Friday, February 27, 2009


I know this is old news and you've already seen it, but I really have to acknowledge how much I love the Denny's "Nannerpuss" commercial.

The Perlorian Brothers, the guys who made it, are obviously geniuses and I would probably take a job from them if they offered it to me. Just sayin'.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Burger King Burger Shots (A guest post from down Texas way)

One day my friend Matt, resident of Austin, Texas and finalist in the High School Lunch Memories Contest, sent me an "instant message" to tell me that he was surprised that I had not yet reviewed Burger King's Burger Shots. I replied that I was also surprised and I thought that he would also be a good man for the job. He agreed, so here you have it. By the way, this is Matt:

Living about a block away from a Burger King, and being without cable television, I first learned about BK Burgershots from the illustrious block letter marquee fixed underneath the Burger King sign. I initially envisioned some horrid burger-in-a-cup scenario; online research revealed these burgershots to be the far tamer threat of bite-size burgers. Burger King is no stranger to questionable names: witness the Angry Whopper or Croissan'wich. An infrequent fast-food consumer, I am nonetheless drawn in by all things gimmicky, and I knew I needed some of these tiny sandwiches.

Little Lady Laura and I stopped in for lunch today. I ordered a six-pack of burgershots and a four piece chicken tender, she ordered a whopper. We both got fittingly tiny plastic cups for water. The flat panel television was playing Disney's High School Musical, keeping up the theme of digestable, disposable flash-in-the-pan pop garbage. But here, I'm being too hard on the little guys.

They were perfectly adequate miniature representations of the standard BK burger: meat, cheese, two pickles, ketchup and mustard. The patties featured the ubiquitous grill-marks (I think Burger King would put char marks on the soda, if they could), belying the microwave prep I see every time I order here. One disturbing fact: the burgers are connected, joined at the patty, and the box encourages a "tear-and-share" method of dispersal, as if you and and a friend were only really hungry enough for 1 oz of meat a piece.

The box/product appeared to be sponsored by Heinz Ketchup, apparently "the only ketchup fit for a king". The paragraph on the other side of the box stated that these mini burgers were "designed to move", though I'm not sure how much more handy or aerodynamic they are than a regular hamburger, especially with their siamese-twin attachment. As a comparison, I snuck a few bites of the Little Lady's Whopper while she was in the restroom, and the cornocupia of veggies, sauces, and more substantial meat beat the pants off the burgershots. They were never intended for this sort of competition, though, and for what they are they elicited a not-condescending "meh" from both the Lady and myself.

Again, perfectly adequate carbon copies of the standard hamburger. Not really enough of a taste sensation for me to order again, though I am keen to try the breakfast shots. What can I say? I'm a sucker for tiny hamburgers. One final note: these are not sliders. Sliders sometimes have greasier buns and "special" sauce, but they always have grilled onions, which were sadly missing from the burgershots. This is what separates them from White Castle or the immortal Bates Hamburgers of greater Wayne and Livonia.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bacon Jam vs. Baconnaise in BJBALT form

This one goes out to the Onion AV Club Taste Test team, who always gets the first bite of bacon derivatives. Chew on this!

Before we ruin our appetites, a little background is in order. I first heard about Bacon Jam in a post on a completely irrelevant message board. It was being sold by some scooter shop out west that was charging something like $14 for shipping. Being the occasionally wise consumer, I Googled "Bacon Jam" and was able to order it directly from the source -- Skillet, a roving diner in Airstream Trailer form out west. What will the Starbucks-addled minds of the Pacific Northwest think of next?!

Bacon Jam. It sweats through its own jar. Looks like cat food and smells like beef jerky. Perfectly suitable as a bacon substitute for a BLT. Right? Well ...

Bacon in non-strip form certainly has this going for it: If you put it on a sandwich, that sandwich will be very easy to cut in half, and you don't have to worry about failing to chomp through it and bringing an entire strip along with your bite. Of course, the tradeoff is that there is no crisp bacon crunch.

So, how does Bacon Jam taste? I had some friends come over to Nate's Plate HQ to tell me just that.

We made some "BLTs" using Bacon Jam as the meat, and Baconnaise (Kosher and vegetarian, from the people who brought us Bacon Salt) instead of regular mayo. I even got fancy and put avocado on them because the grocery store I went to sells avocados and tomatoes next to each other (clearly a display marketing genius's finest work). Sourdough was the bread of the evening. For the sake of accuracy, these sandwiches will be referred to as BJBALTs (Bacon Jam, Baconnaise, Avocado, Lettuce, Tomato).

The orange stuff is Baconnaise and the brown stuff is Bacon Jam.

The sandwiches were washed down with the nectar of the gods known as Magic Hat #9. If it wasn't for the fact that I'm not a big drinker, there is a good chance this stuff would turn me into an alcoholic.

Here were reactions to the first two BJBALTs:

"In some ways this is superior to a regular BLT."
"I'm not really tasting the Baconnaise" (this one will prove to be untrue).
"When you told me about Bacon Jam, I was expecting a gelatin with chunks of bacon suspended in it ...(Instead) it's like a paté."

Me (internal monologue)
"This is pretty good. Not quite normal, but I would definitely eat this again." I didn't even notice that the bacon texture was missing.

"It kinda tastes like a cheeseburger. Like a Wendy's Jr. Bacon to be specific."
"When I first heard the term Bacon Jam, I almost threw up a little. But you get the lettuce and tomato consistency and forget about the jam."

At this point, Logan wanted a second BJBALT even though both Stacey and I swore he had previously said he was not much of a BLT fan. He claims he said he just wasn't a tomato fan. As round two was being prepared, Amber, bacon fan supreme, arrived toting an electric griddle that she generously bestowed upon Nate's Plate HQ.

The second course was served soon enough and it proved to be quite enlightening.

"I don't really taste bacon."
"I don't taste bacon at all and I just had a BLT yesterday so the taste is fresh in my mind."
"The texture is like a tuna sandwich."
"I want real bacon"

As for me, I was discovering that something about the BJBALT was seriously wreaking havoc on the taste of my Magic Hat #9 and that is a major offense. I was beginning to realize that this was not a substitute for actual bacon.

Stacey disagreed. Then, we decided to evaluate Bacon Jam and Baconnaise on their own by spreading them onto tiny pieces of bread -- a course of action that would soon make her realize the error of her ways.

First up: Bacon Jam. Descriptors included "ham salad" (think deviled ham in a chicken salad-like concoction) and "vaguely smoky." Everyone agreed that some sort of sweet onion seemed to be an ingredient.

The only ingredients listed on the Skillet Street Food site are: Rendered "really really good bacon," "a bunch of spices," onions and "etc.," which I believe is like MSG.[1]

How about Baconnaise, the intended condiment? It proved to be responsible for the earlier falsely perceived success of Bacon Jam.

Stacey summed it up best saying, "The only reason I thought that it tasted like a BLT was the Baconnaise."

Pushing Baconnaise farther up the deliciousness totem pole is the fact that while both it and Bacon Jam have to be ordered online, Baconnaise arrives in mere days while Bacon Jam takes weeks.

This is not to say that Bacon Jam is a complete failure, though. Perhaps it's not even meant as a bacon replacement, but as a new kind of bacon product, filling a niche that few of us knew existed. To this end, Bacon Jam will next be evaluated on its own to better assess its ideal use, so stay seated and don't throw your napkin away just yet.

[1] This is a joke. Back up to the article.


Bacon Jam ... Take a whiff

What comes in a jar that sweats bacon, looks like cat food, and smells like the moistest beef jerky ever? Bacon Jam! Some friends came over to Nate's Plate HQ last night and sampled Bacon Jam AND Baconnaise using a new interpretation of the BLT. Part one of our analysis goes live tonight, so be sure to keep your eyes on the hot social networking sites and RSS feeds for when dinner is served.

Oh, and to the Onion A.V. Club Taste Testers: How does it feel to get scooped?!


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Homebrewing adventures: Pale chocolatey stout part three -- Bottling day!

I have to confess something. Last week, when I wrote that I was never going to write about homebrewing on a Tuesday, I was lying. I have a bunch of really good excuses too! Plus, I got an email yesterday saying something sure to stimulate the arteries was shipped to my house and it will definitely make up for this.

But what's more important is that 49 bottles of pale kinda chocolatey stout are now carbonating in bottles in a basement in Redford, Michigan. The best part is that the beer smells like Count Chocula. A non-carbonated room-temperature taste test indicates a mild chocolatey, sort of creamy flavor with very little hop bitterness. If our calculations are right, it's around 6% alcohol. Oh and we're probably going to call it Count Chocustout.

Sanitize your bottles (no twist-offs!), bottling bucket, racking cane, bottling wand, etc. Properly sanitizing everything is a huge pain in the ass and wastes tons of our precious time takes patience and is a very important step!

Syphon the beer from the carboy into the bottling bucket, which in our case is the "deluxe" fermenter. See how much beer you can spill on the floor.

Here's the bottling wand. It has a flimsy valve in the bottom that likes to stick, giving you more opportunities to spill beer on the floor. It's also nice because your hands will smell like beer for about 12 hours after you use this.

The bottling wand in action. Pretty exciting. Leave 1.5 inches or so of air at the top of the bottle when filling it.

Cap your bottles with this device that looks sort of like a Snood character with long arms. Make sure that you've sanitized your caps and you have more caps available than bottles in case some of them get messed up.

Take a little sample while you're at it.

Look for a review of my own beer in the coming weeks.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

True breakfast fans only

If you love the Eggwave (or Egg McMuffins) and you're hip to the cool internet sites, you should probably become an Eggwave fan on Facebook.

Cheers to Amber, proprietor of the wasting-away skinny dudes blog, for making the page!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Super Broker Shuffle

Here's another chart-topping rap about food. These aisles of rhymes about hot deals are truly infectious. Thanks to Jimmy Ohio for the tip!


Mung Crunch! (Fried Mung Beans: Colleague's Cookin' Special Edition PART 2)

You may recall that I reviewed a colleague's fried mung beans a while back. Here's his long-awaited write-up and recipe. And by "long awaited," I mean it has been sitting on my computer for months waiting for me to post it. Here's what Russ has to say.

In these difficult economic times I feel the need to make the most of everything in our cabinets. This has involved making use of a variety of questionable purchases that have been lying around for months. Possibly the most perplexing was the 3 lb bag of mung beans I found underneath the Halloween candy. Much like the whole dried hot peppers and can of chopped clams this must have been a “seemed like a good idea at the time” purchase from the Indian grocery store.

My only previous experience with mung beans was a quote from The Office about said beans “smelling like death," as seen here.

The best part of this video is that it is as much about Crazy Train as it is mung beans. The quote is at 1:30 wait for it… wait for it…

As I found while frying them, they do indeed smell like death. My wife actually got sick to her stomach from the smell. As with just about any food once they are fried and salted they are delicious. My recipe is below.

Mung Crunch
250 g mung beans (8 oz.)
1 tb Vegetable oil
Salt to taste
1. Just soak the mung beans overnight. Drain them and dry thoroughly.
2. Fry in vegetable oil over a moderate heat, turning frequently, until they are browned and crisp - between 5 and 10 minutes.
3. Drain on kitchen paper towelling, sprinkle with salt, and cool. They store very successfully in airtight jars.


Homebrewing adventures: Pale chocolatey stout part two

Last weekend (the 25th), we decided to transfer the beer into the secondary fermenter. It definitely smells like alcohol now, so that's a fun surprise. As you can see in the last photo, it's quite pale for a stout. Note from the editor: The stats in my Google Analytics account tell me that you guys aren't really into these beer brewing tales, so they'll no longer be Tuesday features -- just a little something extra.

Siphon the beer from the primary fermenter into the "carboy" (secondary fermenter). This usually takes a few tries and you're guaranteed to get some partially fermented beer on the floor. Get a dog to lick it up.

Yeast sludge in the bottom of the "deluxe" primary fermenter. Perhaps we should have made some Vegemite with this.

The carboy all full and sealed up with the air lock. This lets the beer continue fermenting without sitting on a bunch of yeast sludge.

See Homebrewing adventures part one >