Thursday, July 02, 2009

Food finds I haven't gotten around to posting...

Just a few odds and ends - things that have gotten away from me over the last month or so. I meant to write about 'em but I never bothered.

1. Poorman's Mess

You remember that little old lady who kept talking about Depression-Era cooking on YouTube? I made Clara's recipe for Poorman's Meal. It really doesn't taste very good. But hell, are you gonna care about that if you're living through a depression? Considering that, it's damn near haute cuisine!

2. Kroger's Deli
The Cincinnati-based Kroger's food chain spans much of the Midwest and South. The one in Hinesville, GA, has just about the best ready-to-eat food of any spermarket deli counter I have ever ordered from. I got three BBQ ribs (which actually amounted to six), mac & cheese and Western fries. I could only finish half of it.

3. Southern BBQ done right

My sister and her husband introduced me to the delicious BBQ at the Clubhouse in Rye Patch in nearby Ludowici.

The fried pickles were definitely different from those you might find at Sonic: saltier, lighter, picklier, a little less greasy. This is the type of thing that I would eat all day, even though I know it would kill me.

Their sampler plate was very filling, and again I could not finish half of it (I left for home before I could finish it, and James finished the rest for me). The meats really outshone the sides - the cole slaw was tasty and had a flavor I can't quite place, though the mac & cheese was okay. I just can't begin to describe the ribs, sliced butt and chicken. Soooooooo good.

4. Mrs. Holmes' Boiled Peanuts

You can find these at convenience stores all over Georgia and South Carolina, in the same type of hot containers you might find nacho cheese. Margaret Holmes' Boiled Peanuts - I got a small container for about $1.50 in several places. Available in original or Cajun. Oh good Lord, I feel like I'm shilling for peanuts now.

5. In-N-Out

We may not have a Sonic closer than 50 miles to Baltimore, but we could one day. We will never have an In-N-Out anywhere near us. For my last meal before setting foot on the plane to BWI last month I had to stop at the Ontario Mills In-N-Out, the fabled hamburger place that makes everything from scratch and to order, and makes the BBQ ribs I got from Kroger's look like health food. Some of you may know that In-N-Out serves three value meals, and that's it: the hamburger, the cheeseburger and the fabled "Double Double" (two patties). By default, each comes with tomatoes, lettuce, thick onion slices and "special sauce" (it's Thousand Island Dressing). It comes with fries that are cut on site from actual potatoes, and a drink that is either soda or milkshake. Their milkshakes are fabled, too.

What's perhaps as famous is their "Secret menu" that isn't listed on their drive thru menu. Instead, you have to be a local "in the know." Or else find it online, either on In-N-Out's website or listed by others (such as this compilation from I didn't get too secret-menu-ish, and merely order the burger "toasted" - that's a regular burger on a toasted bun - with "light" (underfried) fries. I wasn't too crazy about them.

I wanted to order the Animal Burger - a patty with mustard mixed into it, and extra sauce. But I forgot the name so I didn't want to sit there for five minutes trying to remember, holding up the drive thru line and missing on dropping off my rental car and, from there, catching my flight.

I devoured the burger in the airport, plus half of the lackluster fries (I'm not a fry person anyway). And you should've seen me suck down that milkshake, since they wouldn't have let me take it through the security line. Ice-cream-headache-induced painful bliss, that's all I can say.

You should've seen the milkshake-related pun I was going to use to segue into the next bit...

6. Gay Pride Block Partay!!! (and Parade)

Unlike most major cities, Baltimore's Gay Pride Parade is kind of, um, (What's the word I'm looking for?) low-scale. Though I did get pelted by paraders throwing both Mardi Gras beads and Tootsie Rolls in festive rainbow-colored papers. Was I the only one who thought it strange that Chipotle had a float? Ah well, at least we're in the age when corporations are more likely than they used to be to even show their faces in a gay pride parade! And you gotta love that slogan - yes, the guy's T shirt does say "¿Homo estás?"

My friends
were right, though - the Block Party is better than the following day's festival, which I didn't even bother with. After flitting back & forth between the Hippo and the Central Station, with some quality time in Minato for supper - I didn't even want to bother.

Mind you, the food was pretty lackluster at the Block Party. I mean, LGBT pride events aren't exactly known as culinary meccas. But this one sign was just too strange to pass by:

What famous Thai Mexican Food do they mean, anyway? Much better was the gelato I got at Marie Louise Bistro (I'm glad I gave them a second try), though their mimosas were pretty watered down for my tastes.

7. Stuff what was shipped to me from California

Because it wouldn't fit into my luggage, I had to mail some food back to Baltimore. Most of it was from the Chinese-American supermarket chain 99 Ranch and the British-based supermarket chain Fresh & Easy.

My last day in SoCal last month, I went crazy with non-perishable groceries in the Fresh & Easy. I haven't had a chance to try any of these goodies yet, but I did score some brownie mix, raspberry-chipotle and peanut sauces, chai and chocolate black teas - all Fresh & Easy brand - and Singapore Noodles from the Sof'ella Food Company, whose products I have never seen this side of the Mississippi River. I look forward to trying them all, especially the brownie mix. I had an actual brownie from Fresh & Easy, and if it's from the same ingredients then the mix should be good.

From 99 Ranch, I picked up some loose tea in a lovely decorative jar (Gil already had some and made some for us at his place). I also picked up two cans of Chaokoh coconut milk, a highly recommended brand, before realizing that you can, in fact, find this brand in Maryland after all. I also got some desserts. One was a confection of taro paste covered in white chocolate. It tastes better than it sounds. Actually, it tastes pretty good.

The other thing I got was a heart-shaped plastic container filled with - you won't believe this - candied olives.

Yes, candied olives.

In a moment that I can only describe as Andrew Zimmern-esque in its bizarreness, I bit into the candied olive, an uncured olive coated in sugar, with the pit still in it of course. I can proudly say that I tried it. I can firmly say that I not only will not be eating this again, but I that I could not even finish the one olive I bit into, and threw it and the rest of the container away - but only after spitting out what little was in my mouth. I mean, yeeeeekhkh.


Unknown said...

I lived in Baltimore until the ripe age of 9 yrs old - I have been trying to remember something that we used to get as a snack food - and the only thing I can think of is a "cottie" or maybe "connie" not sure - but I remember we put mustard on it. Does this make any sense at all to you?
Thanks from Houston