Monday, December 29, 2014

The Art of the Christmas Sandwiches

If you've known me long enough then you know that I have an affinity for the holidays and, more specifically, the food. Even more specific are the leftovers of Thanksgiving and Christmas which provide the ingredients for the seasonal Christmas Sandwiches (or Holiday Sandwiches if you prefer). Christmas Sandwiches are turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and gravy packed into a dinner roll but there's a lot more that goes into it. As is the error with common sandwich shops or burger joints, you can't just throw a bunch of random stuff together and expect a complete synergy of deliciousness. There's an art about creating the perfect sandwich and today, my friends, I will break down the Christmas Sandwich for you.

Step 1) The Rolls: I've had a lot of problems with holiday dinner rolls over the years with the main problem being that they generally just suck. Really. It's hard to find a good dinner roll. Thankfully the roll doesn't make or break the sandwich so we can be liberal about what we choose. For this demonstration I'm creating a "Christmas Sandwich Sampler" plate with four different rolls as follows:

Four different rolls will give us four distinctly different sandwiches

2) Butter the Rolls: Cut the roll in half and then use butter or margarine or whatever imitation dairy product you prefer and spread it on the interior of BOTH SIDES. Even if you have the dullest, lamest, most disgusting dinner rolls, adding a thin layer of butter will help provide extra flavor.

Just like with mayo, you don't want to be too generous with the butter, otherwise it's just disgusting

3) The Main Ingredients: Obviously you'll need the main staples of a gourmet holiday dinner. I like to try and split the plate into thirds and use an even amount of turkey, potatoes, and stuffing. Then top everything with gravy. It should look like a traditional "day after" meal:

You'll find it challenging not to dig right in following the reheat, but be patient

4) Heating Up and Prep: Microwave your leftovers until everything is hot. Note: the potatoes heat up slower than the turkey and stuffing, so be sure to mix them with a fork during microwaving to speed up the process and keep things even. When everything is good to go, you should have a presentation that looks something like this:

If you think this is gonna be too much food then just think of them as sliders

5) Stuffing the Sandwich: This is the tricky part. Some people have no respect for proper layering or technique which is a big no-no. If you slap all the stuff into the roll like you're working at Quiznos then your sandwich is gonna taste like a regurgitated tissue, and I don't think you want that. It's important to first start with the turkey. The protein ALWAYS goes on the bottom. Top that with the stuffing and THEN use the mashed potatoes as a paste to keep everything in place. Feel free to top with a little more gravy and then put in the microwave for 20-30 seconds (to heat up the bread and melt the butter):

Your sandwiches should look something like this following assembly. Note the layering

6) Closing the Sandwich: If you refer back to the image for step 2, notice that I didn't cut the rolls all the way through. This is a personal choice as when I close the sandwich up I like the idea of being able to gently pack all the ingredients in. Another option is to cut them all the way through and then top the sandwich as if it were a burger. It's entirely up to you.

Christmas Sandwich Sampler

7) Other Options: Sometimes I top the goods with a little cranberry sauce which is entirely up to you. I've also heard of putting in sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, and even pumpkin pie. Again, it's whatever you want, but I prefer to stick with traditional ingredients. Once your sandwich is constructed...you stuff it:

With a thin layer of cranberry sauce

Hey, I hope you found this tutorial useful. If you wanna get the most of your sandwiches then it's always important to approach them with a plan. These sandwiches, like all of the others I made this holiday season, were absolutely stunning and delicious. Give it a try. 

Happy Holidays! 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Perky Jerky!

Once upon a time there was a brand of beef jerky that wanted to do things a little differently. As the 21st century marches on so do the marvels of modern research and the ever expanding knowledge we're obtaining about the gourmet that we put into our bodies. No longer should we have to be at the mercy of large companies that want to tell us what we should be eating because they can afford large marketing budgets to deliver their messages. No longer should we have to settle for healthy alternatives that taste like coagulated horse spit because we can't make vegan cheeseburgers taste like the real thing. No longer should we be trying to replicate the great tastes of unhealthy food when the right choice of action is to instead INNOVATE AND CREATE SOMETHING NEW.

That, my friends, is the badass sensation known only as...Perky Jerky.

I'm such a newb that I cracked into one of the bags BEFORE taking a picture. Yeah, I'm not perfect but I'm pretty damn close

So what we got here as far as I'm concerned is the new leader in beef jerky. Unless you're getting something that's locally harvested and sold in the bed of Farmer John's truck then you're probably not gonna find many other jerkies out there that maintain as high a quality as this one. Let's check out the plusses here:

All Natural: Well, as my mom says, heroin is all natural so you can't always take "all natural" to mean something you can pig out on. But when you look at the list of ingredients you can actually PRONOUNCE THE WORDS with the first ingredient ingeniously being REAL SLICES OF BEEF.

Gluten Free: I actually have no idea what the hell this means but for people who can't have gluten this is good news, right?

No Nitrates: Nitrates are crap. You find a lot of them in deli meats and of course other brands of jerky stock you up on the stuff. Check Jack Link's site and you'll see sodium nitrates in the ingredients.

No MSG: Yeah, unless they're talking about Madison Square Garden I have no idea what this means. BUT ALRIGHT! NO MSG!

No Preservatives: I think nitrates are actually used in the preservation process so while redundant this reinforces the idea that there aren't any nitrate crappers in here.

Further, these are MADE IN THE USA and just in case you haven't wet the front of your pants from excitement, they also donate a portion of their profits to research and care for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and Down Syndrome. What's not to like? And at $5 it's actually cheaper than whatever gargantuan amount Jack Link's is trying to sell their stuff for these days. 

The jerky itself is really good. Truthfully I couldn't tell much difference between the three flavors in the picture but you definitely get the contrast of sweetness and heat with a hint of almost a fruity savoriness to it. 

I had actually gotten out of the jerky thing when Jack Link's inflated their jerky prices from $5 to $7.50 in the span of two years. Yeah, beef is expensive but what's the point of spending my lunch money on a snack? Further, Jack Link's rode the shoulders of Sasquatch into the Greg's Gourmet Hall of Shame a couple years ago with the pathetic marketing ploy of a "Bonus Bag: 10% More FREE" promotion. Their goal, of course, was to make you THINK you're getting more product but when you're a smartass food blogger like me you learn to see through those things. Sure enough, the weight and portion sizes were exactly the same as their normal bag and when I contacted them for an explanation they admitted that it's just a bigger bag, nothing more. Yes, they were trying to sell a bigger bag to trick you into thinking you're getting more product. Companies do this all the time but this was so abysmally bad that it earned a front-row ticket to my equivalent of the Razzies. 

Anywho, Perky Jerky: Greg's Gourmet approved. Give it a try. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Greatest Mashed Potatoes in the Universe

Let me break it down for you: my mashed potatoes are the best in the world and quite possibly the universe. That's not arrogance that's just honesty. The truth is that mashed potatoes in general are made with flaws because to get the perfect creamy texture you have to actually put some work into them that a lot of restaurants don't want to spend time on. As a result you get a lump of white gunk on your plate with chunks of whole potato in them, no seasoning, and generally looking like a microwaved pile of regurgitated French fries.

My friends, I'm gonna let you in on the greatest cooking tip that you could ever want. I'm gonna show you what I did with my recent Thanksgiving potatoes that turned out ***SPOILER ALERT*** perfectly. Dudes, if you can master the art of mashed potatoes then you will be idolized more than Gordon Ramsay's short temper or Joe Bastianich's sleek bald head. True, potatoes are a side dish but they go with EVERYTHING. That's what makes them so damn important and why YOU need to master the art of mashing potatoes. So, let us begin:

***NOTE***I'm experimenting with picture sizes, so I've slightly adjusted the page's dimensions to cater to larger pictures. If something seems off on your screen then please let me know.

Boiling the potatoes usually makes people anxious because they don't know if you'll be able to pull off such a large amount of awesome just an hour before dinner

So I boiled about 15-20 potatoes for dinner and there was some anxiety as to how the hell I'd be able to pull off boiling, peeling, and mashing such a huge amount of potatoes just an hour before dinner. But alas, a kitchen crusader such as myself shows no fear in the midst of culinary challenges. These potatoes are like cadets at boot camp; I'm gonna mash 'em, smash 'em, and grind 'em down into the best damn potatoes they can be. Boiling can take a while so be sure to fill your pot with enough water so it's covering every potato and COVER IT so the heat doesn't go anywhere. Takes 20-30 minutes.

My troops, my soldiers, MY MINIONS!!!

As the waters boil and you eclipse 20 minutes of the submerged potatoes, start periodically poking them with a fork. If your fork slides through like a knife through butter then they're ready. 

I'm so badass that I peel hot potatoes by hand

Peeling potatoes with a girly peeler takes forever, so I suggest you try to be as manly as I am and peel the potatoes with your hands. Yes, it's gonna burn as hot potatoes tend to demonstrate, but run them under cool water and do it quickly. You'll save yourself tons of time at the expense of a couple second degree hand burns. And don't dump the skins down your sink cause that'll just clog stuff up.

Exhibit 1: commence mashing

Exhibit 1: The beginning of the mashing process. I recommend regularly working out during the year so your arms are totally ripped when it comes time to mash these bad boys, otherwise you'll look like a weakling if you begin to struggle. Remember: it's better to over-mash than it is to under-mash. 

Exhibit 2: taking on a shape

Exhibit 2: As you mash your potatoes down to a white fluff, begin adding your butter and milk. I actually used a butter substitute that wasn't as high in fat but you can use whatever. I used about 1.5-2 cups of 2% milk that was microwaved for about 40 seconds to give it a lukewarm temperature. Keep in mind that butter will give the potatoes texture while the milk will take it away so it's important to mix in a little bit of both at the same time. 

Exhibit 3: the five seasons

Exhibit 3: As you mix in your milk and butter you'll notice your potatoes beginning to take on more of a face. Now you can start mixing in your seasonings to give your potatoes the ultimate flavor experience. 

Exhibit 4, the near end product

Exhibit 4: Almost complete. At this point I have mixed in salt and pepper (don't be shy about using pepper; it gets absorbed and gives the potatoes a kick), as well as smoked paprika and the real stars of the dish: onion powder and garlic powder. These two worked in tandem to give these potatoes a massive amount of flavor that would have made Flava Flav frickin' jealous.

Exhibit 5: The Greatest Mashed Potatoes in the Universe

Exhibit 5: And here we are, plated in a beautiful bowl, topped with smoked paprika for a little color, and with plenty left in the pot for leftovers. And believe me: they were needed. I was wise to make so many. 

To recap, here are some rules that we learned:
1) Make sure the water covers all of the potatoes and don't pull them until you can easily slide your fork through the skin
2) Peel them by hand. Don't be a baby
3) Add a little butter and milk bit by bit. Adding too much of one could ruin your texture
4) You want your potatoes to have ZEST so use fun seasonings
5) For the love of Donald Trump's toupee: TASTE, TASTE, TASTE!

Feel free to experiment but the reality is you're not gonna find any potatoes better than mine. It's a craft and an art that few have been able to master since the beginning of time. You can't just boil and mash potatoes; you've gotta go through a process and nurture them into the final excellent product that you know they can be. I hope this was a fun read and you didn't stop too many times other than to perhaps take some notes.

Happy holidays! 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving - you know I did! :)


Friday, October 31, 2014

Greek Corner Cafe

Happy Halloween everyone!

Instead of an arsenal of candy, here's a picture of a large plate of food featuring a Louisville Slugger-sized slab of steak:

Just like Inception, this steak is on a layer of rice which is on a layer of pita bread and salad

You know how people throw pies at people? I think they should throw plates of food like this instead. Minus the skewers of course. Very tasty combo dish from the Greek Corner Cafe which has restored my faith in Greek food. Up until now my experience of Greek gourmet has largely been based on the mediocre chain Daphne's and the even more mediocre Athena in Pacific Beach which, for some reason, everyone seems to love. I mean, the staff there doesn't even know how to pronounce gyro. The menu at the GCC actually takes the time to give you the pronunciation. 

Anyway, it's a charming little spot. Good to sit outside with your dog. Nice menu, prompt service. I like. 

Happy Halloween! 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Cheesecake Cookies

A new seasonal delight is making the rounds that I finally got to try yesterday. Pepperidge Farm's Pumpkin Cheesecake cookies have been making waves, but when I opened the bag I got a different kind of tidal wave of destruction:


Smashing Pumpkins

The cookies themselves are just alright but the presentation could use some work. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Panera Dread

Do people really like Panera Bread? Like, really? Seriously? I had it for the first time a few weeks ago. My sister brought it in, so this experience is based solely on the food. She got me a turkey & bacon sandwich. Pretty simple, right? Well, here's a graphic that will demonstrate the magic of photography and prose the question as to who the hell actually eats sandwiches like these?

Believe it or not, these are supposed to be the same sandwiches

Those pieces of romaine lettuce are the same size as the frickin' pickle that came in the bag. I mean...REALLY??? And notice that there's still MORE lettuce on the sandwich even WITHOUT the garnish of the two nuclear torpedoes. I'm gonna go ahead and take a wild guess that their model sandwich wasn't made with romaine. 

I looked on Instagram and it seems kinda back-and-forth as to whether Panera Bread regularly uses romaine on their sandwiches. Some had it, some didn't. But to me this is absolutely disgusting. I'd rather eat fried mushrooms than this romaine crap. I sent the graphic to Panera on Facebook and Twitter and much to my surprise they actually did respond that the sandwich wasn't made properly. Maybe only one piece of a Paul Bunyan romaine head is supposed to make it onto each sandwich. We'll see what they say. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

It's Not Domestic Violence, It's DiGiorno!

Congratulations to DiGiorno for becoming the newest case study that will be discussed about in marketing classes for years to come. And congratulations for generally just being complete jerks in the middle of a serious discussion about domestic violence. Really, that's a level of prickery that not even the most seasoned trolls could dream of attaining.

The big news in the sports world was the "surfacing" of the video of Ray Rice beating the crap out of his then fiance, which was finally enough inspiration for the Baltimore Ravens to cut him and for the NFL to suspend him indefinitely. I find it highly unlikely that neither the NFL nor the Ravens had previously seen this video, so I'm sure more will come out about the kind of scumbags who are calling the shots. But this is a food blog, not a football blog.

In the wake of the Ray Rice video, two phrases were trending on Twitter: #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft, Both served as an outlet for discussion of victims of domestic violence. Women worldwide were participating, were supporting each other, were forming as one...and then the little 12 year old dillweed who manages DiGiorno's Twitter chimed in with this: #WhyIStayed You had pizza.


Needless to say, there was a massive outrage aimed right at DiGiorno and the Tweet was immediately deleted. That was two days ago. Their stream has been very quiet since then with the exception of two BS apologies that if you do a little research on you could probably find out the joker who was managing this page knew exactly what he was doing:

Let me break it down for you here: a lot of corporations do not yet understand the critical importance of social media and a solid digital marketing strategy and for a second I actually believed them about not reading the hashtag beforehand. But then I looked at their stream from the previous several days and found that they are EXTREMELY active on Twitter and their page looks like it's run by some idiot 12 year old. A technologically savvy 12 year old, but an idiot nevertheless. This guy knew EXACTLY what he was doing when he posted that Tweet. It's possible the above apology was written by someone else in the company, but the "You had pizza" Tweet was posted because the hashtags were trending. A day later they posted this next apology:
This one seems more accepting of their mistake and acknowledging that they did something really, really stupid but it doesn't forgive that a major brand like this just made themselves look like a giant ass in the crack. These are the only two Tweets they've had in the last 48 hours since the blowup. I'm guessing the social media manager, who is likely Mr. DiGiorno's son, got his ass fired and rightfully so. What's shocking is the majority of the company's tweets are WRITTEN IN CAPS LIKE THIS HAHAHAHAHA AND JUST LOOK REALLY IMMATURE HAHAHAHA. I mean, I'm all for a certain tone and humor with social media but keep it professional. My guess is the company has no clue what digital marketing is all about and were doing Mr. DiGiorno a favor.

If I were Mr. DiGiorno, here's what I would do for damage control: make several sizable donations to groups for victims of domestic violence, donate a surplus of your products to women and children's shelters including Baltimore since that's where Ray Rice played, and then hire me as your social media manager and I'll make sure you get everything back on track. This company needs to learn2internet. 

Don't fight or lie to the Internets, it just doesn't work. My guess is the company will come out with some kind of damage control in the next day or so and then you're gonna see a whole new voice on their Twitter. 




Sunday, August 31, 2014

Steak N' Eggs

Quickie food update here. Went to Watson Drugs & Soda Fountain in Orange the other day and got a dish I enjoyed several months earlier, the steak n' eggs:

The lighting was weird so I couldn't really see that the picture was off-center

The first time I had this it was really, really good. This time? Eh. The steak was overcooked and dry and the potatoes taste like they came right out of the freezer. I ate it all of course but it was just eh. Another random thought for those who appreciate good punctuation: I always refer to this place as Watsons but I have no idea if it's "Watsons" or "Watson's". I go to their website and what's the first thing I see? "Welcome to Watsons Drug & Soda Fountain. Watson's reminds us of the best of our past and gives us something to take with us into the future." To confuse matters even more, the seal simply says Watson. I really have no idea how to properly spell this out so I'll just use its formal name.

Happy eating. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Whatever Happened to Gobblestix?

I was browsing through a collection of hilarious problems that only 90s kids would understand at the expense of James Van Der Beek when I read a brand name that I hadn't heard in years: Dunk-a-roos. While these are still in circulation, they hit their peak popularity when I was a kid and I'm pretty sure the whole "too many cookies, not enough icing" was a problem I frequently encountered.

That said, it got me thinking about another popular snack that has all but disappeared: Gobblestix. Whatever happened to Gobblestix? I think Jennie-O manufactured them and they were around for a few years in the 90s but then seemingly vanished into thin air. Outside of nostalgic postings such as this, there's not a whole lot posted on the Internets about this once legendary compilation of processed turkey parts and decroded sodium...except this:

GOBBLESTIX!

Digging the burps. You wouldn't see that today. But seriously, what happened to these things? Anyone know?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I Wanted Robin Williams to Star in My Video Game as a Kid

I want to take a step back from my normal blogging nonsense to touch on the untimely passing of Robin Williams. New details came out yesterday confirming that his death was a suicide and reports have also included the grisly examiner's details over what happened that I won't go into here. When someone takes their own life it's always tragic. When someone takes their own life that has spent decades entertaining the world and filling our lives with laughter it feels like the world collectively became a little quieter.

Robin Williams is one of the greatest entertainers and talented actors of all time. I grew up watching him in a slew of children's films like Flubber and Jack but also appreciated his serious work such as his Academy Award winning performance in Good Will Hunting and his bone-chilling portrayal as a department store photo guy/stalker in the underrated One Hour Photo. The character of Mrs. Doubtfire is possibly one of the most recognizable personas in cinema over the last 20 years and any kid growing up in the 90s has likely played at least one game of Jumanji.

Williams' performance of "Blame Canada" from the 2000 Oscars

While I know he had substance abuse issues over the years that he went to rehab for, I don't think anyone knew just how much of a tortured soul he obviously was. I will be the first to admit that I do not fully understand depression and I think it's impossible for me to be able to completely comprehend what someone who is clinically depressed is going through. I have had friends who were clinically depressed (and some who were undiagnosed at the time) whom I tried to understand but failed miserably. Their reactions to something that was out of their control would take its toll on me which would result in a split in friendship, which isn't fair at all to the people I called friends. Thankfully these people are still in my life and I feel I can better support them with the knowledge I have now.

You can't "cure" depression by saying "oh, it'll be okay, don't worry." That's something I learned the hard way from some of my friends. Depression is like a battle and every day is a new field with fresh artillery. There's great treatment out there but there's still a feeling of shame and embarrassment that people with these conditions face when wanting to seek help. I can't force anyone to seek out help, but I can offer my support so that you know you are not alone. If you are struggling with something then I will listen to you. I will hear you out. I can't feel what you feel but I can do my best to try and understand where you are coming from. You are not alone. Robin Williams is a global icon yet probably felt like the loneliest man in the world and NO ONE should have to feel that way. I would never judge anyone because of something they're struggling with just as I wouldn't judge anybody based on their religion, race, or sexuality. If you're a douchebag then yeah, you just suck. But whatever you're made up of, that's who you are. Be loud and proud.

A failed attempt to rob Mrs. Doubtfire - I used to laugh hysterically as a kid to the "BACK OFF, ASSHOLE!" line

The other thing I wanted to briefly share is a little drawing from my childhood. My friend Trey has always looked up to Robin Williams. I, too, admired his brand of comedy but he was a hero to Trey ever since he was a little boy. As kids, Trey and I would regularly come up with ideas for movies, TV shows, and video games, knowing that one day we'd become the youngest child directors in history. One such idea for a video game was set in an interactive world a-la Spyro the Dragon, but centered around a dolphin named Tux who goes through this world freeing captive animals and kicking ass. We were only about 11 or 12 but made several drawings and storyboards and for a day or two were convinced that we'd get all this work done and pitch it to Sony and they'd make the game available on Playstation the following Spring. And the guy we wanted to voice our main dolphin character? Robin Williams.


Thanks, Mr. Williams, for all the laughs. I'm sorry that through all the laughter and smiles there was a great struggle taking place. I know you are now at peace, but I also know there's much more we can learn to better serve others in the future.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Return of the Buffet

So one of my favorite gourmet spots over the years has been the Great Plaza Buffet in Pacific Beach. Last October, much to my surprise, the restaurant abruptly closed for remodeling that would take them into January. Naturally the project lasted longer than it was supposed to and went into March. Due to the initial crowds, I didn't get a chance to try it until about May or June. It was fine but I wanted to try it again to really get a sense of the changes that were made. And yes, there were changes.

Let's start off very simple. The old restaurant was a dump for all intensive purposes, and then new management bought it over and invested a lot of money to clean it up. They also invested money into finally getting a working website (my virus scanner would alert me of Trojans whenever I'd try to visit the old website). But some programmer clearly jerked them out of their money, because look at this picture that's in the main slider of their site:

The American Beauty tagline is "look closer..."

Look closely at this picture. Something here doesn't make sense.

Do you see it yet? Apparently the Great Plaza Buffet is the only buffet in the United States that also offers an unlimited supply of mint Milano cookies and Goldfish crackers. SERIOUSLY GUYS??? I would LOVE to see how this website was built and how exactly this picture got placed on the main slider. Was it the owner? Was it a programmer? I mean, I'd love to see the butthole who thought out loud "HEY! Let's put a picture of a SUPER MARKET on our restaurant's website! YEAH!!!" When I update my Yelp review I'm going to include this picture.

Anyway. The food is the same for the most part. Let's get right into it:

Okay...something is wrong with this picture too, and it's not the redness of the meat

Yeah, one thing they got rid of was the mashed potatoes which makes about as much sense as a Progressive commercial that doesn't star Flo. How can you have steak but no mashed potatoes? And it's not like they're real, I'm sure they're powdered. So instead we get...French fries. Which were pretty good anyway but still.

The "Asian Sensation" plate

Another change: as far as I can tell they no longer have white rice. Con. But the Teriyaki chicken is now cut into smaller pieces and not served on a skewer. Pro.

The Transition Plate

Another possible change: The steak that they put out seems to be cooked medium rare at the highest. While many people may not like this, I enjoy red meat very much. Pro.

Fruity Tootie

Fruit. Nothing much has changed there.

Dessert

They have a few more dessert offerings but the main difference is the chocolate fountain. They give you marshmallows and skewers and you can dunk whatever you want in there. Naturally when I went to get my dessert they were conveniently out of skewers but whatever. Oh, and here's another waste of their money. They invest thousands in renovations and then when they finally get the menu together, this happens:

I bet Cholocate tastes really good

Seriously? Thousands of dollars invested and you're not even gonna proofread the front of your menu? 

So there are a couple lazy changes that I don't particularly like as noted above. The meals are about $2 more expensive and a drink is not included which is ridiculous. Last night the floors were also filthy. There was a frickin' piece of pineapple that was just sitting there for 20 minutes. Not good. Oh, and the menu also says that they still carry lamb ribs, though I haven't seen that item in the restaurant in years. 

Overall it's still good for what it is. I enjoyed my meal last night and would go back again. But I don't think it's as high up as it once was. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

This Video Has Turned Me Off of Fast Food

Everyone knows fast food and processed foods aren't good for you but the problem is they're just so damn good. Guilty pleasures. So what if I want some processed food every now and then? Who really cares? But once in a while a video comes along that will completely change your way of thinking. Maybe you're the type that subscribes to those slaughterhouse videos. Or perhaps you're of the kind who preaches to the choir of how the food industry knowingly fills our bodies with crap because we're either too oblivious or just don't care.

But me? This is the video that completely changed my mind: Angry Grandpa HATES Taco Bell Breakfast. Go to 3:54 to see the eating. Features strong language.


Let's set up the stage: Angry Grandpa (Charles) is a popular YouTube vlogger made famous by his violent temper, his tendency to destroy things when he gets mad, and gratuitous usage of profanity. He is regularly engaged in an endless pranking war with is son, Pickleboy (Michael), and Pickleboy's girlfriend, Princess (Bridgette). While most of the videos feature him yelling and swearing and breaking various kitchen appliances, there's also a certain charm about him, especially in the non-prank videos as well as videos where he interacts with fans. 

So in this video he's trying Taco Bell's new breakfast. He gets a Waffle Taco, a Bacon AM Crunch Wrap, a 12 piece Cinnabon Delight, and a coffee. Now, I love watching videos of people eat. Sickening or weird? Perhaps. But the sound, the visuals, the reaction - taste test videos always make me hungry. Even that video of Morgan Spurlock spewing up his lunch in Super Size Me gets me hungry. However, sitting here watching the toothless fellow gum down this processed creation of egg, sausage, and waffle made me feel like there was a three-headed cockroach in my stomach. I felt sick watching this. I got that disgusted feeling you get after stepping in a huge pile of dogcrap, like why did this just happen? Why do people not pick up after their dog? Why does Taco Bell's breakfast look so disgusting and why are they pushing it on us?

It just got me thinking. This taste test is disgusting on so many levels. It's well known how much crap is put into our food but at what point do we start fighting back and refusing to accept this? Look, let me be clear: I love junk food. I love it. I have to go to McDonald's once a month to fight cravings. But I'm starting to think there are places I can really cut out the crap, just so I don't feel the dirty feeling I felt while watching Angry Grandpa gumming down his processed scrambled eggs. For a few dollars more get some real non-processed meat and fruit or something. Over the long run your body will thank you. Or I can just pretend I never saw this video. 

So damn gross. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Collage of Gordon Ramsay Expressions

You'd think with the way he wrinkles his face in some of these expressions that his skin is made from that super elastic rubber material that's used in those stretchy action figures. Here's a compilation of some of the stills that I've taken over the past two seasons of Hell's Kitchen that I used for my nightly recaps. Enjoy!


Monday, July 14, 2014

The All American Dessert, What Else?

The All-American Dessert has become a 4th of July tradition, like the Hot Dog Eating Contest and the Twilight Zone Marathon. Its layer after layer of sugary goodness can give you cavities just by looking at it. Just the presence of it in a room inspires staunch patriotism. My friends...the All American Dessert:

I guess this isn't a good post to follow up my cavity questioning post with

This was probably one of the more tastier versions of "The Dessert" recent years. I found a useful trick is using Jello brand gelatin rather than the store brand. For whatever reason the store brand doesn't settle as firm so you get a much softer product. Jello firms very well and as a result it holds things together. 

The assembly line

In the past I've taken pictures of the step-by-step procedure, but here's what all of the ingredients look like together. Two big boxes of Jello (red and blue coloring), a pound cake, two pounds of strawberries, one thing a piece of raspberries, blue berries, and maraschino cherries, and three things of whipped cream just to be safe. You may be able to get away with two but I like to be generous. 

This dessert and I go back years when I was a kid and my mom made it. It was always the hit of the party. In recent years I've tried applying the dessert for different holidays but have had varying success:

All American Dessert - Thanksgiving Edition

The Thanksgiving Edition has worked decently the two times I've made it. Instead of red and blue Jello I went with orange and black (black cherry) and for fruit I went with blackberries, bananas, and kiwis. I might consider trying this combination again. 

All American Dessert - Christmas Edition

The Christmas Edition completely flunked. It looks gorgeous and the green and red Jello is an attractive combo, but the complementary fruit of grapes, canned cherries, and kiwis just didn't work. Like at all. I think the leftover of this guy rested in the fridge for about a week before being thrown out and as far as I can tell it's the only version of "The Dessert" to be thrown out. It just lacked the sweetness and cohesiveness of the other two. 

I was looking through the Greg's Gourmet archives and found that I also made a Christmas Edition dessert one year prior and was also disappointed primarily due to the ingredients:

All American Dessert - Another Christmas Edition

In this version I actually forgot the grapes, which you think would have helped the dessert's cause but unfortunately I also used a sub-par poundcake which didn't absorb the cake well at all, so basically this thing turned into one big giant mess when trying to scoop it out. 

Maybe I'll try a red, white, and blue version at the holidays and just gamble on finding decent berries. If I recall correctly, the blackberries for Thanksgiving actually worked out nicely. Maybe use them against the blue Jello? I don't know. But I'm sure you'll be hearing about it.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Can Cavities Disappear?

I went to the dentist yesterday. Obviously being a huge foodie as well as maintaining a massive sweet tooth, the checkups every six months are integral to good oral hygiene. Being a 90s kid, oral hygiene was bestowed upon my peers and I as if it were the Holy Grail. Getting a cavity was the equivalent of shooting up heroin and if you didn't have to get braces then you were like Bruce Willis from Unbreakable - the only guy who survived the train wreck that is teenage orthodontics. I've always managed to get good reports from my dentists over the years. Never had a cavity as a kid and clean checkups have been routine. But that wasn't always so.

This picture has nothing to do with the story, but I wanted to include it to let you know that this is serious business

In the summer of 2005 I went to my dentist in Rocklin. It was my second visit to him and he found one or two cavities. I was crushed as they were the first blemishes on an otherwise perfect oral career. How could this have happened? It could have been all the Jones Soda I was drinking at the time but I always took care of my teeth. Finally I relented and figured these things just happen, so I went in to get them drilled. Six months later I go in for my next checkup and this time he finds THREE cavities. THREE!! WTF!?!?! He takes a picture of one of the teeth and shows it off on the big screen. Let me tell you, seeing a tooth up close is really disgusting even if it is pearly white. Sure enough there was a tiny hole on one of my back molars but it still didn't make sense to me. I was even MORE careful with my oral hygiene following the first cavities. After having anything with sugar I would rinse my mouth out with water. And now I have three more of these things?

Cavities aside, I didn't really like this dentist or the office. Didn't like their approach, didn't like their bedside manner, and I didn't like how they told my sister during her checkup that "oooh, your brother has some cavities!" HELLO, DOCTOR-PATIENT CONFIDENTIALITY!!! Why don't you gossip about the stench coming out of my ass while you're at it? Anyway, my whole family switched dentists because we just didn't like them so, needless to say, I did not go back to get those three cavities drilled. I figured I'd just let the next guy find them.

But it never happened.

I've been to three dentists since the three cavity exam and NONE of them have spotted anything. I purposely don't say anything because part of me is curious to see if they can even spot them, but lo and behold it has been eight years and not a thing has been heard of from those cavities. I've had my wisdoms out, I've had retainers built, I've had about 16 exams since 2006 and nothing has surfaced. It leads me to wonder if the cavities were so tiny that good oral hygiene was simply enough to close them up.

That being said, if that's all it takes to close up a tiny cavity, then why was the dentist so insistent that we drill them? I figure it's been long enough to determine that if these cavities were a threat then they'd mobilize by now, and surely one of the three dentists since then would have spotted something. But instead it's been all quiet on the oral front. I've had no issues, no pain, no nothing. It also makes me question the validity of getting those first cavities drilled. Was it necessary? Were they the same size as the others? I really don't know. Maybe that particular dentist was applying some kind of tooth decay formula onto my teeth which was causing the cavities to form, thus a way to line his pockets with all of our hard earned money. I mean, my first checkup with him went fine, no cavities there. It was the second and third checkups where the cavities were found.

Eh. Doubtful. But it's a cool storyline anyway.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Gold Plated Doritos?

Here's a bizarre promotion I came across at Albertsons that I'm sure others have wondered about as well. So you buy a bag of Doritos and then you have a chance to win...a gold plated Dorito? What the hell? Check it out:

More like "You Could WTF a gold-plated Doritos limited edition chip replica"

Dude...am I the only one asking WTF is going on here? This isn't a promotion to win money or a trip or even a new lawnmower. No, this is a promotion to win...a gold chip replica? What the hell is a gold chip replica? You mean, like, a gold potato chip? But it's a replica of a potato chip? Why would anyone want to win a replica potato chip? What butthole walks into the market and says "WHOA! I COULD WIN A GOLD REPLICA POTATO CHIP! HEY, I GOTTA HAVE THIS!!!"

It's almost like someone in the marketing department was doing someone else a favor. It's like the company president told marketing "My eight year old daughter came up with this idea so make it happen." 

One winning bag per display and probably a billion displays in the country...talk about limited

I like how the bags say "Jacked" on them. Yeah, this is a jacked up promotion all right. And if it's a replcia of a 24K gold-plated Dorito, then does that mean it's not real gold? It has to mean that. It's a replica of gold. So it's fake...whatever the prize actually is. 

Just think, somewhere in this display is a winning Jacked bag for a "limited edition" gold chip replica!

I don't know, man. This promotion is just weird since my first thought when looking at this is just wtf. Doritos usually has great promotions and creative marketing. Either the president's eight year old daughter is now head of the marketing department or someone was sniffing the powdered cheese when putting this idea together. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Promiscuous Fork (Pacific Beach)

THE PROMISCUOUS FORK - Oh, I had such high hopes for this place. With such an orgasmic name you'd hope this joint would deliver the goods but unfortunately it falls short. First of all, this is the "sequel" to the main location in La Jolla which, according to Yelp reviews, is like a staple to the area. Second, this location just opened up within the past couple of months so it's understandable that there may be a few kinks to work out. Possibly. Maybe. I'm not sure. But let's get right into it.

The menu is interesting. Pork quesadillas, lamb lollipops, and jalapeno poppers highlighted the appetizer section while a jalapeno burger and crab/pastrami sandwich highlighted the entrees. Naturally I went with neither and instead selected "Just a Forkin' Burger" because I wasn't feeling adventurous and was sitting with a bunch of girls, so I couldn't risk a jalapeno burger in the event that it was too hot, otherwise I'd look like a wuss. Yes, if you order jalapenos and can't down them then you're a wuss. Just sayin'.

Anyway, the burger was good and looks just as impressive:


I know, you see the macaroni salad and think I'm turning into a loser for the not ordering fries but the odd thing about this place is THEY DON'T HAVE ANY!!! In fact, they have no fried food. In rumor, the owner doesn't believe in fried foods, hence the restaurant does not have a fryer, therefore there are no fries. But what are you really sacrificing in terms of calories with a burger this size? It actually seems kind of pretentious that they'd serve a burger this big with jalapenos covered in cream cheese, bacon, and grease yet refuse to give us fries. More like the Pretentious Fork, am I right? For that same non-fried food belief, there are no desserts on the menu which doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Not even ice cream. I mean, you don't need a fryer for desserts...come to think of it you don't need a fryer for some kind of potato side either. I don't get it.

Anyway, the macaroni salad tasted like shit. Seriously, some of the worst I've ever had. It tasted as if the noodles had been simmering in a pool of tepid water and then lightly seasoned with the crap stuck beneath my shoe. It was absurd how awful this stuff was but the other sides of coconut jalapeno rice and quinoa weren't anything to get excited about. YEAH! MY HALF POUND BURGER AND GREASY JALAPENO POPPERS COME WITH A SIDE OF QUINOA! #EXXXCITED!!!

The actual layout of the restaurant is pretty horrible. It's one of those places where you order at the counter and then they give you a number and bring the food to your table. So to do this they have a line forming right down the middle of the restaurant, which means if you're seated at any of those middle-quadrant tables, you're gonna have people standing next to you as they wait to order food. Dude, who the hell designed this? I could only imagine how miserable it would be sitting there in the event that Sammy Shitty Pants decides to stop by for some grub. Oh yeah, when you pay they have a section on the receipt for a tip. I love that, asking for a tip before any service has been provided whatsoever. Real cool. 

So yeah. The burgers are good but there's not much else going on that would make me want to return. Like at all. I'd say change the ordering format and get over your grudge of fried foods (or perhaps explore new ideas) as a way to improve. And the macaroni salad? Flush it down the toilet cause that's the only mouth that'll be willing to down it. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

I Pissed Off Purina

Well, maybe in the smallest of senses I managed to tick them off. I came across the below bag of Beggin' Strips on the clearance shelf at Albertsons last week.

The most important thing when purchasing dog treats is to know where the bag was printed

Obviously the "Printed in the USA" is the most important piece of information here since, you know, the bag is what our dogs are going to be consuming.

So anyway, these were on the clearance rack. Not sure why. Maybe they weren't selling. We've all been hearing about the dog food and treat recalls of products that are either made in China or utilize ingredients from China, so pet owners are becoming much more observant of what they're feeding their four legged friends. Unfortunately there's a lot of grey in what the FDA requires pet food companies to put on their labels in relation to where the ingredients come from. Sure, it can be manufactured in St. Louis, but where are the ingredients originating? There aren't any regulations to list that on the package, though I do believe there are regulations that state if the company is asked, they have to be truthful.

I took this "Printed in USA" bag to Twitter. Keep in mind that Beggin' Strips are produced by Purina which is owned by Nestle, so this is big business we're talking here. What happened next...kind of ticked me off. Here is the brief yet informational exchange with some of my added commentary:

wyld_stallyn (me): #purina #begginstrips manufactured in US, bag printed in US, but where are the ingredients from? @Purina @Beggin #huh
Beggin (them): Most ingredients are sourced near our plants and a limited amount from other countries. Chat us: puri.na/1c5gUU4 - BT
PS: After each of their tweets they become more and more adamant about chatting with them. Since they're trying to avoid admitting where their ingredients come from, it's pretty obvious why.
emilie80 (another girl who decided to chime in): @wyld_stallyn @Purina @Beggin I would stick strictly to USA products. These were making dogs sick.
wyld_stallyn: Cool, which countries?
Beggin: @emilie80 All Beggin products are made in the USA. Please chat us with questions: puri.na/1c5gUU4. Thanks so much - B/T
Beggin: @wyld_stallyn We'd love to assist you further. Please chat us here: puri.na/1c5gUU4 We look forward to chatting with you. - B/T.
PS: See what just happened here? They want to get us off their Twitter as quickly and quietly as possible. The only problem, however, is that Beggin already set themselves up by saying in the beginning that they get some ingredients from other countries, which obviously means the person I'm talking to knows exactly where they're coming from but has been trained to avoid saying "China" wherever possible.
wyld_stallyn: That's nice of you but all I really wanna know is which countries you previously mentioned that your ingredients come from.
PS: Checkmate. I suppose I could have said "Cool, like Germany, England, or the Falkland Islands?"
Beggin: We do source a limited amount from other countries including China. Thank you. - B/T.
PS: I think I ruined his day. Notice he didn't want to chat with me anymore. But Purina had to try and save face here.
Purina: @emilie80 This isn't true. Our products are 100% safe to feed. Chat us here for more info  - puri.na/1c5gUU4
PS: Purina is referencing emilie80's above comment, not refuting what Beggin said, nor bothering to address anything I had said. 
wyld_stallyn: @Beggin thank you for the information :)
wyld_stallyn: @Purina @emilie80 As long as ingredients are coming from China then that's what people are going to believe.

So there you have it. Now, let me be clear: I realize it's difficult to get pet food products that don't contain ingredients from China because A) these big pet food companies are so deceiving and B) the stuff that's not from these big companies can sometimes be more expensive and harder to find. But when you ask a company where their ingredients come from, they should be confident in giving you an answer and it's pretty clear here that this guy was trained to avoid using the C word and try to get me off the Twitter waves. His goal was to get me to chat with them, not to answer my question, but he clearly set himself up from the beginning when he mentioned the importing of ingredients from other countries.

Always know what you're feeding your pet. In fact, if you check out a non-chain pet store you're gonna find food and treats that are far superior in quality to the kind you'd find at Petsmart or Petco. The reality is you CAN make a pet food without importing ingredients from China or basing the entire production of them there, and whichever multi-billion dollar company decides to finally invest some money will get a HUGE PR bump.

Thanks Purina. Great customer service skills you got there. Just kidding. It was horrible. Bad customer service = bad press.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Blame Gordon Ramsay

Yes, I'm still here. Yes, I still check this website daily. A couple points I want to bring up:

*There were two reasons I got burned out on maintaining this blog. The first was the daily recaps of Hell's Kitchen and MasterChef in 2012 and 2013. Specifically with Hell's Bitchin', the episodes just got so bad that it was almost unbearable to watch. Pair that with the fact that I had to watch each episode twice in order to get a recap out, it just became more of an annoyance than a fun side hobby. The second reason is that when it came to food pictures, I found myself being really repetitive with what I was posting, so, yeah...

*I've been quietly watching Hell's Bitchin' this season and it is an improvement over the last two seasons. There's been only one To Be Continued episode whereas at this time last season there had been about five. And believe me, the one TBC episode thus far was probably one of the worst Hell's Bitchin' episodes ever. And seriously, To Be Continued? It's a damn reality show, new episodes every week. Of course it's gonna be continued. The concept of a TBC for a reality show is so damn dumb that only Gordon Ramsay would be so blind as to its idiocy.

*Graham Norton has lost a crapload of weight.

*The Purge is a horrible movie - I still get comments about this.

*If you're gonna send me an e-mail pitching your online marketing services to me, it's probably best not to start said e-mail with "Dear gregsgourmet.blogspot.com Team".

As always, thanks for reading!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Buffalo Burgers

Buffalo is one of those entities that serves as a one-up for whatever is considered the standard. For example, why blow your money on whatever stupid phone Samsung is trying to push out when you could just save yourself a lot of aggravation and buy an iPhone? Likewise, whenever you see the option to upgrade your generic beef burger to a buffalo burger, you're naturally gonna jump at the chance, unless you're an asshole, of course.

So this is the upgraded buffalo burger at Watson Drugs and Soda Fountain in Orange, CA:

I had ordered curly fries, but it would have taken too long to send these back - sometimes you just have to pick your battles

This was a pretty good burger. Buffalo just has a little more a flavor to it than beef, which is probably why they nearly went extinct in the lower 48 during frontier times. 

I haven't food blogged in a while so work with me here. Watsons is a good place to eat, check it out.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Oh Hi

Just a quick update.

I'm still here and I actually do have some new food pictures that I'll get to posting.

As always, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Holes in My Hostess Part II

So I received a response from Hostess regarding the 20 pinholes in the package of my Hostess fruit pie. The response kinda freaks me out, I gotta say:
"Recently we began perforating the product film with pin holes to reduce moisture in the package.  We feel this enhancement will provide a flakier crust and is not considered damaged packaging.  Your concerns have been forwarded to our Quality Managers and you should receive follow up correspondence via U. S. mail."
Dude...what??? Okay, I don't know much about food packaging but I have to assume that if they've got the balls to poke holes in their pie wrappers then there must be a "logical" reason. But I'm sorry, I wouldn't buy a candy wrapper with holes poked in it, I wouldn't buy a box of cereal with holes poked in it, and I certainly wouldn't buy a pie that has holes poked in it. Whoever's working in their brand management is a moron for thinking this is actually a good idea. If you know me then you know how much I love sweets, but I will absolutely not be purchasing this product any longer and I told them as much.

This is almost as annoying as when Poking on Facebook was mainstream

Seriously, with all the germs and other crap that supermarket shelves inevitably pick up, and you're gonna basically carve a way for them to get onto your products? Disgusting. "Sweetest comeback in the history of ever"?  I could think of a few different adjectives to describe it.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Holes in My Hostess

I haven't posted any sort of food-centered blog in a while, but today's incident got me so angry that I simply couldn't resist.  I'm not going to say that this is my triumphant return to food blogging, but...it's something.

So, Hostess.  A little over a year ago they went bankrupt, then they were bought over, then Twinkies and other like products returned to the shelves.  I like Twinkies.  I like pies.  I like Chocodiles, Ho Hos, Ding Dongs, Sno Balls, Zingers, Donuts, Donettes, etc.  Some of those I don't think they've brought back yet but I digress.  A couple weeks ago at Albertsons I reached for one of the Hostess pies when I noticed something really frickin' creepy: all of the packages had little pinholes pricked all around them like a kid with zits all over his face.  Every.  Single.  One.  I took one of the packages to customer service with the theory that someone had deliberately poked holes the pie packages with a needle or something.  They were then promptly removed from the shelves.

Fast forward to today.  I again reach for one of the pies only to find that the packages are littered with pinholes.  Every.  Single.  One.  And the holes are all in the same spots, so this wasn't deliberate.  No, this is on Hostess.  So I purchased one to take home, take pictures of, and write directly to Hostess.  Here, my friends, is the specimen:

The specimen

Look closely

If this pie were a camera it would be a pinhole

Seriously, what the hell is this?  I counted TWENTY of these tiny little holes around the package.  Now, unless some butthole is coming into Albertsons and meticulously poking the same pattern of holes in every single Hostess fruit pie, then clearly something is going wrong during the manufacturing process.

I'll update you on my correspondence.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Just an FYI

Just an FYI to people coming to this blog (and according to my numbers apparently a good few still do), no, this blog is not very active at the moment but no, I have not abandoned it.  I actually come here everyday and I still read all the comments from old posts.  I'm just not posting as much.  Blogging is hard.  Blogs will return at some point.

As always, thanks for reading!