Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Stalzy's Reuben + National Sandwich Day = Math. No, Food.

Hey, have you guys every heard of sandwiches? If you answer "no," I'll know you never bothered to read my epic and magnificent blog from last year, compiling all the sandwiches I'd eaten over a couple of years. And if that's the case, I think I owe you a Purple Nurple. Or a Nipple Cripple - I hear that's what they call them in Ireland. Well, an important holiday is upon us - National Sandwich Day is tomorrow! I hope you all celebrate by eating a sandwich at each meal. Come on, it's not hard. Put in some effort - this is the most major holiday we even HAVE.

Here in Madison, a city I visit quite often due to its proximity to my hometown of Sandwich, IL, as well as it's numerous and delicious food choices, a new deli has arrived in town. Stalzy's Deli on the east side of town has inhabited the building formerly housing Africana and about a zillion other businesses I can't remember. Research to find out what businesses? thanks. That requires work, see? And it's National Sandwich Day tomorrow, and I don't have time for this! Back to Stalzy's: awesome. Since I've only ever eaten one item from there, the reuben, I can't really call this a restaurant review. Instead, I'll call this what it is: sexy pictures of food and vague descriptions, interspersed with my personal and somewhat unprofessional opinion. YOU'RE WELCOME.

Here is the sandwich. The bread is toasted perfectly and leaves a bit of grease on your hands. You might want to forgo the small, thin napkins they give you and just lay down a towel on your lap. Tiny and numerous napkins will only detract from the sandwich eating.

The best part of this reuben is the balance of ingredients. If you've met me, you know I get a little funny about certain meats sometimes. Like, if there's ever a funny bite, I'll need to pull out all of the meat and just eat the cheese and sauce on bread. Not the case here at Stalzy's, my friends. The meat is tender and flavorful, and Brined? What even is this meat? Whatevs, it's really incredible.

There is plenty of sauerkraut, but not too much cheese and dressing. Now, this was a big surprise to me, but I found these amounts to be just right. Usually, alls I want it extra cheese and extra sauce, but not in this case. The smaller amount of sauce doesn't make the bread soggy. The cheese doesn't overwhelm the meat or sauerkraut. The sandwich isn't giant, but it is so very filling. See, food can be like a complicated math equation. Which means math is cool. Get it?

This meal was impeccably completed by the addition of potato salad, a pickle, and a Dr. Brown's cream soda. Yes, impeccably. Because I chose them, duh. But really, it's because of Stalzy's. I know, I sound like such an ass-kisser in this, but I guess you now know the true way to my heart: an amazing reuben. And Stalzy's made it, so...suck it, everybody else.
Happy National Sandwich Day! Go visit Stalzy's tomorrow, or your favorite local deli or sandwich shop. Remember: a sandwich for 3-4 meals a day is not just a possibility, it is a dream come true! It's also an order, directly from me. Do it.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Democracy is Delicious!

So. I've been spending some time in Madison, Wisconsin again. But listen guys, this has not been my usual visit of pleasantries, filled with delicious food and delicious and/or affordable beverage; no, guys, there's actually something else going on here besides deliciousness. I didn't believe it at first either, but when I got here, oh boy. There is, for lack of better words, some shit going down here in the fine city of Madison. Serious shit. And it ain't so delicious.

Hopefully you're slightly or more-than-slightly informed on the happenings in Wisconsin for the last 24 days. I mean, you're alive, so you should be. Short version: a total douche who ran on a false agenda got elected as the new governor and - huge jump - six weeks into his term started attacking public sector workers in a grand attempt to begin eliminating the middle class. Too vague, eh? Read more here. So, needless to say, I've been in Madison, marching and yelling and witnessing some incredible people doing incredible things. If you've never been to this city, get here now and watch this all continue to unfold. It is truly amazing.

Whew! Okay, I got all my feelings out. So sensitive sometimes. Jeez. My point, people, my POINT, is that Madison has some damn good food. I've gone ahead and done all the work for you (what else is new?!) and mapped out some of the places you'll want to hit while protesting. Let's start with breakfast, because it's the first meal of the day, and it's tied for one of my top five favorite meals of the day, so we might as well start here.

Daisy Cafe and Cupcakery - 2827 Atwood Ave.
Oh god, this place is good. Listen, you can get breakfast or brunch or lunch or dinner (on certain nights), whatever you fancy, but then, you can top it all off with a cupcake! These cupcakes are visually impressive, and look, to be honest, I'm not picky about dessert. Most desserts taste good. These cupcakes taste good. Just get one at the end of your meal, alright?

Here's a delicious chorizo omelet with avocado, salsa, and pepperjack cheese. Fruit and potatoes on the side.

Sometimes certain foods are so delicious that you need two pictures. The insides/guts/soul of the omelet:

Huevos rancheros with scrambled eggs. Delish.

A lemon meringue cupcake. Lemon meringue!!! Come on!

Okay, this is...let me think...a banana pecan cupcake with chocolate/peanut butter frosting. Yes, I'm serious! But I bet you're wondering what this cupcake would look like cut down the middle.

There. That's what it would look like cut down the middle. You're welcome.

El Dorado Grill - 744 Williamson St.
Another place you might want to try for brunch is the Eldorado Grill. They only have brunch on Sundays, though, so plan ahead. Plus, you'll be serenaded by a real live cowboy (at least that's what I imagined him to be), Catfish Stevenson. He plays there every other Sunday, so check the schedule.

Yeah, so...I wish I could tell you what this is. But I cannot. Sometimes the eating is more important than the listening and paying attention.

This, though! I can tell you what this is! THIS is a blueberry bacon pancake. Oh god. So delicious. So many tastes. Bacon and blueberries. Ugh. Good ugh, though.

Those look good and all, I know, but you'll probably just want to go ahead and order the Eldorado eggs. Poached eggs atop corn cakes with bacon, tomato, and scallion-lime cream sauce.

And again, a second picture to illustrate the greatness. What you'll want to do is create the Perfect Bite, meaning a bit of corn cake, egg, bacon, tomato, scallion, and some sauce, all at once. Flavor country! Cigarettes! No, wait. Brunch!

La Brioche - 2862 University Ave.
Some of you may be the fancy kind. In that case, you'll want to try La Brioche. Their website has a whole section about the feng shui of the restaurant. You can go ahead and read it. I'll be over here at the bakery counter.

Here's a pastry that's called...well...a brioche. Real creative, guys.

This is another creatively named pastry: Cheese Danish. There are few things in this world I love more than the perfect cheese danish. Look at this one! So much cheese! Good amount of frosting. Pastry is soft but not too soft. Perfect for brunch dessert.

This is a goat cheese, spinach, and roasted tomato omelet with a side of salad, bread, and BACON. I put the BACON is capital letters because of its importance. This BACON is some of the best BACON I've ever had.

You can also get lunchie items here (as well as dinner, but we're talking about earlier meals right now, okay?) like this beat salad with french onion soup. Meh, looks delicious. But I remember all that BACON I ate and I'm happy with my choice.

Old Fashioned - 23 N. Pinckney St.
Okay, so we've got breakfast covered - you gotta get your energy up for the long day of marching, right? Well, you'll also probably need a snack at some point in your day. Here are a bunch of places that are all either right on the square or about a block off it.

You can always head over to the Old Fashioned - good for any meal of the day, and their kitchen stays open relatively late. Oh, plus, they have SO many things to eat and drink. So many. a beer. That is all.

This is a cider. Sort of looks like a beer, but does not sort of taste like a beer. Be careful.

Listen, if you go to the Old Fashioned, you should really get their cheese curds. Yes, they're greasy and filling and will give you gas - dude, they're deep fried lumps of cheese. What do you expect? Even it out with a nice salad.

Then get a cheese plate. The Old Fashioned has a deal where you can get a serving of Hook's 15-Year Cheddar on any cheese plate for just $4. Pricey, you say? Nope. A pound of this incredible cheese can cost over $60. This cheese was literally aged for 15 years and was just released (from its slumber) last year. Get this cheese. You won't regret it.

You'll also want to try out one of the Lazy Susan's. This one had two kinds of salami, braunschwiger, deviled eggs, cole slaw, bread and butter pickles, and plenty of crackers and bread.

Oh, the combinations you can make when you put this all together! The genius, the creativity, the delicious flavors! Yes, it's hard work, but it's worth it.

Graze - 1 S. Pinckney St.
Another place on the square, probably for you fancies again, is Graze.

Look at this giant pretzel with various dipping mustards. Look at it! Then eat it.

Oh whoops, more cheese curds! These ones are giant and come with a rich dipping sauce. You probably only need 3 or 4 of these. Try and share them.

Well...then you had to go and order the mac and cheese. Well done, smarty. Because you're probably lactose intolerant and forgot your Lactaid pills! Jeez. Well, you'll pay for it later, but you'll also proclaim that "it was worth it." So, I have much respect for you. Good work.

A boozey coffee drink. Could there be a better drink? Some orange flavored stuff and some coffee and one more booze made this drink delectable, and obviously, very memorable.

The Paradise - 119 W. Main St.
Not so fancy, eh? Go to The Paradise. Have a bloody mary. Eat something greasy. Make friends with some punks. You'll be fine.

The Plaza - 319 N. Henry St.
Sometimes people like things so much that they order two of them. Like plaza cheeseburgers. They have this sauce on them - Place Sauce, naturally - that's made of sour cream and green things and maybe some ranch-like dressing. Oh lord, they're good.

Aaaaannd...some more cheese curds. With a side of plaza sauce. Don't hate.

Muramoto - 225 King St.
Muramoto, eh? Sushi, eh? MADISON, EH? If you want sushi, go here. I mean, whatever, go to any sushi places. I just like this one a lot.

This was a bunch of vegetarian rolls.

And this was a bunch of non-vegetarian rolls. It's pretty simple, guys. Get what you want.

Okay, let's move on over to the east side of Madison. If you ask anybody what the east side is like, they'll probably say something about damn hippies. They're probably right. But, wah wah, hippies know how to eat, apparently!

Mildred's - 827 E. Johnson St.
For a quick sandwich, head on over to Mildred's on E. Johnson. This one has roast beef, turkey, lettuce, cucumbers, some kinds of cheese, some dressing, all on a whole wheat pita. I think I sampled this one whilst on my worldwide sandwich quest. It did well.

Ha Long Bay - 1353 Williamson St.
So. Do you like Vietnamese food? How about Thai food? How about Laotion food? How about all of it and a ten-page menu? Yeah. You like that.

An iced coffee. Look at those colors!

This is what I like to call a double decker taco spring roll. You see, this looks like just a regular spring roll, but inside lays a fried Vietnamese egg roll. Double decker!!! Don't be stupid; order this.

Cucumber salad. It's delicious. Even this picture is delicious.

Tofu pad see-eew. Just a bunch of wide rice noodles and tofu and egg and vegetables all in this incredibly delicious sauce on a plate onto a fork into your mouth. No big deal.

This is a yellow curry or something. Look, I lose track after awhile. It was delicious, duh.

This thing. I don't know what it was. But what I do know is that the noodles are crispy and when you get the plate in front of you, you start to push the noodles into the sauce and they begin to soften and it's just wonderful.

Now check out this meal. It's called Bun, and although it's more of a summer dish, I encourage you to order it whenever the hell you feel like it. It's basically the ingredients from that double decker taco spring roll but all in a bowl! Rice noodles, lettuce, bean sprouts, mint, cucumber, cilantro, and chopped up egg rolls, all covered by a delicious sauce and diced peanuts. Double decker taco spring roll in a bowl. Like a KFC famous bowl, but good and not disgusting.

Sardine - 617 Williamson St.
One more for you fancies: Sardine. Don't be put off by the name - their menu is much more extensive than their title. For example: some kind of cakes. Crab? Croquette? I have no idea. But, delicious.

Again, no idea. Some kind of white fish? Sorry, I must've been all protested out at this point and just concerned with eating. You know. Like usual.

Glass Nickel Pizza - 2916 Atwood Ave.
So there have been several local businesses that have been donating food and drink (among other things) to the protestors here. I can't list all of them - that's how many there are - but I'll highlight this one: Glass Nickel Pizza. Glass Nickel is a Madison staple and serves, besides pizza, salads, sandwiches, chicken, wings, fish, appetizers, and um...booze.

Here we have a nice double decker set up with a ranch pizza on the bottom and some other pizza on the top. Let me just tell you this: the ranch pizza has ranch dressing instead of marinara. Yep. Sounds so disgusting, tastes so delicious. Well, for like 1-2 slices only. Topped with chicken, bacon, red onion, and tomato.

Okay, let's wind down now with some desserty items:
Weary Traveler - 1201 Williamson St.
The Weary Traveler is another great anytime place to eat. They have a diverse menu and their kitchen is open on the later end. We snagged a dessert here: cinnamon apple cheesecake? I think? It was SO GOOD. In the past, I've been reluctant to profess my love for cheesecake at the risk of inevitable and offensive comparisons to Cathy, but eff it. I love it too much to hide it.

Macha Tea House - 1934 Monroe St.
I'm not much of a tea drinker, usually. I prefer my beverages to have a bit more personality. Personality meaning, of course, sugar or booze or caffeine. But after all the action here in Madison, I needed some time to chill the hell out. So I went to Macha and enjoyed a cherry-flavored tea with, yes, another cupcake. Very peaceful. Very different for me. I'll probably only do something like this once a decade. Nevertheless, well done, Macha!

DB Infusions - 550 N. Midvale Ave.
Do you like chocolate? Do you like art? No? Well, still go here. Each chocolate is a work of art, visually, and...what's the word? Taste-ish-ly? Treat yourself here, specifically with this one on the right. It's called Exotic Caramel and is infused with mango and passionfruit puree. On the top 10 list of best foods I've ever had. Ever.
Another option - take it to go! They're pricey little numbers, but if you like chocolate, it's worth it. You'll later thank me for this encouragement.

One last thing: I know some of you may be critical of my kind demeanor and helpful attitude throughout this blog. Well, what can I say? Democracy is delicious. It makes me a little gentler, a littler more peaceful, a little less...of a jerk, I guess. But man, if this ever ends, watch out. I'll go back to being a total knob no matter what the outcome. Worry not - you'll once again be berated and bossed around. Someday...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Super Bowl Parties: Competitive Snacking

The Chicago Bears are playing the Green Bay Packers today. Seeing as I have spent my lifetime nearly equally split between Illinois and Wisconsin, you'd think that it would be an exciting day for me. Well, it's not. I sort of don't care. What I expected to be huge amounts of excitement at the prospects of my two home-state teams playing each other has only resulted in apathy and feelings of laziness. The exciting history, rivalry, and energy of these two teams is doing nothing for me today.

You know why? Because today isn't even the Super Bowl! You see, the snacks at Super Bowl parties totally outdo snacks on almost any other day. Today is just that: any other day. That's right; I'm saving up my excitement for 2 weeks from now, when the actual Super Bowl happens. Today? Just a tease. Thoughts of weak beers and sad, store-bought dips fill my mind. Yeah, that's probably what all you suckers are subsisting on today. I understand though! I'm a very compassionate and understanding person, you know. You probably need to save your money and energy for February 6th for all the huge and delicious parties you'll be hosting - and inviting me to, correct? And I'm really hoping that you pull out all the stops. I'm picturing baked phyllo dough-based appetizers, various meats (hopefully in bite-sized form, perhaps on toothpicks), 5-6 different dips with both chip and vegetable options, something with melted cheese, and baked goods. Not to mention a plentiful selection of drinks!

Last year, I attended a Super Bowl party in Chicago, hosted by some of the stout men that have accompanied me on such adventures as Hot Doug's, Eating an Entire Awesome Blossom, and Family Dinner in the past. These are brave and hungry men (and some ladies in there too, also brave and hungry!), and they know how to throw down, snack-style. Check these pictures from that party:

First of all, they had a giant-screen television and a tall, lanky guy in a Bears jersey. The atmosphere was set. Not pictured: comfy couches. Great ambiance.

Chips and various dips.

The close-up reveals spinach dip, mango salsa, and guacamole.

Puffy Cheetos! These'll hurt the roof of your mouth a bit, so take it easy. If you even can!

Pigs in a blanket. Man, I love pigs in a blanket. I could eat hundreds of these.

Mostaccioli! Baked with extra cheese on top. That's what I'm talkin' about.

Wings. WINGS! I'm pretty sure these were from Buffalo Joe's, which I've been loving on since about 1995.

Meatballs! Like I mentioned earlier - on toothpicks. Delicious and easy to eat!

Hmm. Pot stickers. Anything goes!

A pizza! I think it was from CostCo. One of the stout men's moms brought this to the party. See, there were cute aspects of the party, too! Moms!

Italian beef. Delicious Italian beef, soaking in it's own juices. You place some of this on a nice, crusty bread, drop more of that meat juice on top, and eat it up. Ugh, my mouth is watering. Beef!!!

Beer. Actually, a pretty wonderful Wisconsin beer. Even those Chicago kids have to admit it - it's damn tasty.

My contribution: banana cupcakes with peanut butter frosting. Holy crap, I'm SO AMAZING!

Cut up fruit and pound cake. I know, I was skeptical too. But it came with a whipped cream-based dip (off to the side there). Dessert with dip! It's like two perfect things combined to make one more epic entity. Beautiful.

I think it's very possible that I may have been spoiled last year by this Chicago Super Bowl party. Man, the Bears weren't even playing and these people did it up. Imagine what would happen if the Bears were actually in the Super Bowl this year! I envision blue and orange jello shots, a remake of "The Fridge" burger from Ditka's restaurant, and perhaps actual bear meat. Wait, that bear meat would suck. Maybe I'd prefer that the Packers win and I attend a Wisconsin party: cheese and beer and fried cheese and cold beer and beer-battered cheese and maybe some kind of carb product in there somewhere, But wait! Chicago is famous for hot dogs and pizza and Italian beef - so many of my favorite things! On the other hand, Wisconsin has it's delicious fish fry and it's extensive collection of food on a stick. So many delicious choices...

Ugh, I'm so torn! I have no idea who I want to win this stupid game today! One more extremely important point: Packers is short for "Meat Packers," which is obviously hilarious, so points to them. But! The Bears had the Super Bowl Shuffle, so points to them! You can see my dilemma, right? What a difficult and challenging life I lead.