Author Archive for The Uncanny Canadian

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Item – Kelly’s Roast Beef

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This picture of the famous and infamous Kelly’s roast beef sandwich really doesn’t begiin to do it justice. The pictures on their website look better, but are Javascripted, so I couldn’t easily rip them off for blogging. Their loss, really.

Here’s what I love about Kelly’s roast beef and why I think they deserve one of the highest delicious ratings I have given (as opposed to the usual delicious, not to be confused with my lowest rating, push):

1) They ask you for toppings and there isn’t any limit or boundaries as to what is a topping. I’ve had cheese, bacon, BBQ sauce, hot sauce, horseradish sauce (!!!), lettuce, tomatoes, and that’s just what popped into my head. As far as I know, they have limitless toppings. Next time perhaps I will ask for emu.

2) The roast beef is perfectly sliced and at the perfect temperature. It is thin, moist, slightly warm, and lean. It’s really exceptional meat. Apologies to those insulted by red meat, but this meat is as red meat as it gets.

3) Excellent drippings during consumption. This proves the freshness and the proper amount of cooking. Again, if you don’t like red meat, you will not like the nature of the drippings. I just consider it meat drool.

4) Good accompanying side dishes. PP loves the onion rings. I thought they were fresh, crispy, and honest, but seemed to lack either strong enough seasoning or a good dipping sauce. Horesradish would be good. In fact, everything at Kelly’s is improved by horseradish. The french fries are very good as well. They are crispy and taste fresh-cut but not greasy.

5) The restaurants at Peabody and Natick feature large aquariums. The only thing that makes eating animals yummy is looking at other putative food at the same time. I have yet to experience the original at Revere Beach, but I imagine the natural setting will more than compensate for the dining amenities.

Verdict: Delicious

Passover at the Uncanny’s

Passover finally ended tonight, and I could eat all manners of unkosher foods and porks. Phew. Like all Jewish holidays, Passover is all about the food. The kind of food that makes AG give a look of disgust and makes UC pant and salivate. For the unitiated, a delicious or disgusting review of the distinctive Passover foods:

Seder Foods:

Maror Sandwich – This is the part where you load up horseradish (either white or beet) on matzoh, make a little sandwich and eat after the blessing has been said. No matter how robust or mcmanly your pants may be, I assure you that you will shed a tear. It’s unpleasant and by design. Horseradish, delicious as it normally is, is never meant to be eaten in this quantity.

Verdict: Push

Charoset – Designed to look like mortar and brick, this mixture of walnut, cinammon, apple, and sweet red wine, is also eaten as a matzoh sandwich. It is sweet, cruncy, and interesting. My little sister made four batches of charoset, it is so popular at our seder.

Verdict: Delicious

Starters

Gefilte fish – There are two forms, the traditional gefilte fish, and the Uncanny gefilte fish. The traditional version involves keeping a carp in your bathtub, and upon mixing the oily fish with matzoh meal, eggs, carrots, and onions, is made into balls and boiled. The Uncanny version is made using a melange of three whitefish, freshly sauteed onion and carrots, and is baked in a bun pan. Usually the top gets just slightly caramelized and makes a sweet crispy top. It is a delicious and healthy low-fat loaf of wonder.

Verdict: Traditional gefilte fish – Disgusting
Uncanny gefilte fish – Delicious

Chicken soup with matzoh balls – The chicken soup is the usual delicious and health-indcuing kind that is made year-round. The matzoh balls are made from scratch using matzoh meal, egg, and oil. They are carefully cooled and then boiled such that they are not too fluffy and not too hard. It is all about temperature. Don’t bother ever making matzoh balls from a mix. Scatch is the only way

Verdict: Delicious

Side Dishes

Potato kugel – The simplest of kugels, it is like making a giant hashed brown. Simply grated potatoes, onion, matzoh meal, and egg. The egg is what makes it a kugel if you were wondering. Drizzling a little oil on top browns it nicely and gives it a little crispness.

Verdict: Delicious

Zucchini Kugel – Made just like a potato kugel, but using a stochiometric amount of grated zucchini. This makes it moister and healthier, but less delicious. Still, kugelizing zucchini is no small feat

Verdict: Push

Mushroom farfel kugel – The farfel part is made by softening small pieces of matzoh using boiling water and coating them with egg yolk and matzoh meal and then pan frying. Take the farfel, mix wtih copious amounts of sauteed mushrooms and onions, add in whipped egg whites and bake. It is a perfect side dish. I’ve been known to make this outside of Passover, but don’t tell anyone it has matzoh.

Verdict: Delicious

Sweet potato and prune tsimmes – The tsimmes is a strange and underappreciated ouevre of Jewish cooking. I make mine to taste the exact way that my grandmother did, even though nobody knows her recipe. It begins by taking miami rib (flank steak with bone works as well) and boiling with a little onion until it is soft. Then add loads of cut sweet potatoe and pitted prunes, brown sugar, a little lemon, boil to reduce the sweet water, and then bake everything in a casserole dish. Everything becomes sweet and slightly caramelized and is soft. Much tastier than you would guess. You can subsequently add some brisket, which automatically converts the overcooked meat my mom made into something delicous

Verdit: Surprising delicous

Main Dishes

My mother takes care of the main dishes. Basically, normal Jewish food. At our seder, we had the following main dishes:

Brisket, standing rib roast, veal roast, veal chop, cabbage rolls, baked chicken, lemon sauteed chicken breasts, pan fried tilapia and sole, and smoked salmon

Verdict: All delcious except brisket which was severly overcooked and hence a push

Desserts:

Banana Walnut Cake – Made using matzoh meal instead of flour and no baking powder. Basically is like a sponge cake with walnuts and banan. In the decade of making this cake, nobody has yet detected the banana flavour. Still, always popular.

Verdict: Delicious

Apple cake – The matzoh meal makes it come out a little mushier than one would like, but apples and cinnamon always taste good

Verdict: Delicious

Almond flavoured macaroons – Homemade macaroons are always delicious, especially when moist and dipped in chocolate. Store bought kosher macaroons and always a push, especially when too dry. This particular variety has no redeeming quality. Take a bad macaroon and add a fake flavouring that tasted like burning to AG and more closely resembled painful death to me. Better are cookies and creme flavoured Streit’s macaroons.

Verdict: Disgusting

Chocolate-covered matzoh – Instead of using regular matzoh, you take egg matzoh, which is sweeter and less crispy, and coat with bittersweet chocolate. Even the chocolate averse AG liked these, comparing them to Kit Kat bars. Unfortunately, a Passover version of Take 5 is still not pending

Verdict: Delicious

Candy Fruit Slices – I don’t know why these emerged as a popular Passover dessert, but they did. Everything about them is artificial. They are neither fruit, nor sliced. But the jellied candy kind of resembles a fruit slice. They are usually covered with sugar and are always too sweet and not tart. Their best-case scenario is almost delicious, but never quite

Verdict: Push

Lieber’s Original Potato Chips (Rippled) – This is my all-time best Passover secret. These chips are the single tastiest and most perfectly cooked plain potato chip I’ve ever had. They make Ruffles seem like eating chemicals and I like Ruffles. My theory is that cooking in walnut oil (peanut oil is not Kosher for Passover) and using kosher salt (non-iodized) makes these perfect. They are light and crispy, but not oily, yet still have a rewarding fried taste. Just hoard them when Passover comes and eat sparingly over the year

Verdict: Delicious

Breakfast:

Matzoh brei: This classic Passover dish is served year-round at some Jewish eateries, it’s that good. Break up matzoh into cracker-sized pieces, soak in hot water, and drain. Mix wtih egg, and fry to desired crispiness. Best eaten with straberry jam and lightly salted. My dad will usually make at least 10 batches of these over a single Passover

Verdict: Delicious

Update:

Frozen lemon cake – I can’t tell you how this delicious dessert was constructed, as my parent’s friends made it for us, but it was phenomenal.  Frozen tart lemon filling, similar to the key lime filling from Joe’s Stone Crab, topped with meringue.   True, the cake base had to be assembled using matzoh meal, and was butter-free, but the cake was a hit, especially for AG.

Verdict:  Super delicious

Item – Chewy Chips Ahoy!

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I must say that I’m not usually a fan of store-bought chocolate chip cookies. There are a few excellent brands, President’s Choice decadent and Trader Joe’s crispy mini cookies come to mind, but I wasn’t too thrilled at the prospect of a cookie from a box. Then again, one of my majour issues with boxed cookies is staleness and I have to give the fine people at Nabisco tonnes of credit for creating a very kewl resealable snacking box. However, these cookies were horrible. They had the consistency of plasticine and the taste of, well, plasticine. I can deal with chewy cookies when they are maybe soft and warm, but these made me gag. The chocolate chips themselves were pedestrian at best and there was no good buttery or vanilla flavouring. I would rather eat a bottle cap any day of the week than one of these puppies.

Verdict: Disgusting

PINKO ADDENDUM:

Something must be in the water at Chips Ahoy. Recently they have released a snack machine item (you know we canvas the machine daily for new degradation)- “Mini Chips Ahoy- Now “Better tasting””

Of course makes one go “hmmm”- sicne Chips Ahoy have been on the market for a thousand years and have always tasted like Chips Ahoy, it seems the best way to make them “mini” is to either 1) use less dough when baking them or 2) create a fantastical machine to perfectly miniaturize existing normal size Chips Ahoy. Surprisingly, Chips Ahoy have taken a third, unforseen road. And that is to use a combination of flavorless sawdust and sand. Here’s a clue: make them taste like Chips Ahoy, for good or ill, that’s the brand you are leveraging, not sawdust.

Cookie Jesus is crying.

Verdict: Doubly disgusting

Item – Mountain Dew Pitch Black II


You’ve got to be kidding, right? Part II: Back with a sour bite?

One look at this in the grocery store and Adorable Girlfriend and I realized that we finally found the one item that would qualify as a strong and resounding disgusting. Finally, I’ve waited so long to find something truly disgusting that I could contribute to D or D.

But wait …. I actually tried it to be sure, and the results surprised me. Grape soda pop on its own is a kind of childhood-acquired taste. You like it because you liked it as a kid when you had that Grape Fanta, even though it was terribly sweet and your parents told you that it would rot out your teeth. As you mature, the taste for things that sweet kind of diminishes. But never goes away. So here I am drinking my first grape pop in several years, anticipating with glee the waves of disgusting, and it’s not disgusting. Goddammit! The sour but not too sour aftertaste cuts into the sweetness and gives it the slightest edge. Sure it looks disgusting, but so does borscht, and that’s delicious. I can’t help it, honest …

Verdict: Delicious

Item – Ketchup Flavoured Potato Chips

This Delicious or Disgusting is for Geenie C, who falls on the righteous side of the debate. First of all, the delicious kinds are these suckers:The story begins as follows: Once upon a time, Hostess used to make potato chips in Canada. And Canadians loved their potato chips and grew an increasingly diverse and adventurous pallette. Flavours like sour cream and bacon, dill pickle, pizza, and ketchup chips abounded. Eventually, Frito-Lay bought out the chip-making division and started distributing Hostess chips as their own, and some of these esoteric flavours made their way to the U.S. Today, many of the best flavours are no longer sold in Canada or the U.S., but ketchup chips persisted.

Why ketchup? First of all, North Americans love ketchup and universally apply to it to their foods. Secondly, many North Americans love the flavour of vinegar with potato-derived products, and Lays Ketchup chips certainly have ample vinegary overtones. It isn’t really zesty, but it cuts into the sweetness, and merges beautifully with the saltiness. Imagine, if you will, a barbecue flavour, without the smokiness but all the tang. Still delicious and different.

Recently, on an excursion to find the best Banh Mi in Boston, I came across these ketchup chips in a small Vietnamese place in Dorchester called Ba Le:
Imagine my hopefulness at finding a brand of ketchup chips here in the U.S., and they sound delicious right? Big ruffles and real Heinz-flavoured ketchup. Well, the shocking thing is that they aren’t really delicious. They’re not disgusting by any means – I mean even liver and onions potato chips would have a certain appeal – but they were just kind of sweet and tomatoe-y and not savoury. I imagine that a light sprinkling of dried vinegar would save them and some, but in the mean time, I shan’t be purchasing them any more. Shame since the good kind of ketchup chips on their own are ….

Verdict – delicious

Best of Jackson, WY restaurants

Tucked away in the perfect little ski town of Jackson, WY are restaurants that give a new meaning to the notion of ‘sweet perfection’. With limited time and space, the best of the best includes:

Billy’s

Billy’s is a retro nineteen fifties-esque diner that has it going on. You sit shoulder-to-shoulder on the old fashion soda counter stools and watch the show. The men who work the griddle are southern vagabond, recent college graduates, with more humor than anyone knows what to do with who can flip a mean burger. These astute grill practioners are masters of the meat and doctors of the waffle fries. You are background to the lives of men who make the biggest and juiciest half-pounder that is ever so lovingly placed on a bun with iceberg lettuce and tomato.

Dr. Uncanny Canadian and Ms. Uncanny American (aka Adorable Girlfriend) shared a perfect burger on both visits. And there was no shame in that. The abundant burger was split in half where both parties were served fries in their own basket and all for the price of less than $7.00. I challenge you to find a bargain like that elsewhere. Now that’s good stuff, fellow fans.

There is no shortage of quaint drama in this unassuming diner. There are handwritten rules posted on the wall. Now normally the Uncanny One is OK with rules and Ms. American Liberal is pitching a fit. Yet, diplomatic relations were achieved on these policies. For instance, lucky #30: no cell phone use at the counter. And the pretty persuasion of the female form that dared to use her cell phone got heckled by the grill masters and the other counter customers until she finally acquiesced. As did the woman who tried to order her burger rare. That would be rule #19.

While the food is flawless on its own and hardly needs accompaniment at all, it is really all about the classic rock in the speakers that serenades you. And it’s not just some Led Zeppelin or Doors saturating the diner, it is also a platform from which the grill masters quiz you. You need to bone up on your greatest guitar player ever, be able to name all four Doors members and know what year any specific Who song was written before you dine. However, do not fret if you do not know, it is likely neither does the guy next to you. It is just all part of the experience that makes Billy’s, well Billy’s. Ms. American informed Canadian that she would leave him for Billy at any moment upon exiting the second experience of the closest thing a Jewish girl can coin, “heaven”.

The Bunnery

The Bunnery is a no-frills bakery also in downtown Jackson. There are only two things you need to be aware of: the double c’s: carrot cake and clam chowder. We have already given you chowder advice, so the focus is on the cake today. The little slice of holiness you dine upon is bigger than Boss Hog’s gut and moister than the basement of a ranch in Louisiana. Put simply, Bunnery carrot cake is divine perfection. It needs no introduction or long diatribe. Had it been baking in the oven when Dante penned The Inferno it would have been noted in the gluttony sub-section. In fact, Adorable Girlfriend insisted it was so decadent that she had it at 9 AM on her birthday this year. Now that is a good piece of cake …

Verdict: Super duper delicious!

Item-Gilbert’s Chowder House’s clam chowder

Bostonians sometimes forget that the realm of New England clam chowder can extend outside of the hub. For an authentic meal in a no frills, no messin’-around locale, head to Gilbert’s Chowder House in Portland, ME. Belly up to the Formica countertop to be waited on by a local. There is a myriad of chowders to sample ranging from the infamous clam to seafood to fish chowder.

It’s not all chowder power. You can sample a delectable lobster roll on bread that tastes like it has been marinating in butter since last summer or a crab roll that melts in your mouth not in your hands. You know: a local crab died for your dining pleasure, but let’s face it folks – that’s what keeps everyone coming back for more. And if you have your eyes on the prize, you can sample an authentic perfectly steamed Maine lobster to go with the vat of drawn butter that the wait staff brings with a smile.

Commercial Street in Portland welcomes customers to this reasonably priced charming little diamond in the rough.

Item-Snow Crabs from Minado Japanese Seafood Buffet

Minado is a fantastic restaurant. They have a great selection of every kind of sushi and maki you could want, and much much more. In fact, just check out their menu yourself because I couldn’t even tell you everything I ate – forget what was available

The food there ranges from above average to excellent. Never exquisite, though, but it is all-you-can-eat; they have to make a living! One of the highlights of the restaurant is an ample pile of snow crab legs. You want these! Remember: eyes on the prize! Make sure to take note of the location of the drawn butter so that you don’t get over-exuberant and grab a handful without the butter. This can happen when you’re making sure that nobody cuts you in line – because you’re not the only one ogling them. To be somewhat critical, the snow crab legs are not as good as at The Barking Crab, and they tend to the over-cooked side. But they are tender, tasy, crabby, and leggy.

Verdict: Delicious!

The Devil’s Melon or Manna from Heaven?

You will have to check at Republic of Dogs for the full details about this particular melon:

Here’s what we do know:

i) it’s not a canteloupe
ii) it is green inside – green and “delicious”
iii) it may be a suzie

Here’s what I know. If it’s a melon, it’s probably delicious. But I’m a scientist and need empirical evidence. Verdict: mistrial

Item: Zaro’s Chocolate Babka

Droooooool. This is the greatest pastry known to creation, and is courtesy your friends, the Jews. You should read the whole description of the food from Zaro’s. Actually, I’m going to steal a little bit of their description just so I can quiver in anticipation of the next time I get to eat one:

We still make Chocolate Babka the same way we did way back when. The dough is made from butter, milk, eggs, sugar, orange paste, and other all natural ingredients. Folded into the dough are chocolate chips, liquid chocolate marble, chocolate cake crumbs and some nuts. Each Chocolate Babka weighs about two pounds

You know where this is going. DELICIOUS. Also notable is their cinammon-raisin babka. The secret ingredient they can’t give away is the one last ancient semitic secret dating back to biblical times [it is the revelation of this secret not the conversion of the Jews that signals the end times, will probably be discussed in the next 12 Left Behind books-ed.]. It’s an arc of the covenant kind of secret, which is only known by the highest of the high priests and is muttered only once a year [and if you use its power for evil, your face will melt off- ed.].