The volcano taco is awesome, but the sinful CGC is the ultimate Bell menu item. My obsession with the CGC is well documented among my friends. Certain Taco Bell locations make great CGCs, but others fall short on the beloved Crunch and other feast items. Knowing my devotion to the Cheesy Gordita Crunch, a friend sent the following text: Friend: "I just had the best ever cheesy gordita crunch. Made with such stoner love the kid mixed up the taco meat sauce cheese and lettuce and then put in with extra cheese in between taco and its flat bread wrapper. Was so fresh and warm crunchy chewy and perfectly melted. Nom nom nom. Me: "Oh lucky! I love when they add extra sauce. The one on Union and Kimbrough does that." Friend: "Second one very standard and now disappointing. Think I got one little stoner kid made for himself. " Me: "His high little ass got confused." Friend: "I almost want to go ask and meet the man that made such a delicious version of an almost perfect food."
In honor of the stoner kid's devotion to his craft and hazy-brained mistake that resulted in my friend's lucky experience, I have decided to list the best and worst Taco Bells in the Memphis area. BEST: 1.) Union at Kimbrough. Best one in Shelby County, hands down. 2.) Estate between Park and Poplar 3.) Collierville (I know, that town is awful but I used to teach classes at that YMCA. I must do something to counteract the effect of eating Cheesy Gordita Crunches and Kooky Canuck wings with disturbing regularity. The Taco Bell sucks much less than the town, a predictable phenomenon given the town's fascination with chain restaurants and aversion to independent ones) HIT-OR-MISS 1.) The Poplar & Prescott one near University of Memphis (This Bell is the most schizophrenic in terms of service. The employees are absolutely delightful and this Bell features Diet Dr. Pepper, a rarity. However, on several occasions I have received the incorrect order, and I absolutely despise any item with the nacho cheese and must return to switch it out) WORST: 1.) E.H. Crump and Third (no Diet Dr. Pepper, horrendous service and sullen employees)
Cafe Ole has a tasty little brunch menu. Somehow my friend obtained a $100 gift certificate that could be used on alcohol as well as food. I ordered several mimosas and a margarita after Ole ran out of champagne. This was somewhat disappointing, considering that our group of five appeared to be the only people in the place drinking mimosas. Who goes to brunch and does not drink mimosas and bloodies? This is incredibly puzzling, but not an unheard-of phenomenon. I ordered the vegetable breakfast burrito. It contained black beans and spinach, two of my favorite veggies. The Sweet Burreet did not contain eggs, which I thought was odd for a breakfast burrito, but it was still quite good. The cheese dip at Ole is a little different and really tasty.
Celtic Crossing Celtic has a mimosa special with what seems to be fresh orange juice and Yellowtail for $20 for the bottle and a carafe of juice. I am admittedly not a juice connoisseur, as I avoid caloric beverages other than milk, beer, wine, and booze. After about 3 rounds of this nonsense, I returned home to feast upon the delicious roast beef and mushroom platter that my boyfriend "removed" from one of the corporate officer's holiday parties after drinking about 12 Bud Heavies. I love the holiday party season.
This is not a true review, since I did not actually feast. I had a beer feast, but since it was just pitchers of Bud Light, it was not even a noteworthy feast. Just a few observations:
I had to go to Hooters to watch the Eagles game once. There are only 3 bars downtown with NFL Sunday ticket and it was "1950s Doo Wop Dance Night" at TJ Mulligans in the Pinch. This happens on the third Sunday of each month. The DJ sets up a screen and apparently blasts music so loudly that watching a game is out of the question. Sometime during the first quarter of the Eagles game we noticed a lot of old people coming into the bar, realized our mistake, and had to relocate. Calhouns I love, but if you don't get there early you can not get a seat. Prime Time touts itself as a sports bar but somehow does not have Sunday Ticket. Retarded. Alas, I was forced to go to Hooters. Our service sucked. Our server was about 20, and she wasn't terrible looking. She was still in the stage where the meth had made her fairly thin, but her teeth had not rotted out yet. It was not that she was gross, she just didn't do a good job. She sat a a booth and talked to her boyfriend the entire time.
The main reason for this post is to showcase this picture. The following sign greeted me upon entering Hooters on Third & Peabody Place. Nice grammar. I understand that a degree in literature is not required to work at a chain restaurant, but kindergarten students should be able to match a subject to a verb in a way that is not done here.
I love El Mezcal. While it is indeed a completely standard Mexican restaurant, it is consistent and tasty. The pollo soup and tortilla soups are bowls of liquid deliciousness. The service is always excellent at both the Union and Perkins locations. The beer prices are low. The only thing that I have ever had there that was not good was a shrimp quesadilla. The shrimp were overcooked and I loathe overcooked food with every fiber of my hungry little being.
The most awesome thing by far about El Mez might have to be the pronunciations on the menu. Burrito. Bu-ree-toh.
Why is Quaker Oh's cereal so difficult to find? It is delicious and cheap. Like $2 a box cheap. The only place that sells it in the Memphis area is the West Memphis Wal-Mart. I hate Wal-Mart. This is not because I oppose the company's business practices or care whatsoever about the fact that it doesn't provide health insurance. The job requires no special skills or training. Shut up. I hate Wal-Mart because one can't even buy decent running socks there. Dri-fit apparently eludes the merchandise buyers the way that Quaker Oh's elude me. The deli at Wal-Mart sucks. The "seafood" selection involves Krab and frozen shrimp. Herb selection? Riiiiiiiight. It is a terrible place but remains the only place that sells the delicious Quaker Oh's. Sadness!
My boyfriend and I decided to try something new after driving to the BBQ Shop on Madison on a Sunday only to realize that it was closed. We ventured onto Beale Street, an admittedly rare adventure for two pathologically lazy people. After weekly meals at the Kooky Canuck (ok, maybe bi or tri-weekly) we felt that we should patronize another downtown restaurant. We chose Fried Chicken, Mustard Greens, and Macaroni and Cheese. The chicken was very good. It did not have that spicy coating featured by Gus's, but it had great flavor and we were treated to some "house hot sauce" that is not usually sitting on the tables. It was great. The greens, however, were tasty but cold. We were the only people in the restaurant, so that was kind of disappointing. The mac & cheese was basically pasta and pasteurized processed cheese food product, which is not my favorite but I am sure others like. The cornbread muffins were really tasty. They had jalapenos lurking within - a pleasant surprise indeed! The service was good, but I am not sure I would go back for anything but the chicken. I included how I would make this meal in a concurrent post on Feast Time.
Macaroni and Cheese Ingredients: 8 ounces of elbow macaroni (about half of a standard box) 3 tablespoons butter 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 3 cups milk 1/2 cup diced onion 1 tablespoon dry mustard 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 1 teaspoon paprika dash of hot sauce (I actually like more than a dash) salt black pepper 6 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded 6 ounces Swiss, shredded 1 egg about 1/2 cup of seasoned bread crumbs (I use Italian)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to directions. While pasta cooks, grate the cheese. Freshly grated cheese from the block tastes much better than the stuff in a bag. Mix the swiss and cheddar together evenly, and divide into two portions, about 3/4 and 1/4. Make a white sauce. To do this, first melt the butter in a saucepan. Whisk in flour and mustard until smooth. The sauce will thicken after being continuously whisked. Add the milk, onion, garlic powder, paprika, and hot sauce. Simmer for about ten minutes. Add the 3/4 portion of the cheese mix, and salt and pepper. Pour the macaroni into a 2-quart baking dish, and add the sauce. Top with remaining 1/4 of the cheese mixture. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and bake for 30-35 minutes. Delicious!!!
Heat and season with hot peppers-in-vinegar juice. Canned greens are actually yummy!!
Fried Chicken - Get Gus's takeout. Call Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken (901) 527-4877 310 S. Front St. Memphis, TN 38103 P.S. - I can't believe the town of Southaven didn't patronize the Gus's that opened down there. With all of the nasty O'Charleys/Applebees/(insert name of abysmally revolting restaurant here) that populate that town, I would expect the Gus's to not have gone under. Embarrassing. You should feel shame. Consider self-flagellation.
Fresh corn on the cob is a tasty July treat. After feasting on some very delicious corn from Fresh Market and Kroger, I was (naively) excited about the prospect of some "home grown" corn at - this is a real shock, brace yourself - Miss Cordelia's. The worm had already nommed the shit out the only healthy thing I probably ate all weekend.
Then the remaining uninfiltrated corn was tough and nasty. I think it was feed corn for other, non-human creatures. Way to go, Miss Cordelia's.
Miss Cordelia's always posts prices on their shelves, then when they ring you up, don't apply the purported discount. I wonder where the extra goes, or if it is an honest mistake. I went into the esteemed Deli & Picnic on July 4th, and noticed some turkey sausages in the meat case, the plastic enclosure for which was bubbling. This happens when bacteria grow inside the meat and produce gaseous byproducts through their metabolism. This is why bad milk jugs get puffy. So I looked at the date by which to sell or freeze, and it was July 1st.
Don't worry, truth is a defense to libel and slander, you bastards.
This weekend snack was an exercise in excess. As we were returning from a Canuck wing feast, we encountered a child who was selling candy out of one of those big fundraiser boxes that such children wear around their necks. He was a polite boy who wore a t-shirt with the logo of the group for which he was fundraising. This supported the idea that he was not scamming us, so we decided to purchase a giant Snickers and some Peanut M&Ms. * We returned and ground the candy up with some butter pecan ice cream. The solid material suspended in the milkshake made it a little tough to properly enjoy.
* Compare to the girl who approached me at the Kroger on Poplar and Highland asking me to buy candy for her "cheerleading squad." She was dressed like a junior prostitute and had five or six types of jawbreakers and similar gross candies clutched in her grimy little mitt.
Me: "I don't really like fruity chewy candy."
Child: "Would you like to make a donation?"
Me:"I would feel better about that if you had a uniform on, or some literature. Do you have some literature?"
Child:"What's literature?." (Should you not be familiar with that term by age 12? Gah. By the time you are parading about in a cheerleading uniform, I would expect you to have at least an elementary school vocabulary.)
Me:"A handout of some sort that tells me about your organization. Do you have an adult with you? Is there a sign of some sort?"
Child:"Well we had a sign up but they told us to take it down."
Me:"So Kroger does not want you around here asking for money?"
Sure. And then she would not leave the side of my car as I loaded the groceries. Beware.
This was menu item #153, soup containing squid, pork, crab, and a few juicy shrimp. Also floating in the broth were plenty of scallions and some whole garlic cloves, as well as the expected mung bean sprouts and rice noodles. Nom nom nom.
This was quite tasty. I adapted this from a recipe I found on the internet to make a spicy cold salsa to heap upon lemon-pepper mahi.
1 cup of cucumber (remove seeds and chop into little cubes)
1 large tomato
1 leek, sliced very thinly
2 cups of cooked shrimp, cut into small pieces
about half a cup of diced jalapeno pepper (the kind in the jar worked for me)
juice from 2 limes
shit ton of fresh dill
Tony Chachere's Cajun seasoning
1 ripe avocado
lemon pepper seasoning (commercial kind in the spice section)
4 pieces of mahi mahi
4 tbsp of butter
Put the tomato, cucumber, dill, peppers, leeks, lime juice, shrimp, salt, and Tony's into a bowl. Let it marinade for 1 hour.
Then, pan-fry the fish with the lemon pepper on both sides in the butter. Put some of the relish and some avocado slices on top.
NOM NOM NOM NOM.
* This recipe was really tasty, but the mahi itself was mediocre because Miss Cordelia's sucks. This relish would also have tasted great on some tilapia, grouper, or mahi mahi from Fresh Market. The fish at Cordelia's is hit or miss. The night after the mahi mahi, we got some catfish that was not good.
Don't cry for Miss Cordelia though, despite my rant, there is no doubt whatsoever that I will continue to drop a large percent of my resources on overpriced Triscuits, warm beer, and milk that is about to expire. I might just trek on out to the wilderness of Not Downtown for my future fish needs.
I like animals, in that I like to feast on them. On rare occasions, however, I enjoy watching animals feast themselves.
These scary carp are at the Memphis Botanic Garden. They are the only fish I have ever seen actually BEG for food. They swarm and follow people standing above the pond. Some of these fish are so massive that it is actually unnerving. These photos fail to capture the mouth size of these beasts. Buy several bags of food.
The polar bear feeding at the Memphis Zoo is somewhat less impressive, actually. The bears get tiny, repeat tiny fish. They resemble moiku (tiny Finnish fish that are fried and consumed in one bite, bones and all) when Payton, Cranbearry, and Hailey get ahold of them. I was really expecting a whale carcass or a baby seal. I suppose the polar bear feeding is okay if one has the proper expectations, but the carp are a real sight to behold.
I created a new feast last night. I took 4 sinus pills (epic fail) and turned to Japanese horseradish instead.
2 big pieces of salmon
light mayo (since I was using it for texture and not flavor, the light was acceptable)
hamburger rolls (the cheap kind have the fewest calories)
Cook salmon in skillet with salt & pepper, then remove the skin. Add water to wasabi powder, then add a tablespoon or so of mayo for the sauce. Spread the sauce on a toasted roll.
Veggie Stir Fry
chili sesame oil
Put about two tablespoons of mirin, sesame oil, and rice vinegar into a skillet. Then add about a quarter cup of soy sauce. Next, add the sprouts and carrots. When they get soft (but not mushy! Nom Nom fail) then throw in some spinach. Cook until the spinach is soft.
Mmmmm. Nom nom nom nom. Serve with beer, wasabi is spicy!
If you are unfortunate enough to find yourself in Germantown, TN, I recommend mitigating the lameness with a visit to Las Tortugas Deli Mexicana.
The owner is from Mexico City, and this delicious restaurant prides itself on serving fresh, authentic feasts. The choices are served in either a giant sandwich (Tortuga) or in about 5 mini tacos. I chose pork & pineapple in the Tortuga. It was filled with mild cheese, fresh avocado, fresh tomatoes, etc. Mmmmm, NOM NOM NOM.
Despite the large size of the feast, I did not experience the urge to disgorge myself * that typically follows a queso-and-grease-drenched feast from a typical Mexican restaurant. I like to imagine that the Deli Mexicana is fairly healthy. The ingredients were flavorful. I will be back.
So, brave the horrendous Poplar traffic, congestion, and video-camera traffic lights (right to confront your accuser? Ha, suburbs recognize that the Constitution is so quaint!) and go to the Deli. The feast will be eaten so fast that Germantown will not have sufficient time to extract your soul.
* This may also be attributed to the fact that I typically drink anywhere from three to five 22-ounce draught Dos Equis Ambers.
April is National Grilled Cheese month. A quick google search of "creative grilled cheese," unfortunately, yields a rather disappointing selection of options. To fill this gaping void in the internet, Feast Time! will attempt to provide some options that surpass groundbreaking suggestions such as "add some ham."
(1) Triple Decker Memphis Club
A clever friend created this feast, choosing some sort of sprouted whole-grain bread from Trader Joe's and proceeding to layer swiss, cheddar, avocado, sprouts, and bacon. The result was, in her trademark vernacular, "delightful."
Too thick of a sandwich complicates the challenge of getting the proper level of melt without charring the bread. The trick? Grill the middle slice separately in order to create a heat source within the tower.
I love to invent feasts and dine out. I cook a lot of fish and veggies. I hate, hate, HATE grilled boneless skinless chicken breasts. Red meat and fried chicken are awesome. I wish I had the job of either Anthony Bourdain or Adam Richman. I am actually an unemployed lawyer. No meal is complete without beer and/or wine. The exception to this rule is oysters on the half shell, which go with Buffalo Trace whiskey.