Throwback Thursday: That time I ate 10 Doritos Locos Tacos

(Originally written September 4, 2013)

doritos_locos

I had been waiting for this moment to arrive for eons, if not millennia.  Every time I’d see an ad for Doritos Locos Tacos within a commercial break during a football game, or another entertaining episode of Duck Dynasty, I’d immediately drop everything and run down to my nearest Taco Bell (which, incidentally, is three long blocks away).  But even if they weren’t closed at the time, they did not have any Doritos Locos Tacos; twas but an American-only offer… until now.  When I first heard the news that they were finally coming to Canada, I did not jump off the couch, because it was pretty late, and I am well aware of their hours of operation.  That said, I made sure to make my way down there this evening for a most delectable, gut-busting feast.

doritos_locos_receipt

As you can see, the 10 tacos only came to $15.90 plus tax, which is less than you’d pay for a martini at Suits Lobby Lounge.  They did try to upsell me to “Doritos Locos Tacos Supremos,” but it really wasn’t worth paying extra for a little salsa and sour cream, not when I’ve invited my friends Tabasco and Salsa Con Queso to the the party:

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What doesn’t taste better with processed cheese sauce? I’d put that stuff on a flip-flop!

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Man, this taco was like a one-way ticket to Flavourtown.  Make that 10 one-way tickets.  The shell was hard and crunchy up top, but soft and mushy on the bottom, which is less unappetizing than it sounds.  The beef was lightly seasoned, with the crispness of the lettuce, a little kick from the hot sauce…  But what makes this dish is the salsa con queso.  You’ve got the creaminess of the cheese sauce, some heat from the peppers–I put that shit on everything (or at least on macaroni).

Of course, 10 tacos in one sitting is not for the weak of cholesterol.  By the fifth one, I was already counting how many I had left; by the seventh, I could start to feel it in my chest.  When I bit into the ninth, the aftertaste kicked in, and I broke into a violent coughing fit about halfway through.  But nobody wants to be the guy who buys 10 Doritos Locos Tacos and only eats nine of them, so I soldiered on, leaving a whole mess of wrappers–and some orange Dorito fingers–in my wake:

taco_aftermath

(See those pill bottles on the left?  I’m gonna be needing some of all of them in a bit…)

All Hail Cheese Seitan!

(Originally written August 21, 2014)

So I had vegan food today, and hey, it’s actually not bad!  It’s not something I’d do every day, but I figure that if I’m gonna eat something with no meat, it better resemble meat as closely as possible.  Hence, the Philly cheese seitan at Hogtown Vegan:

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To their credit, it actually looked like meat.  Not the thinly-shaved ribeye you’d find in a cheesesteak, mind you; more like gyro meat, which I’m pretty sure still has some beef in it.  Of course, this dish was completely beef-free.  I’d say it also had the texture of a gyro, and a nice dash of seasoning…but it certainly didn’t taste like steak.  And I’m not sure the cheese sauce really reminded me of cheese, though it certainly was messy!  On the other hand, the fries were pretty much your standard fries, cuz hey, you can’t vegan those up, eh?

Alas, while I came away satisfied with the overall edibleness of the meal, I will say that the tatooed-hipster service at the Bloor St. W eatery left a little to be desired–which is to say, it was rudimentary at best.  The place wasn’t even all that busy, but I did not see a server between the time we received our food and the time we finished eating.  Hey, I mighta had another beer or two (Mill St Organic, natch) there, instead of hitting up some hipster bar down the street, had they been a bit more attentive.  (Said server also would’ve received a more respectable tip to go towards her latest performance-art piece.)

I will say this: I’ve got a bit of an unpleasant aftertaste right now, and I don’t think it’s from the Mill St. Organic…

Hogtown Vegan, 1056 Bloor St. W (East of Dufferin). Philly Cheese Seitan, $13.

How to make a better cheesesteak than the Air Canada Centre

Now, I’ve been to the ACC a buncha times, and I gotta say, some of their food options are OK. I would totally recommend the roast beef sandwich at the Real Sports stand—if you’re sitting in the lower bowl, they can even bring it to your seat! But I would definitely advise against ordering their sorry excuse for cheesesteak from one of the other places. Not unless you like eating subway shoe leather served on a crappy hotdog bun with some sorry-ass cheese sauce. Let’s just say that if the ACC’s cheesesteak was a Spinal Tap album, it would be Shark Sandwich. (Love those guys, by the way!)

In fact, I was so infuriated after paying $10.50 for this garbage that I set out to make my own, using only a frying pan and a cutting board. Cuz hey, you don’t hafta be fancy to make a steak sandwich!

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OK, so here’s what I did. I took some steak, some onions and some peppers, slapped ‘em up with a Slap Chop, and threw ‘em in a goddamn pan on medium for five freakin’ minutes. The end result was delicious. Tell me you wouldn’t pay $10.50 for this:

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So hey, if you happen to see me hanging out at the upcoming Motley Crue reunion tour, then no, that isn’t a cheesesteak in my pants—I’m just happy to see Tommy Lee! 😉

No trip to Ottawa would be complete without a visit to Fake Real Sports

(Originally written August 27, 2014)

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Now, I’ve been to the real Real Sports Bar & Grill a handful of times, mostly to watch football–whether it was the Super Bowl, a post-Seahawks-shitstomping-Buffalo celebration, or, more recently, when I had basketball tickets on the evening of the Hawks’ Wild Card playoff game.  The one time I went there for the Stanley Cup Finals, I couldn’t get a seat.  But the Ottawa edition certainly wasn’t packed for an afternoon CFL contest and some NFL preseason action–not even at 7:30 on a Saturday.  (Then again, isn’t that when most Ottawans hit the hay, anyways?)

That said, ownership has done a pretty good job of making the George St. location seem like Real Sports on steroids–if steroids made your junk smaller.  (Oh, wait!)  It’s almost like a miniature version of the real thing, what with its frosted glass bar, back wall of beer taps, and a centrepiece TV that you can see from the scaled-down second floor.  Of course, while the real Real Sports boasts a giant screen the size of a Toronto townhouse, the Ottawa edition is roughly as large as your MP’s office.  Which is to say, you still gotta crane your neck to watch the action when seated at the bar.

I will say this, though:  While I wasn’t impressed with the food in Toronto the one time I ate there, I’d say my capital-city meal was a major improvement.  Although I can’t say it was an Ottawa thing–the two menus are virtually identical; in fact, the sandwich I ordered features prominently on the Toronto Real Sports’ website.  That said, the Triple Threat puts three good things between two pieces of bread: namely, pulled pork, beef brisket and peameal bacon.  The first two blend together quite nicely, while the latter adds another texture to the dish.  And the best thing about this sammy?  No veggies in sight!

real_sports_sandwich

UPDATE: It would appear that the Triple Threat is no longer on the menu…but they do offer something called “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner,” which is most likely trademarked by Guy Fieri. 😉

Breakfast of Champions in Vancouver

So, a couple years back, I took a Flavourtown Roadtrip to Vancouver for the 102nd Grey Cup. Now, Vancouver’s supposed to be, like, 15 degrees in December, right? Well, I just happened to be there on the coldest day of the year. So I’m stumbling down Davie St. at 2 am in cargo shorts, flip flops and a cowboy hat, and it’s -8 outside. But that’s when I found breakfast salvation in the World Famous Elbow Room Café, where food and service is their name, but abuse is their game. I had to come back a few hours later when they were actually open, though.

Man, this place has everything; big-ass pancakes, 19 different kinds of omelets, a flamboyantly gay waiter who curses you out in French…and no, I’m not even making that up. Of course, I ordered the Mr. Alberta, which was probably named after me, even though they hadn’t even met me yet:

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OK, let’s break it down. What you’ve got here is a 5oz top sirloin steak, cooked medium rare and topped with blackened tomaters, camouflaged scrambled eggs hiding behind a big bowl of hash brownies, and four fricken slices of jalapeno toast. Cuz why have white bread when you can get jalapeno toast? Shut both the front and back doors, dude! The only thing that could make this delish dish any better is if they added some beans ‘n cornbread, or nacho chips with gravy!

Patrick, the waiter, was in fine form on this early morn. Seeing my vintage, game-worn “Stormin’” Normie Kwong jersey, he incorrectly stated that no team from Ontario would ever lose to Calgary. (Of course, he was wrong, since that team happened to be from Hamilton.) He then remarked that he used to wear the exact same cowboy hat when he played Patsy Cline in a drag show. So, clearly the man has excellent taste in haberdashery. He instructed me how to pay en français, to which I responded with a hearty “Merci, monsieur.” Seizing the moment, I added “Tsé, yen a des cowboys qui parlent français icitte. Vive l’Alberta libre!”

Y’see, I may have been raised by gypsy wolves on the south side of the Saskatchewan River, but those wolves were fluent in both official languages. And the next time Calgary comes to Vancouver to win a national championship, I know where I’ll be eating on game day. Stampeders 20, Tiger-Cats 16—just win, baby!

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John Catucci is a true Canadian treasure!

(Originally written June 27, 2014)

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It’s Friday, which can only mean one thing: back-to-back new episodes of You Gotta Eat Here!  When I first heard about the Food Network show, Canada’s answer to Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, I figured it had to be a pale imitation that could only thank CANCON regulations for its existence.  But y’know what, I think I actually like our version better now, and not just because I can actually walk to some of the places I’ve seen on the show.

Put it this way: YGEH! host John Catucci is not the Canadian Guy Fieri…and that’s a good thing!  Although I still watch his show–for the food–the bleach-blond broseph has been getting on my nerves lately, and not just because they brought my food to the wrong table at his American Kitchen and Bar.  When an old episode of Triple-D comes on, ever notice how Guy wasn’t covered in awful-looking tattoos back in the day?  And man, his catchphrases have become so cliche that even everyday diners on You Gotta Eat Here! are using them now.  Hmm, I wonder if Food Network Canada owes him royalties for that…

But while Fieri spends more time hobnobbing with Kid Rock and the cast of Grown-Ups 2 (ever the arbiter of terrible taste) than he does helping in the kitchen, The Catooch, as he’s affectionately called, is not afraid to get his hands dirty.  I must admit, I was entirely unfamiliar with the Canadian actor/comedian beforehand, previously best known for his role on the CBC children’s show The Doodlebops.  But he’s won me over with his self-effacing humour, his kind and gentle demeanour…and most importantly, his equal love of plaid and food.  When I watch the program, I think “Now there’s a guy who could eat as many hamburgers in one day as I can!”  Or maybe not… 😉

In a nutshell, what makes Catucci so endearing to Canadian viewers is his utter Canadianness.  Even the tagline “I’m not a chef, but I know great food when I eat it!” gives the impression that he’s not some overinflated, egotistical Texan, but just your ordinary, average Canuck, the kinda guy you’d like to have a beer with.  And hey, although I don’t live in the area anymore, if John ever visits Puck ‘n Wings or Burrito Bandidos in The Annex, I wanna be in that episode!  Dude, those wings are bananas, and bananas is goodTM!

TMGuy Fieri

Food Truck Feeding Frenzy Friday: How to say good eats in Slovenian

(Originally written January 15, 2014)

Waiting outside was a harsher ideal as temperatures dropped below zero today.  (My left foot is still frozen as I type this.)  But when the pot of gold at the end of the proverbial rainbow is a hearty schnitzel sandwich, I don’t mind braving the elements for 25 minutes.

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Dobro Jesti mostly serves schnitzel, of the chicken or pork variety, though there are a few different topping options to chosse from.  This version seen above came with crisp lettuce, some tangy bits of pickle and not nearly enough bacon jam atop double stacked pork between two piece of rye bread.  Let me just say that the bread was perfect, nice freshness with a great chew.  The kind you’d find on an ideal smoked-meat sandwich…but hey, it works as a vessel for pork schnitzel as well.