Wednesday, December 26, 2007

super duper christmas day pooper

I know that many blogs are begun with the best of intentions; that they are lovingly maintained for a handful of entries before becoming heavy chains of guilt and burden around one’s neck and either shamefacedly deleted or left to drift through the barren electronic channels of the vast tranquil cyber sea. I know this: The House-Fukazawa Gazette (defunct), The Jellyroll Morton Admirer (deleted), Charles Bronson Watch (defunct), The Can Soda Review (defunct), The Bacon Action Network Newsletter (deleted in disgust after eating too much bacon), etc, etc, etc. My first blog Snowglobe will be deleted at the end of this year by the server because I don’t want to pay to maintain it. There is some pure genius in there but I am not saving any of it. Dust in the wind, baby, all we are is dust in the wind.

Dear reader, I will not let this happen to Gravy days!!! I am on a holiday hiatus. Posting here just one picture today from our Christmas Eve party; I could win a Nobel Prize for this one: Macaroni and Cheese with a tater tot cheddar cheese crust. My dad asked me where I found the recipe and I explained to him that I saw it in a dream. It was quite good actually. The macaroni and cheese was homemade. The tater tots were bought in a giant frozen bag. I fired them in the convection oven while I made my cheese sauce and then put the crunchy tater tots over the top of the macaroni before adding a final layer of cheddar and then baking it in the oven. I also made collard greens and pulled pork shoulder. Yesterday I ate so much leftover collard greens and pulled pork…oh, and cornbread, that I was sick all night and I couldn’t sleep. But that is what the holidays are for: putting on the Christmas tonnage to protect oneself from the harsh coming winter months…

ps. today's blog was sponsored by coca-cola and we ask: what's a holiday gathering without a few 2 liter coca-colas sitting around??

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A little place called Beef Burger (that begins as a philosophical treatise on mayonnaise)

My recent foray into the world of bottled sauces had me rummaging through my refrigerator in search of the seven or eight bottles of The Boar and Castle sauce that I routinely keep on hand. If you are an educated sandwich eating man or woman and you have been raised on ketchup and mustard then the natural intelligent progression of your tastes over the years will someday lead you to a stock pile of various bottled sauces and spreads cluttering your icebox. And you will have found that you put them on everything. Or maybe I am just projecting. Here’s a sampling from my collection. Pretty damn boring actually:

French’s Mustard. I have never strayed very far into the fancy mustard realm; it’s like a dainty forest that you come upon on the French countryside after a day of touring in your Austin Healy and once entered it smells like poop. I am not saying that I have never used Dijon; I’ll use it, but if I had my druthers I’d stick with the bright yellow redneck variety.
Best Foods Mayonnaise. I recommend eating at least half a cup daily either straight from the jar or on top of something or mixed into something. I do and I plan to live to one hundred.
Bulldog Tonkatsu Sauce (sadly not pictured). This sauce pours like an oil slick. I distant cousin from the far east of A-1 Sauce, Tonkatsu is good on chicken and croquettes. I recommend keeping water nearby to keep things from getting gummed up in your food tube.
Carolina Treet BBQ Sauce. First it’s important to notice that they do not actually use the world “treat” on the bottle because that would be false advertising. This crap was made in Wilmington NC; what the hell do those fools at the coast know about bbq??!! They should stick to their fried flounder. It’s thick. A day after I opened the bottle I returned to find the sauce bubbling in the bottle like molten lava. I’d still use it in a pinch. Yes if I had nothing else and someone brought over ribs I would use it. Maybe.
Beef Burger Special Sauce. And now we come to the crux of our little talk today kids. Notice the crude labeling; you know that means it’s good. Once again I am about to wax nostalgic so either get on or get out. Beef Burger just may well be the all time greatest hamburger joint in the entire world and you can take your deconstructed Kobe beef fancy pickle fancy bun big city bullshit and stuff it in my grandma’s toilet in the water closet out back. This is why this country is fucked up: people will actually pay hundreds of dollars for a burger. Foie Gras on my hamburger; shavings of Oregon Truffles: you know what?? Get your metrosexual hamburger the fuck out of here!!!! Give me a Double Meat Super Cheese from Beef Burger on Lee Street in Greensboro NC. The last time I was in town I had one and I savored every last bite. They have a new sign on the door which states: If you’re drunk, don’t come in here. I did anyway but I was very well behaved. Listen, throw me out of any bar; throw me in jail. Just don’t throw me out of Beef Burger. A little history is called for.
Originally Named Biff Burger, Beef Burger is one of the last two operating franchises of a popular Drive-in Hamburger Restaurant that was founded in Florida in the mid-50’s, thrived up and down the east coast through the 60’s, and under somewhat mysterious circumstances came to financial ruin in the mid 70’s. Notable for their unique architectural design utilizing dramatic angles for the buildings themselves and brightly colored triangles and towering glowing stars on their signs, after the parent company disappeared in 1975-1976 one by one the beautiful Biff Burger Drive-ins were torn down in favor of Taco Bells and Burger Kings. In fact, Burger King gobbled up some of the old Biff sites and turned them into their own Whopper outlets. As an aside, has anyone seen the recent Burger King commercials where they secretly tape customer’s reactions when they are informed, as a gag, that the Whopper is no longer on the menu? What? Like they think that people are going to collapse from the shock? I’d be like, ok whatever give me another one of your crappy burgers. One thing I like about the whopper is that you can get one with three beef patties. No shame, there is no shame. Just take off your clothes, drape yourself in yards of cheap fabric, and lie on the floor of your living room atop an air mattress in front of the television and eat. If I had a source of income independent of labor, I’d do it.
But anyway back to Beef Burger: In 1971 Ralph Havis purchased a Biff Burger Franchise on Lee Street in Greensboro and he went on to run it even after the parent company mysteriously disappeared. In 1981 when his original lease expired with Biff Burger Corporation, Ralph in a fit of paranoia changed the name of his restaurant ever so slightly to Beef Burger and the rest is the stuff that legends are made of. What makes Beef Burger so great is not only the cool retro design of the actual restaurant but Beef Burger still uses the Biff Burger patented roto-broil cooking method for its hamburgers. The roto-broil technique involves broiling the hamburgers from above and below as they rotate on a rack in the oven. The burgers are basted with Beef’s special sauce as they cook and the buns are placed on the bottom most rack where they not only toast up real nice but they also catch the juices that are seeping out of the oscillating burgers. Not a drop of grease goes to waste at this premise on Lee Street. Over the years Ralph made additions to the menu that reflected a love of all things battered and deep fried. It boasts fried platters of everything from zucchini to fish sticks. I especially love their fried okra and onion rings. Beef Burger also gained a reputation for their milk shakes; which brings me to the personal history aspect of the Biff/Beef Burger saga. My favorite memories of Beef Burger are of the Saturday nights when my dad and I would make a pilgrimage to Beef’s for their banana shakes. That was long after my parents had divorced and my dad was living on Pinecroft Road. I can remember being much younger and my mom refusing to take me to Biff Burger because she heard it was dirty. Aww, whatever mom: didn’t she know that’s what made it good??! But my dad didn’t give a fuck. He knew those burgers were good and he loved a good shake. Sometimes we would buy one for my grandmother and drive it over to her house. Once I moved out on my own I lived for a time in the ghetto across the tracks on the other side of Lee Street on Dillard Street right behind a shack that was called Eddie’s Place and sold porn magazines and videos. I was within easy striking distance of Beef Burger. Double Meat Super Cheeses and all the fries I wanted and no parental authority to check me; it was a hog fest of grease and hamburger that when on for several years. There is no place like Beef Burger in the world and every time I go home I pay my respects to its hallowed halls of lard and garishly colored environs. This Christmas if you are lucky enough to be in Greensboro stop in and have a shake and you’ll see what I mean!!! I’ve posted a link in my stuff for a website that is devoted to the Biff Burger Phenomena, so check it out. And also I stole some of these pictures of Beef Burger off of a web page called Greensboring. The pictures were taken by Beth. I hope she doesn’t mind too much.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

the evil that man hath wrought

Being a southerner I have had a lot of exposure to fried chicken and these days you don't have to be in a chicken shack somewhere south of the mason dixon line to get a good piece. There are a slew of upscale restaurants in San Francisco that have different varieties of fried chicken on their menus and there are three fried chicken chains operating in the city: Popeye's, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Louisiana Fried Chicken. At Filmore and Geary there is a branch of each within a three block radius. There is also a rumor floating around about the fried chicken at a convenience store somewhere on South Van Ness in The Mission. I believe I may know this place of which they speak, but further research is warranted. Perhaps the most elusive aspect of good fried chicken is the ability to easily replicate your own at home. Thanks to Banquet Crispy Chicken Box you can have a piece of fried chicken anytime you want...or actually fifty minutes after you pop one of those delicious brown frozen hunks of chicken into a hot oven. Yes in fifty minutes you could get off of the couch and walk down to the Popeye's about a mile away and get some really good chicken and a biscuit or two but it's the getting off of the couch part that throws a wrench in the works, right? I don't know what kind of shit they spray on this chicken but it's good shit. The white meat was dry; the dark meat actually had pretty good flavor. It was the crispy crust that was sooo bad in that strange really yummy good way. Banquet chicken is totally redneck; consider the case closed once you notice the Nascar logo on the front of the box. Let's have a banquet in our would think that any hillbilly worth his weight in Pepsi-cola would know a chicken stand somewhere close by rather than resort to the Banquet, a place that has dispensed with napkins favoring instead to serve you your piece of chicken wrapped in a slice of wonder bread. But those are by gone days my friend and sometimes in this fast paced modernized world all we have is the Banquet...even if it does take fifty minutes. Jesus Christ you could make your own in that amount of time but it would probably be greasy and not crispy. The Folks at Banquet are not afraid to spray some chemicals on their bird to crisp it up. Why did I eat this crap??!! A day later and I still feel poisoned. People actually buy the Banquet as a meal option!!! A mom somewhere with OCD is making detailed menu plans for her family's work and school week and she has with utter seriousness penned in under Wednesday night: Banquet. This chicken box should only be bought and used by stoners in trailers beyond city limits. And speaking of: what is the deal with the KFC Mashed Potato Bowls?? I can't help but imagine that their research and development department must be headed up by Cheech and Chong. Here's the description from their website: "We start with a generous serving of our creamy mashed potatoes, layered with sweet corn and loaded with bite-sized pieces of crispy chicken. Then we drizzle it all with our signature home-style gravy and top it off with a shredded three cheese blend. It's all of your favorite flavors coming together." Ok, in some sick perverse way you had me up to the cheese. Why the cheese? Because when you are stoned it's all good. Today I promise to eat only Broccoli, fogive me for my sins Oh Lord....

Monday, December 10, 2007

Excursions along the korean Corridor

I keep one credit card active just in case of emergencies. This morning I was having a terrible craving for kim chee and Korean BBQ. If that's not an emergency then pardon me for holding dearly to an erroneous definition of the word emergency. Around lunch time Yoshimi and I walked from The Haight over to Geary Boulevard. There is a high concentration of Korean restaurants, grocery stores, and nightclubs along Geary once you cross over Arguello and continue west towards the ocean. The well known Korean BBQ joint Brothers has two locations in this neighborhood and there are numerous places with names like Tofu Land and Tofu House. Today we had lunch at a spot we've never tried before called Teo. It was a damn good choice and I congratulate myself on the find even if it was based largely in part to random proximity and churning organs of digestion: in other words, we were hungry and it was there.
For me I find one of the most appealing aspects of Korean cuisine to be the tradition of beginning the meal with a series of small plates of various pickles and kim chee. Aside from being a glutton, I like this first course of small appetizers because it presents the diner with a wide range of textures and tastes. The seven or eight dishes that we enjoyed at Teo were really good. I especially liked the fried little fishes, they were salty and fishy and there were little slivers of fried jalapeno pepper mixed in with the fish. The kim chee was pretty standard. One of the dishes that I really liked consisted of spaghetti strands of potato with sweet vinegar and pepper. For our entrees, Yoshimi went with the BBQ pork Pulgogi and I ordered Sauteed Tofu and Kimchee. I know, I went with a strange last minute choice, pretty generic, but the chefs at Teo did a good job of dressing up the tofu with toasted sesame and the sauce over the tofu, scallions, and kimchee was spicy and slightly sweet. Yoshimi's pork was really good: it was served on a cast iron hot plate with grilled onions and peppers. The waitress also brought us out a bowl of kim chee soft tofu soup from the chef. That was pretty cool. Once all of the plates were arranged on the table it really was quite a spread!! The waitress brought us our Hite Beer and we commenced to chowing down. We were the only table in the restaurant so the waitress had the television on some crazy Korean soap opera. They really are very melodramatic, over the course of our meal at least four different actresses had emotional breakdowns. Red chili is the ubiquitous spice in Korean Cuisine. In fact I believe that I read somewhere that Koreans have a higher rate of stomach cancers and this is associated with the spicy nature of their foods. At Teo everything was perfectly spicy and Yoshimi who usually doesn't like spicy food agreed that the soup was yummy even if it was a bit painful. Needless to say five minutes after leaving the restaurant I had to pee really bad...damn beer!! But if you are ever on the Korean Corridor check this place out.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

That Tuna Thang

I don’t know about you but I love canned seafood. I love just about any food that comes in a can actually. It’s raining in San Francisco today. And what better on a rainy day than Tuna Egg Supreme? My wife and I enjoy playing a version of Iron Chef that we like to call Ghetto Cookin’. Basically Ghetto Cookin’ usually arrives on those tight days just prior to the immaculate reception of the pay check when the refrigerator holds little that is appealing but our bellies are grumbling for grub. My pay check is still five days out so it looks like we are going to be getting on some serious Ghetto Cookin’ action. The rules are simple: take what you’ve got and make a decent meal. I think our low point or high point depending on how you want to look at it was wedges of cheese garnished with pickle relish. This morning Yoshimi has raised the bar or lowered the bar depending on how you want to look at it with her marvelous Tuna Egg Supreme recipe. What the fuck is it?! I know you are probably asking. It’s a simple one pot concoction of fried eggs, diced red onion, and canned tuna. Mmmmm, now that’s good eatin. As luck would have it we have some bread so we’ve toasted that up and we are going to eat the tuna egg scramble like an open faced sandwich. It looks gross, I know. Note to wife: baby, we really should spend more money on groceries….

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Redneck Ramen

Ramen is ubiquitous fast food in Japan and Korea. Most Americans know Ramen by the delightful moniker of Oodles of Noodles. Delightful, you know delightful like when you eat a dog turd before you realize that it's one of those fancy organic chocolate bars that they sell in their overpriced candy boutiques out here. Instant Ramen is vastly different from the real deal just as a frozen pizza is a distant cousin to one of those delicious cardboard Domino’s pizzas that you get delivered to the door of your trailer….and ma, don’t forget the crazy bread!!!
Instant Ramen has potential. That is the key. All packages of instant ramen come with at least one spice pouch. Sometimes they will also contain a sauce pack. The packets give different flavors to the basic block of ramen noodle. As you can see from the photo my wife has elevated the art of preparing instant ramen to the sublime. And what is so awesome about this particular bowl is that she has managed to meet the Far East with the Good Old South. This ramen is a Korean brand that is super spicy called Nong Shim Ramyun.

When I eat this ramen my eyes water; it’s so hot!! Yo-yo has placed on the top of the noodles: seaweed, scallions, broccoli rabe, feta cheese, and best of all some pan fried WG White & Company North Carolina Country Ham. The bowl is garnished with black sesame seeds. It was so good. I am going to do a whole post on WG White & Company because that is some deep philosophical shit that is going to have to be got into but suffice here to say that the ham gave a sweet salty kick to the spicy ramen. The feta cooled my mouth down and added its own saltiness. The seaweed and broccoli rabe gave texture and a briny flavor as well. Four stars to my wife.

I had the opportunity to visit the Ramen Museum when I was in Yokohama. One floor of the museum (yes there are three levels devoted to this national treasure) has been completely transformed into a bustling business district in Tokyo circa 1958. This “Ramen Town” is a historical theme park. All of the buildings and all of the restaurants and bars are refurbished from the era which was a time in Japanese history just prior to the explosion of modernity. There are five or six ramen stands selling different styles of ramen. It’s pretty cool. If you are in Yokohama, it’s fun to go.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

A sauce is for slathering

The Boar and Castle was a drive-in restaurant that operated in Greensboro NC from 1929 until 1980. Situated in a building that looked like a castle at the corner of Walker Ave and West Market Street, it was an institution that many Greensboro residents grew up with. The Boar and Castle wasn't a fancy pants hamburger palace. It was a hamburger joint that served burgers, fries, onion rings, roast beef sandwiches, and shakes. It was the kind of place where families could get together and clog their arteries and make memories that would last a shortened life time. Few places like The Boar and Castle are still around. They have been bulldozed and dismantled in favor of Taco Bells and Applebee's. My parents used to double date with their friends at "The Castle" as it was affectionately known by the locals. And when I was a young tot I had my first taste of Saturated fat sitting in the bucket seats of my father's brand spanking new AMC Gremlin parked in the lot of The Boar and Castle where you could still get served in the comfort of your own grotesque automobile by a car hop. I pine for those days of yore before the advent of the drive-thru window which irrevocably changed the landscape of our hamburger nation forever. Tyler Florence, you should be stoned to death for endorsing Applebee's, but then again it is so obvious that you are a frat boy gone to corpulent seed.

All is not lost though as it is still possible to get your mother to send you bottles of The Boar and Castle's famous sauce, that is if your mother lives in Greensboro NC. Otherwise it is available online here: As the label on the bottle will tell you Boar and Castle sauce is for Beef, Chicken, Fries, and Seafood; it is for seasoning and cooking. Hell, you can drink it if you want to. The base of the sauce is mustard, tomato, and vinegar but the ingredients list also claims anchovies, tamarind, and garlic as key components. When the restaurant was still in operation this sauce was poured over everything and no one complained. The Boar and Castle no longer stands. I am not exactly sure what is in its place now, I believe it may be one of those convenience store gas station combos where you can nuke a hamburger bagged in plastic shipped from Denver and pretend it is a meal. As far as the sauce goes it is still the best thing going for dipping just about anything in: sushi, meatballs, chicken nuggets, I even like to pour it on my favorite korean bbq. If you are ever in Greensboro stop by a Food Lion or a Winn-Dixie and pick yourself up a bottle or two. Oh, and say hello to my mama.

Monday, December 3, 2007

waiting patiently for my lobotomy

I hate these kinds of easy access deli spots that pop up in places like airports and shopping centers with their prepared gourmet salads and sandwiches and their goddamn fancy coffee drinks. I just want to grab someone and shake them and scream "what have you done with the sausage gravy biscuits!!??"

First and foremost people, breakfast is about pig. Hello?!! Bacon and eggs!!! I'm tired of these fancy pants san franciscans trying to convince me that I want a tuna salad bagel for breakfast or a damn cookie. I want bacon. I want gravy. What the hell is this world coming to!?

welcome to gravy days

We live in a society that is fast forgetting the comforting goodness of gravy. And that trend is going to end here and now. Join me, won't you?