Saturday, September 16, 2006

3am Snack

Late last night I had a long journey ahead of me. I was at a party in a part of town that's far away from where I live. Additionally, I had a bit of a walk to get to the proper subway stop. A light mist was in the air as I left the party. I made my way through the damp streets, contemplating the lengthy subway trip in my near future.

All of a sudden, about two blocks from the subway entrance, I realized that I was extremely hungry. I thought about what I might have to eat at such a late hour. There was pizza certainly, but it was out of the way and would leave me feeling queasy from too much grease. Then I remembered a little 24 grocery store up ahead.

I imagined myself going in and purchasing a small bag of Kettle Chips. I considered what flavor I might purchase. I love sea salt and vinegar, but I can tire of it after a few chips. I also like New York cheddar and herb, but I too frequently get those. Not wanting to be stuck in a rut, I made up my mind to purchase the goat cheese and roasted red pepper variety.

I walked into the store. As I passed the front counter I spotted, a ways back, a shelf brimming with potato chips of all descriptions. I headed for them. Now, I don't know exactly how it happened, but at some point I became aware of a refrigerated case to my left. Halfway to the potato chip shelf I stopped in my tracks. I took a closer look at the refrigerated case. It contained many things including, but not limited too, hummus, freshly cut fruit, salads, and preprepared sandwiches.

I was about to continue on my way, but something about the preprepared sandwiches made me hesitate. I decided to peruse the various kinds. They were all on organic 7 grain bread and many of them were meatless. I noticed a meatless "chicken" salad sandwich. Next to it I noticed a meatless "turkey" salad sandwich. After a moment I gave the "turkey" salad sandwich a poke. It didn't seem too mushy, a common pitfall of preprepared sandwiches. I picked it up and flipped it over to see the price tag. $3.49. Not too bad, I thought. I looked over the ingredients. They sounded pretty good. I glanced sheepishly in the direction of the chips before making my hasty way, sandwich in hand, to the front counter.

The employee behind the counter rang me up and I left the store, excited to try my newly acquired sandwich. Within seconds I had succeeded in removing the plastic wrap around my sandwich. I paused before taking the first bite. Something was amiss. I suddenly remembered that preprepared sandwiches are awful. I recalled with bitter clarity a number of similar sandwiches I had previously eaten. I remembered stale bread. I remembered wilted lettuce. I remembered amorphous masses of sandwich fixings, oozing with suspect mayonnaise. I grimaced at the recollection of other first bites into these kinds of sandwiches. I held the sandwich at my lips, as if it was suspended in time, not sure how to proceed.

Throwing caution to the wind I took a bite and to my immense surprise it was good. The bread was fresh and tasty, the Chinese cabbage was crispy, and the "turkey" salad itself was, if not a masterpiece, light and pleasantly spicy. I eagerly took another bite and found it equally satisfying. I reached the subway entrance.

As I descended the stairs to the platform I ate the remaining bites of the sandwich and reflected upon my good fortune.

Preprepared Meatless "Turkey" Sandwich: B+

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Grilled Cheese at Junior's

I went to Junior's yesterday with a former girlfriend of mine.  Almost every time I've been there I get seated at the exact same table and this time was no different.  I commented on this phenomenon to my former girlfriend and she agreed that it was odd, as there are many tables in the establishment.

I took a swig of my water, which arrived seconds after we were seated, and cracked open the menu.  As I looked over the options I noticed that the grilled cheese sandwich was available, upon request, with cheddar cheese rather than American cheese.  This was pretty appealing to me because I love grilled cheese sandwiches, but I do not like American cheese.  Our waiter arrived and we placed our orders.  I was very careful to mention that I wanted my grilled cheese with cheddar.  Our order complete, the waiter disappeared.  I set about drinking my water, eyeing but not eating the complimentary bread which had arrived at our table, and conversing with my former girlfriend.

She had ordered mozzarella sticks and these arrived within a few minutes.  She asked if I wanted to split them.  I said no thanks, I'd have enough melted cheese soon enough, but I said that I would sample one.  I moved my mozzarella stick from the plate on which they came to a smaller plate in front of me.  I tried it and I have to say that, to me, a mozzarella stick is a mozzarella stick.  It was fine I guess, but I don't see why people get excited about them.  The primary taste seems to be deep fried.  As a side note, my former girlfriend hates cheese, but loves mozzarella sticks.  I find this to be bewildering and wrongheaded.

A few more minutes past and the rest of our food arrived.  As soon as my plate was set down in front of me I could see that I had not received cheddar on my sandwich as requested.  I was about to protest, but our waiter was already speeding away.  I looked down at my sandwich, dismayed.

I ate a french fry absentmindedly.  I looked at my sandwich.

As long as it was sitting in front of me I might as well eat it, I thought to myself as I reached for the ketchup.  I poured a large pool of ketchup onto my plate and proceeded to drown each bite of my sandwich in it.  I will admit that despite the American cheese the sandwich wasn't all bad.  It was crispy and the bread was alright.  Also, I also enjoyed my french fries well enough.

My former girlfriend had ordered the "Something Different", which consisted of beef brisket sandwiched between potato pancakes with apple sauce on the side.  I tried a bite of a potato pancake with some applesauce and thought it was pretty good.

All in all I did not enjoy Junior's as much as I have on previous visits.  Still, in general, I like the place a lot and I don't want to discourage anyone from going there.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich if You Like American Cheese: B-
Grilled Cheese Sandwich if You Don't Like American Cheese: D
Getting American Cheese When Cheddar Was Specifically Requested: F
French Fries: B+
Mozzarella Sticks: C+
Liking Mozzarella Sticks, but Not Cheese: D-
Bite of Potato Pancake w/ Applesauce: A-
Overall Experiance: C-

Friday, September 08, 2006

Caprese Sandwich

The other day I was having some coffee outside Cafe Regular with a friend of mine who is a police officer. As we finished our coffee I mentioned that I was pretty hungry. He said that although he was not too hungry, he wouldn't mind going along and getting a snack. I mused that I wanted to try someplace that I hadn't been before. My friend thought about this for a moment and then suggested that we head up to this Italian deli on 7th Ave. and 9th Street. He spoke of a caprese sandwich that, while a bit pricy, was great.

We walked the few blocks up to the place, the name of which I can't recall. Outside was a sign advertising that any sandwich with a can of soda was eight dollars. Depending on the sandwich, eight dollars didn't sound too steep. We stepped inside. The place was had a big cheese case, many kinds of pasta, and about thirty bowls of various things swimming in olive oil including olives, sundried tomatoes, and stuffed peppers of various kinds. I stepped up to the counter and the guy behind it asked what I wanted, but, oddly, seemed to be looking behind me. I don't just mean that he wasn't making eye contact with me, I mean that he seemed to be looking at someone in particular. I looked behind me, but no one was there.

"What'll you have?" he repeated as I turned back to face him. I tried to make eye contact to confirm it was me that he was talking to, but he continued to look past me.

"Me?" I finally asked.

"Yes," he responded as if it were an absurd question.

I ordered the caprese sandwich and he nodded, still seemingly looking at someone other than me. I looked over at my friend to see if he had noticed the interaction, but he was busy selecting a loaf of bread to purchase. I turned my attention to the drink cooler. The sign outside had offered a free can of soda and, as I perused the options, I wondered if by "can" the sign specifically meant a can or if the offer extended to bottles as well. It turned out not to be an issue because I spotted cans of San Pellegrino Limonata, one of my all-time favorite drinks. Still, I wondered if the sign referred only to the cans soda on the top row of the cooler, which were all things like Coke and Sprite. I wondered if, when I grabbed my drink of choice, I would be advised by an employee that I had not selected one included in the sign's offer. I mentioned this train of thought to my friend and he suggested that I play it safe and wait until I had received my sandwich so that I could grab my soda on my way out.

A minute later my sandwich was ready. I gave the guy eight dollars and he gave me a bag with my sandwich. I peered inside the bag and saw that that sandwich was huge. It came on an entire baguette. Although I couldn't see the nature of the contents, as it was wrapped in white paper, my hopes were running high. I grabbed my soda, quickly put it into the bag with the sandwich, and stepped outside, followed by my friend, who had just purchased his bread. At this point we split up and I went home to eat my sandwich.

Upon arrival back at my apartment I took a seat at the peninsula in my kitchen. Another friend of mine, the one whose cookies I ate about a month ago, was also seated at the peninsula typing away on his computer. He paused for a moment to look skeptically on as I unwrapped my sandwich. As he went back to typing I knew I was about to eat an amazing sandwich. It was piled high with fresh mozzarella, sun dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, and basil. I ate the first half of the sandwich and found it to be just as good as it looked and twice as filling. Having learned my lesson from the donut incident I called it quits at this point. I refrigerated the remaining half of the sandwich. Upon further reflection I would say that nearly everything about the sandwich was great, except for the bread which, though plentiful, was only pretty good.

Caprese Sandwich: A
Bread Used: B+
The Guy Who Made the Caprese Sandwich Not Looking at Me: C+
Overall Experience: A-

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Bow Tie Donut

I was walking home with a friend of mine yesterday after having eaten a large meal at Bonnie's Grill.  As we walked along 3rd Avenue in Brooklyn we passed a Dunkin' Donuts/Taco Bell/Pizza Hut.  I wasn't hungry at all, in fact I was overly full, but the smell of donuts overwhelmed me.  It was so good that, in spite of knowing that I would feel sick if I ate a donut, I proposed just that to my friend.  He agreed that a donut sounded great.  It was late at night so we could not enter the establishment.  Instead we walked up to the drive-through window.  My friend ordered a coconut donut and I ordered a "bow tie".  Having procured our donuts we continued on our way back home.  I ate mine very quickly because it was delicious -- Imagine a cinnamon twist without the cinnamon.  But my happiness was not meant to last.  From the highest of highs to the lowest of lows!  The instant I ate the last bite of my donut I felt too full by half.  I waddled home dejected and spent the rest of the night lamenting my poor decision.  Why would I eat a donut when I was already too full?  Why couldn't I resist? I don't know. I don't know the answers to these questions.

Bow Tie Donut: A-
Eating Bow Tie Donut While Already Full: F
Overall Experience: D

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Salad Days

Today, while at work, I decided I wanted a salad. I hadn't purchased a takeout salad in the area before so I wasn't sure where to go. Someone told me that The Pita Pit made salads, but I hate the cartoon vegetable decorations in that place so much that the chances of me enjoying any food from there are almost zero. One time I got some falafel from there and rather than focusing on eating I was preoccupied by the dumb looking anthropomorphized stalk of celery I had seen minutes before.

Giving The Pita Pit a wide berth as I passed, I walked down the street to the Here and Now Deli. I breezed by their counter to the cold case where I perused the salad options, of which there were two. Option number one involved croutons and looked like a Caesar salad to me. Option number two had miscellaneous toppings on it like onions, olives, blue cheese, and carrot shavings. I decided on option number two, which I had to ask for, as the cold case was accessible only to employees. The employee asked which I wanted and I pointed. "Caesar?" the employee asked. "No, this one," I replied. "Caesar?" the employee repeated. "Ahhh..." I said. The employee reached in and pulled out the one I had pointed to. I nodded, perplexed, but glad that I would be getting the salad I wanted. I was then asked what kind of dressing I wanted, to which I said, "Blue cheese."

$3.99 later (plus tax) I got the salad back to work. I sat down and opened up the container. It was stacked high, I'll give it that, but I immediately had misgivings. I hadn't seen the salad close-up when I purchased it. Now, upon more careful scrutinization, several problems were evident. The cherry tomatoes were wrinkled, the olives had left little pools of olive juice on the pieces of lettuce where they sat, several large carrot shavings looked slimy, and much of the lettuce had browning edges. Still, the blue cheese dressing looked good and was plentiful.

After removing some of the most suspect looking tomatoes and pieces of lettuce, I poured the dressing on in liberal quantities. My first bite consisted of a large piece of lettuce and a green olive, both well covered with dressing. It was alright. Not great, but alright. Next I tried a carrot shaving, which, while they looked slimy, tasted REALLY slimy. I promptly removed the remaining carrot shavings from the salad. I then worked my way through about 2/3 of the salad. The best bite came at this point. I encountered a lone black olive under a piece of lettuce. I don't know what it was doing there, but it tasted pretty good. With a few unlikely looking pieces of lettuce remaining I decided to call it quits.

In retrospect I probably shouldn't obtain salads from mediocre delis and I certainly won't be purchasing any more salads from the Here and Now Deli. I might go there later to get a chocolate bar though.

Salad from Here and Now Deli: D+
Slimy Carrots: F-
The One Black Olive I Found: B-
Overall Experience: D

Friday, September 01, 2006


I went to Chicago about two weeks ago and when I came back a place called Roll & Dough had opened up near where I work. They sell bings, as a large sign outside proclaims. Despite the fact that I didn’t have any idea what a bing was I decided to give the place a shot. Well, let me tell you, bings are amazing. Apparently they're a popular kind of street food in China. What you have is bread covered in sesame seeds and then filled with various things. So far I’ve tried the regular vegetarian, hot and sour vegetable, and sweet red bean. There are many other kinds available, especially if you eat meat. They also have steamed buns, dumplings, soups, and noodles. The best part of the whole thing is that the bings are only $1.50 or $1.75 each. Are you kidding me? This is the greatest thing that’s happened to me all week.

Bings from Roll & Dough: A+

Utz Bar-B-Q Flavored Potato Chips

The other day I purchased a 25-cent bag of Utz brand Bar-B-Q flavored potato chips. At the time I purchased them I had recently eaten another very salty snack, but I purchased them anyway because they caught my eye when I was at the counter of my local corner store. I got the chips home and cracked them open. After about ten chips, which I only moderately enjoyed, I started to feel like I never wanted to taste salt again. I was then faced with a problem. On the one hand I still had about ten more perfectly good chips remaining in the bag (as well as a few smaller pieces and crumbs), but on the other hand it seemed absurd to save half of a 25-cent bag of mediocre chips. In the end I decided to save them for later. They are still in my cupboard right now, unless someone else ate them. Maybe tonight I’ll be hungry for a very light snack and I will be glad I didn’t discard the remaining chips.

The 10 Chips I Ate a Couple Nights Ago: C+
Too Many Salty Snacks: D
Projected Grade for Remaining Chips: C-