What to do when you don’t know what kinda BBQ you want

So, we’re hanging out at Breakwall BBQ & Smokehouse, this funky neighbourhood joint in The Beaches, where they actually took this little house, and turned it into a BBQ hut. Man, this place has everything: beef brisket, pulled pork, baby back ribs…it’s hard to pick a favourite among so many great dishes, so why not try ‘em all? This is what they call the Indecisive Sampler:

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OK, let’s break it down. You’ve got super tender, smoky brisket, ribs that literally fall off the bone, a pile of juicy pork—and some fries and coleslaw in the background. You can actually choose any two sides, including carrot sticks and quinoa, but why eat quinoa when you can eat fries, bro?

They’ve also got some solid side sauces, like a zesty horseradish aioli and a tangy house BBQ for dipping. Dude, I would so dip my face in a vat of that BBQ sauce! There was so much food on this plate that I had to eat a bunch in order to fit everything into one picture, so here you go:

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And believe it or not, but I still had room for dessert!

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THROWBACK THURSDAY: Maple bacon beer comes to Canada

(Originally written May 30, 2012)

Yes indeedy, Rogue brewery’s infamous Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale is now available at the LCBO!  Picked some of this stuff up last nite, as a matter of fact.  The clerk thought I was crazy, but you know what?  It’s actually pretty good.

The first thing you notice is the maple flavour.  You can both smell and taste it on the first gulp.  It’s kinda like going to a cabane à sucre in Quebec where they leave a big vat of maple syrup at your table and the idea is to pour some on everything.  Hey, when in Rome, right?

There also is a subtle hint of smokiness, but truth be told, even if it was brewed with real bacon, this beer doesn’t taste like piggy.  It’s got a smoky, wood aftertaste that reminded me of Sam Adams, and while I’ve only had Rogue Dead Guy ale once when I was in Portland a couple years back, I recall its colour being similar to this stuff.

Although listed as a “strong beer,” at 5.6 per cent alcohol, it’s not enough to knock you out.  A 750 ml bottle, while listed as one pint, was also enough to fill two of those glasses pictured above.

Final Verdict: I gotta say, even if it didn’t taste like bacon, this brew wasn’t too bad.  I might buy another bottle to have with dinner on a hot summer night, or maybe bring a couple of these to be the toast of a party.  BTW, I must say this stuff paired nicely with the evil concoction I threw together for dinner:

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That’s bacon poutine from Smoke’s Poutinerie, with some Hostess Hickory Sticks on top for that extra smoky kick.  Mmm, bacon…

I almost destroyed this chicken souvlaki pizza

Sometimes, frozen food can give you bad directions. Like, I bought this box of chicken wings that says to cook ‘em for 60 minutes. Dude, who’s gonna wait that long for wings!? Another case in point: President’s Choice Chicken Souvlaki Thin Crust Pizza.

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Now, it says on the back of the box to cook on the lower oven rack (they even bolded this) at 450 for 11-13 minutes. That’s pretty hot, bro! And while I set the timer for 12, I could smell the burn as I got closer. This pizza came out extra crispy:

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But even still, this is elevated frozen food. The chicken is nicely seasoned, really tastes like souvlaki, and the peppers added a nice kick. Little light on onions and tomatoes, but those olives were on point—great burst of flavour in my mouth. I would probably eat this again, only next time, I might put ‘er on the middle rack instead…

When Starbucks becomes Barbucks

When I first heard that Starbucks was gonna start serving beer, I thought it was some kinda April Fool’s joke.  But they ain’t foolin’—Starbucks Evenings are actually a thing. I guess I can see where they’re going with this; I mean, science says drinking coffee at night is bad for you, while drinking wine is good…or apparently not anymore.

But even if there is supposedly no level of safe drinking, nobody wants to be the guy drinking beer at a coffee shop. It’s kinda like being that creepy guy at the end of the bar drinking coffee. Shouldn’t you be somewhere else, bro?

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But today I was that guy. And I didn’t get any dirty looks across the bar, cuz it was only a three-seater. If you’re downtown, the closest Barbucks in Toronto is at 446 Spadina Rd, which is not in Chinatown next to the ElMo, but rather up in Forest Hill, a couple blocks north of St. Clair. I wish I had known that before I put on my flip-flops, but hey, it’s all good and it’s all in fun.

And while they call it Starbucks Evenings, the show actually starts at 2 in the afternoon, just in time for the third inning. They’ve got a buncha Muskoka and Mill St. beers, some wine and stuff, and an evening food menu of elevated microwavable tapas. Can you say truffle mac ‘n cheese, son?

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This mac daddy muffin is nice and creamy, with some crunchy breadcrumbs and a healthy dose of truffle oil. You can definitely taste the richness in this dish, which sells for $6.95. Of course, it’s really just a snack-sized portion, unless you’re a six-year-old, so I went with some bacon-wrapped dates to boot!

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Now, I don’t always eat fruit, but when I do, I make it wrapped in bacon. Dude, you totally taste more bacon than date here. Served up warm and on a stick, and with some chocolate sauce for dipping, this dish combines three of my favourite things: bacon, chocolate and oversized toothpicks. And you get four for about the price of a beer!

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I’d say five bucks for a Muskoka Winterweiss is fairly reasonable—it’s pretty much a half-pint. And I don’t mind that they serve it in a glass, but they kinda need to work on their pouring skills, cuz my beer was as flat as that Canada Dry that’s been sitting in the back of the fridge since 2002. Maybe next time I’ll ask for extra foam? 😉

So, I tried French’s ketchup for the first time…

In case you live up in Iqualuit or something, French’s has unofficially become the official ketchup of Canada in the past couple weeks, even though they actually make it in the States (for now, anyways). But hey, the tomatoes are homegrown, and that’s good enough for the guy who got the internet to like it on Facebook. Nowadays, not only can you find French’s at Maple Leaf Loblaws, but they’ve even got it on the boards at the Leafs game!

They still don’t sell it at Longo’s, though, so I had to go to Metro to get my hands on this ruby nectar of gods…

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Now, since I still had literally a pound of leftover French fries from that time I ate a 67 oz steak, I figured I would spice ‘em up with some Leamington Love. Because hey, three-day-old soggy fries are pretty nasty, anyways. I also chucked a chicken breast on top:

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And y’know what, this French’s is pretty sweet. I mean, it’s got a little more of a tangy taste than that competitor of theirs, along with a bit of a kick. If Heinz is the baseline when it comes to ketchup, then it’s safe to say that French’s is off the charts!

This Donald Trump sandwich is full of bologna and B.S.

So, here’s the deal. Waaaay back in January, when Donald Trump running for president was just a silly joke, a Vermont deli was serving up this special sandwich when The Donald came to town:

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But I guess nobody’s a big fan of bologna in Burlington, cuz not a single person ordered it. I can’t say I blame them–$20.16 is quite the price to pay for a whole crapload of bologna! But as Trump continues to put his foot in his mouth on the campaign trail, I figured it was time to put his sandwich in mine. That’s right, I am about to become the first to consume The Donald* in sandwich form!

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OK, so I couldn’t find any white American cheese here in Canada. I’m not even sure if that’s a thing. But I figured I’d substitute some Cracker Barrel Swiss, since I’ve heard that white Americans like to eat there. Although, this so-called Swiss cheese has no holes in it, unlike The Donald’s so-called foreign policy…

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I figured a sandwich like this should have no fewer than six strips of bacon, which is the number of times Trump’s filed for bankruptcy plus the number of times he’s filed for divorce. I’m taking this one straight to bacon court!

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OK, so while I did use spicy deli mustard, I made sure it wasn’t allowed on the cutting board with the bologna and the white bread. Because we don’t build walls here in Canada, bro!

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The Donald and this sandwich even go to the same barber, although I think the sandwich has a slightly better mustard cut…

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And here’s how it looks when you put it altogether. I was originally thinking of going double-decker, but that’s no way I could fit all that into my mouth, bro. You’ve got a whole lotta meaty flavour from all the bologna, a nice chew from the bacon, some sharpness from the cheese, and a nice kick from the mustard. The tomato adds a bit of tang, but I probably didn’t add enough lettuce. Then again, I don’t think The Donald has an environmental policy, so it’s probably best to stay away from the green stuff…

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Now, I know what you’re thinking. Can somebody really stomach all that bologna in one sitting? Well, I gotta say, I started off pretty good, taking nice big bites cuz I was hungry as a hippo. After a while, it got kinda hard to chew, and the white bread started to crumble under all that bologna. When I was getting toward the end, it was tough just to keep all the bologna down. I thought I was about to hurl, bro…just like when I saw Trump talking about abortion!

But I did eventually make it through, after some hard swallows and long gulps of iced tea. I would definitely not eat that much bologna again, though. Here’s hoping they serve up some Ted Cruz breakfast tacos at the Republican Convention**!

*according to the Kountry Kart Deli recipe. A D.C. diner made a Trumpwich of its own, but it’s missing a few key ingredients…

**Not that I would vote for Cruz. When it comes to fellow Calgarians, I’d go with country and western star Theo Fleury for president over that asshat!!!

Your backup plan when you can’t get a reservation at Chili’s

In the hilarious movie Due Date, Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifinwhatshisface get into trouble making a money transfer because Kenny Fucking Powers has a reservation at Chili’s. But y’see, me, I can’t get a reservation at Chili’s cuz the closest one (on this side of the border) is in Regina. Luckily, Maple Leaf Loblaws is serving up Chili’s to go, straight from the frozen-food section, son!

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I could probably just go to Chipotle, get the same thing, and stick it in the freezer for a few hours, but I wouldn’t wanna get all High and Dry with Hysteriosis (or even worse, Pyromania)! It also wouldn’t be served up in this bright red bowl:

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OK, it might not look like much in its frozen state, but once you thaw it out…actually, it kinda looks worse.

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As far as frozen entrees go, though, this mows down Michelina’s and kicks the shit outta Swanson’s. You’ve got some tender, fall-aparty chicken, a nice spice from the beans and peppers, and enough rice to feed a small person. I can’t say I was still a hungry man after this…but then again, I did have an extra-large cheese pizza for lunch. (I’m on the Dan Janssen diet, bro!)