Throwback Thursday: That time everybody lost their shit over lion tacos

(Originally written May 23, 2013)

lion_tacos

The Roman Inquisition, the Salem witch trials… lion tacos!?

How do you get from one historical event to the other?  Just ask Tampa Bay eatery Taco Fusion, which uses the two aforementioned persecutions to defend that fact that it serves the latter.  Apparently, some people want their restaurant shut down, which is pretty much on par with being thrown in jail or burned at the stake.  Nope, no exaggeration there.

Then again, as ABC News reports, “[People have been] coming into the establishment and throwing punches,” the restaurant’s manager Brad Barnett told “Good Morning America.” “They say they are going to bomb us, burn us down, blow us up.”  Over lion meat? …  In a taco!?  I dunno guy, but if someone turned that into a rap song and posted it on Facebook, I’m pretty sure he’d be charged with Communicating a Terrorist Threat.  Can’t they just call the cops?

Instead, it looks like they’d rather call out the haters on their blog.  It would also appear that there are some allegedly shady dealings at the alleged Big Cat Rescue down in Tampa, allegedly.  (Although, truth be told, I couldn’t be arsed to read through their blog post, which has since been taken down.)  In any case, the lions on the menu are being raised on a farm to be fed to humans–for a change–so I don’t see what’s wrong about that.

Waitaminnit, it says here these things cost 35 bucks.  Not for a trio, not for a platter, but for one taco.  You know you could get 105 tacos at Del Taco for that price, right?  (Albeit only on Tuesdays…)

UPDATE: Taco Fusion closed its doors in October 2013. Lions 1, Tacos 0.

If Buckley’s cough syrup was a 70-proof spirit, they’d call it Jeppson’s Malört

(Originally written November 20, 2012)

jeppsons-malort

In Chicago, and only in Chicago, will people willingly and happily consume a beverage so awful that even the owner of the company that makes it won’t touch the stuff.  Jeppson’s Malört, described by one bartender as “it tastes like [everything from] earwax to Band-Aids to burnt hair” to the Wall Street Journal, nevertheless sells 23,500 bottles a year to bars in the Windy City.  This is despite the fact that the drink-maker believes “its Malört is enjoyed by only one out of every 49 drinkers who try it.”

Malört is Swedish for wormwood, one of the key ingredients in absinthe, and Jeppson’s reportedly draws its bitterness from said substance.  As one of the first people to be granted a liquor license at the end of prohibition, the company’s founder, George Brode, got the recipe from a certain Carl Jeppson, who called it “a spirit favored by the city’s Swedish immigrant population,” according to the WSJ.  Since then, Brode took on the challenge of marketing the undrinkable product until his death in 1999, when he left the company to his secretary.  (“All my life I wish George had made a product I could drink,” she told the Journal.)  Yet, despite its lack of medicinal properties, and a taste another bartender described as like “stomach bile and dirt,” Malört has gained a cult following in several local watering holes.

“It is a Chicago ingredient. There is almost a certain responsibility to find a good way to beat it into submission,” said an aptly-named Mr. Joly, beverage director at The Aviary.  It’s also a good way to wish an ex-lover an unhappy birthday.  As per the Journal, one Chicago resident recalls “the first time he encountered Malört. It was about a decade ago at a bar, and two guys who didn’t get along kept sending shots of it to each other.”

Is it any wonder that Malört has become popular amongst Cubs fans, those notorious gluttons for punishment?  “Enthusiasts of the drink held their first Jeppson’s Malört night earlier this year, at a bar a few blocks from Wrigley Field,” the WSJ reports.  Gee, if the stuff’s anything like folks have described, it would have to be the worst way to wash the bitter taste of defeat from your mouth, wouldn’t it?

BANH MI!? But I just started posting here!!!

(Originally written August 3, 2013)

Yes, that was a message-board joke.  Do people still use those?

Call me crazy, but I’ve lived in Toronto for eight years, and I’ve never had banh mi before.  To be fair, it’s not quite as ubiquitous as shawarma, poutine or tacos, but still, I’ve been within stumbling distance of Chinatown for several months now, so I’ve really got no excuse.

That said, the Yonge St. Banh Mi Boys location wasn’t open the last time I checked, but I just so happened to be heading down Queen Street today (hint: it had something to do with buying records), so I stopped into their flagship store around feeding time.

So, what is banh mi, my Alberta readers must be wondering.  Well, it’s basically a Vietnamese sub.  Hell, if you’ve lived and/or worked around 17th Ave, east of the Deerfoot (I have), you’ve probably already had one of these–except that I hadn’t, not until today.  What can I say, I always used to pack a lunch.  That might be why I didn’t realize one sandwich (cut in halves) would probably be enough food without ordering a side of fries:

bahn_mi_boys

What we’ve got here are Korean beef short ribs with cilantro, cucumber, kimchi and pickled carrots on a fresh baguette roll.  The beef has a nice chewy texture, complemented by the crunch of the carrots and the cukes.  The kimchi added a nice kick, along with a sweet, spicy red sauce that was supposedly jalapeno (although I thought those were green.)  For $5.99, it’s really enough food for two people–if both of them have puny little appetites.

kim_chi_fries

Like I said, I really didn’t need to order a side of fries… but I did, anyways.  And these weren’t just any fries, but rather kimchi fries, topped with mayo, pulled pork and, of course, that Korean cabbage.  Pulled pork and kimchi is a bit of an odd pairing–like an Asian girl with a southern drawl–but they go surprisingly well together, the tangy texture of the pork offsetting the acidic taste of the cabbage.  And hey, everything’s better when you put it on top of fries, right?

Now as it turns out, the Yonge St location actually opened back in April.  But hey, it’s north of Gerrard, so that’s like, a whole ‘nother postal code!  (No really, it is.)  In which case, if I ever feel the need to go to Bed, Bath and Beyond (note: I have never felt this need in my life to date), I definitely know where I’ll be eating afterwards. ;

Wings + Burritos: The two things I miss most about The Annex

(Originally written April 28, 2013)

It’s nearly impossible to pick between these two fine establishments, both within a rocket-armed QB’s throw from my soon-to-be-former apartment.  For my money’s worth, Puck ‘n Wings has the best buffalo wings north of Buffalo, and when it comes to chicken wings in this city, only the Crown and Dragon comes close.  The place is also always almost-empty on Sunday afternoons, so they have no problem putting the Seahawks game on one of their flatscreen TVs for me.  That said, I only caught a couple Hawks games at the Puck last year, as I was able to watch a lot of them at home.  A winning record gets you a lot more televised broadcasts on Sportsnet–and it seems they even have a handful of prime-time contests this upcoming season.  Let’s Go Hawks!!!!

Speaking of the Seahawks, I’ve developed a post-game ritual that incorporated the Mexican joint around the corner from the Puck, Burrito Bandidos.  See, I’ve made a habit of going for a victory meal after every Hawks win, and ever since the fish ‘n chips joint at Bloor and Albany became a poutinerie, said ritual involves the halibut burrito from Bandidos:

halibut_burrito (2)

Now, I know there’s a burrito joint near my new digs, but I’ve heard they don’t have hali.  And when it comes to wings, St. Louis simply can’t pass the Puck.  Looks like I need a new Sunday ritual–or a healthy supply of subway tokens, anyways. 😦

UPDATE: While I had to make due with some weakass burrito action for too many months (let’s just say that place has since shut down), I am now blessed with a Burrito Boyz within walking distance. For those who don’t know, Burrito Bandidos is basically a Burrito Boyz tribute joint–they’ve got all the same recipes ‘n shit. So while I can have my hali again, there still aren’t any good wing joints ’round here, which really blows, bro!

No wonder I’ve been losing weight this football season!

(Originally written October 6, 2013)

A new study in Psychological Science has found that “vicarious defeats experienced by fans when their favorite football team loses lead them to consume less healthy food.”  In case you’re wondering why the average Buffalonian looks like an offensive lineman, well, 13 years of vicarious defeats will do that to you–not to mention those four straight Super Bowls.  As per the study’s abstract, “These effects are greater in cities with the most committed fans, when the opponents are more evenly matched, and when the defeats are narrow.”  Or in other words, Wide Right Into the Extra Large Pizza! 😉

On the flip side, the study’s author, Pierre Chadron, told NPR that “After a victory, people eat better,” to the tune of five-per-cent fewer calories and nine-per-cent less saturated fat.  And hey, I kinda get that.  After Super Bowl XL, my t-shirt size went up to an XL–from a medium–but lately, my weight has been headed in the opposite direction.  As the Seahawks start the season 4-0 for the first time in franchise history, I’m having a hard time finding a pair of pants that fits me in my closet, cuz they’re all too big for me now.

The funny thing is that I actually used to eat more after a Seahawks win.  Since most of their games kick off around 4:30 pm Eastern Time, and I don’t have a personal chef, there’s no way I’m making dinner until the final whistle blows–which means not consuming a full meal until 7:30 or so.  When they won, I’d usually order take-out, but being that I’m no longer next door to Burrito Bandidos and their mouthwatering halibut on white with everything, I’ve had to put a stop to that tradition.  It also doesn’t hurt that the Hawks have only had one 4:25 kickoff thus far this season…

But on the other hand, my calorific intake during games is directly related to negative performance.  Simply put, whenever the Seahawks surrender a touchdown, I crack open a beer.  During a losing season, I’d go through a sixer a game, but lately, the stout SeaFence has me almost stone-cold sober at the end of each contest.  Which certainly does wonders for my calorie count–not that I’m counting, anyways.

Granted, my calorie count isn’t strictly tied to Seattle’s early success this season.  Since moving to my new apartment in April, I’ve actually started using the exercise room, and I also walk to work now.  My diet, on the other hand, remains more-or-less unchanged.  That being said, if Seattle goes to 5-0 this afternoon, I am so eating a queeno tomorrow!

bud_light_quinoa

UPDATE: And if the Hawks beat Carolina today, you might as well back that quinoa truck up in front of my driveway, cuz I’ll be going vegan all the way to the Super Bowl!

Tonite, I think I’m gonna go fer a Gopher…

(Originally written December 3, 2011)

So, tonite’s the first of two back-to-back Battles of Alberta on Hockey Night in Canada.  When the Flames and Oilers face off, an entire province stands still.  Hell, I’d even say the same for the CFL.  It’s not known as Labour Day in Calgary, it’s BoA Day.

Anyways, to get a taste of home when I watch the BoA on TV, I like to drink Big Rock beer.  The Calgarian brewery’s fare can be purchased at the Beer Store over here.  My go-to brew is Grasshopper, a golden-yellow wheat beer.  But since the Flames have been struggling this season, I decided to switch it up a bit.  Tonite, I’m going fer a Gopher…

gopher_beer

I guess this rodent is a recent addition to the Big Rock repertoire, as I never heard of it when I was living out west.  I first noticed it on the shelves of my local Beer Store a few weeks back, so I thought I’d give ‘er a try.  The box says it’s “A North-American-style all-malt lager.  No additives or adjuncts.  A clean, sunny flavour, easy on the hops.”  Sounds good to me!

Let’s see how many of these I knock back during the game tonite…

UPDATE: It actually looks like Big Rock doesn’t brew Gopher beer anymore. I guess a lager named after a pesky rodent wasn’t a very big seller. That said, I see there’s a new Big Rock brew in town called Rhinestone Cowboy. I reckon I’ll hafta try it–Rhinestone Cowboy is my middle name!

Food Truck Feeding Frenzy Friday: Nice balls, dude!

(Originally written January 14, 2014)

These Food Dudes were a lot more organized than the ones from yesterday.  Instead of waiting in line, they took your order (and your money) right away, then called your name when it was ready—which prevented people from saying “Screw this, I’m going to Subway!”  That said, I’m pretty sure these deep-fried mac ‘n cheese balls have more than six grams of fat:

food_dudes

The crisp crust was soft enough that you could cut it with a fork, revealing the cheesy goodness underneath.  The marinara sauce soaked up into the breading nicely, while the green pesto added an extra little kick.  I definitely could’ve eaten more than three of these!