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My Big Fat Greek New Year’s January 4, 2008

Posted by whatpushesmybuttons in dancing, eating, food, funny, humor, new york city, pedestrian behavior, photos, pictures, restaurant, video.
7 comments

Firstly happy New Year’s too all! Hope the holiday season treated you all well.

My New Year’s Eve was very entertaining. The night started with some drinks and appetizers and led to a restaurant in Astoria (which I hold off from mentioning in case they decide to send us a bill). Let’s just say (without naming names) that three out of the six of us got a little sick (not me) in the restaurant bathroom, leading two out of the six to leave the restaurant shortly after appetizers arrived.

Anyway, sparing you all of the sickly details, the rest of the evening was actually pretty entertaining, despite the fact that we knew no one else in the restaurant and apparently everyone else there knew each other or knew the waitresses and owners. So it basically felt like we were crashing someone’s wedding, especially since most patrons were dressed in suits and dresses (and we were their white trash cousins dressed in sweaters and jeans). There was live music with an acoustic guitar duo singing traditional Greek folk songs and eventually some of the restaurant patrons started dancing to said traditional Greek folk songs which led to more Greek traditions. But before I get into that let me just rave about the food for a moment.

The food was exceptional and arrived in droves. A greek salad arrived alongside shrimp that was placed in a phyllo pastry puff, a plate of grilled sausage and marinated meatballs. Unfortunately it was already 10:30pm by the time apps had arrived and we wouldn’t see our main courses until well after midnight.

Like 45 minutes after midnight.

However despite our stomachs on revolt and the novelty of making noise with party favors wore off, the main courses didn’t disappoint. We were treated to lamb, shrimp and steak. Being that this was authentic greek, I went straight for the lamb which was tender and juicy. Forgoing knife and fork, I grabbed said chop in my grubby paws and went to town (my apologies for the shitty pics my camera phone took).


Lamb


Steak

Shortly after stuffing our face with meaty goodness out came the dessert. Needless to say I was all over the baklava.

During dinner and dessert is when the dancing started. It was entertaining watching everyone dance around in circles, with their arms held high snapping their fingers.

But then the most unexpected thing happened (which I later found out was another Greek tradition). Some of the men in the restaurant started making it rain (the clip above and the two below are videos – click to play).


I found out that throwing money around is a way to garner wealth and prosperity in the coming year.

Granted these guys were only throwing wads of singles in the air, but by the time we were ready to leave there had to be a few hundred dollars worth of singles on the floor.

Crazy times. Those greeks know how to party!

Thanksgiving: A photo journal November 27, 2007

Posted by whatpushesmybuttons in eating, food, photos, pictures.
15 comments

Thanksgiving: A Photo Journal

So as promised (albeit a few days late) here is a “photo essay” of my Thanksgiving day feast [this is especially for you L.K…if you still even visit anymore consider how neglectful I’ve been about visiting you recently…or anyone else for that matter. 😦 ]


A little shrimp cocktail appetizer


The bird


My “children’s plate” side of veggies


Round 1


Round 2

Dessert is served:

A friendly reminder November 21, 2007

Posted by whatpushesmybuttons in eating, food, opinion, photos, pictures.
10 comments

Please carve your turkeys humanely this Thanksgiving. They sure would appreciate it!

This message has been Chuck Norris approved!

Happy Thanksgiving.

Go COWBOYS!!!

Ain’t no bagel worth no $1,000 November 8, 2007

Posted by whatpushesmybuttons in common sense, critique, current events, eating, food, humor, new york city, opinion, stupidity, world news.
31 comments

Na ah. A bagel worth one large? Fuggetaboutit.

But it’s the truth son.

Some fancy pants chef created this so called “$1,000 bagel” using white truffle cream cheese and goji berry infused Riesling jelly with golden leaves. Say what?

The bagel is the brainchild of chef Frank Tujague of The Westin New York hotel. Apparently proceeds from the bagel go to some foundation for aspiring chefs. But regardless could you imagine just asking for a bagel and cream cheese and having to whip out 10 benjamins to pay for it? Grandma Ruthie would have a heart attack. I mean a bagel with lox these days is expensive enough!

But, $1,000 for a bagel is just a drop in the bucket compared to this $25,000 hot chocolate!

Apparently this hot chocolate served at Seredipity (where else) called a “Frrozen Haute Chocolate,” is a mixture of 28 types of cocoas, 14 which apparently are the “most expensive and exotic from around the globe”. I’m sorry, but I didn’t realize there were more exotic brands of hot chocolate than Ghirardelli. Fuck, I don’t think I get much more fancy than the 60 pack of Swiss Miss.

If that’s not enough, the dessert is “infused with 5 grams (0.2 ounces) of edible 23-karat gold and served in a goblet lined with edible gold. At the base of the goblet is an 18-karat gold bracelet with 1 carat of white diamonds. The sundae is topped with whipped cream covered with more gold and a side of La Madeline au Truffle from Knipschildt Chocolatier, which sells for $2,600 a pound.”

Oh and to top it off, “it is eaten with a gold spoon decorated with white and chocolate-colored diamonds, which can also be taken home.”

What the fuck. That shit better give you an instant orgasm in your pants and better get you laid all night…especially after paying $25k for that shit! You know how many women you can get at one time with $25k??? (Wait before you answer that, I forgot that’s not even a drop in the bucket apparently at Scores, where that poor bastard ran up a $250,000 tab a few years back). How the fuck did he do that again?

And I’m sorry…if I’m buying my significant other a bracelet with 1 carat of white diamonds, I sure as hell ain’t covering that shit in any chocolate or whipped cream. Talk about devalueing a piece of jewelry. Do that with a piece of shit piece of jewelry you buy at the mall or at Spencer’s Gifts that ain’t cost more than $1.

Ridiculous. Really. There’s millions of starving people out there, and assholes are buying desserts and bagels for thousands of dollars. No wonder why so many people hate Americans.

“Cult” of Personality October 31, 2007

Posted by whatpushesmybuttons in critique, eating, food, football, opinion, pedestrian behavior, photos, pictures, sports, travel.
14 comments

So I’m stealing a line from one of my most favorite songs of all time, Living Colour’s Cult of Personality.

Although the cult I’m referring to are the fans that inhabit Darrel Royal Stadium at the University of Texas, Austin.

I was last at a Longhorns game about 5 years ago and was amazed by how every single fan knew every single chant and battle hymn. Coming from a I-AA football school, we were lucky if students remembered when the team was actually at home.

Anyway, I had the chance to go to another Longhorns game this past weekend, as we were down in Austin celebrating Rich’s bachelor party. We saw UT take on perennial powerhouse Nebraska, who themselves have been struggling of late.

The hotel we stayed at (the Days Inn University) was packed full of Nebraska fans who made the trip down south. However, not wanting to be the enemies of 80,000 fans that pack into the stadium, we decide to don the home burnt orange and white.


The crew donning the burnt orange and white

We ended up tailgating at Sholz Garten before the game…which was this huge facility with a large backyard picnic type area with hundreds of peeps packed in. They had a large indoor hall with a big screen TV, where diehards were glued to one of the games. Outside they had a few bars with bbq grills. After waiting in line for 20 minutes for a pulled pork sandwich at one of the pits, I grabbed a seat and took a bite. However said pulled pork was kinda cold and very fatty. Definitely not an appetizing snack whatsoever, especially added to the fact I waited 20 minutes to get it.


The disappointing pulled pork at Sholz

Other than that the beer was great (kudos for having Spaten Oktoberfest on draft!) and the atmosphere was pretty kick ass!

(side rant coming: everything in Austin is made to order. Nothing is cooked ahead of time. While this is a nice touch, it adds completely unnecessary delays, especially at a tailgate or even at the game itself. The lines all day were ridiculous, because even soda from the fountain was made to order. They even ran out of hotdogs and pretzels before half time because they didn’t keep filling the machines. At Sholz, they made the burgers to order. So they waited for someone to order before throwing it on the grill. Now, when you have a line, of lets say 50 people or so, good planning dictates more than half of them will be getting a burger when it’s one of the 5 items you offer up. Dont’cha think you should have a bunch grilling and ready to rock, instead of having people stand there for 20 minutes? I mean I appreciate the “human touch”, I really do. But let’s talk about efficiencies here people. Think ahead. Prepare. Don’t run out of fuckin hotdogs at a football game. Thanks).

Back to football. Even though the team is struggling a bit this season, the fans were rapid from the opening ceremonies. The old PeeWee favorite “The Stars at Night are Big and Bright…Deep in the Heart of Texas” gets the crowd singing along, young and old alike. Not even at a professional football game will you find the crowd as pumped up before the game even starts than you will at UT. Case in point, when the players emerge from the tunnel and head across the field for a pre-game prayer, the fans pray with them.

It’s not all that surprising considering that in a state like Texas, football and god go hand-in-hand.

The Longhorns ended up winning the game 28-25. Nebraska actually had a lead in the second half with momentum, but couldn’t capitalize on a Interception around midfield as their drive stalled and ultimately UT took advantage of their superior talent in the game.

There’s some more stories to share, including how it took us over an hour to get food served to us at two different locations over the weekend…so stay tuned!

Joey! Joey! October 30, 2007

Posted by whatpushesmybuttons in current events, eating, food, sports, world news.
28 comments

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The “Tsunami” has done it again. After getting beaten around by Pat “Deep Dish” Bertoletti in recent competitions, my man Joey redeemed himself by eating an astonishing 103 Crystal burgers in 8 minutes to take the 2007 Crystal Eating championship!

You can check out the short Sportscenter vidoe recap here: http://sports.espn.go.com/broadband/video/videopage?&brand=null&videoId=3084545&n8pe6c=2

That my friends is un fucking real. The previous record was 97 by Kobayashi…so this was 6 better. How crazy is Joey’s feat? Well how about devouring an average of nearly 13 burgers a minute! Now before you run off saying they’re small, and that’s not a “real burger”…you try eating 103 of anything in 8 minutes and see if you can do it! Even some of the best eaters in the world only hit in the 40-50 burger range in 8 minutes. Over 100 is just un thinkable.

Personally I’m more of a White Castle guy myself, but having never had a Krystal I won’t knock it till I try it. Just word of advice, if you’re searching for Krystal in Google’s image search, let’s just say you’re gonna get a different set of “buns”:

I mean not that there’s anything wrong with those buns…but in case you happen to be in a public place, you may want to proceed with caution.

For those waiting for a story from this weekend’s bachelor party in Austin, I’ll have that and some pics for you shortly.

Thanks for your patience. 🙂

The Guacamole Story October 24, 2007

Posted by whatpushesmybuttons in eating, food, photos, pictures, stupidity.
15 comments

So many of my friends have heard this story by now, so figured it was a good one to share on this rainy Wednesday. Plus after all these months I finally got the pictures of the ordeal so for the first time ever, there’s some pictures to go along with the infamous story.

Back at our Holiday party last December in our office, we had a professional chef – John Reilly – come and cook up us a feast. Mr. Reilly is a renowned chef who has cooked for presidents in the White House and now has a catering company here in NYC. Mr. Reilly is also an avid hunter and wild game chef, and delighted us in the past with such delicacies as Black Bear empanadas, Braised Pheasant, Smoked Duck Lo Mein and Venison Burgers.

For our holiday party Mr. Reilly served up a smorgasboard of treats, including grilled shrimp, lamb chops, chicken and beef skewers and venison quesadillas with homemade quacamole.

It was heaven for a carnivore and I was up to the task, eating pretty much non-stop for 2 straight hours. Plus I helped myself to a bunch of beers and homemade margaritias.

At the end of the party, dessert came out in the form of homemade fudge brownie squares with vanilla ice cream. Of course there’s always room for desert so I helped myself to a few squares and was ready to call it an evening.

A bunch of us were sitting around and the conversation turned to eating. One of my coworkers bragged about how many brownie squares he could shove in his mouth. This inevitably led to conversations about eating capacity, which somehow turned into a dare.

There was a full bowl of guacamole on the table. When I say full, I mean flowing and over the top. The guacamole was in one of those molcajetes – the stone bowls traditionally used at Mexican restaurants to serve guacamole. Somehow the bet turned to me and the challenge was to finish the entire bowl of guacamole in 5 minutes.

Initially I resisted since I had just eaten and drank for 2 straight hours and was way past capacity. Even though money started flowing on the table (got up to $100), it was ultimately my pride (and stupidity) that led me to accept the challenge.

At first the guacamole went down smoothly and I was plowing along. However no matter how fast I ate, when someone would scoop a fresh batch onto my plate it seemed like the bowl was still way past full. It didn’t help matters that some in the room were trying to make me laugh, including putting one of those 100 gallon garbage bins next to me.


Co-workers making me laugh was costing me some valuable time

I was undeterred however and kept plowing along. However at the three minute mark things started to slow down tremendously. At this point our lovely PR director here decided to get her camera to start capturing the action (in case I started to puke everywhere – how kind of her 🙂

My hands literally started shaking after about 4 minutes. I was about halfway through the bowl and there was no way I was finishing it with a minute to go. I felt my color leaving my skin. It felt like I was 10 shades of pale. I was taking long bites and struggling to shallow even the smallest bite. So out of kindness they decided to bonus me two extra minutes.


Starting to struggle


Feeling completely pale

After sipping margaritas (probably not the best thing to drink while eating fast) I got past the wall that hits most competitive eaters and runners alike.


Getting to the bottom of the bowl

With renewed confidence, I started to plow through the rest of the guacamole. Shoveling it into my mouth as fast as I could, I finished the entire bowl at just under 7 minutes!

I couldn’t believe I had actually done it. I was beyond full it was so disgusting. I was beyond a food coma. My eyes were completely gazed over and my whole system felt like it was in shock.

I heard hootin and hollering around me but I literally just sat there staring dead ahead in a complete daze. People were high fiving me and I’m not sure I could feel my hands. Now I know what Kobayashi, Chestnut, Thomas and Conti must feel like after a competition. You’re beyond bloated and stuffed. You literally put on like 5 pounds just from the food alone.

Mr. Reilly unfortunately had left prior to the competition, but our boss called him up and told him what transpired. After some negotiation, the chef agreed to give me the guacamole bowl, which was hand made specifically for him down in Guatamala! I think that was a better prize than the cash!


The prized trophy

The best part was the wait staff that was working during our party had no idea what was going on. After I had finished the guacamole, one of the workers came back into the room and looked stunned at what had transpired. Our boss asked him if he’s ever seen anyone eat that much guacamole at once and he shook his head no. He then proceed to exclaim in astonishment that I had ate 22 avocados! It was well over a quart of guacamole (can’t remember the exact amount).


Trying to stop my hand from shakin afterwards

The worst part was we still were heading out to dinner afterwards. Sadly I just sat there at dinner staring at the food in front of me. Couldn’t eat a thing.

I did manage to keep everything down surprisingly. I did feel pretty sluggish over the next few days but I wasn’t too badly bothered by the ordeal. Actually we went out for mexican a few days later and I was able to eat guacamole pretty easily (at least I was eating it at my own pace!)

I am now the resident eating champ of my office and an official consultant on any eating competition from here on out. I’ll have to prepare myself for a new challenge this holiday season. Hopefully it will involve some kind of protein, perhaps burgers, steak or maybe shrimp or oysters!

Texas: football, steer and testicles? October 16, 2007

Posted by whatpushesmybuttons in animals, eating, food, football, humor, opinion, photos, pictures, restaurant, sports, travel.
21 comments

Oh well…the Cowboys tried. They really did. But the Patriots were too much. Too much offense. The Cowboys actually had a lead in the game in the 3rd Quarter.


The scoreboard clearly shows the Cowboys up big

But poor play calling and execution by the Cowboys in the 3rd/4th Quarters pretty much did them in. Including going for a FG on 4th and goal from the 5 when they were down 14. Smart move. But give the Pats credit. They’re definitely talented and Brady is a stud. They very well could go 16-0. They have the talent too. We’ll just see if they can stay focused for that long.


The Patriots pretty much took the air out of Cowboys fans after their victory

I’ll follow up with pictures of the tailgate and other random player jerseys we came across during the game.

Other than that Dallas was fun filled and action packed. Ok not really action packed but definitely fun filled. Some highlights from the trip:

We started with a visit to the Grassy Knoll down by the Book Depository where that “man who was president” was shot.

If you didn’t know it was the grassy knoll, well…this sign could have helped you.

I mean really…ridiculous. Thanks for pointing that out. There’s even an X that marks the spot where Kennedy was shot. Completely over the top and distasteful as far as I’m concerned. Not that I didn’t take pictures of the area myself, but that’s for journalistic purposes of course!

Next up was a trip to the Whataburger. I had never frequented one before so I was up to the task. The burger was passable…nothing special. But special touch was getting it delivered to your table. The foam cup kept the soda nice and cold though. Foam is definitely a good alternative to the plastic cups most fast food places give customers.

After filling up on Whataburger we took a trip to the Ballpark at Arlington where we were treated to a behind the scenes tour at the stadium. It was only Tom, John and I so we were able to get a pretty intimate tour of the stadium, the press box and the team locker room. We also took a trip to the dugout. Unfortunately they were leveling the field so it was nothing but backhoes and dirt, but nonetheless it was pretty crazy being the only people in the stadium besides the few workers.

After our private tour we were craving some steak so we headed west to Fort Worth and down to the famous Stockyards. After knocking down a few Lonestars at a local watering hole we decide to fill out stomachs with good ole steer.

But first appetizers came calling. And the one appetizer that jumped out was the sampler platter, complete with ribs, mozzarella sticks, and calf fries.

Asking the waiter what calf fries were, he vaguely said something about the hanging sirloin of the bull (looking it up the definition of calf fries are buffalo, boar or bull testicles. They are usually peeled, coated in flour, pepper and salt, sometimes pounded flat, then deep-fried. Nice! High-five!).

I was undeterred however and after getting said testicles I was the first to try.


I can cross testicles of my list of food to eat

They were quite tasty actually. Very succulent (is it wrong to say testicles are succulent?) Then again anything fried is bound to be tasty. But they seriously tasted like chicken tenders. Even the guys agreed: testicles aren’t so bad after all!

After downing some apps and a salad it was on to the steer.  An 18 oz porterhouse with a nice baked potato and corn on the cob.

Of course being that I’m a glutton for ignoring my stomach when it says it’s full, I threw down some pecan pie.

Unfortunately I didn’t get any Paul Bunyon hats for my eating performance but I was completely stuffed afterwards. I was so stuffed actually that I wasn’t able to get out of the car when Tom and John went to the supermarket. So I just sat there and slumped in my seat. At least it allowed me to snap a picture of this beauty. Nothing like putting megawheels on a 4×4.

Only in Texas my friends, only in Texas.

Food a-plenty October 10, 2007

Posted by whatpushesmybuttons in animals, bathroom humor, critique, current events, eating, food, funny, humor, movies, opinion, pedestrian behavior, random references, restaurant, sarcasm, sports, television, travel, world news.
49 comments

There’s a new king in town in the world of competitive eating.

Patrick “Deep Dish” Bertoletti, currently the #3 ranked eater in the world, has wiped the floor with Joey Chesnut in the past few days.

First, Bertoletti knocked off Joey Chestnut at the State Fair of Texas, winning the Waffle House World Waffle Eating Championship with a new record of 29 waffles in 10 minutes. Chestnut was the two time defending champion, but fell short by half a waffle.

For his troubles, Pat took home $3500 and the new Waffle House Belt, which was unavailable as of press time. No word if Pat also took home a year’s supply of syrup. (BTW…waiting for the Utah Flapjacks eating contest. That would be the breast! I mean best!)

Regaining his appetite quickly, Bertoletti then crushed Chestnut (get it, crushed chestnut – ha ha – I’m so witty) in a “Chicken Wing Chowdown” on Spike TV.

Pat devoured 4.1 pounds of buffalo chicken meat in eight minutes to take home the $25,000 grand prize! Not only did Pat hold off Chestnut, but he also knocked off Kobayashi in the contest (Joey ate 4.05 pounds for second while Kobayashi came in third, with 3.12 pounds).

Good stuff. I’m soooo looking forward to see who wins the Krystal Square Off on Oct. 28th. Bertoletti ate 76 Krystal’s to qualify this year. Although the record is still Kobayashi’s 97 Krystal’s in 8 minutes.

Speaking of eating feats, I happened to catch a show on the Travel Channel the other night about the Top 10 places to pig out.

The show was pretty good. Among my favorites were the 12 egg omelette at Beth’s Cafe in Seattle.

The eggs are fried on the grill and served up on a pizza plate with toast and hash browns. I’ve made some doozy omelettes in my days but don’t have a space large enough to make a 12 egg omelette. But I’d like to tackle that one day.

I’m also definitely down for the oyster challenge at the Acme Oyster House in New Orleans. You know I’m gonna try to battle my way on top of their Oyster Eating Contest leaderboard. Although there’s a long way to go to #1, as the top leader on their board downed 52 dozen oysters in 2-½ hours. I’m gonna have to bust out the “I Eat’M Raw” shirt for some extra inspiration.

Another challenge I’m up to trying is the Reilly Burger at Eagle’s Deli in Massachussetts. The Reilly Burger is named after local resident Sean Reilly, who devoured a six half-pound hamburger patties, quarter-pound of cheese (not quarter pounder w/ cheese – a QUARTER POUND of cheese). Before you think that’s nothing, he also polished off 5 pounds of french fries.

It took Reilly 2 hours and 7 minutes to finish the entire meal. Anyone who finishes the feat in the 2-½-hour time limit receives a full refund and their picture on the wall next to Reilly and his fellow overachievers, of which there are very few. I’d definitely be able to do the burger part. The fries I don’t know. That seems like a waste of calories to me!

Finally, the other challenge I’d like to embrace is the “World Famous, Free, Seventy-Two Ounce Steak Dinner” at the Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. The goal is to finish a 72-oz. steak, tossed salad, shrimp cocktail, roll with butter and baked potato in one hour. The meal is free if you can finish the whole steak and all the side items in an hour or less. 4,800 people have completed the meal out of 30,000 who have tried. I’m pretty confident I can add my name to that list. And I’m not lying either. I love me some steak. As long as they don’t make me dissolve all the grizzle and fat too, I should be all set (click picture to play the scene we all know and love!)

(Btw…no word on whether or not that was actually Keycoon, our favorite coon candidate for president, with a Swastika on his chest during his cameo role in The Great Outdoors. Stay tuned for his official announcement regarding this allegation.)

Farewell to a friend October 8, 2007

Posted by whatpushesmybuttons in current events, eating, food, world news.
13 comments

Over the weekend we all lost a friend true and dear to our hearts: the Topps brand of hamburger meat.

Some felt the pain more than others, including the 87 or so personnel that were directly part of the Topps family.


Farewell my friend, you’ll be sorely missed

The Topps brand was dear to me personally.

It was always there for me in a pinch and able to stand up through tons of pressure. It’s amazing consistency came through time and time again. Whenever I needed to cook for 20 or 2,000, Topps was their to save the day. It’s true, we fed the entire Marist campus for a Booster Club event by making over 2,000 Topps hamburgers of which I personally cooked up 1,000 or so.

Each burger charred nicely, stayed succulent and meaty. Even though my eyes were singed with smoke and I could barely see, I could trust my friend to produce fantastic results time and time again.


To many, this meaty morsel of goodness was the “Tops”

And while it would never be mistaken for an upscale burger or one of those artisan burgers you can buy at the Ruby Tuesday’s and other chains of the world, Topps was a burger for the everyman. The one who could feed their family quickly. The one who relied on it’s prepackaged burgers to cook up a quick feast for company both large and small.

What you saw with Topps is what you got. Meat shaped into patty form. Simple. Bun sized. Tasty. Compatable with lots of ketchup, lettuce, tomato, onions and all the fixins. Who else could give you consistency, burger after burger, even in boxes of 30 or 100?

For those naysayers or non fans you can feel free to hate. But just admire it’s legacy: decades of producing quality burgers for barbeque lovers around the nation. Nothing fancy. Not expensive. Just good ole USA beef at it’s finest.

So goodbye my friend. You’ll be truly missed.