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Archive for the ‘sandwiches’ Category

Pittsburgh: Sammich City (Sandwich Week)

Posted by cmh gourmand on August 12, 2017

Many cities have an iconic food. Philadelphia has cheese steaks, New York is slow big it claims pizza, hot dogs and Reubens. Miami has Cuban Sandwiches and so on. An iconic sandwich may not come to most people’s minds when Pittsburgh rolls off the tongue but for me I think of the city with countless Sammichs to serve. There are a handful of cities, that when you say the name instant imagery comes to mind. One of this is Pittsburg: Steel, Carnegie, Heinz, Three Rivers, The Steelers, The Pirates, more Steel, etc. Today that image is, incorrectly, the rust belt. But this city of seemingly endless neighborhoods, hills and one ways streets always guarantees that you may need shift your belt a notch before you leave. There are countless sandwich shops throughout the city.

The good people of the Iron City are known for an interesting interpretation of English with Pittsburgese phrases such as Yinz, Yinzer, Sees Ya and on occasion Sammich. In the Urban Dictionary, a Sammich is defined as a term for an exceptionally good sandwich and in this arena, Pittsburg delivers da goods.

The original Primanti Brothers is looked in the Strip District. During the Depression, the diner was open to 3AM or later to serve late night workers, truckers and drinkers alike. Servicing this clientele meant having to create filling food that could be consumed quickly. So listen up Yinz, legend has it that a trucker came in concerned that his delivery of potatoes had frozen during the journey and might not be good anymore. He brought a few into the diner, so the cook fried some up to see if they were still edible. The spuds smelled great so other eaters asked for the potatoes to add to their sandwiches and a tradition was born. The archetypical Primanti Brothers Sandwich will have a grilled meat, an Italian dressing-based cole slaw (no mayo just oil and vinegar), two tomato slices and a mound of French fries between two pieces of thick Italian bread. See the photo at the beginning of this post as a visual aid.

An iconic food of Pittsburgh is chipped chip ham. Loved and sought out with a vigor that many outside the city do not understand, Chipped Chopped Ham is a thinly sliced processed ham lunch meat that is often served as is, or lightly heated with some BBQ sauce mixed in. This style was made popular by another local icon, Isaly’s a largely forgotten Ohio purveyor of dairy and meats that was famous for the lunch counters before the 1960’s. Islay’s served….chipped chop ham throughout their chain of stores. This style of lunch meat has become so synonymous with the city that many residents of Ohio, West Virginia and Western Pennsylvania often refer to this as Pittsburgh ham. You will still find sandwiches featuring chipped chop ham throughout the Pittsburgh.

Fat Heads is well-known for their craft beers but their Pittsburgh Brew Pub is exceptionally renown for their intimidating sandwiches. My favorite, that is think is most reflective of the culinary loves of the city is the Southside Slopes Headwich. This monolithic sandwich consists of Kielbasa, Pierogies, American cheese, Grilled onions, Horsey sauce and two big, thick toothpicks with olives that vainly attempt to hold this together. It is served with fresh, homemade potato chips served with a wing sauce. The menu suggested washing ti down Wayne style with an Iron City Beer. Today, that may have changed to Fat Head Hop JuJu. (CMH Gourmand Note: I was surprised to see my old review of Fat Heads is still on -> Roadfood.com)

Last and not least, because there are many, many more sammiches in the Iron City, let us discuss the Devonshire Sandwich. This was created by Frank Blaidi in 1934 (or 1935 sources vary) when he cooked at the Stratford Club (one block away from Devonshire Street). The components of this open-faced sandwich are: toasted bread, bacon, tomatoes and cheese sauce.

I sampled modern-day versions at Dunnings Grill and Union Grill. My notes on Dunnings have disappeared. My notes on Union Grill have not. My memories of that sandwich have note disappeared either. I dragged a friend from Columbus for a day trip to Pittsburgh to eat sandwiches & hot dogs and this was the last stop of a very high calorie consumption day. The sandwich was so good, we did not have a problem pounding it down. What me here was the option yo split the sandwich in half for an extra two bucks. When it was served, we thought that made a mistake and gave both of us full sandwiches, we were the ones mistaken. It was the best and largest 1/2 sandwich of my lifetime. The sandwich used toast points as the base, and combined two generous strips of bacon, a whole Tomato slice, a lot of cheese sauce (some had carmelized and gotten crunchy), parsley flakes and a substantial dusting of Parmesan cheese. Great sandwich, great service and a great place.


The Devonshire and the Hot Brown are two famous open-faced sandwiches but how do they differ? Not by much, below I have the typical recipe ingredients of each for you to compare. They only way to really sort this out would be to make each several times.

Devonshire vs. Hot Brown

Devonshire

Cream Sauce:
• 3/4 stick butter, melted
• 1 cup flour
• 1/4 pound Cheddar cheese, grated
• 1 pint chicken broth
• 1 pint hot milk
• 1 teaspoon salt

For each sandwich:
• 1 slice good toast, crusts trimmed off
• 3 slices crisp bacon
• 5 thin slices cooked turkey breast
• Cream Sauce, recipe above
• Melted butter
• Parmesan cheese and paprika

Hot Brown

4 oz. Butter
Flour to make a Roux (about 6 tablespoons)
3 – 3 1⁄2 cups Milk
1 Beaten Egg
6 tablespoons Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 oz. Whipped Cream (optional)
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Slices of Roast Turkey
8-12 Slices of Toast (may be trimmed)
Extra Parmesan for Topping
8-12 Strips of Fried Bacon

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Beef on Weck – Western New York (Sandwich Week)

Posted by cmh gourmand on August 11, 2017

Beef on Weck is a popular sandwich in western New York including Buffalo and Rochester where Weck is considered an institution. The only major foray out of the state was during the origins of Buffalo Wild Wings which was initially called BW-3 when it started in Columbus (Ohio). The three W’s were wild wings & weck. Since most people did not know what Weck was and because it is a labor intensive sandwich to make, well… the third W quickly disappeared from the line up.

A bit of background before we go into the meat of this matteer. Weck is occasionally known as wick. It consists of thinly sliced roast beef on a kummelweck roll. The top of the bun is soaked in the au from the roast beef and sprinkled with coarse kosher slat and caraway seeds. A hearty helping of horseradish os par for the course as well.

The kummelweck roll (sometimes spelled “kimmelweck” or “kümmelweck”) gets it’s name from Kümmel a German word for caraway and weck or wecken which is a “roll” common in south-western Germany. The weck of New York is a bot different that what you would find in Germany or Austria, it tends to be softer. The origins of this sandwich are as hazy of the au ju that makes it an exceptional sandwich. We know it started in Buffalo. It may have been invented by a German baker named William Wahr. Legend has it, which is easy to believe, that a local bar owner felt the salty sandwich would encourage more bar business. Having consumed a few of these sandwiches myself, I can say, they pair exceptionally well with a cold lager.

The best Beef on Weck I ever had was not at a restaurant by made by my friend Cliff Sawicki. A native of the Buffalo area, he made enough beef on wecks to feed 20 people for move in day at my first house back in 2002. I’m certain I ate enough to account for 10 of 20 person servings in the 3 hours it took to complete the move. As an expert on the region and the sandwich, I asked Cliff to chime on on his favorite haunts and he did indeed deliver as you can read below.


Brunner’s Tavern
3989 Main Street
Amherst, NY
(716) 836-9718

This has been an Amherst tradition for a couple generations now. They serve a decent fish fry on Fridays and the kitchen is open for lunch and early dinner during the week. My favorite time to go is Saturday afternoon, the kitchen is closed, but the grill behind the bar is open. There are two things to get: the Steak Sandwich or the Roast Beef on Weck. Order the Steak Sandwich and the barkeep will throw a big chuck of beef on the grill, cook it to your liking, and then throw on some cheese, peppers and onions. For good measure, the sandwich is cut in half and served with wedge ridged potato chips and a pickle. MMM! Order the Roast Beef on Weck and watch the barkeep carve off slices from a fresh slab brought in just before opening. For good measure, some juice is ladled on the roll, the sandwich is cut in half, served with wedge ridged potato chips, pickle, and a jar of real horseradish on the side. If you want the Roast Beef get there early, they sometimes run out as soon as 12:30PM (although I understand they have been bringing in a second slab recently). Brunner’s is next to Ziggy’s.

Jolly Jug
797 Niagara Falls Blvd.
Buffalo, NY
(716) 836-9552

I would give directions, but if you can read this, you are not drunk enough to believe the time warp, and thus won’t want to go. This is really a bar that also happens to serve a decent Roast Beef on Weck and Chili until 4:00AM. This was probably a hopping little neighborhood bar forty years ago, until the great super glue incident happened. Now, six or seven sixty-year old men have their elbows permanently affixed to the bar. All of these men are drinking Genesee Cream Ale. I have never heard of any performer listed in the juke box.

I usually drag a couple unknowing friends down to the Jug around 3:30AM, go to the bar, order six Old Viennas, three Beefs, and three bowls of Chili. I then get some quarters, play the juke box and rack up a pool game. The barkeep is traditionally friendly, I expect because he actually gets to speak to someone who is alive. Everybody seems to enjoy the experience as it unfolds, but nobody has ever gone back with me. Oh, well, (they can go pound on the windows at Ziggy’s).

My guess is theremay only be 1000 people that know about this place, 500 people that have been inside, 250 people that would admit they have been inside, and 100
people who have thought to eat there….I only knew because an alcoholic
took me there.


In no particular order…

Schwabl’s – Really good, I’ve only had the Beef on weck…I’d like to try
some of the other stuff on the menu…old restaurant…old school. (CMH Gourmand Note; Schwabl’s is often noted to have the quintessential Beef on Weck).

Bar Bill – The rave in the very small village of East Aurora…it’s a 30-40
minute drive from the mainland, a very good sandwich, but if you need a fix
there are equally good sandwiches with a shorter drive…the only reason I
had ever been there was because my grandparents lived out there.

Swiston’s – Been there a few times…. consistency isn’t always there. Their best efforts top the charts, but I’ve had an occasional average sandwichthere…one recent complaint someone told me about was too much fat on thesandwich…I’m torn about that comment.

Anderson’s – Original location on Sheridan Drive has expanded into I believe locations in WNY. Still a decent quality sandwich, but would only be myfirst choice if I was going to top it off with some of Anderson’s frozen
custard.

Anacone Inn – I haven’t been here in some 15 years, the neighborhood hasgone way downhill, I’d like to give this one a shot again, but I would want to bring a posse along. BTW, they had a really good sandwich.

Charlie the Butcher – Strangely, this is probably one of the most talked about Beef on Weckers, but I hadn’t tried it until this past summer…I wasnot impressed…Beef was a bit dry and not piled on very high….will probably try one more time just to confirm an unsupervised rookie didn’t make my sandwich.

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The Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich of Indiana & Iowa (Sandwich Week)

Posted by cmh gourmand on August 9, 2017

BPT Sandwich

The Breaded Pork Tenderloin is big in Indiana and Iowa – big as in size and big as in popular. These sandwiches can sometimes be found in other parts of the Midwest, especially in Illinois, which is sandwiched between these two pork powerhouses, but there is no place that displays the level of devotion to this sandwich greater than Indiana and Iowa. It has been estimated that breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches are served in at least fifty percent of Indiana restaurants. This sandwich is also listed on many menus in Iowa. In Indiana and Iowa, customers will ask for a tenderloin sandwich assuming it is breaded and that it is pork (an assumption that can lead to disappointment when traveling out of pork country). People in both states take pride in their prized sandwich and are politely dismissive of other state’s claims of pork prowess. Where is the true home of the Breaded Pork tenderloin Sandwich? It is really too close to call – this sandwich belongs to both Hawkeyes and Hoosiers.

Many experts place the birthplace of the pork tenderloin sandwich in Huntington, Indiana and credit Nicholas Freinstein as the founding father of this heartland creation. He opened a restaurant, Nick’s Kitchen in 1908 after years of peddling his sandwiches on the street. Legend has it that his brother Jake, having lost function of his hands to frostbite after an unfortunate wintertime carriage accident, used the stumps of his forearms to tenderize the pork. Today, pork tenderloin purveyors have found alternate means to tenderize the meat but it is still as good.

The basic breaded pork tenderloin sandwich generally starts a large cut of pork loin. The meat is tenderized until it is the desired thickness, usually 1/4 inch thick but sometimes up to a 1/2 inch. The breading is customarily a simple mix of water, flour, salt and pepper. Some places will add cornmeal or another special ingredient but the standard is to keep it simple. The sandwich is typically fried or deep-fried. The tenderloin is always significantly bigger than the bun which is typically a hamburger bun or sometimes a Kaiser roll. The condiments of choice are basic – usually pickles, often onions, and occasionally lettuce. In Indiana – expect mustard and/or mayonnaise while in Iowa it is most often mustard and/or ketchup. What a difference a few hundred miles can make. The sandwich is always a meal and taking some to go will have no negative effect on ones reputations with the locals.

(disclaimer: the sites below were last fact checked in 2005)


Mr. Dave’s
102 E Main St.
North Manchester, IN 46962
260-982-4769
Closed Sunday

Mr. Dave is Dave Klapp. He opened this cozy little spot in 1962 on the corner of Market and Main. The pork tenderloin sandwich has been a local favorite for decades and is frequently mentioned in newspaper articles and national magazines. The sandwich won several contests and awards including the Pork Producers Appreciation award in 1990. Dave’s son Kevin is running the restaurant now and continues to stay busy frying up tenderloins. Customers order at the counter or drive through window and after a short wait they can eat inside, at a picnic table, or on the go. The sandwich is popular outside of town with over 1000 shipped around the country each year.

Nick’s Kitchen
506 N Jefferson St.
Huntington, IN 46750
260 356 6618
Closed Sunday
Open 6 AM to 2 PM

Huntington has the Dan Quayle Museum – but on a more historical note the town is home to Nick’s Kitchen – the originator of the Breaded Pork Tenderloin sandwich. In 1969, the restaurant was purchased by the Bailey family, and is now owned by Jean Anne Bailey. Jean Anne continues to serve the sandwich as it was at the turn of the 20th century. The motto of the restaurant is on the wall – “We don’t do fast food, we just do great food fast!” Diners can hear the tenderloins frying in the kitchen whether sitting at the counter or farther away in a booth. Service is quick and efficient but not rushed – it does take a little time to make homemade food.

Nickel Plate Bar and Grill
8654 E 116th St
Fishers, IN 46038
317 841 2888

The Nickel Plate Bar and Grill is on the right side of the tracks – the side with one of the best-breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches in Indiana. The Nickel Plate is more bar than grill and is located right at the railroad crossing. In 2005, Indy Men’s Magazine picked the tenderloin at the Nickel Plate as the best out of 64 entries. The tenderloin served in this sandwich is thicker than most and has cornflakes incorporated into the batter. The sandwich is served on a corn-dusted roll and served with a side dish. Customers in a hurry can order at the bar or get the sandwich to go. Fishers, Indiana is located just outside Indianapolis outerbelt (465) off I 69 so the Nickel Plate makes a nice side trip for anyone going cross-country on Interstate 70.

Red Onion
3901 W State Street
Sheridan, IN 46069
317 758 0424

Pork Tenderloin sandwiches are often described as two-fisted sandwiches. At the Red Onion, this type of description may be an understatement. Their oversized tenderloin still hangs out from the giant, double sized hand made bun so even eating halfway through is an accomplishment. Mere mortals or people adverse to leftovers would be better off ordering the junior tenderloin which is much more manageable. The Red Onion serves up to 900 of these sandwiches each week – that is a lot of pork and a lot of carry out containers.

Darrell’s Place
4010 1st St.
Hamlin, IA 50117
712-563-3922

Darrell’s Place is an easy place to miss even though it is located in a very small town. If it were not for the sign, it would be easy mistaking this restaurant for some other type of business and just drive by. Finding Darrell’s is well worth the effort. In 2004, the Iowa Pork Producers Association proclaimed that Darrell’s Place had the best breaded pork tenderloin in the state. For the next several months, hundreds of people made the pilgrimage to Darrell’s to find out if this was true. The traffic has died down a bit but people keep making the journey to try out this sandwich and it is hard to believe anyone would be disappointed. Darrell hand cuts the pork loins himself and makes a very simple breading out of flour. The tenderloin is a bit thicker than the typical pork tenderloin sandwich and the breading is a little lighter and flakier than what is usually encountered. The sandwich at Darrell’s did earn the acclaim it received. Darrell’s is off the beaten path but it is worth the drive. For travelers with a little extra time – consider doing the scenic drive on SR 44 starting around Lake Panorama.

George the Chili King
5722 Hickman Road
Des Moines, IA
515 277 9433
515 255 9950
Closed Sunday

George Karaidos Sr. won a newspaper sponsored chili contest in the early 20th century so he was dubbed the Chili King, the name stuck. He opened this Drive-in / Diner in 1952 and not much has changed since then. Randy Karaidos is now the king of this castle, which still offers carhop service. If you want to eat inside, there is counter seating available in front of the grill. In addition to chili, this place is also well known for good pork tenderloin sandwiches. This restaurant makes a version of the pork tenderloin that takes this sandwich up a few points on the cholesterol scale. The Fat Man is a tenderloin with ham and cheese added as well as lettuce, tomato, onions, and more condiments. The tenderloins are frozen but deep-fried when ordered and cook up in less than 5 minutes. George’s is a local institution and worth a visit whenever visiting Des Moines.

Hamburg Inn #2
214 N Linn St
Iowa City, Iowa 52245
(319) 337-5512

Once upon a time, there were three Hamburg Inn’s. Now there is only one, which is Hamburg Inn #2. This restaurant is a favorite with local residents as well as Iowa State students and alumni. It has been featured in numerous newspaper and magazine articles as well as radio and television programs. Numerous celebrities including two presidents have dined in the Hamburg Inn. The Panther family has continued the Hamburg Inn tradition of serving great comfort food at a reasonable price. The gigantic menu features a good-sized breaded pork tenderloin sandwich that is best washed down with one of their renowned pie milkshakes. I tried the apple pie milkshake and it was the best I milkshake of my life.

Joensy's Restaurant by A Conaway

Joensy’s Restaurant
101 West Main St
Solon, IA 52333
319 624-2914

The folks at Joensy’s take pork pretty seriously. The large sign above the entrance (which is bigger than the sign for the restaurant itself) proudly proclaims “Home of the Biggest & Best Pork Tenderloin in Iowa”. Joensey’s has been pork tenderloin purveyor since 1983 and has generated a lot of recognition over the years. A variety of sandwiches and hearty dinners are served at Joensey’s but the breaded pork tenderloin remains the signature item for the restaurant. The tenderloin is about two to three times the size of the bun, which tries to serve as a delivery device for this oversized, two-handed, mammoth sandwich. A person could look for a bigger pork tenderloin sandwich elsewhere but I would suggest that they go to Joensy’s first so they have something to eat while driving around Iowa looking for something larger.

Smitty’s Tenderloin Shop
1401 S.W. Army Post Road
Des Moines, IA
515 287-4742
Closed Sunday and Monday

Smitty’s specialty is the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich, which is not a big surprise considering the name of the shop and that is in Iowa. Smitty’s does at least one thing a little different than other pork tenderloin hawkers – there are a variety of styles to choose from. The easy choice is whether to order a large or small sandwich. However, the tough choice is deciding among the King Tenderloin (Big), Chili-Cheese Loin, Taco Loin or Vegetable Loin (don’t panic – this is just a tenderloin with tomato, lettuce, and pickle). Smitty’s also ships tenderloins in packages of a dozen in the lower 48 states if you cannot make it to Des Moines or feel you need to try some of the other styles later.


The Breaded Pork Tenderloin sandwich seems to hold a special place in the hearts of many people from Iowa and Indiana. Some fans refer to the sandwich as a BPT (Breaded Pork Tenderloin). A few fans have taken fandom to the next level – BPT zealot. Here are two video resources to better understand this lifestyle choice.

Stalking the Wild Breaded Pork Tenderloin in Iowa

This website is a pictorial journey to some of the favorite spots for BPT in Iowa.

In Search of the Famous Hoosier Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich
A documentary film by Jensen Rufe



The Other White Meat Sandwich?

The three biggest pork producers in the United States are Iowa, Indiana, and North Carolina. We know what Iowa and Indiana do with their pork but what about North Carolina? Well, the BPT pretty much unheard of in North Carolina BBQ country but there is a 2nd cousin of the BPT – the Pork Chop Sandwich.

Snappy Lunch
125 North Main Street
Mount Airy, NC 27030
336-786-4931

The quintessential Pork Chop sandwich can be found in this quintessential diner. Mount Airy was the childhood home of Andy Griffith and served as the model for Mayberry in his television series. Too bad this sandwich did not appear on TV or we might be able to find more of them elsewhere. The Snappy Lunch menu features the Famous Pork Chop Sandwich, which is a large pork cutlet, dipped in batter, pan fried and served with tomato, onion, chili, coleslaw, mayonnaise and mustard. The pork is tenderized by a special machine and the sandwich accounts for about 90% of the food sold at the restaurant.

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Blystone Farm and Butcher Shop (& Deli & Taproom), Canal Winchester

Posted by cmh gourmand on June 30, 2017

Blystone Farms sign

“Lord, I was born a rambling man, looking for a new lunch spot as often as I can. But when it comes to eating, I hope you’ll understand, as for now, I’m largely a homebound man.” By my makeup, I need to roam and explore, discover new things, etc. Over the last six months I have been adding a lot to my to read lists, to listen to lists, to watch lists, etc. As for my to eat list, it is extensive. When I hear about or notice a good candidate I start a blog post with the name of the destination and any bits that caught my interest others mentioned or based on a quick search of the interwebs. (I have 55 more places on my blog list). Canal Winchester has been a frequent topic of conversation over the last year due to Brewdog, and more than once someone would suggest Blystone Farm and Butcher shop as worth a visit. One guys description of a deli sandwich from the Blystone peaked my interest to the extreme, he loved talking about the sandwich almost as he enjoyed consuming it.

With the breaking of weather in the spring and the breaking of myself from a lack of adventures I opted to combine work with a little pleasure in May. I assigned myself the “southern leg” of deliveries for the Columbus Ale Trail Brew books. I plotted out an all back roads route to make deliveries to Grove City Brewing, Brew Brothers, Loose Rail Brewing, Brewdog and Combustion Brewery. It was a great day to drive and conveniently Blystone was just slightly off my plotted path on my way to Loose Rail. (As a side, note, I did find a cool Taco Truck called Taco Time by Don Carlos on SR 317 in a VFW parking lot about one mile from Brew Brothers, that will be a future post here or on Taco Trucks Columbus).

Blystone Farm deli

I did not have any expectations of Blystone and I could not find much online (other than a very good post by Columbus Culinary Connection) so I just knew it was a farm based butcher shop with a deli. As soon as I saw the place in the distance, I knew I would like it. The moment I walked through the door it was love at first whiff. Blystone offers a full service butcher shop offering a wide range and variety of cuts of mea, many originating on the farm. The shop is also stocked with a deep selection of craft beers, wines, Ohio and other cheese and local products such as Sophie’s Pieorgi. As I was walking around the ship enthralled by my choices one of the butchers asked if I needed anything so I replied, “a lunch recommendation.” He walked through what on the menu originated in the shop and suggested I try the ham and cheese, especially since he knew the ham had been freshly sliced an hour ago. He also said the wings may meet my fancy as well. He then pointed me to the new taproom / restaurant.

Blystone Beer Menu

I loved the rustic look of the attached dining area. Positioning myself at the bar, I spied the beer list on the wall and was impressed with the choices in a largely Ohio based tap selection. I asked a few questions before placing my order. The soup of the day was a Mediterranean soup with a mix of unusual ingredients so I ordered that as well as a Ham & Cheese Sandwich, chicken wings and a beer flight. The woman behind the bar was immediately impressed by my ambitions. In this case, even for me, I may have been pushing my own envelope which exceeds the good sense and tolerances of most mere mortals.

I cannot recall much about the soup other than it was flavorful and I liked it. I think that is because anything would have been forgotten in comparison to my two lunch orders. The Ham (house made) and Cheese (Ohio) sandwich was served on fresh thick Texas Toast style bread topped with homemade BBQ sauce and served with a pile of outstanding steak fries. The flavor of the ham stood out among an outstanding supporting cast of. The steak fries were perfectly executed, sturdy, firm, well salted and filling.

wings and sandwich

As for the wings, these are superior on all indicators. I’m not a big fan of wings in general. However, in the rare instance I find them to be the exception to the greasy, mediocre base line, I get a bit excited. The Blystone wings are clearly not dumped out of a frozen bag. These wings were big, filled with flavor and did not need anything to dip, bathe or a sauce to swim in. I’ll place these in the top three in Central Ohio with O’Reilly’s and Smokehouse being a strong tie and weak third place respectively.

My approach to lunch attracted a bit of attention. Everyone in eyeshot asked about the wings. A woman I think may have been one of the owners was very interested in my opinions of the meal and I think my server wanted to adopt me although I am older than her.

This spot warrants further research but my first impression is highly favorable and flavorful.

Blystone Farm

Blystone Farm
8677 Oregon Rd, Canal Winchester
(614) 833-1211
(3 miles from Brewdog, 4 miles from Loose Rail)

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Cream & Sugar: A Sweet Surprise

Posted by cmh gourmand on June 13, 2016

Cream & Sugar

Having found myself on the Westside after being stiffed by some “mericans” I took solace in taking the slow way home via Sullivant Ave. Many people in this city have never traveled the full length of this west side byway. It seems like every block tells a story: Westgate, immigrant communities, working class folk and a few down on their luck. There are also more than a handful of taco trucks (including the best in the city – Los Guachos), independent hot dog and pizza shops and at least a couple soft serve ice cream spots. For some, a trip down this road is eye-opening, showing them a Columbus and an America they did not think exists. We certainly do not see much in the media about this strip of the city. I have spent a lot of time in the area and I have a respect for it that goes beyond a meal I had noticed it a few times doing taco truck runs over the last year but never had the time or the appetite needed to do a good research run. I’m glad I dropped in. I might have a pretty big crush on Cream & Sugar.

The first good sign happened as I pulled into the parking lot – I spied a police cruiser. I asked two of Columbus’ Finest what was good and they both said – Coney Dog!! In the voice of George Bailey I said HOT DOG! I’m always looking for a good hot dog spot so thinking I was just going to get some soft serve, I was happy to have a bonus. Walking up to the order window, I quickly found myself overwhelmed with choices. Let’s start with food. They do indeed have coney dogs, served with sauce make by local hot dog singer Phillips Coney Island. I tried one and would have a hard time telling this from the original in a blind tasting. Score one for Cream & Sugar. Roots Poultry in Fremont Ohio is well-known in that part of the state for their shredded chicken which is featured in sandwich form here. I tried one of these as well and also found it to be simple but good sandwich. A bun and finely shredded chicken, that was it and that was all they needed. Score two for Cream & Sugar. Other food items not tried but I found intriguing included a BBQ Pork sandwich, homemade cole slaw and a wide variety of Ballreich’s chips (also from Northwest Ohio).

Moving to the other side of the menu, they offered much more than soft serve dairy product including: giant Freezies Popsicles, sundaes, multiple type of cones, Stauf’s Coffee, and additional options I could not count on two hands. I opted for a simple kid’s size vanilla and chocolate twist cone. I may be a bit of an ice cream snob, but I always get excited about a good twist cone (the best in the state is at Dairy Depot in Delaware). I was pleased as I could be with this simple dairy treat. Also of note, Cream & Sugar is a site for Suspended Coffees where guest have an option to pay it forward by buying a pre paid coffee (or other food) for someone who has need for it. That is a nice offering for a small -> small business.

Cream & Sugar
2185 Sullivant Ave
West Side
Facebook

Cream & Sugar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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What’s Up at White Castle: Turkey, Breakfast and Whatnot

Posted by cmh gourmand on November 13, 2015

As some readers are aware, I’ve written about White Castle before. I have a compulsion to try new products when they release them to the masses. I don’t love White Castle but I have always respected the company and their institutional commitment to innovate.

First for discussion, Turkey Sliders….just in time for the holidays.

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I tried the Turkey Dinner Slider: square (Butterball) Turkey patty, a big squirt of cranberry sauce and in my case a giant malformed sweet potato waffle fry. Verdict, one was enough. If you want to save some money I would suggest ordering the Cranberry Turkey Slider for 40 cents less and investing that savings in a full order of Sweet Potato Waffle fries. I’m glad I tried this concoction, don’t get me wrong but this is a novelty item but a destination sandwich.

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Second for discussion, Breakfast 24/7.

White Castle beat McDonald’s to the punch in making breakfast an all day affair. This pleased me immensely because as many readers know, breakfast is my fourth favorite meal. Other than anything at Starliner Dinner, anything served at Explorer’s Club and home fries with sausage gravy at Nancy’s, there is only one other breakfast item that I ever crave – the White Castle Breakfast Sandwich. I order the version on the bun (not the toast option) with egg, sausage and cheese. Doing very thorough analysis, this is the best value of any White Castle menu item. And since I am typically not near a White Castle at traditional breakfast times, being able to get this sandwich anytime has guaranteed a significant higher volume of consumption on my part. Good job White Castle.

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Third for discussion, smart ingredient integration that gives the customer the sense of an upgrade.

White Castle takes a clear plastic cup, fills it with Sprite and adds a dash of cranberry juice and markets it as a Cranberry Spritzer. Genius way to up sell a product using what they already have in-house.

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Stay tuned for my next White Castle adventure….whenever a new product rolls or slides out.

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Por’Ketta: Mobile Food Trailer with Pork and Chicken

Posted by cmh gourmand on April 13, 2015

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Por’ketta

Facebook: Porketta
Twitter: PorkettaCbus
Instagram: Porkettacbus
Web:porkettacbus.com
614 570 1107

I’ve known Tony Layne for a few years and I have known his wife for a few more, meeting her for the first time when she started working for Pitabilities. They have a good thing going. In case you did not read this (exact) post on Street Eats Columbus I am posting here so you do.

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Por’ketta launched in March of 2015, serving to the last sandwich, ahead of schedule time and time again. The simple menu of pork and rotisserie chicken with a few sides may mean limited choices but it is heavy on quality and flavor. The trailer may be a bit harder to maneuver than a food truck but you will see it most places that mobile food can be found. And on a historical note, the trailer has some back story, it used to be a Ray Ray’s Hog Pit Trailer. We spoke to owner Tony Layne to find out about this business of getting pork to the people.

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1) In a few sentences, what do you want people to know about Por’ketta.

I would want them to know that we are a family run business. We love Columbus and promote it shamelessly. Also that our family’s love of food, gathering and community translate into our food. It is also important to note that we searched far and wide within Ohio’s borders to source the best local ingredients that we could find simply prepared with passion

2) What is Porketta (Porchetta)? How do you make yours?
Porchetta is the pig’s skin, belly wrapped around meat and layers of fat, usually with herbs and spices thrown in…all tied up around a spit. Usually roasted over an open fire..this is the traditional Italian method. My version is the belly piece with the loin attached, then we butterfly the loin, rub with salt, pepper, fennel, parsley, garlic, rosemary, lemon zest, crushed red pepper, roll it up, tie it up and let air dry under refrigeration for at least 24 hours, then roast for four and a half hours in a high low temperature combination, let rest for thirty minutes and then ready to slice. Very labor intensive, but yields very moist pork…there are no shortcuts to the method.

3) What inspired your menu?
This is an easy one I love cooking with fire..whether it be a grill, smoker, camp fire, Meat and fire are primal and treated correctly yield incredible results. So that is the method I choose..we have a Rotisserie on the truck, The items I chose also easy..I am a pork fanatic…such a versatile animal…so many different cuts, tastes and textures…I chose Porchetta because it’s the belly and the loin and nobody is doing it, enough said. A great roasted chicken, was my other choice it brings back such comforting memories of cooking with my grandmother. For our salads and sides, we wanted to make sure they were tasty and let the ingredients speak for themselves. Our dishes are not hidden in mayonnaise or heavy dressings. We offer both the pork and chicken as sandwiches, meals, and bulk to go items.

4) What inspired you to get into mobile food?

Thirty years in commercial kitchens, always wanting to do something on my own, but with five kids I chose security and stability for my family over the opportunity of starting my own venture. Finally the planets started lining up …my youngest was a senior in high school in Hilliard. My job with Marriott was starting to feel like the movie “Groundhog Day”…every day felt just like ever other. I was losing passion for the craft, finding joy only cooking for our weekly family dinners. One day I snapped , quit my job cashed in my 401k and decided to go into business with my wife and children…Mobile food is hot in Columbus…a lot of great food coming off trucks. With a lower cost to entry than a traditional brick and mortar restaurant my decision and direction was made.

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5) What did you do before Porketta?
Before this spent the last thirty years doing the Chef thing around Columbus….Umberto’s, the Clock, Crowne Plaza, the 55 group, R.J. Snappers and Marriott hotels…from mom and pop shops to corporate and everything in between

6) How did you get ready to launch?
I left Marriott shortly before Thanksgiving, and basically took the winter, while the trailer was being built out, to come up with the menu, work on branding, build the social media presence, obtain all the proper permits and documentation, purchase equipment, test recipes, try and find spots to park and sell our food at…and the list goes on. They say the devil is in the details…everyday we worked task lists to shoot for a mid March opening. And here we are!

7) Porketta is a family affair – tell us about team Layne and what each person does in the trailer.

Team Layne consists of my son Conner…who is learning the craft and picking so much up. I so proud of him, my wife Michelle who is our backbone, she runs the window and is great with our guests. My other daughters float in and out as time allows. Basically we all do what needs done. I couldn’t be working with a better bunch of people. (Writers note: Michelle worked for Pitabilities for several years so she is no stranger to mobile food customers).

8) You source from Matt Swint (Matija Breads) – where else do you source from?

Yes Matt Swint and his incredible breads…the best in Columbus. Pork was a tough one…to find an Ohio producer of the exact piece I needed was a daunting task so I turned to THE MAN..Albert Thurn…if anybody could find it he could. And he did, sourcing a farm in Sandusky, Ohio. He is my pork connect. Chicken had to be all Ohio…so we turned to Vitale Poultry. Produce comes from Midwest for the time being as spring rolls into summer much more Ohio produce will be used. we like to park at local breweries and tap rooms, because these high quality local beers compliment our food. Even our T-shirts were printed by Traxler. Local was key to our business model, sometimes more expensive, but always the right thing to do.

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The Best Sub in Clintonville….is not at India Oak Bar and Grill

Posted by cmh gourmand on March 26, 2015

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Since my return to being a full-time Ville-Billy, I have heard mention that the best sub in Clintonville is ballyhooed as coming from the India Oak Bar and Grill. There may have been a time when I might have bought into that proclamation. I ate a lot of subs at the Oaks in the 1990’s but that was a different time with different owners. I’ve had the sub there recently, a couple of times in fact, and while it was respectable, I can’t pull out anything from my experiences that would suggest it would be the best. Granted there are not a lot of candidates for the title in Clintonville, but seeing as there are more than one to contend for the honor, I decided to revisit some places to see if my standards are flawed or if the bar had just become lower.

As many of you know, I’ve written about O’Reilly’s more than a few times and they have a very good sub. But I am an O’Reilly’s loyalist so my objectivity could be compromised. Therefore, it became critical to even out the field. I recruited Mrs. Gourmand who never lacks for an interest in a submarine sandwich. I asked her to join me to sample four other Clintonville (traditional) subs and she gladly accepted. She recently stated “I can never be a vegetarian” and has been observed eating more fruits and vegetables that is her norm. That combined with her state due to her pregnant nature, she has had a lot of hankerings for meats and bread. She was hungry for some subs. It also helps that she is Italian-American so she has plenty of experience in all things Italian and high expectations for sub consumption.

There are not many sub purveyors in Clintonville, but I did find four others that seemed worthy of consideration. I called in all of the orders and picked them up in the order of when orders were placed.

Patrick J’s – Indianola Italian Sub
Hot ham, hard salami, ham, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and banana peppers with Italian dressing. Served with a side of kettle chips and a pickle for $7.50.

Gatto’s Pizza – Italian Sub
Salami, pepperoni, ham, provolone, tomato, banana pepper and lettuce for $5.50.

Dante Pizza – Hot Sub
Cappacola, salami, pepperoni, lettuce, tomato, banana peppers with their special house made salad dressing for $6.25

Smith’s Deli – Super Sub
Ham, salami, pepperoni, provolone cheese, mozzarella cheese, Romano cheese, spices, lettuce, tomato, hot peppers, onions and dressing for $6.19. I oped for this over their Roman Sub which seemed light on the meat and cheese.

To maintain the highest level of objectivity – Mrs. Gourmand watched me unwrap the subs and cut each into pieces to be evaluated. All were still warm to the touch when delivered and were all picked up by me within 5 minutes of each other. I ate in a separate room, recording her observations as she shouted them out. I made my observations silently. These are our field notes from our submarine adventure.

Patrick J’s had the best presentation of all four subs. It was cut in half with great visuals and a big pile of chips with a pickle placed in the the center of the styrofoam carrier.

Gatto’s was clearly the best value of the pack. It was 69 cents less expensive than the second lowest priced sub and it was not smaller or less tasty than it’s peers.

Neither Mrs. Gourmand or I felt that our recollection of the India Oaks sub was clearly better than any of the four we tried in this tasting. Therefore their title of best sub in Clintonville is officially revoked.

We found all of the subs to be of good quality with none radically better that the other. With contention being very tight, my favorite sub was The Gatto’s Sub and my second favorite was Dantes. Mrs. Gourmand liked Smith’s sub more than the other three and she gave second place to Gattos.

These are our tasting notes. All of the buns appeared to be from Auddinos. All of the subs were baked in an oven and had a crusty, toasted texture. Smith’s was the most toasted and Patrick J’s was just lightly toasted. In the case of Patrick J’s the veggies were applied after cooking so they were not cooked with the other ingredients. That manner of vegetable placement is my preference going back to my sub making days at Knight’s Ice Cream. I also liked that the bun at Patrick J’s was not sliced all of the way through so it had a clam shell-like quality to it, which can help with consumption.

Patrick J’s was Mrs. Gourmand least favorite sub mainly due to the possible presence of mayo or a dressing she did not like and because the hot ham was too fatty for her liking.

We both liked Gatto’s sub because the bread had a garlic bread flavor and quality to it. I liked Dante’s because all of the meats had distinctly strong and fresh flavor to them – more that the other subs. Additional diagnosis determined that Mrs. Gourmand liked the Smith’s sub due to the extra cheese embedded throughout the sandwich. I found that I liked this sub as well.

All in all, we did not have a clear winner, but I think we have established that there are some great subs in Clintonville that are not at India Oaks. I was also happy that none of the subs sucked, they were all significantly above the average marker so that is a great benchmark to judge from.

Posted in Clintonville, culinary misadventure, Food For Thought, sandwiches, Sub Dude | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Thurns: A Celebration of Lunch Meats

Posted by cmh gourmand on March 11, 2015

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Spring has always seemed like cold cut sandwich time. After the winter, as much as I enjoy the heat of rising temperatures I’m not interested in anything artificial coming from an oven or stove. The grill, seems more appropriate to summer. A sandwich comes together quickly with no need for prep or cleaning, just get it done and go out to embrace the spring time. When in comes to a good sandwich, the elements are simple – good bread, sometimes a pickle, a nice slice of cheese and a choice of mustards (I feel naked without at least five mustards in the pantry). Those are the basics and we all know where to source those, but what I really get excited about is semi exotic lunch meats. And for that there is only one choice – Thurns.

I’ve written about Thurn’s before but I have not done justice to one of several things they excel at – offering a wide assortment of freshly made cold cuts and lunch meats. Choices include but are not limited to: baked ham, roast pork, hot and mild souse (head cheese / terrine), head cheese, salami, capricola, Schinken (dry cured ham), honey loaf, thuringer (sausage), pressed ham, pepper loaf, bolonga, Dutch Loaf, veal loaf and German Bolonga. As a side note, there are some other sandwich friendly encased meats and spreads – most notably the best ham salad I have ever tried. The Thurn’s know meat, they have been butchering and processing meat for over 120 years so that forms a strong foundation. The freshness of the meats is a major bonus – something that we rarely experience anywhere with overly processed and transported meats encased in plastic packaging. And variety – well look at what I listed above, most of you have never heard of several of these before.

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So follow a pattern I have done during springtime the past few years. Pop into Thurn’s on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Buy a 1/4 pound of two to four meats each time and keep trying them out between bread until you find your favorites. Although I like them all, my favorites are on the bottom row of their chart.

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Athens Adventures: Bagel Street Deli

Posted by cmh gourmand on December 2, 2014

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Mention three words to any Ohio University graduate from the last two decades and you will see their facial expression light up and a bit of drool slide out of their mouth. Those three words are Bagel Street Deli. Oddly, in ten years of intensive eating in Athens I’ve never dropped by. Mrs. Gourmand is a big fan so we opted to get a couple of sandwiches to go after our latest Athens Adventure.

Bagel Street Deli is not the typical college sandwich shop, but the place is not atypical to the Athens eating experience. The business focuses on using locally sourced ingredients whenever possible and collaborates with other businesses as well including sourcing bagels from Sammy’s and Blocks in Columbus and cookies from Fluff Bakery around the corner. Whether a carnivore or vegetarian there is plenty to fill the bellies of both here. They offer 20+ varieties of custom bagel sandwiches, over 10 different meat & tofu options, six specialty cream cheeses and forty different toppings choices. There are truly too many choices but it is often too crowded to stand and ponder what to order.

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The exterior is unassuming, the brick interior is filled with signs to guide you through the ordering process and maintain the cultural etiquette expectations of Bagel Street Deli. I was also intrigued by what appears to be an informal collection of mini tinfoil sculptures randomly placed and attached to the walls and others areas.

I enjoyed the experience (we arrived at an off-peak time and I have a veteran customer with me). The steamed bagel sandwich I consumed, was really good – plenty of ingredients piled on top of each other and flavorful cream cheese to hold it all together. I’d go again and have added it to my Athens to eat list. A bit of trivia to wrap up, Art Oestrike, the owner of Jackie O’s is also one of the original owners of Bagel Street Deli.

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