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Southern Hospitality May 29, 2007

Posted by whatpushesmybuttons in celebrities, critique, dancing, eating, food, humor, opinion, photos, pictures, rachel ray, restaurant, television, travel, video.
41 comments

So spent my weekend in rootin’ tootin’ Nashville. Cool city – fun filled and action packed. We had our Field & Stream Total Outdoorsman Challege at Bass Pro Shops in Nashville on Saturday so that was entertaining watching these guys compete. Unfortunately didn’t get a chance to visit Graceland to bust out my Elvis impersonation, but an Elvis impersonator did come into the bar on Saturday night. Although he was wearing a red plaid jacket. I turned my head to the group I was standing with and said “Elvis didn’t wear plaid, did he?” Need to investigate that a bit more.

We stayed at this 5 star hotel called The Hermitage. Awesome place. Everything in the place was treated with white glove service, right from the top hat and coat tailed bellhops to the marble encased bathroom counter and floors. The lobby was exquisite with a huge arched ceiling and chandeliers galore.

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The lobby of the Hermitage

The bedroom was awesome as well, with a king sized bed with at least 800 tread count silk bedsheets and soft down comforter and pillows. The bathroom was huge as well, with a sunken tub and separate glass doored standing shower. They even had a separate room for the toilet. Yep, a separate little room. Cool stuff. Just an awesome hotel all around and just a few blocks from downtown Nashville. And affordable too…my room rate was only $249 a night (which for a 5 star hotel is really good!)

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The down comforter and silken bed sheets await

I happened to grab dinner at the hotel one night at their bar (The Oak Bar). I of course went for the traditional Fried Green Tomatoes which were outstanding. They looked and tasted just like crab cakes. Delicate enough to cut with a fork but meaty enough to withstand the breading I can tell you “FGT” is definitely worth all of the hype!

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Just like the watching movie, I cried tears of joy eating some Fried Green Tomatoes

I also treated myself to some Fried Quail in a Jack Daniels demi-glaze. It tasted like a sweet and sour fried chicken – unreal. The bartender said their fried quail dish is their answer to chicken wings down there. I’d have to agree. I think I would’ve eaten the bone if it was edible – it was that tasty! Paired with a local brew called Yazoo – and you had yourself a great dinner worthy of a Rachel Ray Yum-O (more on her in a bit).

We went out on Broadway in Nashville on Saturday night, which is almost like a Carson City meets Times Square meets the Vegas strip. It’s basically a three block radius filled with bright lights, street performers and bars galore. Downtown Nashville is hoping on a weekend night, with most of the bars having long waits just to enter. Each bar has their own band playing and for the most part they are no-frills kind of places with people drinking, dancing, hootin and hollerin as the band cranks out country rock and blues classics. We visited both Lola’s Bluegrass Inn and The Stage in Nashville. Both places were hoppin but The Stage was truly packed. There must have been 300-400 people jammed in their. Looked like a Frat house party with an open pit of people rocking away and a balcony for those who wanted to oversee the action from above. Although I’m disappointed we didn’t hit any Honky Tonk bars so didn’t get to see any line dancing or any boot scootin booging going on. But nonetheless, I’d definitely recommend visiting Nashville if you’re looking to spend a fun weekend away.

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The Stage in Downtown Nashville

And about that whole stereotype about people marrying young in the South. I had known it has existed but to see it first hand was eye-opening. Literally everyone over the age of 18 was married down there. The 24 year old worker at Bass Pro Shops was upset that it took her that long to get married since she looks “old now”. Are you kidding? Then again compared to everyone else who was married down there she did look old. Out at the bar there was a bachelorette party. The bride to be was maybe 21 at most. All of her bridesmaids were around the same age as well. Not one of them didn’t have an engagement or wedding ring on their finger! Unreal. I’d feel bad for anyone over the age of 25 who was single down there. It would probably mean you’ve either been divorced, widowed or you’re really the runt of the litter. It’s like in Kindergarten they tell you: Ok Billy Bob, you’re gonna marry Peggy Sue when you turn 18. Or else no grits for you. Understood mister? Crazy stuff especially coming from the Northeast where people by and large wait till they’re at least old enough to drink before we get married.

Anyway, back to Rachel Ray. Came across this hilarious video on YouTube of a montage of Rachel Ray from $40 a day. The video is cut closely so it shows her “orgasming” on camera about the food she’s eating. Pretty funny stuff if you have 2 minutes to spare while you spill your Chinese food all over your keyboard during lunch.

View Rachel Ray’s “orgasm”

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Part of a nutritious breakfast May 4, 2007

Posted by whatpushesmybuttons in breakfast, coffee, comedy, common sense, critique, eating, food, funny, humor, nostaglia, opinion, photos, pictures, rachel ray, random references, sarcasm, television, weird.
38 comments

Growing up we all saw those “nutritious breakfast” commercials. Where the mother and children are sitting at the kitchen table and the children have a whole smorgasbord of food in front of him to start their day off right. You know the whole “part of a nutritious breakfast” plugs that the cereal companies normally advertised. The ones that contained:

The bowl of cereal

The slice of toast

The scrambled eggs

The glass of OJ

The apple or orange

The occasional slice of bacon

I have to say as I child I tried to have a nutritious breakfast each day before school. Normally it was a bowl of cereal since that was the quickest and easiest. But it wasn’t your healthy cereal, like Corn Flakes or Bran Flakes or Raisin Bran or Chex. Nope, my fat ass wanted the Golden Grahams, the Cinnamon Toast Crunch, the Crunchberries, the Count Chocula or the Frosted Flakes that were always being advertised. Two scoops of raisins? Wheat and corn double sided Chex? Nigga please. More like 10 scoops of sugar for me. The more sugar, the better! Or if I was running late and needed to run out of the door quickly, the pack of sugar laded Pop Tarts more than did the trick.

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Cereals such as Fruit Brute and Post Mortems are all part of your child’s nutritious breakfast

On weekends? Well my friends, that was time for cholesterol heaven. My weekend breakfast courtesy of my dad or grandmother was either fried salami and eggs or corned beef hash and eggs or butter laden French toast. All the healthy stuff that sits in your stomach all day never to be digested.

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Nothing says healthy breakfast like a side serving of Corned Beef Hash

But these days who has time for healthy and nutritious breakfasts? I mean most of us are on the go, eating whatever is quickest and most convenient. Myself included. My breakfast mostly consists of a deli bought egg & cheese or toasted bialy/bagel. Or if I’m in a rush, the cup of tea and donut/buttered roll from the street vendor. Hardly the breakfast of champions, I know. Hell, even Rachel Ray herself, the queen of the quick meal, now endorses Dunkin Donuts, who basically make a living promoting breakfast on the go.

So the other day I actually got up early enough to make myself a “nutritious” breakfast. Shocking, even for myself. But since I’m the “omelet master” thanks to my days being a short-order cook at a Bagel shop up by Marist, I can whip up breakfast fairly quickly. So I whipped up a one-egg yolk/two egg white omelet (less yolks means less of that cholesterol nonsense everyone’s worried about these days) with cheddar cheese. For my “meat” requirement I sizzled up two slices of South Beach Diet approved Turkey Bacon. And I even was able to add in the quintessential breakfast “must-haves” in the way of Soy Chocolate milk and a healthy glass of OJ.

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I could’ve filmed one of those “healthy breakfast” commercials with the meal I whipped up

But unfortunately I eat these types of breakfasts too few and far between. But I take comfort knowing that I’m not alone. I did a Google search this am on nutritious breakfast. And I found some good ones I’d like to share with you today. After all, wasn’t Friday always “show and tell” day at school? Although I think they banned show & tell in my elementary school once one kid pulled down his pants and said this is what my daddy told me to show the girls to impress them. Ok, maybe the kid just pulled down his pants and didn’t say anything. But either way, show & tell was banned ok??? Anyway, here are some delicious breakfast ideas sure to get your day off to a fast moving start!

1. Everything you could ever need to get your day off to a great start. Once you’ve filled your stomach with eggs, bacon, sausage and the all-important tator tots, then you can move onto the glazed scone, muffins and french toast sticks. This my friends is what breakfast is all about!
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2. Stack em high and stack em proud! Nothing says “get me ready for a light day on my feet” more than a short stack of pancakes. Add the extra syrup for a sugar rush and you’re ready to pound the pavement!
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3. Sunny side up egg, toast, 2 sausage links, 2 slices of bacon. Oh hell yeah – that’s breakfast! But wait…don’t forget about the grilled tomato, the vegetable puree, the homefries patty and the sauteed mushrooms! Nothing says breakfast like mushrooms!
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4. Umm….yeah…not sure where this fits into the traditional American breakfast of carbs and cholesterol. Fruit? That’s for wussies! Portion control? What’s that? Everything about this breakfast is a big thumbs down. Except for the fish. Besides, what’s more quicker and convenient than chewing on a raw fish for breakfast! Plus it fills your daily need for fish oils!
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5. Now, that’s more like it! Eggs benedict! That quintessential American breakfast. The creamy, fat filled Hollandaise sauce. The indigestion-bearing Canadian Bacon. The poached eggs and English Muffin. Yum-O! Add in a side of home fries and if you must, some melon, and my friends you’re ready to take on the world and go shopping for that skin-tight bathing suit for the summer! Make sure to down a few Bloody Mary’s before you go so you’re extra-skinny when you try on that two-piece or that speedo!
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Adventures in Brooklyn April 2, 2007

Posted by whatpushesmybuttons in breakfast, brooklyn, critique, eating, food, lunch, new york city, nostaglia, opinion, rachel ray, restaurant, video.
10 comments

So yesterday Bridget, Rich, Erika and I took a road trip to Brooklyn to visit Deb in her new neighborhood (Cobble Hill). Being that I used to reside in Carroll Gardens this was a little of a homecoming for me. Although the area is MUCH trendier than when I lived there 8 or so years ago. For example, Smith street is now lined with trendy cafes and shops instead of pawnbrokers and “mobfronts”. The 5 of us had brunch at this trendy place called Apartment 138, which looks like it was once someone’s actual apartment. The place was hopping and the food was really good. $10 got you any brunch special plus a drink (choice of Bloody Mary, Mimosa or Pabst Blue Ribbon. Not quite sure where the PBR fits in, but nonetheless it’s awesome they even offer it as an option).

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Anyplace that serves PBR for brunch is ok in my book!

The food at Apartment 138 was definitely return-visit worthy, as the portions were large and the quality was high. I had fluffy buttermilk pancakes that filled me up before I could even finish. Eating a few fresh corn muffins for an premeal snack i’m sure didn’t help any. I tried the omelette which was good as well. They actually sauteed the onions and mushrooms and used roasted red peppers in their omelettes which was a different touch.  The bacon was extra crispy (huge bonus) and the potatoes were flavored nicely.  The Bloody Mary’s went down smoothly too…and the fact that I didn’t get charged for my 2nd one was definitely an added bonus! The main dining area gets busy so its good they have a bar available for those long waiting periods (we actually sat in this side nook which was nice…it was like our own private enclave). They also have a downstairs game room with a Foozball and Pool table, so there’s fun for the kids (or adults) if you’re waiting an hour for your table! But overall the experience was very good!  And very reasonable, since brunch for 5 only cost $58 plus tip (and since Rachel Ray was no where to be found, we were able to leave 20% instead of 20 cents). 

However the real adventure of the day came when we tried to find Buffalo Wild Wings

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For those who haven’t seen their ads, they’ve been playing them on tv constantly…with the female waitress who trips and loses her tray of buffalo wings in the air. However she recovers in time to make a diving lunge and collect all of the wings unharmed on the tray. Afterwards she gets a standing ovation by the patrons. Anyway, Rich and I were talking about the place last week after Rich saw the commercial for the umpteenth time and decided to look it up online. (Btw that’s so annoying…when national restaurant chains advertise in your area and you know there are none within a 100 mile radius. For example, Sonic. How many times have you seen their ads? Where’s the closest Sonic to NYC…Phoenix?). Well lo and behold BWW actually has two New York franchises, one in New Rochelle and the other in Brooklyn. Well when Rich told me the news about the Brooklyn location (we were at the Rangers game at the time) I had Bridget look up where the location was, and sure enough it was in downtown Brooklyn. I mean growing up in Bklyn there weren’t too many chain restaurants, nor should there be, especially since we have enough top-notch mom and pop type operations. However they have been springing up recently (mostly due to gentrification and the influx of big box retailers such as Home Depot, Lowe’s, Target, Costco, etc). But a Buffalo Wild Wings? That’s just completely random. The only other chains in Brooklyn are Applebee’s, Friday’s, Outback and Houlihan’s (at least that I know of). But their new location makes sense, since its right in a mall, and right across the street from where the new Nets arena is being built.

Anyway, the place was nice…not as fancy as the Houlihan’s next door to it, but definitely a sports bar type of place. It was empty, albeit it was a Sunday afternoon with no sporting events going on. Even though we just ate brunch we figured we had to sample the wings while we were there. We had some honey bbq and regular buffalo mild wings. They were ok…definitely tendy and had some meat on the bones. The mild sauce was more tangy than spicy but nonetheless tasty. They have this thing called a blazin challenge, where you have to eat 12 of their blazin wings in six minutes without anything to drink or any dips (ranch, blue cheese, celery). Similar to Cluck U chicken, their blazin sauce is a habanero based sauce with cheyenne peppers added in. Eddie, our cool server, brought over a little sampling of the sauce for us. Having had the Cluck U chicken sauce before I was ready for the heat. It was definitely spicy and attacked the taste buds and your lips, making your mouth tingle. However wasn’t uneatable…although I wouldn’t want to eat a dozen without the relief of beer or blue cheese. Anyway, if you complete the challenge you get your picture on the wall and a T-Shirt. Although they don’t give out any Tums to the losers.

I just tried searching for the official commercial on YouTube but to no avail. But found this rather humorous “homemade” commercial produced by two kids who were obviously bored one evening.

But all in all seems like a cool place. There are tv’s galore and at least 8-10 of them are big screens so plenty of viewing room. Definitely a place to spend an NFL Sunday or a March Madness day in. Especially since you don’t even have to go outside, you can take the subway to Atlantic avenue (1,2,3,4,5,Q,B, among others) to Atlantic Avenue and pop upstairs directly to the mall. Definitely worth checking out at some point for a road trip if you want to venture out of the city. Plus there’s a Chucky Cheese in the mall as well, so those who have any children can feel free to venture there.

In other news, 10 years ago this past weekend we were trapped by a major snowstorm in Poughkeepsie that cut out power on the Marist College campus and left us “homeless” for a few days. It was a fun few days…as evidenced by this newspaper clipping. The day after the snowstorm was like 60 degrees which was crazy. Especially since we were able to get a few days without classes and plenty of time to just mess around. Anyway, know that’s not newsworthy or anything, just felt I’d mention for nostaglia’s sake!

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Heaven = Sauget, Illinois March 23, 2007

Posted by whatpushesmybuttons in eating, food, photos, pictures, rachel ray, sports, video, weird, white castle.
11 comments

Ok, so why wasn’t I informed of this sooner??  Friends? You out there? No one heard about this?  Apparently there’s a minor league team in Illinois (Independent League) that has a themed food item every year they sell in their concession stands.  Last year the team had a burger called “Baseball’s Best Burger” which was a burger topped w/ cheddar and bacon. Before you think that’s ordinary, the bun was no ordinary bun.  It was a…….drumroll please…..a sliced Krispy Kreme donut!  Awesome! That’s what I’m talking bout! Close those arteries!

Use this link to view the story about the Krispy Kreme burger

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In past years this minor league outfit has used unusual food items to draw crowds to their games.  In the past few years they have had themed hotdogs. In 05 they had a concoction called a “Swiss Brat”, which was a Brat w/ melted swiss cheese and sauerkraut.  In 2004, they launched their themed food tradition with “Baseball’s Best Hotdog”, a black angus hot dog with bacon, onions and cheese sauce.  As Rachel Gay would say, “Yum-O!”

So for this year the team decided to go after my own heart.  They are using a term dubbed “Baseball’s Best Sliders”.  But they are not just using any old ground beef or a frozen “Topps” patty.  Nope.  They are using a WHITE CASTLE burger!!! (those who read this blog know that’s my favorite).  As if just serving the White Castle burger wasn’t enough, they are battering the burger and deep frying it!!!  (unfortunately they’re not wrapping it in a pepperoni pizza like Taco Town does). 

Could you imagine how good this must taste?  Well, the folks at CNBC had a platter of the fried White Castles in their studio for a taste test.  Darren Rovell, one of their reporters, put together the story on his blog, Sports Biz.  Click the image below to view the article and video of the segment they did on the air with a taste

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I may have to make a side trip to Sauget when I make a trip out to Sparta, IL either this summer or in August.  They only make them in small batches each game so I’ll make sure I’m first in line.  Although not sure if I’ll be able to polish off these bad boys like I do regular White Castle’s, especially since they’re estimating 600 calories and 40 grams of fat per serving (two burgers).  Could you imagine trying to polish off a Crave Case?  That shit would be insane.  If you got a Crave Case (30 pack) of these deep fried sliders, the caloric count would be 9,000 calories, 600 grams of fat!  Awesome!  At least if I drop dead on the spot due to my arties clogging, I’ll be dying in “heaven”.

Anyway, time to gear up for more NCAA basketball action this weekend.  If last night’s game were any indication, we’re in for some nail biters this weekend!

GO RED FOXES…BEAT TENNESSEE!

Best Lunch Deal in the City February 27, 2007

Posted by whatpushesmybuttons in eating, food, lunch, new york city, rachel ray, restaurant.
9 comments

So, as all of you know I’m a food junkie and based on prior posts on this blog I’m extremely opinionated when it comes to my food. That being said, I tend to frequent places, often by myself, to get a little down time from the office. Bars are among my favorite lunch spots since they are typically not crowded during lunch (except during march madness) and they tend to have surprisingly good food during the day (when people aren’t drunk enough to know the difference).

That being said some of my favorite places have lunch specials, which will either be the meal alone or both a drink and the meal. Remedy Bar on 52nd and 3rd had a good lunch special…it was $9.99 for most of the menu items and that came with a beer or soda (it’s since gone up to $12.99 for a limited number of items). But deals like that are what I’m after.

So one day I happened to drop into the popular happy hour spot Mercury Bar on 33rd and 3rd. They advertise a $5.95 lunch special. Being that an average sandwich in NYC is $6 and an average salad as soon as you add anything other than lettuce is $7+ I figured what the hell. A few weeks ago I had the vegetable lasagna and it was fantastic. Just like the bartender John recommended. So yesterday I figured I’d drop back in to have a quick bite. The female bartender Crystal recommended the Rigatoni with Roasted Chicken. That was fantastic as well. I’m sure I could’ve said anything on the menu and she would have said it was fantastic…but i’m glad her words didn’t disappoint. It was a nice sized portion, with roasted zucchini and 2 pieces of garlic bread. All for just $5.95. That would be like $14+ at a place like Olive Garden or like $19+ at most fancy Italian restaurants and I’m telling you, no joke, this was at least as good if not better than what you get at places like that. Really good…and not just because it was cheap, that’s just an added bonus. They have about 12 different items on the $5.95 lunch menu and so far both haven’t disappointed. Here’s the link to view their menu: http://www.mercurybarnyc.com/eastside/media/mercurybar.html


The delicious Rigatoni and Roasted Chicken at Mercury Bar

I added a Blue Moon and the bill was $12.45 w/ tax. I left $16 on the counter since I happen to be a generous tipper (if Rachel Ray was around she’d have a heart attack). Actually let me vent on her a bit. She’s a cheap ass S.O.B. She probably would’ve tipped 10 cents. I could hear her whiny, nasely voice – “you guys, I only spent $6.50 on lunch including tip. The meal was $5.95 plus 40 cents tax. Isn’t that a great deal or what. YUM-O”. I would argue she’s done more harm than good to Americans with her cheap tipping habits and her awful talk show.


Pictures like this prove why Rachel Ray is doing more harm than good to Americans

Don’t believe me? Just google Rachel Ray and Cheap sometime and see how many links there are. You’ll find people trying to defend her and say she’s overly generous. If that’s the case why go on a show that millions of viewers watch and tip 10% and below. If people are going to emulate you don’t set a bad example by tipping $1 on a $15 bill. So Rachel, do us all a favor and go back to your 30 minute meals and teach us something useful. No one needs to see your stupid magazine or your stupid talk show. Only the brainless people of the world follow her word like it’s the gospel. Yes, she’ll pull the occassional good tip or time saving thing out once in a while. But don’t sit there and tell me she’s not annoying. And a cheap ass. Cause she is. And her damn voice…it’s stuck in my head…get it out!!!