logos featured smiling pigs. David said something like, "Would you be smiling if you knew you were going to end up in one of these cookers?!" We had a good chuckle over his astute observance.

That said, you need to check out Suicide Food. The White Trash BBQ blog tells us 'bout it:

[Suicide Food] is an interesting and sarcastic take on how many food stuff logos show animals happily marching off to death, killing themselves, serving up their companions for your consumption or simply refusing to dominate the world. I don't know if the author is a vegetarian or not, but his snarky comments are usually right on and dead ass funny.

It also pokes fun at most of the competitive barbecue team's logos! ... At least half of Suicide Food is dedicated to the art of the barbecue team logo.

Again, if knew your ass was gonna go into a cooker for 12-14 hours of slow-roastin', would you be smiling? I know I wouldn't!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Mystery solved

'Bout ten days ago, I commented on some pork chops I had at a local Chinese restaurant:

"[The Far East Buffet & Grill] features grilled pork chops which are not only surprisingly tender, they're spiced with a tangy marinade that, well, that left me wanting more of them pork chops long after I'd left the restaurant!"

I went looking for packages of pork chop-seasoning at my local international market today. When I couldn't find none, I took a chance on a package of Chinese duck seasoning which, as you can see from the label, can also be used to season pork:

What a chance I took! The pork chops I cooked tonight tasted exactly like the pork chops I ate at the Far East restaurant.

Now, I baked my pork chops, whereas the Far East Buffet & Grill's pork chops were grilled. That didn't interfere with me having an almost immediate "Eureka!" moment when I tasted the first hint of that sweet but spicy seasoning.

You probably won't be able to find that NOH seasoning at a chain grocery store. Try your local international market instead ... like here.

Regardez le poulet créole

Anyone who knows ol' Joltin' Django well knows that I love Cajun/Creole food. Hell, if I hadn't sweated my ass off in New Orleans in late November a few years back, I could see myself living in south Louisiana ... eating like a starved pig and loving every minute of it.

I just happened upon a tasty-sounding recipe for Chicken Creole on the New Orleans Times-Picayune's Web site, which I can't wait to make. To wit:

Chicken Creole


1/4 cup olive oil
1 frying chicken, about 3 1/2 pounds, cut into serving pieces
6 shallots, minced
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped green bell peppers
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups crushed tomatoes (canned with their juices)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced parsley
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1.2 cup dry white wine
3 cups (about) beef consommé


Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add the chicken pieces, in batches if necessary, and brown on both sides. As they cook, transfer the chicken pieces to a platter. Add the shallots, onions and bell peppers and cook, stirring, until soft and lightly golden, 5 to 6 minutes.

Add the flour and stir on medium-low heat until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, garlic, parsley, bay leaves, thyme, salt, cayenne, black pepper, wine and consommé, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring often.

Return the chicken to the pot, cover, and simmer until the chicken is very tender, about 45 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and serve with rice.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cartoon of the day

I can certainly relate to this comic strip (click for larger view):

There are very few things which I absolutely refuse to eat; and there's virtually nothing that I will not try at least once. That's because my parents were a lot like Tiger's .

When I was a kid, I was served all manner of meats, vegetables and fruits ... and I literally did not leave the table until I ate what I'd been served. I recall many an evening when my parents would be retired to the living room with me still sitting at the dinner table with my chin resting in my hands, elbows on the table. Many times the scene would play out like this:

My mom would put something on my plate. "I don't like it!" I'd exclaim. "Have you ever had it?" My mom or dad would ask. I hadn't, of course, and mom or dad would ask, "How do you know you don't like it when you've never tried it?"

After sitting at the table, by myself, I'd eventually try what'd been served to me. And more often than not I'd come to the realization that I was being stubborn for nothing. (I distinctly remember refusing to eat succotash, mainly because I didn't care for how it looked, when I was about 7-years-old. I finely relented and tried it, and succotash remains one of my favorite dishes to this day.)

Monday, January 11, 2010


There'll be light blogging this week as I'm havin' to take care of some b'iness out of town. I'll be back on Friday, January 13.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Mon potage aux légumes et poulet est très bon!

Poooooor Joltin' Django. I'm suffering with a head cold unlike any I've ever had in my life. Maybe it's because it's so cold outside, I don't know. What I do know is that I've been foul of health, and foul of temper, for the past several days. One bright spot ...

The last time I made a pot of my patented chicken noodle soup, I had the good sense to make a double-batch and freeze some of it. I'm glad I did 'cause that's what I had for dinner ce soir ... and it was just what the doctor ordered.

If you want my chicken noodle soup recipe, click here. It's the perfect dish for a cold, cold night, en effet.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Throw back some of this Throwback

I've always preferred Coke to Pepsi, but I gotta admit that I really enjoyed drinking Pepsi Throwback for the short time that it was available last summer. Sweetened with real sugar, instead of corn syrup, Pepsi Throwback reminded me of the sodas I drank when I was a wee lad. If I'd been able to find it in a glass bottle, well, that would've really taken me back.

Pepsi Throwback is making a comeback, albeit for a limited time. Slashfood tells us 'bout it:

Old-time soda aficionados and those curious to try something new have reason to celebrate in the New Year. Pepsi will be distributing a limited edition of Throwback Pepsi and Throwback Mountain Dew.

The Throwback contains real sugar instead of HFCS. HFCS stands for high fructose corn syrup--used to make all mainstream sodas (and lots of other foods, like ketchup) sweet. For those of us (i.e. nearly everyone) worried about calories, do not fear. Pepsi Throwback has the same amount of calories as regular Pepsi. ...

Throwback was first rolled out last spring for a limited period, and the response was so positive that PepsiCo Company decided to reintroduce the sodas for another restricted period.

"Pepsi Throwback and Mountain Dew Throwback feature natural sugar with a taste that gives consumers an idea of how the brands tasted back in the 60's and 70's," says Nicole Bradley a spokesperson for the company. "Consumers have told us that they enjoy taking a nostalgic trip back in time with these special retro versions."

Once again the fizzy beverages will only be available for a limited eight-week run which started on December 28th.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Whatta burger!

This post begins what I hope will be an ongoing feature to find, and tell AMGE readers about, the best Nashville-area burger joints . Next to quality pulled pork, there's nothing in the world I like better than a good hamburger. And every time I eat me a good one, I'm gonna tell you about it. Like this ...

To say that Rotier's Restaurant is a Nashville institution is a cliché, but it's a cliché that happens to be 100 percent true. Tucked away in a little hole in the wall near Vanderbilt University, Rotier's has gained a reputation for serving some of the best Southern-style food known to man. The greatest praise for Rotier's, however, has been reserved for its hamburgers ... specifically, its cheeseburgers on French bread.

I vividly remember the first time I ever ate at Rotier's. I was, maybe, 10-years-old at the time. I went to a Vanderbilt game with one of my classmates and his dad. When the game was over we walked over to Rotier's. When the waitress came to our table to give us menus, my friend's dad announced, "We'll have three cheeseburgers on French bread, three orders of onion rings, and three Cokes." I'll never forget that. And I'll also never forget that my Rotier's cheeseburger tasted unlike any burger I'd ever had to that point (which consisted of Shoney's and McDonald's burgers and the fried hockey pucks that my Mom, God bless her, fried whenever she needed to throw a quick dinner together).

The last time I ate at Rotier's was this past New Year's Eve. My bud Bruce and I were skunked in our attempt to eat at another burger joint about which I've heard great things, so we headed to Rotier's instead. (The closed-for-New-Year's burger joint will be revealed in a future AMGE post.) Immediately after taking a seat we were approached by a waitress -- or server, for my pro-PC readers -- with menus in hand. But we didn't need no menus. Two cheeseburgers on French bread. Two orders of onion rings. Three Cokes. That's what we ordered.

The first thing you notice upon grabbing your Rotier's burger is the freshness of the bread. Crappy bread can sink a burger, or a hot dog for that matter, before you even take a bite, but that's a no-worry at Rotier's, indeed. As for the hamburger itself, it's a man-sized, hand-patted hunk o' meat cooked to juicy perfection (no hockey puck analogies will ever attend a review of Rotier's), and it's topped with generous portions of fresh lettuce and onions, and plenty of dill pickle slices. I don't know if it's a perfect burger, but it's pretty damn close.

I'd be remiss if I didn't also mention that when you order a Coke at Rotier's you get it in a glass bottle. You gotta appreciate that!

Rotier's Restaurant
2413 Elliston Place
Nashville, TN 37203

Make Viper-room for this in your pantry

I arrived at home tonight to find the case of Viper Venom Hot sauce I ordered waiting for me. (Yes, Joltin' Django buys his hot sauce by the case. Buyin' by the bottle just don't cut it for me any more.)

If you're looking for a hot sauce that's not real hot and packs lots of flavor, look no further than Viper Venom Sauce. Here's what I said about it last year:

Viper Venom ain't the hottest hot sauce I've ever tasted, even though it has three different hot peppers in it (santack, jalapeño, and habañero). However, Viper Venom might just be the most flavorful hot sauce I've ever tasted, mainly 'cause its list of all-natural ingredients includes vinegar, water, chili powder, cilantro, salt, garlic, onion, cumin, and oregano.

As regular
AMGE readers probably already know, I love chili powder and onions and cumin, and I just can't get enough garlic, vinegar and cilantro. Couple them ingredients with the peppers in Viper Venom hot sauce, and no wonder my knees almost buckled when I tasted the stuff.

Check out Mama Rose's Foods for Viper Venom ordering information.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Al Bernardin, RIP

Al Bernardin, inventor of the McDonald's Quarter Pounder, recently died of a stroke. He was 81.

When it comes to McDonald's, I've always been a Big Mac man. However, I appreciate Bernardin's culinary creation and the lasting impact it's had on fast-food dining.

Al Bernardin's impact on McDonald's didn't stop with the Quarter Pounder though. Oh, no. He also was instrumental in developing McDonald's patented french fries, which might be the best-tasting item, overall, on the McDonald's menu.

More from the Chicago Tribune:

Mr. Bernardin's claim to fame came in 1971, when, as a franchise owner in Fremont, he introduced the Quarter Pounder, with the prophetic slogan, "Today Fremont, tomorrow the world."

"I felt there was a void in our menu vis-a-vis the adult who wanted a higher ratio of meat to bun," he said in 1991.

Mark Bernardin said his father's other important contribution to fast-food fare is the frozen french fry.

Mr. Bernardin moved to Fremont in 1970 after buying two company-owned franchises. At his height, he owned nine franchises and became a philanthropist.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


I never thought a day would come when I had a single good thing to say about a Chinese buffet restaurant. Over the weekend, however, I found myself at the Far East Buffet & Grill in Mt. Juliet (it wasn't my choice to eat there, believe me), and here's the single thing I want to mention about the trip ...

The Far East restaurant has fried rice and egg drop soup and sauced-up slivers of chicken, beef and pork like you'd expect at a Chinese buffet. But - and this is a mighty big "but" - the joint also features grilled pork chops which are not only surprisingly tender, they're spiced with a tangy marinade that, well, that left me wanting more of them pork chops long after I'd left the restaurant!

A member of my dining party was quite a lot more smitten with Far East Buffet & Grill than I was, and it's not inconceivable that I might make a return trip at some point. If I do, you can damn well bet that the first - and perhaps the only - thing I put on my plate are spicy grilled pork chops. And I'll have pictures to share.

Stay tuned.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Old, heavy, bitter and divine

One of my pregame rituals before Nashville Predators home contests is drinking a expertly-poured pint of Guiness at Mulligan's on 2nd Avenue (there is a trick to pouring a pint o' Guiness, and the folks at Mulligans know how to do it right).

Irish novelist Colm Toibin recently penned a piece in the Wall Street Journal about his quest for the perfect pint of Guiness. It's well worth checking out. A sample:

[Guiness] became associated with Ireland in the same way as certain red wines became associated with regions of France. And because the taste was bitter, almost as if something had been burned in it, it became associated with manliness, maturity, even a sort of toughness. There were many who believed fervently in drinking a pint of Guinness entirely, or almost entirely, for medicinal purposes, assuring everyone around them that they had come to the pub for the good of their health.

Guinness is made from four natural ingredients—barley, hops, yeast and water. The dark color and the taste come from the roast barley, but the quality of Irish-made Guinness—it is actually brewed in 49 countries—is said to come from some special, fabulous ingredient in the River Liffey, which flows close to the factory at St. James's Gate in Dublin.

Read the rest here.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

There's a new beer magazine in town

Imagine my surprise when a glossy new beer magazine arrived at A Man's Gotta Eat's palatial offices today. It's called The Beer Connoisseur, and what a great periodical it is.

The layout of Beer Connoisseur is in some respects similar to Wine Spectator (the editor's note and the profile of Anchor Steam® owner Fritz Maytag); and in other respects it's very similar to Cigar Aficionado (in-depth beer ratings). That's a good thing, in my opinion (apologies to Martha Stewart).

My only beef with Beer Connoisseur's inaugural issue is the inclusion of a recipe by Gordon Ramsey. Gordon Ramsey might have a pocket full o' Michelin stars, and he might have many, many pockets full o' money, but he is a wretched human being. If he and I ever found ourselves in the same kitchen, and he started that screamin' and bitchin' bull****, he'd get pistol-whipped faster than he could say "Hell's Kitchen" ... and that's not hyperbole on my part, indeed.

Anywho, I've already subscribed to The Beer Connoisseur; I urge you to do the same. Sign-up for two years and you'll get a hat or T-shirt (I opted for the shirt).

Subscribe here.

Dan Quayle would love these taters

Galatoire's is one of my favorite restaurants in New Orleans. I recently ran across a recipe for Galatoire's patented pommes de terre au gratin in a doctor's office copy of Southern Living, and I gave it a whirl tonight. It wasn't quite as good as the "real" thing, but it was still pretty damn good.

Galatoire’s Potatoes au Gratin


4 Idaho potatoes, peeled and boiled
2 cups Béchamel Sauce (recipe follows)
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup seasoned, dried breadcrumbs
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
Salt and white pepper
¼ cup Clarified Butter

Béchamel Sauce

2 cups whole milk
1/2 pound (2 sticks) salted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour


Preheat the broiler to the low setting.

Coarsely chop the boiled potatoes. Set a large sauté pan over medium heat and add the potatoes, Béchamel sauce and cheddar cheese and simmer until all of the cheese is melted. Stir until the ingredients are incorporated. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper.

Transfer the potato mixture to a 13x9x2-inch oven-safe baking dish. Smooth out the top of the potatoes to create an even layer. Mix the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese together in a small bowl and sprinkle the mixture over the potatoes. Drizzle the clarified butter over the breadcrumbs and broil the dish for 8 to 10 minutes until a golden brown crust is formed. Serve immediately.

Béchamel Sauce

This recipe will yield a very thick version of the classic white sauce that serves as a base or additive for numerous French recipes. It is imperative to watch the roux carefully upon adding the flour. It will darken quickly. A blond roux is desired for this dish.

In a medium saucepan heat the milk until simmering. In a separate medium sauté pan melt the butter and slowly incorporate the flour, whisking constantly over low heat to make a blonde roux. Slowly incorporate 1 cup of the heated milk to the roux, whisking constantly. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes, until mixture becomes paste-like in consistency. Slowly incorporate the remaining milk and whisk until smooth.