Tag Archives: Cheez

On the road…again.

On 11/10/10 at 11:05 a.m. J writes:

So I’ve been on the road again a good bit this week, but not really on the road, which means that I get my food stipend and can eat in places that I normally wouldn’t, because, well, I’m cheap. So food trucks serve a special niche for me because of their low cost goodness.

And before everyone starts to get all upity on me, you should know that some very highly placed journalists and industry PR people have enjoyed food trucks as well, so smoke on your pipe and put that in, or whatever.

This week though I was taking some out-of-town friends and colleagues out for a Philadelphia cheesesteak. They said they wanted the authentic experience, which, of course, as we all know, means Pat’s, Geno’s or Jim’s. We eliminated Pat’s and Geno’s because it was 30 degrees and while I do have fond memories of eating a cheesesteak from Pat’s at 3:00 a.m. when it was 12 degrees out, with my friends and I all saying various versions of, “YOU GOTTA WANT IT!!!” I think I might have been drunk at the time. So my memory might be cloudy.

Anyway, we went to Jim’s. Jim’s is the cheesesteak place on 4th and South. It has pictures of famous people and it sells T-shirts and hats. I’m not ready to call this an iron-clad rule yet, but if you are selling hats and reminding people that famous people once ate there, presumably before veganism and vegetarianism became morally superior, you really aren’t thinking about your food anymore.

We got to Jim’s at around 6:00 p.m. on a Sunday night and the line was out the door. There were people from Germany, Montreal and what I assume were other foreign countries because the line moved in an orderly non-disruptive fashion, so it’s unlikely they were all from Philadelphia.

My companions and I kept in good humor as we waited in line at the cheesesteak stand. By the time we got to the grill, I had in mind what I wanted to order. Whiz with extra whiz. My female companion behind me said she wanted the same thing, and the other dude ordered the same thing without onions.

We managed to find tables upstairs surprisingly easily given the crowd in the lobby, but while I enjoyed the company, the food was a total disappointment. I had paid $.70 for extra whiz, and I was left wondering what a normal whiz steak would have looked like. Part of the charm of a Philadelphia cheesesteak is when the whiz drips out onto the wrapper and you can sop it up with what’s left of your roll like a biscuit. But on this cheesesteak I couldn’t even taste the whiz.

In fact, all I could really taste were the onions, which were piled on top, rather than grilled into the meat like they are supposed to be and not quite cooked right. The bread was cold.

I paid $10.50 for the experience; money wasted.

On Tuesday night I wound up working late again and walked through the Gallery Mall. There’s a steak place there called Charley’s Fried Steaks, which gives out excellent samples on days when you are lucky. But here’s the thing- the actual cheesesteaks you pay for are not nearly as good as the sample.

I ordered the chicken club, which was supposed to come with cheese, bacon, tomatoes and lettuce. They grilled it, and didn’t put any bacon on it, which was my first disappointment.

Then they sent it down the assembly line to a surly little man who stood in front of the fixings bar. He stared at me. Not, with a “what would you like, sir?” smile but with a “what do you want?” look that didn’t have a question with it. I was going to say just put on what it’s supposed to have on it, but since they had already screwed up the bacon, I didn’t have much hope that they’d get the rest of the sandwich right so I proceeded to make my own creation.

And it didn’t work out. The combination of swiss cheese (yes, swiss cheese), ranch (I choked) and hot peppers (again, another mistake) made the whole sandwich a disappointment.

Equally disappointing were the cheese fries, which I had paid a premium for and which, well, wound up being far too soggy.

I paid $11.67 for the experience. Money wasted.

From now on, I’m just sticking with the food trucks.

Now who wants pie?

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Adventures in Lunch

Monday at 2:05 p.m., J writes:

Lunch is risky in Philadelphia. Today is my first day of class, which means I eat lunch out and eat the lunch I packed in my car on my way to class. Makes for an interesting foraging expedition.

I often supplement my lunches with items from the food truck, but food trucks, for all their merits, have a severe lack of options when it comes to chips and dessert. So I went to Washington Square Pharmacy today, where I expected to find something good.

Most pharmacies are really mini-grocery stores anymore, but not Washington Square Pharmacy. The lighting was dim, the place smelled like old ladies and it really did have nothing but drugs and associated vitamins, oh and canes, yeah this store, which had less square footage than my office, had an aisle with canes. Nice ones too. I wasn’t in the market for canes, but I suspect the clientele, who may appreciate that the place smells like home, would be.

Anyway, because of the overabundance of drugs and canes–did I mention the canes?–they didn’t have much in the way of chips or dessert. I had been hoping for a lemon fruit pie, but walked out with a Reeses Cup and a Butterfinger, because when you can’t decide it’s best to get them both.

The candy bars didn’t disappoint, but the experience of Washington Square Pharmacy most certainly did. And to the guy who was sorting tampon boxes at the counter while I waited for him to ring up my purchase, would it kill you to smile or say hello, or is that part of the charm of the place?

Anyway, after selecting my desert I went to my favorite truck to get my latest and greatest creation, the bacon cheese steak. He hit another home run. This time, instead of pork bacon he added turkey bacon. Maybe he was out of pork bacon, maybe because I’m a regular customer he was concerned about my health, I don’t know. But he got the taste exactly right, the sandwich fit inside the bun, which he kindly toasted, and the cheese whiz didn’t spill out, which often happens.

Cost today, $5.50, fifty cents less than last time for you avid readers. Why? I don’t know and I don’t care. The sandwich was pure deliciousness

I write on Tuesday at 1:15 p.m. (I was out Monday):

I love it.

I’m glad that “The candy bars didn’t disappoint” because one would think that with candy bar purchases you’re guaranteed to get the same level of candybarness each and every time. Not true.

Have you ever had a stale Reeses Peanut Butter Cup? They’re terrible. They’re not even worth eating.

J replies:

Actually, I’ve never been disappointed by a candy bar. Never.

Me:

You’ve never had a Reeses that was literally CRUMBY?

It happens when they’re stale.

J muses:

Haven’t, and oddly I feel like I’ve missed out on one of the great joys of life.

I retort:

It’s not one of the great joys of life.  It’s TERRIBLY disappointing.

There’s nothing like looking forward to biting into a nice, moist Reeses, and having your teeth meet with tasteless peanut butter dust. Awful, simply awful.

ALMOST as bad as looking forward to some ice cream you’ve put in the freezer (which you’ve watched your diet all day for), only to open and fruitlessly search the freezer’s frigid depths to find out your mom ate it.

One of the main reasons I moved out.

J agrees:

When your roommate, wife, mother, father, brother, pet sheep, et al. eat your food it is the end of the relationship, or beginning of the end, people should just know not to do that.
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Yes. They should.

Stop Messing With Doritos!

Via e-mail at 8:03 a.m.
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J writes:

Why can’t the Frito Lay company just leave well enough alone? Yes, I loved it when the classic Nacho Cheese became Nacho Cheesier and the Cool Ranch is a classic, but their product line is littered with failed attempts at greatness and their latest foray is just wrong.

Made a quick trip to Wawa last night for cash and saw that Doritos has now introduced a “second degree burn” line of chips of the buffalo and jalapeño variety. I love buffalo wings and chicken tenders and I pop jalapeno poppers like they are candy, so I was intrigued at what the chips tasted like. I had also recently had a good experience with Herrs jalapeno popper flavored cheese curls.

So I bought a bag of buffalo wing flavored chips and a jalapeno cheese stuffed pretzel (these are a great invention of Wawa) and a raspberry lemonade to wash it all down.

I ate the pretzel without incident and I mention that just to show that I am not a food wuss when it comes to spicy items.

Then I started in on the buffalo chips. It was like my mouth was on fire. I couldn’t even taste the buffalo for the pain it was causing the inside of my mouth. Then I did something I never do; I closed the bag and threw it away. I didn’t even bother to finish it. That’s how awful they were.

I know that there’s a subculture that enjoys eating food so hot it’s painful. I’m usually there. But when I’m eating peppers or other hot things that make your mouth burn I want to be in Mexico or some Mexican themed bar with a group of my friends. I don’t want to be driving home eating a 99 cent bag of chips.

They suck.

To Frito Lay: Knock it off.

Icing, Food on the Floor, and Coke

Via e-mail at 3:13 p.m.
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J writes:

We’re living in a society people…can we agree on a couple of things…

it’s OK to eat icing straight out of the can. We all want to, so I’m giving you permission to do so. There is a lot of white cake being made unnecessarily (chocolate cake has its own special merits) so that people can frost it with all manner of deliciousness. This flour could be put to better uses like solving world hunger.

…eating food off your own floor is OK. This only applies to certain food. While it may be fun to see if you can fry an egg on the sidewalk, I don’t recommend eating it if you do. But if you drop a cheese puff on your office floor, go ahead and eat it. You’ll regret that you didn’t later. I mean, you might not admit that you regret it, but you will.

…Coca Cola can solve a lot of the world’s ills. The 80s were a simpler time, when we all had a Coke and a smile. Coke, as we all know, was originally made with cocaine, which was one of the main psychiatric drugs of the late 19th century. Made people extremely happy, at least until they died from heart attacks caused by the cocaine. Now we don’t use cocaine to treat psychiatric disorders. People are miserable and, oddly enough, they are still having heart attacks. So maybe we over-reacted. I’m just saying.