Category Archives: Food

An ode to bad beers

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The bar’s shipment of PBR had not arrived, and I really didn’t know what to order. And they didn’t have Coors Original, either. So the top two beers I am most likely to drink were not options.*

*I know these beverage choices could not sound more hipster, but I promise I was drinking PBR before I knew any hipsters did. …AND I also realize that saying you did something before someone else or being in hipster denial are the most hipster traits one can possess. Damn it. 

Resultantly, on Wednesday night, I spent a solid minute looking at a list of beers that might as well have been written in Farsi because I knew nothing about the selection in front of me. I settled on what may have been a seasonal Sam Adams beer but pretty much just wanted to tell the waitress to pour anything of amber tint in a glass (except for the famous Sochi water) and I’d be happy. And I got to thinking, (and when I get to thinking, I often get to writing sprawling blog posts, so here we are): I have no clue how to differentiate beers and I don’t even have a preference for different tastes. Continue reading

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Subway or No Way

All Subway “sandwich artists” employ one of two very precise techniques for slathering mayonnaise (NOT Miracle Whip) on their god-awful sandwiches. Their choice is dependent on the utensils available at the respective restaurants. Some Subways carry the plastic spatula. The artists at these establishments dip this rectangular piece of plastic into a square-ish receptacle – also made of plastic – twirl the spatula until it is sufficiently coated in mayo and then splotch the mayo back and forth on the sandwich in a motion almost entirely unlike one used by Monet as he applied a final touch to his canvas, searching for a perfect measure of abstraction.

Other Subway restaurants store the mayonnaise in a canister similar to the type used for ketchup and mustard. These canisters are opaque, the better to prevent customers from seeing the yellow, solidified state the mayonnaise has reached while it has lingered away from refrigeration for several hours. The artists squeeze the mayonnaise out and in a fluid motion they zig-zag it over and over and over again atop the cold cuts. Though the strategies involve markedly different skill sets, each leads to the same frustrating, invariable conclusion, which is a mayonnaise-soaking so deep and thick that a small rodent could drown on that piece of nine-grain honey oat bread.

I imagine the sandwich artists are trained how to spread mayonnaise during orientation when they are newly hired. Some middle-manager on a video tutorial probably says, “Remember kid. You can never give someone enough mayonnaise.” After taking a few minutes to display a good mayonnaise-drenching, the middle-manager, I suspect, must also train the newbie employees to accept the look on the face they are bound to see from the customer whose sandwich has been dampened, which is, invariably, a look of resignation.

I haven’t been to Subway in a long time. Continue reading

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A True “College” Bar

“College” has a bar, and it is named KAM’s – all caps, just like R.E.M. and UNICEF. KAM’s is located in Champaign, Ill., on Daniel Street, across from some University of Illinois Greek residences, the Psychology building and hopefully not far from the local hospital. It smells like the inside of a shot glass filled to the brim with Jaeger, tobacco, vomit and lowered expectations, which I guess smell a little bit like Sears. Continue reading

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Keep Fuel City (Somewhat) Underground

The best tacos in Texas and possibly the best in the United States because Texas probably has the best Mexican food in the country (just guessing) are served at a Dallas gas station underneath a highway and nestled in a region that contains four liquor stores within two square blocks, along with a drive-thru daiquiri store. The place is called Fuel City and its tacos are authentic Mexican. And they are the best.

This is not some assertion I have blindly tossed into the blogosphere as though my words were medieval flaming arrows peppered with significance. They lack all of those ingredients. But people with authority have made similar comments. In 2006, Texas Monthly’s food editor called the picadillo taco the best in the state. This matters quite a bit. Many Texans believe in only three printed publications: the bible, Texas Monthly and any jumble of written words that bashes the Koran. So, yes, Texas Monthy writing to the state’s residents about tacos is akin to Paul penning a letter to the Philippians – IT’S NOT TO BE TAKEN LIGHTLY. Continue reading

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Unsolicited Endorsements: XVI

Because sometimes you just want friends to tell you about cool things… the Brew House team offers up its weekly mix of author-supported goodness.

Drink: MexiCoke

Here in Texas, and I suppose anywhere that might have a large Hispanic population, or even at one of those hardcore grocery stores along the lines of Whole Foods or Wild Oats, we are fortunate to have MexiCoke, the Mexican version of Coke. I thank the Lord for this creation.

Let me say this first: I love pop/soda or whatever you want to call it. Ever since I more or less gave it up in high school because I was brainwashed into thinking it would make be a better runner,* pop has been a luxury. I drink it maybe two or three times a week and look forward to it the same way I do a great meal, perhaps more so on really sunny, hot days.

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Unsolicited Endorsements: XIV

Because sometimes you just want friends to tell you about cool things… the Brew House team offers up its weekly mix of author-supported goodness.

Live music performances: Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

I must admit: I rarely watch late-night television. I can’t remember the last time I watched Leno or Letterman, and my samplings of Jimmy Fallon have mostly been limited to some viral highlights — like the time he went full Neil Young and performed “Whip My Hair” with Bruce Springsteen. Thing is, I don’t think this is changing, either. And, yet, I’m still an all-time sucker for a solid live-music performance. And on Thursday, someone pointed out that Fallon’s NBC website archives all the performances into an easy playlist.*

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Unsolicited Endorsements: XIV

Because sometimes you just want friends to tell you about cool things… the Brew House team offers up its weekly mix of author-supported goodness.

Food: Doritos with Green Salsa

Putting together random food combinations comes with a negative connotation. If you think whip cream is good with chocolate chip cookies, you sound fat. Just about any combo can have this effect – think adding bacon to anything. But random food combos are also delicious – think adding bacon to anything.

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It starts with breakfast. Breakfast in a hostel. A hostel in Paris. Paris in the summer.

We had been traveling for five or six days, give or take a town. We would travel for five or six more, my brother and I following the EuroRail map from Annecy to Nice to the Cinque Terre and back.

But that’s a story for a different time. This is a story about breakfast. And you probably know that breakfast in a Paris hostel consists of about three things. Bread and cheese and… and maybe water. That’s it. This particular hostel had a tiny room for the travelers to eat. It had faded wallpaper, and frilly curtains on the windows, and white table cloths from 1981. My brother and I sat down at the table and surveyed the spread.

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Unsolicited Endorsements: VII

Because sometimes you just want friends to tell you about cool things… the Brew House team offers up its weekly mix of author-supported goodness.

This soccer-centric documentary debuted at the SXSW Film Festival in 2010, and it immediately struck a chord. Pelada, which literally translates to “naked” in Portuguese, is the Brazilian word for pickup soccer (or more correctly, futbol).

It’s the work of four young film-makers and stars Luke Boughen and Gwendolyn Oxenham, two former college soccer standouts who travel the world in a constant search for the most basic form of the game — and what it means to each place. This week, more than a year after it surfaced on my radar, I was finally able to cross it off my list. (It’s streaming on Netflix.)

On the surface, this is essentially a love letter to the beautiful game, but the film resonated with me on two deeper levels: It opens a window into life in the unseen (the slums of Buenos Aires; a prison yard in La Paz, Bolivia; the tension-filled streets of Jerusalem), capturing the struggles and monotony of day-to-day life through the lens of futbol.

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Unsolicited Endorsements: V

Because sometimes you just want friends to tell you about cool things… the Brew House team offers up its weekly mix of author-supported goodness.

Album: “Nothing is Wrong” — Dawes

Ever since the first time I heard the first few riffy bars of “If I Wanted Someone”, I’ve tried to place Dawes in a certain time and place. By most contemporary definitions, they are not purely indie rock — at least, if we determine that a band can be classified as indie if a music director at a college rock station would want to put their album into rotation. And they don’t quite fit in with the stringy acts that have proliferated today’s alt-country scene — the Avett Brothers, Mumford & Sons, the Devil Makes Three — or even the kings of the indie/alt-country world, Wilco. Continue reading

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