Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Chicken Sarcastro

June 23, 2007

Originally, I was going to post this dish in honor of all the little Lee Greenwoods who, this past Memorial Day, were boasting of their unalloyed patriotism and support of the military; despite their craven refusal to serve in the armed forces they claim to love so much.

Then I realized that was soooo last month. Besides, why waste good food on those jerks when I can waste it on you jerks?


3 lbs. whole chicken (This is really a matter of taste. I prefer chicken thighs. It’s cheaper. So am I.)

1/4 cup garlic, chopped fine

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp crushed black pepper

2 tbsp white soy sauce (Question: How racist is Sarcastro? Answer: So racist even his soy sauce is white.)

2 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp bourbon (It ain’t Sarcastro unless there’s some bourbon in it.)

1 bottle Sweet Thai Chili sauce (preferably Mae Ploy or one of the other brands available at your local Asian market).

Mix all the ingredients and marinate for 3-4 hours. Then grill over charcoal until done.

Serve with steamed Jasmine rice and salad.


Change Your Lunch Plans

January 11, 2007

In what can only be described as a sweeps-month ratings stunt, Mothership BBQ is having a special guest star to help out in the kitchen.

Today and Friday, I’ll be assisting the good Dr. Funkenswine for lunch.

Ladies, come see your favorite man-candy duo handle your meat. Gentlemen, be prepared to talk about sports and guns and booze and gambling and the ladies.

See you there.

On a related note, I think the Mothership’s Mac and Cheese should be classified as a Schedule I narcotic.  I proposed to the Doctor to change the name to Crack and Cheese.  I find myself craving more of it on the way home from the Mothership.   My mouth is watering thinking about it now.  And I’m currently so full, I may explode.  I imagine becoming some kind of Renfield-like creature who lives only to eat the Crack and Cheese, making my home in the dumpster behind the Mothership.  I may start bumming change out in front of Baja Burrito in order support my habit.

Judging by the amount we sold today, I am not alone in my addiction.

Dairy Dip Update

September 1, 2006

As many readers may remember, I teed off on Bobbie’s Dairy Dip a few weeks ago.  We had an less than average experience and I made some comments that were unkind.

The proprietor of BDD wrote an excellent response in the comments: 

I am so sorry to hear about your bad experience at Bobbie’s. I’ve owned the joint for 7 years and really do lose sleep when I hear a complaint. We adore our customers who, like you, are often there with their children, just looking to have good food and ice cream at a fun and different place. To hear that you had so much go wrong during your visit just kills me.

First of all, a chicken sandwich and two hamburger "combos"(that’s 2 hamburgers with 2 small fries and a large soda) should have cost a total of $19.50 including the whopping 9.25% sales tax. If you were overcharged, I am horrified and embarrased, but I do wish you would have said something, as the staff is instructed to always double check an order if it is questioned by a customer. Our prices are obviously higher than other chain fast food places. We take pride in serving fresh food cooked to order, using fresh certified angus beef and real cheddar for the burgers and peeling and cooking over 50 lbs. of potatoes a day for our fries. It simply costs more to provide that type of quality and I’m sorry that you thought the food only "passable". We do have a limited kids menu with either a hot dog, corn dog or turkey dog, fries and a small drink or cone for $4.00. It’s on the menu, but perhaps your children are like my son….he would never order from the kid’s menu on the principle that it assumed he only liked mac & cheese and chicken tenders and small portions at that. I inadvertently raised a food snob.

Second and even more horrifying to me, is that your impression of your server was that he/she was a stoner. While I can’t honestly say that my every hire has been terrific, I nevertheless am kind of proud that I have managed to find some really nice, intelligent kids who "get" what we’re trying to do at Bobbie’s and who enjoy what we do there and our customers. There are always a few that don’t quite get it; they either don’t last very long or manage to actually learn and sometimes turn out to be some of my better staff members. Certainly if I thought that anyone on my staff was high at work, they would be terminated immediately. I usually hear raves about how nice my staff is, so I would certainly appreciate hearing some more details (a description of the person or the date and time you were there) so that I can address the situation. And the fact that this same person confused your raspberry shake order for a strawberry shake is infuriating to me….although I like both shakes, the raspberry is pretty special.

Finally.. …..nothing makes me sadder than to hear
that someone didn’t like our ice cream. I could write a book about about the machinations we go through to keep our ice cream of a consistently high quality. I am just so sorry that your kids didn’t like it. Recently we have tried a special recipe where we add high butter-fat cream to the lower butterfat fresh Purity product to increase richness. This is after years of importing a high butterfat, absolutely delicious ice cream from a New Jersey supplier, since we could find nothing comparable from any local suppliers. We had to order a week in advance, accept an 80 case minimum which we would then have to take to a frozen storage facility in Smyrna and drive there a few times a week (and only open during M-Fri business hours) to pull fresh product. It became an impossible undertaking. I have been trying alternate suppliers, product, recipes, etc. ever since in order to find product equal in quality to that which we were getting from New Jersey without the associated nervous breakdowns occasioned by late deliveries, inaccessible product on the weekends, and being stuck in traffic on I24 heading back from Smyrna in 90 degree heat. Interestingly, while I’m generally happy with what we have now, I, too, am not 100% sold on the chocolate flavor from Purity; perhaps your children have an exceptionally good palate, but I have literally heard no other complaints and I do specifically ask customers about this.

I haven’t had time to read the rest of your site and I don’t believe I know you personally… I will leave your name (after tonight) at the store with instructions that you and your children are to receive 3 Combo meals (sandwich, fries and shakes or sodas) and three desserts of choice. I can only hope that your second experience will be a better one. We really do try to make everyone’s experience at Bobbie’s fun and special; if we fail, we will try to make it up to you.

Please accept my personal apology and appreciation for the heads-up.

Claire Mullally
Bobbie’s Dairy Dip
Nashville, TN.

That works nicely.  I will definitely go back to BDD.  Not for the free food, which is a nice offer, but not the point.  But, because the owner took that kind of time to address the problems that a customer encountered without sounding like a corporate drone’s form letter. 

I’ve only seen this same kind of passion and dedication to customer satisfaction at the Mothership.  Most other places, especially chain restaurants, don’t really care.  In the restaurant biz, there’s a saying that a happy customer tells one person about a good experience.  But, a unhappy customer will tell ten people about a bad experience.  I told about 200 people.  The only thing a restaurant can do to turn a dissatisfied customer into a satisfied one is to get them back with the promise to do better next time.

Claire has earned my patronage and I plan to give BDD another shot.

Bobbie’s Snow Job

August 8, 2006


In what can only be characterized as dimwittery masquerading as enriching the lives of children, I took the boys to Bobbie’s Dairy Dip for lunch.  The cognoscenti in this town absolutely rave about the place as being a mahhhvelously kitschy throwback with excellent frozen comestibles.  You know, an ostensibly blue collar hang-out on a blue collar street, with just enough faux run-down charm to enchant the nearby residents in their $400,000 neighborhood.

The foreshadowing of this tale takes place near the beginning.  Like all good foreshadowing, in fact, does.  If it showed up any later, the ending would just feel tacked-on.  I started to explain to the boys about BDD and the frozen goodiness therein, they blurted out, "Mickey D’s!  They have hamburgers and ice cream.  We love Mickey D’s!" 

Like the poor sap who just got his first NPR totebag after a $100 pledge, I was too full of moral superiority to entertain the idea of going to the foul and wretched McDonald’s.   You’ll have Dairy Dip and like it!  Don’t you boys read Kay West?

For the sake of brevity, I’ll skip over the ordering ordeal.   The proverbial bottom line was that a chicken sandwich, two hamburgers with fries and drinks ran $24.  That’s American dollars, not pesos.  Bobbie can go dairy dip that in her ass.  For that kind of money, a family of four can have a big Saturday night out at the Cookeville Golden Corral.

The food was passable.  The kids hated the seeds on the bun.  The kids hated the fries.  The kids hated the ugly lime green color of the picnic table.  In an attempt to salvage the experience, we attempted some ice cream.  The kids got a small chocolate cone and a small chocolate cup.  Or as the kids referred to it after tasting it, but before throwing the whole thing in the trash, "Ewww, brown vanilla."  It was semi-choco colored with no choco taste.  I ordered the raspberry sundae.  I got the strawberry sundae.  That too, went in the trash as the stoners behind the counter couldn’t have fixed either the sundae or the chocolate ice cream in a timely manner.  On the upside, that part of the meal was only seven dollars.

Over thirty dollars blown at the Dairy Dip, with nothing much to show for it.  Do you see where I’m going with this?  Say it with me now, the kids sure did:

"We might as well have gone to goddamn McDonald’s!"

“Mmmm, This IS a tasty burger.”

July 15, 2006

I’m watching a documentary right now called Hamburger America.  It is making me crazy with hunger, even though I just ate lunch.  This sort of food propaganda is a menace.  But, the burgers look so damn tasty.

The filmaker goes across the country checking out some regional and unique burger styles.  To wit:

Dyer’s Burgers, Memphis, TN–A burger deep fried in ninety year old grease.

Ted’s Restaurant, Meriden, CT— Home of the steamed cheesebuger.  A favorite of Principal Skinner.

The Wheel In, Sedalia, MO–The Guber Burger.  No, not named after a famed Hollywood douchebag producer, but a hamburger topped with peanut butter.  It looks better than it sounds.

Solly’s Grille, Milwaukee, WI— The Butter Burger.  Only in Wisconsin.  A huge scoop of butter melting over a damn burger.  I like it.

The Meers Store & Restaurant, Meers, OK–They keep a herd of Texas Longhorns (no, not the football team) out back.  The beef is as fresh as possible and is ground on-site.

Bobcat Bite Restaurant, Santa Fe, NM–The Green Chile Cheeseburger.  I want one that looks just like this

Louis’ Lunch, New Haven, CT–Family owned for the last hundred years.  The burgers are cooked in the same kooky cast-iron ovens from the dawn of the 20th century.

Billygoat Tavern, Chicago, IL–"Cheezeborger, Cheezeborger, Cheezeborger!" A Chicago landmark most famously parodied on SNL back in the golden age.  Also the home of the Billy Goat Curse.

I’m either going to Fat Mo’s or to seek out the elusive Big Kahuna Burger, and possibly a tasty beverage to wash it down.


More Garlic, Please

July 14, 2006

In Pacific Grove, California, there is an amazing little joint called Peppers Mexicali Cafe.  Anyone who has ever seen Turner & Hooch has seen both Pacific Grove and the exterior of the amazing little cafe of which I speak.  This year is their twentieth anniversary of being in business, and they finally got a liquor license.

Back when I was a local, it became a favorite hang-out for Ex-Mrs. Sarcastro, myself, and our circle of friends.  One afternoon, the Ex and decided to drink every bottle of Rolling Rock they had in the place.  It was our favorite beer at the time, and it helped wash down the pickled garlic cloves and tortilla chips that were served complimentary at the bar, as was the custom at the time.

Our favorite dish, was the Garlic Prawns.  After several rounds at the bar, as was our custom at the time, we would adjourn to the dining room and order the Garlic Prawns.  We were ten feet tall and vampire proof by the end of the meal.  The dish was simple, yet rich and so goddamn good, we had to have it, despite the social opprobrium and gastric consequences.  It was made of huge shrimp (also known as prawns) in a cream sauce with several cloves of sliced garlic, and I think some chopped onion.  It came with black beans and rice, as well as flour tortillas for mopping it up or making little tacos with it.

I haven’t had it for several years.   Then it hit me the other night, like a bolt of inspirado.  I could make Garlic Prawns! It could take years and cost millions of lives, but it would be worth it.  Luckily, I got it right the first time.  Here’s what you need:

First, get someone else to make the black beans and rice.  Don’t let side dishes trifle with your culinary genius. Hell, get the stuff to go from Calypso.  It will save you time.  Or, better yet, sucker your girlfriend ask someone else to make that part of the meal.

Next, take one package of Sea Pak Frozen Shrimp Scampi, while preparing it according to the box, slip in a little chopped onion, like less than half a Vidalia and three or four cloves of sliced garlic.  Let that cook until the shrimp is almost thawed, but not cooked.  Then add about 4 liquid ounces of heavy cream and a tablespoon or two of grated parmesan cheese.  Stir it well so that it blends with the scampi and reduce heat to simmer so as not to scorch the cream or cause the butter sauce to separate.  Toss in some salt and pepper to taste.  Let that simmer for a few minutes until the sauce is thick.  Then, cut off the heat and let it cool enough to serve, maybe a minute.  Serve it with the rice, black beans and some soft taco sized flour tortillas.

Savor it in all of its creamy garlicky goodness.  Drink a few beers while you are at it.  You won’t be disappointed. 

Return To The Mothership

June 15, 2006

We went back to see the Knucklehead at Mothership BBQ for lunch today.  I was not disappointed.  The pork was succulent and tasty, like Knuck said it would be.  I had a funny epiphany once I left Berry Hill.  Knuck uses a vinegar-based sauce.  Normally, I don’t like vinegar-based sauces.  They are, well, too vinegary.  I’m more of a fan of the tomato-based sauces.  In my family, it is usually Sweet Baby Ray’s or nothing. 

Knuck’s sauce however is different.  I think I have it figured out.  It doesn’t smother the meat flavor.  The thing about most tomato-based BBQ sauces is that eating styrofoam is acceptable with enough sauce ladled on top.  Knuck’s sauce complements the meat flavor.  It doesn’t compete with the pork.   That is huge.  That is like, I dunno…finding out crack cures cancer, or something.  Whatever it is, it tastes damn good.

In honor of Knuck and his sauce.  Let me offer an anecdote that is reminiscent of one of his.

Back in the day, I used to manage a Chinese restaurant in the Rivergate area.  It was a new concept from the folks who brought you Red Lobster and Olive Garden.  It was to Chinese food as Olive Garden is to Italian.  Draw your own conclusions. 

One afternoon, a server came to me and complained about some loud jerks in her section.  I went back to see what was up with these boorish customers.  Sitting in the booth by the bathroom, was the band Blind Melon. This is sometime in 1995.  They are about two years after No Rain peaked on the charts.   They were not yet aware of their one-hit wonder status.   The money hadn’t run out at that point, so they were drunker than a sack of assholes.  In fact, the word "asshole" came to mind several times in my dealings with them. 

They complained about everything;  the food, the drinks, the service, the brown M&Ms.  Typical rock star behavior.  Well, typical for rock stars with more than one Top Twenty single under their belts.  I jumped through a bunch of hoops to placate them, until I realized that they were a)never going to come back; and b)were washed up losers.

After I took care of everything and dropped the check, I looked the most fucked up and obnoxious member of the group in the eye and said, "I really appreciate you gentlemen coming in today.  I like your music.  I especially like that Bee Girl."

Well, you would have thought I said, "You are a washed-up, has-been junkie.  See you at the state fair next year."   Which, I guess is what he heard.

"Fuck you, man! Fuck you!  We are more than just that fucking Bee Girl!  This is bullshit, man!"

I chuckled at the thought of the opinion of a totally unhip manager of a mediocre chain restaurant having an opinion that could kill his coke and booze-fueled fun.  I picked up the credit card from the road manager or some other flunky, and said in my most pity-exuding, condescending voice, "I’m sure you were." 

He then threw a drunken tantrum and knocked some glasses over on the table.  A few months later Mr. Drunken Tantrum was dead

The moral of the story is, Eat at Mothership BBQ. 

Or else.

Waiting For The Mothership

May 20, 2006

Until Knuck gets his BBQ joint up and running, here’s an easy and tasty recipe to tide you over.

Barbecue Chicken Tortilla Wraps 


4 boneless chicken breasts
1 small onion, sliced
1 habanero pepper, chopped
2 cups of your favorite bbq sauce
6 (12-inch) flour tortillas
1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced
Fresh cilantro 

Place chicken breasts, onion and habanero in crock pot.  Cover with bbq sauce.  Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours.  Remove chicken and shred with a fork.  Throw shredded chicken back in crock pot and cover well with sauce.  In the center of a warm tortilla, layer chicken mixture, cheese, avocado and cilantro.  Roll up and eat. 

For leftovers today, I mixed some cooked rice in with the chicken and, I’ll be damned if that wasn’t even better.

Best served with Shiner Bock