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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!

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.)

Gimme More Collard Greens Mutha Fucka September 27, 2007

Posted by whatpushesmybuttons in asshole of the day, celebrities, common sense, critique, current events, eating, food, new york city, opinion, politics, restaurant, stupidity, world news.
22 comments

So y’all heard by now Bill O’Reilly done said some racist things in the past few days.

If you haven’t heard, O’Reilly was having dinner with Rev. Al Sharpton up at Sylvia’s, which is a soul food restaurant in Harlem (one of the best soul food restaurants around).

O’Reilly was quoted saying “couldn’t get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia’s restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it’s run by blacks, primarily black patronship.”

O’Reilly continued “You know, I mean, everybody was — it was like going into an Italian restaurant in an all-white suburb in the sense of people were sitting there, and they were ordering and having fun. And there wasn’t any kind of craziness at all,”

O’Reilly even added: “There wasn’t one person in Sylvia’s who was screaming, ‘M-Fer, I want more iced tea.”

Now I don’t know what types of restaurants O’Reilly has been in before with black folk, but its plainly clear he was out of touch. What did he expect, people to be climbing all over the seats, swinging from the chandeliers, stealing food off each other’s plates? I mean bitch, this ain’t no Chuck-E-Cheese or IHOP, this is Sylvia’s. Soul Food at it’s finest. If you wanted chaos and people cursing at each other then you need to go to Popeye’s or the B-K up in Harlem. Then people be all up in ya grillz asking for change and throwing chicken bones around.

I mean I’m joking of course but you get my point. It’s crazy that someone in this day and age thinks it’s an “amazing thing” that a restaurant run by “blacks” and frequented by “blacks” can be just as “civilized” as a “white run restaurant”.

I mean, Bill…last time I checked you were a business guy and you surely know that “blacks” hold CFO, President, CEO, and other highly influential positions in business. Hell aren’t there special publishing features and media reports devoted to the top companies run by minorities? I can’t believe you’d be that out of touch with civilization that you think every establishment run by a “minority” is run like a zoo. Now granted there is your occassional exception or two but seriously man…I’m disappointed.


Yo bitch, where my collard greens at?

All I know is that I’m thinking about wearing a Bill O’Reilly costume for this Halloween. I’ll show up to Sylvia’s or some other “black run restaurant”. I’ll scream at the workers “yo, motha fucka, where the fuck my chitlins and collard greens at”. Everyone will have a good time and laugh. And then I’ll take off my costume and sit and enjoy my meal like a civilized human being.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to seek out some fried chicken for lunch. All this talk about it has put me in the mood for some finger lickin goodness!

We’re not in Kansas anymore! September 25, 2007

Posted by whatpushesmybuttons in eating, food, football, humor, photos, pictures, random references, restaurant, travel, video.
24 comments

Never thought I’d actually be able to say that in my lifetime. But I’m back from Kansas City and actually had a great time. My event went well this weekend and I made some new friends, including Steve Hickoff, Turkey Hunting Expert and Stuart Littlefield, who won our Outdoor Life Grand Slam Adventure contest. Steve is a fellow blogger himself and wrote a little of our experience this weekend (I impressed Steve with my knowledge and insight on competitive eating!) Stuart is a native Kansas City-ian and took us for some good ole homestyle BBQ on Saturday night. Joining us for a culinary adventure was Peter Mathiesen, Field & Stream’s Gear Guru.

Stuart took us to a place called Oklahoma Joe’s. Oklahoma Joe’s is situated in Kansas City, KS and is located in a gas station. Yep, half of the “convenience” area of the gas station was torn out to put seating and an order station. Since this was as authentic as BBQ gets I didn’t mind the long wait which stretched outside the doors.

Once we ordered the food was ready lightning fast. The place is market style, meaning you place your order, get yur order and find a seat. I decided on a pulled pork sandwich at Stuart’s suggestion and we all split a slab of ribs (I was corrected after requesting we split a rack of ribs. Apparently there’s no room for saying rack of ribs in Kansas…only thing racks refer to are deers and well you know…).

Anyway lemme tell you that the BBQ was lip smacking good! Unreal. Some of the tastiest, tender pulled pork I’d ever laid my fingers on. Same with the ribs. Juicy. Tender. Fell right off the bone.


The Oklahoma Joe’s slab of ribs


The pulled pork sandwich

The side of baked beans was merely an afterthought and the fries were just there to help soak up some of the tasty sauce. The pickles were a nice sweetener to compliment the beef. But honestly who cares about sides when you have some of the best meat around. Just look at how perfectly cooked the meat was. (Sorry LK- but you’re gonna have to get some my BBQ after that pic my friend). So needless to say I’m definitely a fan of the Oklahoma Joe’s.

It’s been tough coming back and getting into the work mode again. Although the day went by so fast on Monday that I didn’t even have a chance to give you your Monday morning fix, so for that I apologize!

Although I think this is one of the few times I’ve actually blogged at night! Much different vibe than blogging in the morning or during the day. I feel hipper. Fresher. More twisted in my thoughts. Almost as twisted as this young contortionist:

My favorite is when she busts into the worm. Unfucking believable. Talk about flexibility. I’m lucky I can touch the ground on my stretches (and that’s after spreading my legs a few extra inches). This girl can wrap her leg around her head like it’s a bandana. Crazy.

Anyway I’m sitting here watching Drew Brees continue to suck ass. He’s really killing me in fantasy football this year. My team is off to it’s worse start in my 10 year fantasy career and I really have him to blame. Good job Drew. Way to follow up on that dream season of yours.

I’m so depressed I went out and bought myself a cherry pie to make myself feel better. After devouring it in about 4 seconds along with a glass of Chocolate Soy milk I feel a little better about life. Although can’t say the same for my stomach.

Actually watching Brees stink up the joint my stomach is starting to turn a bit. Kinda sounds like it’s trying to sing Warrant’s Cherry Pie song. You know the words:

She’s my

Cool drink of water
Such a sweet surprise
Tastes so good make a grown man cry
Sweet

Oh yeah

She’s my

Put a smile on your face
Ten miles wide
Looks so good
Bring a tear to your eye
Sweet

Yeah sweet

Yeah

The Match game August 3, 2007

Posted by whatpushesmybuttons in critique, eating, food, new york city, opinion, photos, pictures, restaurant, travel.
11 comments

So a few of you inquired about the food pics I featured on my blog yesterday.

Well without further adieu here’s where they are from:

The pizza goodness above was from one of the best pizzeria’s around. Nope, not Totonno’s or Lombardi’s or Patsy’s. It was Barb’s Pizzeria. In West Hartford, CT.

Now before you fly off the handle, I was a skeptic too, until I tried it. Bridget lived right next door to Barb’s and raved about the pizza all of the time. She took me there a few years back and I happened to be wearing my Yankee hat into the pizzeria. The owner saw me and asked if I was a New Yorker. We talked and I found out that he brings up water from the Bronx every week to help “sweeten” the dough for his pizza, thus making a “New York” style pie (thus proving my point that it’s all “in the water”). The other bonus is his pepperoni is extra baked, so its even tastier than those pizzerias who just slap pepperoni onto the pie and load it in the oven.

The resulting pizza is really, really good and is about 100x better than that shit they call pizza down at Pepe’s in New Haven (which singlehandly could be the most overrated pizza in the entire country). Plus do the pictures above lie? I think not.

Plus Barb’s also has a great salad with an awesome house dressing (that the sell by the bottle)

Basically it’s a new york style, no frills pizzeria. If they were in NYC they’d be among the best pizzeria’s around. But unfortunately those who grew up in CT are swayed by the propaganda machine that is Pepe’s and that’s all they know. Poor bastards.

The next item I featured was closer to home.

This heart attack on a platter comes courtesy of New York Burger Company.

Their burgers were voted “Best Burger in NYC” according to the AOL cityguide (although I’m not trusting ANYTHING that is AOL endorsed). But the burger is pretty tasty and cooked to order. I last had them a few years back and wasn’t impressed, but I must say this time around the burger was quite tasty. While the meat was more medium well than medium rare, they have invested in quality toppings and switched to a broiche type bun to help absorb the fried goodness and keep the structure of the burger intact.

The onion rings have improved as well as they were voted “Best Onion Rings” by GQ Magazine. (Ok…what the hell does GQ have to do with the best of food anything? Don’t even tell me the models and fashionistas that read GQ would scarf down a heaping order of onion rings. I mean they’re good and all, but I don’t need a bunch of models endorsing food for me – ok? Stick to what you know guys, showcasing suits and accessories that none of us “average joe” guys can afford and leave the fried food to those of us who don’t have the ability to stuff our fat asses into your $1,000 suits. Thanks!)

Finally we have the Lamb Paillard at The Noho Star which is downtown on Bleecker and Lafayette (kudos to Janet for guessing correctly!) The Noho has some great variety on their menu, and you can order anything from dim sum and chinese classics to grilled tilapia and heaping salads. The portions are generous and the prices very reasonable. Plus they have a kick ass brownie sundie selection for desert. Great “date” place or a place to bring a group of peeps for a low-key dinner.

So there you have it kids. And my apologies for making y’all and myself hungry again! But it’s almost time to get grillin’ in my cube! On today’s menu are hot dogs and grilled chicken cutlet sandwiches w/ melted mozzarella! Pictures to follow shortly!

Post blog note

Here are the yummy Nathan’s hotdogs I grilled up today. Good stuff.

End of the mom and pops August 2, 2007

Posted by whatpushesmybuttons in critique, current events, eating, food, new york city, photos, pictures, restaurant.
51 comments

Not a surprise, but more and more independent restaurants, delis and mom and pop type sandwich shops are falling to the wayside to clear room for fast food/restaurant chains and luxury buildings.

Recently around my office alone, we’ve lost a few valuable dining destinations.  Pinch, the venerable “Pizza By the Inch” that was actually quite good and had some kick-ass salads, shuttered to make room for a luxury building (another small cafe was shuttered along with it). Thankfully Pinch will be moving to the Upper West Side…bad news for midtown lunchers but good news to the rich folk on the UWS who are not restaurant starved to say the least.

Canaan deli, a breakfast/lunch deli on 31st and Park is giving way to a Chipolte.  Not that I was a Canaan supporter, but the residual effect of them closing has caused other delis in the area, namely Suzie’s Kitchen, to become uber-crowded…to the point where waits can get up to 15-20 minutes to order your food, pay and get out of the door. 

A California Pizza Kitchen chain also opened recently on Park…although everyone keeps telling me it’s “fantastic” and some of boldly claimed its the “best pizza ever”.  I doubt that, although I do believe they’ve made attempts to create a turnaround in their food quality (last I had it a few years back it was dreadful, with a capital D).  But still, improving quality aside, its one less “family owned” or “independent run” business to support.

I’m not saying that chains are the destroyer of good…but it does suck when a well liked and profitable place (i.e. Pinch) has to clear way for a new “luxury condo” development and a independent deli like Canaan has to cave into the big bad Chipolte brand. It’s bad enough that you can’t walk 10 feet without running into a chain these days, whether it be a salad chain like Wild Greens, Chopped and Guy and Gallard or a burrito chain like Chipolte or Burritoville (and yes I’m picking on Chipolte…i think it’s way overpriced and is extremely mediocre.  There I said it).

Anyway, I’m still buried in an avalanche of work here, but since I have this reputation for having people leave here hungry, here’s some more “food for thought”:

More on these tasty treats soon!

Post blog note:  i’ve gotten several people sending me links to articles about the recent flurry of banks and Starbucks that are infesting the city.  Kudos to John for this find from back in January talking about the fate of the once renowned 2nd Avenue Deli: http://curbed.com/archives/2007/01/10/2nd_avenue_deli_update_2_hello_chase_bank.php

Hill Country: Worth the hype? July 29, 2007

Posted by whatpushesmybuttons in celebrities, critique, eating, food, lunch, new york city, opinion, photos, pictures, restaurant.
10 comments

Barbeque has been all the rage in the NYC recently due to the success of places like Blue Smoke, Rub, Dinosaur, Daisy May’s among many others. Even celebrities are jumping into the pit (so to speak) as Justin Timberlake recently opened a BBQ Joint on the UES penned Southern Hospitality. Another recent arrival came to the Chelsea area via Austin, TX titled Hill Country.

Hill Country is an homage to the old Texas BBQ markets, where patrons belly up to the counter and get their food cut and priced to order. The space itself is very warm and inviting (and spaceous!). Upon walking through the doors you feel like throwing on your Cowboy Boots, 10 gallon hat and favorite flannel shirt (don’t forget about spraying on some Stetson cologne).

Warning….side rant coming! Listen people. I know this is Chelsea and the prepsters and hipsters who live here (not all but some) may have some problems identifying what “dressing down” means. Let me put it to you this way. It’s BBQ…down and dirty…stuff will spill and splatter…Dress appropriately. Please leave the Prada and the Chanel at home ok? It’s a fuckin BBQ joint. Thank you.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about the main reason why you would go to Hill Country besides the cool, laid back atmosphere: the food.

I went for the first time about a month ago with a large group of peeps. I was beyond anxious to try it out being a BBQ afficionado and upon hearing heaps and heaps of glorious review. Being that I normally overorder anyway, I found myself racking up the dollars pretty quickly as Bridget & I seemingly decided to try just about everything on the menu.

At the meat station we got a rack of ribs, a 1/2 Grilled Market chicken, a Beer Can Game Hen (which I was most excited to try), and a few slices of lean brisket. The food gets weighed by the pound and slapped onto some good ole brown butcher’s paper and wrapped up in a ball. I admire the no-frills, pay by the pound bit and the fact that I don’t have to worry about breaking a dish is even better for me! We next hit the sides stations and got a “Feed yer Family” side of Mac & Cheese and some Green Beean Casserole. Of course the meal wasn’t complete until we added the slices of thick white bread to go along with the meats and sides.

We sat downstairs since we had a group of 10 and got a long table to share. Waitresses take drink orders and how could you have Texas BBQ without the Lonestar! With Lonestar in hand and a palette of food on paper in front of me I was happier than a pig in shit (no offense to the pig I was about to eat of course).


The chicken, ribs, brisket and toast

I decided to try everything “as-is” to experience the true flavoring of their meats without drenching it in any of the BBQ sauces on the table. Since I had a lot of food to sample in front of me, I’ll base my review by item of food.

I first tried the ribs. Now granted please take this with a grain of salt, but I’m not a dry-rub kinda guy. I like sweet, tangy, spicy or any other type of “wet rib”, the kind that falls off the bone and has you licking your lips and fingers all day and night to try to get all of the sauce you can. So with that said I wasn’t a huge fan of the spicing on the ribs. I guess if you’re a dry rub person that’s how you like em. But spice aside, the ribs were a little tough to chew and slightly dry. Again…I know it’s supposed to be dry…but the meat should still be a little sweet and tender. This rib was just a notch below tender.

Next up was the lean brisket. The brisket was soft and easy to cut through. The meat was tasty and flavorful. Obviously the moist brisket would have had more fat and thus more “softness” to it, but all in all the brisket was decent. It needed some help from the array of BBQ sauces at the table to bring it up to “good” status. But definitely a notch above the ribs for me.

Then I decided to go for what I came here for in the first place. The beer can game hen. Being that I love to make cornish hen’s in my oven and have somewhat perfected the art of making them, I was expecting BIG things from the hen. Especially being that it was beer can flavored, how can you not be stoked. Well I was immediately discouraged when the skin wasn’t crispy but soft and not really chewable. I love crispy skin. Not saying it had to be fried, but there’s something about a crispy skin that adds to the flavor to the meat. This was like peeling back tissue paper. I cut into the meat. It was definitely cooked well but it was bland in flavor. The bites weren’t memorable and there certainly wasn’t any hints of beer flavoring in the meat (nor on the skin). I think the soft skin pretty much let the flavor evaporate out of the bird (a seared skin locks the flavors and moisture of a meat in) and left it a dry, bland mess. In fact I’d even argue that they didn’t use a beer can to cook the hen in the first place (which I’m sure I’m completely on point about being that the hen came out of a giant bin of hens). I was completely disappointed. And quite frankly pissed off being that this was the one thing I looked most forward too.


The “beer can” game hen, side of mac & cheese and green bean casserole

Eager to get my excitement and my appetite back I ripped into the sides. The mac & cheese was flavorful and the macaroni was soft and chewy. Cheese was abundant throughout, but very rich, to the point where you feel the arteries tightening a bit with each bite. But not enough to stop you from shoving forkful after forkful into your mouth. The green bean casserole was exceptionally good, and the fried onions helped give the green beans a nice added crunch and saltiness. I was definitely a fan of the green beans (even if it’s the “low food on the totem pole” at a BBQ joint.

Last up to sample was the market chicken. The chicken was moist and tender and very flavorful (MUCH more so than the hen). Each bite of the breast was tender both with and without the skin. However once you get down closer to the bone the meat was almost too tender and a little pink. Not to the point of being undercooked, but to the point of too tender to really eat. So that was kind of a drag being that their was so much flavor in the chicken I would have gleefully lifted up the carcass and ripped away at the tender meat that is normally around the bone.

I mean I know its hard to cook up thousands of pounds of meat a day. I really do. And it’s next to impossible to keep your eye on everything you cook. But if you’re cooking something in a “slow and low heat” based environment you have to realize that stuff will take longer to cook, especially with vast amounts of food in the steamers at the same time. But with poulty you need to be even more careful about what you’re serving up to your guests. So while I’m not saying the food was raw…they should probably fine tune their methods just a bit to ensure that the entire chicken is cooked through and not just the breast. Or just chop the bird and serve just the breast this way you won’t have to have someone staring at a pinkish piece of meat deciding whether or not to eat it or not.

Anyway after plowing through my plentiful bounty I sat back and evaluated the damage. There wasn’t much left on my paper, just some uneaten hen and the not eatable carcass of the chicken. I chewed down my white toast with another Lonestar to “cleanse the palette” for dessert. That and I really was hoping something would save my experience at Hill Country because it was a tad disappointing at this point.


The PB&J cupcake (back), the pecan pie and the Blue Hill icecream

Lo and behold dessert came through in the clutch! The PB&J cupcake was probably the best cupcake I’ve had in years (or have ever had period). The jelly was sweet and balanced out the peanut butter frosting perfectly. Add the reese’s pieces on top and it was like having your first peanut butter & jelly sandwich all over again! The pecan pie was definitely good (served room temperature) and the pecans were nice and crunchy compared to the tartness of the pie. When you threw a little vanilla Blue Bell ice cream up on that bitch it definitely brought it on home! Blue Bell, served in a little dixie cup, is a creamy and sweet version of homemade ice cream from Texas. Blue Bell is actually celebrating their 100th anniversary this year with a tour across the south sampling their flavors and celebrating their heritage. It’s a damn shame they won’t be coming up north of the mason-dixon line because I’d love to spend a few hours in that truck!

All in all Bridget and I spent upwards of $100 between the two of us and left Hill Country disgustingly full. For me I left with a twinge of disappointment in my mouth, albeit I was grinning ear to ear thanks to dessert. The reviews on my table were mixed, with some saying they loved it and others somewhat underwhelmed like I was. I did see some people from Texas I knew there so I know the place is pretty legit on trying to recreate the Texas BBQ market experience. From an atmosphere and serving standpoint that is point on (I could see the live music they have on occassion definitely helping to add to that experience).

Overall, the sides and dessert were definitely good (the dessert more so than the sides). The meats, which is what BBQ is all about, were hit or miss. I’ve definitely had better BBQ in NYC (Daisy May’s, Dinosaur among others) and I’ve definitely had worse, but I would say my first visit was about average. I left full and slightly unsatisfied and overall I’d have to say based on my first visit, all the hype may have been just a bit overrated. I’m sure thousands will disagree with my review and call me every name in the book. But since the place is continuing to drum up the hype, I did have the opportunity to make a second visit just last week for some lunch with co-workers. Did my feelings change any or would I continue to be underwhelmed? Well unfortunately I made myself really hungry talking about BBQ so you’ll have to log on tomorrow to find that out!

Y’all come back now – ya hear?

In the “P’Zone” July 12, 2007

Posted by whatpushesmybuttons in celebrities, coffee, current events, eating, food, funny, humor, lunch, new york city, opinion, pedestrian behavior, photos, pictures, restaurant, television.
26 comments

Before I get into the “zone”, it was like I hit the lottery this morning. There was no line at Starbucks (although by the time I left the line was out the door) and I even got a free Women’s Health wristband for a promotion they’re doing this weekend!

Seriously, what else could a guy ask for?? It’s like I stepped in shit today (actually true story – I almost did…wasn’t looking down and thankfully last second I nimbly avoided the pile of poo). Actually maybe I fooled the “stepped in shit gods” into thinking I actually stepped in shit when I in fact avoided it! Hmm…I’ll see how my luck the rest of the day goes before confirming this theory.

Anyway on this past Tuesday I had the pleasure of attending the first Pizza Hut P’Zone Eating Challenge which took place right here in the NYC.

The contest, put on by Pizza Hut as a promotion for their P’Zone, invited anyone in the nation a chance to compete against Kobayashi in a pizza eating challenge.

The drawing, which was done at random, was soliciting amateur eaters a chance to go up against one of the all-time eating legends.

The lucky winner? Marivic Stewart from Spokane, WA, a married mother of two, who was partaking in her first competitive eating battle.

The challenger however wasn’t Kobayashi, who was still suffering the effects of a recent jaw injury and could not compete (Pizza Hut is claiming the thickness of their P’Zone would be too much for Kobayashi’s jaw to handle). Marivic’s challenger was none other than the man himself, Joey Chestnut.


Kobayashi explaining that he won’t be competing

The challenge was to eat as many P’Zone’s as you could in 6 minutes. While I’m not at privilege to disclosure the results of the competition (the information, as well as video from the event will be released on Friday the 13th), you can make your own assumptions about who the victor was.

Regardless of not being able to report on the “official results” just yet it was a fun event, and I was among the small crowd who watched the proceedings carefully. The event wasn’t open to the public, but through some friendly contact from the PR Director of Pizza Hut, I was able to learn about the location.

I also got a chance to meet the new American hero, Joey Chestnut, live and in the flesh. Also in attendance in the room were none other than Kobayashi himself and fellow IFOCE competitive eaters Eric “Crazy Legs” Conti and Tim “Eater X” Janus.

Three of the best eaters in the world in one room: Crazy Legs, Joey Chestnut and me!

Besides the eaters, there were only some members of the media (who taped the festivities for Pizza Hut and the MLE – Major League Eating) and some of Kobayashi’s interpreters and PR agents. Being that I was the MOST influential “media” in the room (after all I do have the “best blog” in NYC right? Ok maybe it’s more like the best blog among blind lepers, but that counts for something right?) I had the ability to be among the privileged few to witness the best eaters in the world up close and personal (until they started letting the general public in by giving away free P’Zones…but even then people had no idea what was transpiring, took their free P’Zones and left. Idiots)

After the competition ended and the competitor who shall remain nameless took home the title, I headed back to my office with P’Zone in hand.


I had the Pepperoni stuffed P’Zone. After watching the competition and being in the same room with boxes and boxes of pizza smelling goodness, and no doubt inspired by the eating prowess I shared a room with, I made quick work of the P’Zone in front of me. Joey himself would have been proud.

All in all it was a great day. Got to say hello to the greatest eaters on the planet and got to watch Joey himself chow down in an intimate setting. It certainly wasn’t like the 20,000 plus people who crammed into Coney Island to watch him shatter the world Hot Dog eating record, but standing no more than 30 feet away from the man himself with 20 other people in the room at most was completely fine by me.

“Coming Out” Party July 5, 2007

Posted by whatpushesmybuttons in brooklyn, current events, eating, food, new york city, opinion, photos, pictures, restaurant, sports, television, world news.
27 comments

So as you all undoubtedly saw, my man Joey Chestnut took home the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Championship yesterday, bringing the coveted Mustard Belt back home to the USA for the first time since 1996.

It was crazy. Some of the most riveting, suspenseful, jaw-dropping live television I’ve seen in a long time. Fuck the Sopranos…if you wanted drama, you should have watched the end of the hot dog eating contest. You had everything you could ask for in a showdown of epic proportions.


It began with the Don King style “pre-eat” weigh-in.

You had the classic USA vs Japan matchup. A storyline that the WWE would just about kill for these days (no pun intended…since they tried that whole “death” angle recently and it failed. Miserably.)

You had the 6 time Nathan’s defending champion Kobayashi vs the new world record holder Chestnut.

When the contest started I turned to Bridget, Avi and Lauren (we were watching the festivities at Bar Coastal) and said Chestnut’s good for 60 today.

60 dogs? Chestnut’s previous best was 59 1/2. Kobayashi? 54 1/2. Kobayashi would need to best his personal best by 6 dogs just to stay close with Chestnut. No way he could do that with a sore jaw right?


Translation of look on Kobayashi’s face: Me have to eat 60 dogs??? Holy shit!

But there they were. Standing toe to toe. Going dog for dog. 60? You bet. Both competitors hit 60 with 2 minutes to go.


Both competitors try to keep it together with time running out

Kobayashi even took a slight lead 63-62. No way. Chestnut was on the ropes. Panic set in. Kobayashi was giving the performance of a lifetime. The TV announcers were comparing it to Curt Schilling’s bloody sock effort in game 6 of the ALCS.

Then it all came out. Well not all. But some.


Yep…Kobayashi had reached capacity. Trying desperately to keep up with Joey, Kobayashi was pushing himself beyond the limits. It was a gutsy performance, but in the end his stomach and mouth couldn’t handle it. But he kept going. And kept eating. And ESPN (of course as they always do) cut to commercial before the official decision was announced. When they left on break it was 63-62 Chestnut. But what about the puke? That’s a DQ in competitive eating terms. Or as they like to call it “a reversal”. So no matter how many hot dogs Kobayashi shoved in his mouth post puke, he would only be credit with those eaten up to that point. In the end it looked like Chestnut had him, by at least a dog or two.

It was the grittiest, most mano y mano performance you will ever find in any sport. Two warriors battling it out till the last second. Echoing shades of the epic battles between Ali vs Frazier and Sosa vs McGwire, Kobayashi v Chestnut II was an instant classic (people seem to forget Kobayashi narrowly defeated Chestnut by a hot dog and a half last year when Chestnut was a virtual unknown).


But more remarkable was the amount of hotdogs eaten. Both shattered their personal and world records. 54 1/2 was Kobayashi’s previous best. He ate 63. Chestnut downed 59 1/2 earlier this year. How about a 66 spot. In 12 minutes. That’s one hotdog and bun roughly every 10.9 seconds! That’s fuckin ridiculous.


Chestnut posing with 66 hot dogs after his victory

If you didn’t think competitive eating is a real sport, think again. These guys pushed their bodies past the limits in a competition for world supremacy. Let that be a lesson to all of the other “athletes” out there who collect their fat paychecks and give 50% of their effort. Long live the IFOCE and all hail King Joey!