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Back To Life, Back To Reality

Back To Life, Back To Reality

Always wondered why Soul II Soul never got bigger, they had some epic jams back in the day.  Speaking of back in the day, today is a day of celebration.  25 years ago today, I started the second semester of my sophomore year, also known as when I started to blossom.  I’m still running at about 25% mental capacity since The Events of December 31st, 2009, so the celebration will be muted and tasteful, maybe some burritos will be involved.  I’m gonna get back on the website horse bigtime, though, in the near future.

A few questions/corrections:

1.  Hey, Melting Pot, what the fuck is up with putting toffee coated pine nuts in your caesar salad???  Were your customers clamoring for more of a Heath bar flavor in their salads?  Do you sprinkle your house salads with Skittles or Reese’s Pieces?  I fucking love pine nuts (no innuendo intended), they are fucking delicious as is, and could most likely add a little something great to a shitty-assed caesar salad.  Also, how about lowering your prices somewhat to reflect the current economic environment/the fact you are just warming up some shredded cheese?  I love fondue – I placed quite well in a fondue-eating competition at the Tribeca Grand in 2007 – but come on.  The place is definitely not a bargain.

Nothing goes better with caesar dressing than fucking toffee

2.  Correction:  My kick-ass foosball table should have been #2 on my top Christmas presents list.  Epic oversight.  As I have mentioned before, there was a time in my life when being great at foosball was more important than being great at football.  This worked out great for me, as I prefer sports/pastimes with a low probability of physical harm.  My table wasn’t an actual Tornado (ironically pronounced “tore-naw-dough,” even though the logo is a twister) but was about 600 lbs lighter and the playing surface was perfect.  We played that shit about six hours a day for like a year and were kicking the shit out of grown men at the local arcade as twelve year olds.  Running table at the Quarter Horse arcade was probably my greatest athletic achievement (second place: scoring four goals in a junior soccer game; soccer skills translate well to the foosball scene).  I can still kick your ass at foosball, although it hurts my wrists like a mofo.

My guys had frowns, not smilies

3.  Correction/Clarification:  Del Taco has bumped Del Scorcho (formerly marketed as “Beyond Hot”) down to their medium hot sauce.  Taking the mantle of hottestness is Del Inferno.  It is actually pretty fucking hot, but a little thinner than Del Scorcho.  Somewhat delicious.  Will need a little more exposure to the product before making the long-term call, but I didn’t want to misrepresent the status of Del Scorcho (although it’s hot for a medium, for sure).  Another pretty hot chain food item I ran into on the break was Zaxby’s Insane XXX boneless chicken wings.  Legitimately fiery – if only I’d had my Scoville meter with me.

Advancing the craft

Wasted potentially yours,


The Top Ten Fast Food Sauces

The Top Ten Fast Food Sauces

Man, I really should not write food-related stuff while I’m starving.  Oatmeal (with peanut butter for zest) doesn’t really cut it when I’m reflecting on the deliciousness that is widely available to everyone that doesn’t live in NYC.  My love for culinary accoutrements started early, perhaps when I was given my first trifold pack of Fun Dip.  How good was dunking that edible utensil (composition: 100% sugar) into three different colors of sugar?  Plenty of mix and match opportunities, the whole thing was meant to be eaten, and you were more worked up than the dude from Crank for the next 17-18 hours.  That love of dipping stuff carries over to present day, and I consider myself somewhat an expert in the area of condiments.  Of course there’s only one you’ll truly ever need, but not everyone has home and away bottles of The Rooster.

10.  Domino’s Cinna Stix Sweet Icing

It tastes better than it looks
Go ahead and try it, at least

This isn’t really in the same realm as the other entries, but I have to give Domino’s props: Cinna Stix look fucking disgusting, but taste fucking delicious.  How so?  The sweet-assed icing, plus the added interactive element of dipping said Stix into the the Sweet Icing – practically Fun Dip revisited.  Likely this first entry has you questioning my taste, but go ahead and fire up some Cinna Stix tonight and see if you can refute my claim tomorrow.

9.  McDonald’s Sweet and Sour Sauce

Tubs: the perfect packaging.
Tubs: the perfect packaging

The Run – DMC of sauces, we must remember and praise the old school, even as their offerings are diminished with time.  I don’t eat that many McNuggets these days, what with the advancements in nugget technology and the superior offerings available elsewhere, but I do fondly recall the introduction of McNuggets in the early 80’s and the delicious and exotic tub of flavor that came with them (assuming of course, you chose the exotic S&S over the more widely accepted Barbecue).  The S&S sauce nicely balances the chickenesque food substances that comprise a McNugget, and also pairs well with a french fry if one is looking for a unique taste sensation.

8.  Wendy’s Barbeque Sauce

Wendy's nuggets are always bridesmaids
Wendy's nuggets are always bridesmaids

Of course a barbecue sauce has to be represented on this list, it’s the most widely utilized of all of the tubs (closely followed by Ranch, and the fast-rising Honey Mustard).  Wendy’s barbeque sauce is a little smokier and packs more zing than some competitors’ offerings.  Wendy’s nuggets have always been underrated, and vastly so when considering their location on the value menu – one of the few places you can get legitimately full for $3.

7.  Del Taco Del Scorcho

Del Scorcho elevates the entire DT experience
Del Scorcho elevates the entire DT experience

Fucking A, I really enjoy Del Taco.  Maybe it’s because it’s only available on the west coast, and I’m usually in a good mood when I’m on the west coast?  I’m not certain.  The food is in no way superior to the Bell and the locations in San Diego, at least, tend to be a hotspot for the mentally deranged, but DT is open like 28 hours/day and they DO offer some excellent crinkle cut fries.  For an orgy of fry-dipping deliciousness, mix one package of mild DT sauce and two packs of Del Scorcho (clearly this is just a ratio as any red-blooded human is gonna need like 25-30 packets total).  Enjoy – and remember, do not make eye contact with any of the other folks in Del Taco.

6.  53rd and Sixth Halal Cart White and Red Sauce

You have to have connections to own these
You have to have connections to own these

This stuff probably isn’t widely available enough to be on this list, but these two are some of the most popular and controversial condiments in NYC.  Plus, I get to make the rules since it’s my list.  Also, I have these bottles IN MY REFRIGERATOR.  That’s right, I own these huge fucking bottles of white sauce and red sauce.  They make any shitty gyro into a true culinary tribute to Greek food-that-isn’t-really-Greek-but-actually-stems-from-some-guy-in-Chicago’s-decision-to-put-random-meatstuffs-on-a-rotisserie.  The controversy comes from the long-standing debate on whether the white sauce is yogurt-based or (blech) may0-based.  Good god I hope it’s yogurt.  The red sauce is the hottest hot sauce I’ve ever had outside of a specialty store looking to set scoville records.  Consider this when applying to your food – don’t be a hero.

5.  Taco Bell Mild Sauce

Stupid aphorisms don't affect taste
The stupid aphorisms don't affect taste

I used to work at TBell when this stuff still came in little tubs.  Those things were awesome, I wish taco sauce still came in tubs – it was such an event just opening the package.  Sure, it was probably a lot more expensive, and messier, and tubs probably make more sense if you are dipping as opposed to pouring, but still – tubs.  Sigh.  Anyway, TB’s mild sauce deserves its own entry instead of being lumped together with the other offerings (some good, some not).  Despite my typical longings for sinus-clearing hotness, I’ve found (through countless hours of experimentation) that the mild sauce provides a taste amplification in certain situations.  For example, to take your Nachos Supreme (not Bell Grande, the chips/meat/cheese ratios are out of whack compared to the simple elegance of the Supreme) to the next level, I recommend starting with a base of about 8 packets of mild sauce.  Then you throw on about 10 packs of Fire; the melange becomes a delicious red hollandaise the remnants of which are  nicely paired with a Meximelt.  Thank me later.

4.  Hibachi-san “sriracha” packets

I know, this doesn't even have any "sriracha" on it, but still - delicious
I know, this doesn't even have any "sriracha" on it, but still - delicious

Sorry I can’t produce any photographic evidence, but at least at the Hibachi-san in the Borgata, they offer “sriracha” in packet form that is a pretty reasonable facsimile of the original.  I’m usually a big hater of non-green-topped “sriracha” but Hibachi-san so far has produced the only exception.  A little darker than the original, but just as fiery, goes well with the 3.5 pounds of chicken and rice you’re about to eat.  (Double meat only $1!)

3.  Papa John’s Garlic Sauce

Suitable for drinking, if needed
Suitable for drinking

We’ve all had the same thoughts upon eating this stuff: “Good lord, am I going to die tonight from eating this?  Is this butter-infused butter, somehow?  Have I just gained seven pounds?”  Sensational work, John.  Would be higher up on this list if not for the likelihood that this garlic butter has spiked national heart disease stats since introduction.

On a side note – the other night, in a nod to “healthiness”, I decided to try a thin crust pizza at PJ’s.  What the hell?  It was terrible – and came with no garlic butter!  That stuff can redeem any disappointing pizza and they don’t provide with the thin crust?!?  Horrible – what a waste of a meal.  After all the good times we’ve had together?

2.  Arby’s Sauce

Puddy was right
Puddy was right

I love Arby’s and, sadly, there aren’t any left in NYC.  There used to be one in the Manhattan Mall, but given that the clientele at that place makes a typical Del Taco look like a J Crew catalog, I typically didn’t venture in there too often.  (And the fact that there was an Arby’s AND a Sarku Japan left me with a Sophie-like dilemma).  But when I go home I hit up the big A quite often, and with good reason: if you steer clear of the fries and whatnot, I don’t think it’s that bad for you.  Sure, I get a large roast beef, which used to be called the Big Montana (they used to give you a sticker to wear if you ate one, as if a fat ass wasn’t an identifying-enough characteristic), but lean roast beef on a bun doesn’t seem so bad to me.  Particularly when adorned/slathered/bathed in Arby’s sauce, a spicier, thinner take on barbeque sauce.  Also goes good with fries/potato cakes if you find yourself in that particular situation.  Damn I’m hungry now.

1.  Taco Bell Fire Sauce

Notice the Hot is mired in the background, as it should be
Notice the Hot is mired in the background, as it should be

So fucking good.  Without embarrassment, I generally take 300-400 packets of these home when I make my way to the Bell.  Goes great with all the T-Bell items, of course, but can also improve many a hum-drum occasion in your kitchen.  In a pinch, fire sauce can make a homemade quesadilla so good you will consider making another one ten seconds after finishing the first one.  I used to keep several thousand packages in my office for those unfortunate moments when I was forced to grab a “wrap” or similar from the cafeteria.  Armed with some Fire sauce (and, of course, the trusty work bottle of Sriracha) my spirit was never completely broken.

It’s time to hit the taco truck,