Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Okie's Butcher Shop

2107 Long Beach Blvd
Surf City, NJ 08008
(609) 494-5577

Okie's is a staple of the Long Beach Island scene. I don't make it to the shore very often, but when I do, I love to check out the "beach version" of my favorite thing to eat, sandwiches. Okie's is a very good butcher shop, with a huge prepared food section. And a made-to-order deli, in which I partook.

This place gets packed on the weekends, so just grab a number and hang out for a bit.

The counter people work very fast, and are quite courteous for their speed. The hoagies come wrapped in saran wrap, which makes them perfect for a beach lunch. They are also huge. A "half" (shown below) is more than enough for one person.

They are like a hybrid "sub" and "hoagie" (soagie?), with a hard seeded roll, but cut all the way through.

The meat was freshly sliced, with the cheese nestled between layers. I would have loved some sharp provolone on this, but the overall package was a pretty damn good sandwich. The veggies were fresh, the roll had a perfect chew, and the meat was quality.

The setting certainly didn't hurt my enjoyment of this sandwich either. I would have to say, if I am getting a hoagie in LBI, there is only one choice.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Full Spirited Flavours

Schwenksville, PA 19473
(610) 933-6411

I recently received a package in the mail from a company run by some sisters who make booze-infused cakes. While I was skeptical, because this seemed like a gimmick (and it admittedly is), I wanted to give them a fair shot.

Each box contains four individually wrapped cakes.

From twelve o'clock: Amaretto, chocolate razz, mango coconut and limoncello.

The cakes were very moist, and had a nice shine. Yes, sheen, shimmer, glisten. They looked mouthwatering.

The real shock was the consistency. These were surprisingly delicious cakes, and had a texture that many cakes lack. I assume that an ample use of oil didn't hurt.

The limencello was probably my favorite of the group. They had a nice lemon flavor, with a bit of zip from the sweetly bitter liquor, some extra sugary sweetness from the white chocolate pieces, and the glaze of more limencello helped balance the acidity.

Coconut rum and sweet mango was another favorite. Not cloyingly sweet, and like the rest of the cakes, had a great texture.

Chocolate razz was another crowd pleaser. It's not to say the amaretto wasn't well received, but these three were the definite favorites. I can see this product catering to a niche like work gifts, bridal showers, baby showers etc. I am still shocked at how well the cake turned out given my initial skepticism. Hopefully these sisters continue to do well.

If you're involved with any of the aforementioned events/groups, I suggest you give them a try. Build a gift basket around them!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Wayside Market

469 S Old Middletown Rd.
Media, PA 19063
(610) 566-9989

Every once in a while, a gem escapes my radar. It makes me so happy to stumble upon a place that I never heard of. And love it.

When I walked in and saw the Lisco's bin, I knew I was in the right place.

To really gauge a place, I look to the big two: cheesesteaks and hoagies. In this case, I also ordered some BBQ ranch fries to go alongside as I was feeling particularly chubby.

The "Old World Italian" took the DelCo meat wrap to the extreme. This thing was literally draped with thinly sliced Italian meats.

Sharp Provolone, Genoa, Cappicola, Ham, Coteghino, Pepper Ham, Prosciutto, olive oil, lettuce and tomato are the standard fillings. Works for me. The Liscio's roll held everything together perfectly (as usual) and the ultra thin, fresh sliced cold cuts melted in your (my) mouth.

They didn't over-stuff the sandwich, but rather let the quality of the ingredients (and construction) speak for itself.

The cheesesteak was another no-frills winner. There was no gimmick, just extremely quality meat, a nice ratio of melted cheese throughout, and some sweet caramelized onions. This is how it should be done. My only concern was that it was dangerously close to having too little meat. The quality and seasoning of the chopped beef inside was so good, I let it slide. But I could see that being a complaint.

It was really true of both sandwiches, but they were so good I didn't care. I don't need a mound of meat to chew through, when I can have a great ratio of carbs-to-protein like we have here.

The BBQ Ranch fries were a surprising sleeper hit. The fries were very crispy, fluffy inside, and the salty dry rub was quashed by creamy ranch dressing. Another big winner.

This is the kind of out-of-the way market I LOVE to find. And it truly is out of the way. I don't know how anyone would ever drive past it unless they were lost. Or they heard about the hoagies.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Snyder of Berlin

PA's Laurel Highlands
(near Pittsburgh)

I am often asked to review products, and I usually forget to respond to those requests (sorry PR people!). However I DO love some chips, and Berlin, Pennsylvania holds a special place in my heart (I ate a sandwich there once), so Snyder of Berlin was too good to pass up. I received a large box, with three bags of chips inside.

Rippled, BBQ, and "Vlasic" dill flavored chips were my fodder for this post. They've recently revamped their packaging to more accurately reflect their love of all things Americana. Pretty cool.

Unfortunately they got a bit crushed in transit (not Snyder's fault).

Initial results were as to be expected – I liked the "Sweet and Sassy" BBQ best, followed by dill, and finally the ruffled. Nothing wrong with ruffled, but I like the flavor to punch me in the gullet. And I didn't have any time to whip up my famous French onion dip, so they were sort of at a loss.

I decided to eat the dill pickle version on their own, while pairing the ruffled and BBQ with a sandwich. The dill had a tart and salty flavor, much like the fermented cukes they were based off of. The ruffled were good for an over-the-top sandwich, and took the place of potatoes with my breakfast club riff. Fried egg, arugula, bacon, and hot pepper relish, with some salty crisp chips to sop up the yolk. Pretty delicious.

The BBQ were put to task complementing my corned beef sandwich another afternoon. They're not kettle cooked, but they have good texture and really addictive flavoring. Sweet, tangy with pops of fresh parsley flavor, these were definitely the best.

Next time you're in the west-central PA area, grab a bag and see for yourself.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Tacos El Rodeo

(food truck)
1000 Washington Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(267) 997-3415

Always on the lookout for top notch Mexican, I had seen/heard about the Tacos El Rodeo, and it got rave reviews, so I figured it was worth a try. My consensus, however, is that it needs to try harder. There were a surprising number of walk-up patrons at 5 PM on a Saturday, including a cook from Paesano's. He said it was hands down the best in the city. I immediately regretted ordering only three tacos and a burrito.

It had potential, with a spit of al pastor, and friendly folks working inside. Not to mention the sweet-ass mural covering the truck itself. A real beaut.

I took my offerings to Garage, which not only boasts a rotating food cart inside, but allows all outside food as well. I was excited for the fiesta about to transpire on my taste buds, but was left with a flavor siesta instead.

The burrito was well wrapped, the lard-infused tortilla looked so very promising – glistening in the setting sunlight, I could almost taste the fatty flavor. The inside had a sufficient amount of al pastor, but everything else must have gotten run out of flavor town.

The al pastor was chewy and mostly gristle; the rest of the components were just bland and kind of mushy. I wondered if they had run out of salt. The rice was missing that 'cooked with bouillon' flavor. Even the hot sauce had little to no spice, and was a watered down version of the traditional Mexican sauces I know and love. That tortilla was pretty much the most flavorful item.

The chicken tacos were equally as underwhelming. Sure, they were a deal at $2 a pop, but having eaten hundreds of street tacos (I spent my drinking years out west), these were just so boring. The avocado was a nice touch, but I couldn't get any bit excited about these. The chicken pieces were also without any noticeable flavor and again, the tortillas may have been the stand-out flavor. So disappointing.

I mean, when you're slingin' your wares in the hotbed of Mexican restaurants, you can't perform so lazily with seasonings. The people working were VERY nice, but my itch was not scratched. Maybe I caught them on an off day, or maybe I have become spoiled with my go-to spots around the city. I'll stick to my favorites for now...

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Bittersweet Kitchen

18 S. Orange Street
Media, PA 19063
(610) 566-1660

There are some great places in "Everybody's Hometown" but the go-to breakfast spot, Seven Stones, has really dropped off in the recent past. Good thing a newcomer stepped up to take the throne. Bittersweet Kitchen has a medium sized menu, casual dining room, and great food. Take, for example, my scratch biscuit with bacon, egg, and cheese. The biscuit was reminiscent of the legendary Red Lobster version, except made from real ingredients and not totally shitty.

The bacon was cooked well, and the egg nicely peppered and folded below. A solid breakfast sandwich all around.

The Huevos Rancheros featured sunny-side up eggs, corn tortillas, house-made beef chili, cheddar, tomatillo salsa, pico de gallo, avocado crema, and breakfast potatoes. The eggs were perfectly sunny-side up, the ingredients all were fresh, and well proportioned.

One of my favorites was the pickle chips. I ALWAYS love fried pickles, even at breakfast, and these were very well breaded, crispy, and had a nice spicy dipping sauce that I could have used on my biscuit.

Another side, the blackened brussel sprouts with bacon, had a delicious char, plenty of salt, and were tender yet not overcooked. A definite winner, even for breakfast.

My final taste was the sweet potato and black bean chili. I am always a sucker for anything served in a skillet, and although next time I would try the beef version (I already had beef in my Huevos), this was not a bad rendition of veggie chili. The cornbread was delicious, and I used it to mop up the oil left from the sprouts. The coffee is also quite good, which is very important for a breakfast joint. There was not much to complain about here. I think I know where I will be going for the hangover breakfast in the future.