Monday, December 27, 2010

The Dune Dog

775 Alt. A1A
Jupiter, FL  33458
(561) 744-6667

While I am out of the snow, doing some fishing down in sunny (but chilly) Florida, I thought I might show some of the treasures that Jupiter has to offer. The Dune Dog is one of my favorites, because in this land of expensive meals, this place is a cheap, island-style bungalow that serves up some ridiculously good hot dogs and burgers. They also have waffle fries that are mighty tasty, and some other daily specials that make it one of the best values in the area.

This place really is a hole in the wall, but it's definitely worth checking out. Below is a lobster salad wrap, which was a daily special. Nice chunks of lobster mixed with a good deal of shredded-style lobster, shredded cheddar cheese, tomato, lettuce and just a bit of lemon to keep it fresh and light. A definite winner.

Of course, I had to go with some waffle fries, and a footlong. I mean, it IS the Dune DOG, right? So the Leroy Brown's Junkyard Dog was calling my name. A footlong grilled dog topped with chili, "pushcart sauce," cheese and diced onions. The "pushcart sauce" is an onion and tomato sauce that is straight out of my dreams. This stuff was so good, I mopped up the remains with my finger. Keep an eye out for this, because it's coming to my barbecues next summer.

There is no easy way to eat that dog. Just pick it up, start biting, and stop when you get to cardboard or your finger. It's quite worth it. The waffle fries or "Yankee Nachos," come piled high with onions, chili, cheese, scallions, tomatoes and jalapenos. I am always a fan of waffle fries, and these are no exception. One of the best parts about this place, is that you can grab a picnic table, grab a beer and enjoy the open air seating. All in all, it's great to find a family-run dive that serves up no frills fare, in the land of frills.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Care Package

I was very excited when I received a Christmas card from my favorite bike blogger up North. Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cacia's Roast Pork Stromboli

1526 W. Ritner Street
Philadelphia, PA 19145
(215) 334-1340

I have to first disclose that I love Cacia's, and they make one incredible party hoagie roll. Also love their pepperoni stromboli's and their square slice pie. Especially the Pizzaz slice. If you don't know, Pizzaz is one of those weird, quirky South Philly things that doesn't make sense, but they do taste great. They use no sauce, but they cover the pizza in Amercian cheese, slices of tomato and banana peppers. So weird, yet so delicious.

The Roast Pork Stromboli, which they claim to be a specialty of Cacia's, left something to be desired. I would have fared better with a $5 pork sandwich, served on Sundays. I was under the impression that it was packed with pork, sharp prov, and broccoli rabe. I found it to be packed with pork, and there was a bit of cheese in there somewhere, but nowhere near what I was hoping for.

Although the pork was tasty, this stromboli was (can you guess what?)...dry. Really dry. I would have dug some jus to dip these massive wedges of meat into, but instead I had to resort to marinara from the fridge at home. Which, as you probably can guess, is not great with roasted pork. I mean it was fine, but it completely masked all of the flavor. It was a catch 22, however, as without the sauce, the stromboli was nearly inedible. I was not about to resort to Kobayashi-like methods, like dunking the boli slices in water before cramming them down my throat, so I was stuck with marinara.

I will definitely be back to Cacia's for some of their other stromboli's as well as the bread and square pie slices, but I will certainly steer clear of the pork.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Coming Soon

There will be more updates coming soon. I am in the midst of finishing up finals week, and it's been a nightmare. I bet this guy is brushing up on honorary trusts.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

El Jarocho

1138 South 13th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(215) 463-2020

El Jarocho is one of the places in the city that you don't want people to know about. The dining room is VERY small, and it could quickly become a place at which you have to wait in line to get a table. While everyone else is raving about Veracruzana (which used to be much better than it is in its current form), you can just nod and head over to El Jarocho, taking pleasure in what is certainly among the ranks of Los Gallos and Los Jalapenos, members of the South Philly Mexican food elite, without waiting. You might have seen this place before, it's hard to miss with its various neon lights shining brightly on a nondescript corner just south of Washington.

The menu is similar to most authentic Mexican places around the city. Nothing too crazy, but what they do, they do well. One thing that I like, is that they offer Cemitas, as well as Tortas. Cemita is Torta's smaller, seeded cousin, hailing from the Puebla region of Mexico. Another thing I really, really like here, in fact one of the things that sets this place apart from the competition, is the crema dip they give you with chips while you are waiting. Slightly spicy while smooth and creamy, this stuff is scary good, and unlike what you will find most anywhere else. Homemade chips make for a perfect vessel with which to fill up before you even get to your food.

Although I still think Los Gallos reigns supreme on the sandwich (and Al Pastor) front, El Jarocho does a pretty good job as well.

The sandwich is packed with tender Al Pastor, queso, ham, avocado, lettuce, and chipotle sauce. Mine came with some sort of micro green, seen on the very bottom, which actually had an overpowering herbal flavor, but that was rectified by simply pulling it off. That aside, the Cemita is a pretty tasty rendition.

The enchiladas platter, however, was the real standout. Choice of protein (went with chicken) and a bed of rice between each of these tasty specialties. One rojo (red), one verde (green), and one mole (heaven) lined up in a row, this dish offers three very different comforting flavors. Mole is a good judge of the authenticity and execution of the kitchen, and this complex chili and chocolate based sauce was quite delicious. Not the best I have ever had, but a very solid flavor overall.

The enchiladas are one of my favorites on the menu, and coupled with the killer crema, it's not a place to miss in the hunt for the best south-of-the-border food in Philadelphia.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

H Mart food court

7050 Terminal Square
Upper Darby, PA 19082
(610) 734-1001

I love Asian-specific grocery stores. I am lucky enough to live near several, all of which vary wildly in selection, pricing and cleanliness. Save for a couple of shops due north of center city in Cheltenham, all of my local stores are severely lacking in one very important component - prepared sides. More specifically, Korean prepared sides. Enter H Mart.

Not only does H Mart have a vast variety of prepared sides, they have an Asian food court to boot. While the Chinese and Japanese stands looked okay, I had to go for the Korean. The food in this court is not cheap, it is about a dollar or two less per dish than you would normally pay at any free-standing restaurant. This seemed to be the case with each of the stands, but I am always willing to eat some Korean food (and at any price) - or any food, for that matter.

We went with the Ojingo Bokum, which consists of ample amounts of squid, stir fried in spicy sauce, onions, scallions, and hot pepper sauce. The squid was good, spicy, well-cooked and plentiful. Oddly enough it was served with plain white noodles and shredded lettuce, which we had never seen before. The sides were just okay. The miso was flavorless, but the kimchi was tasty. The others were utterly forgettable. All in all, a filling and savory seafood dish, and much better than one might expect from the upstairs food court in a supermarket.

We also picked the Daeji Bulgogi, which is a spicy BBQ pork dish, and came with the same sides. This dish was even better than the first, with tender spicy pork and stir-fried onions, it really hit the spot on a cold weeknight deep in West Philly.

On to the market, which was the whole point of this excursion in the first place. The produce selection was similar to each of the markets on 2nd & Spring Garden, 6th & Washington and 4th & Oregon. No big surprises. Everything was VERY clean though, and it seemed to have a much faster product turn-over than its more centrally located counterparts. It just seemed fresher.

Where the H Mart really shined, was the prepared foods section. They had a vast array of marinated meats, side dishes and about a dozen styles and flavors of pancakes, from red pepper to kimchi.

The hardest part was figuring out what NOT to buy. Although the side dishes are also kind of pricey here, they more than make up for it in flavor, ingredients and freshness. I had some of the best fermented black beans ever, as well as some incredible seasoned, spicy radish. This place is worth checking out for the prepared foods alone, and the food court is just another incentive.

Overall, I would not go back for the food court, but I will sure as heck be back for the prepared foods. I mean, they had about a dozen kinds of gochujang alone. What's not to love?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Old City Asian Bistro

206 Market St
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 922-6222

I am always on the lookout for lunch deals in the center city area, and when this one popped onto my radar, I had to check it out. Bento boxes are always a good time, and this was no exception.

The first thing I thought was, there is no way they are offering all of this for nine bucks. You get a choice of soup, miso, sweet and sour, or wonton, brown rice or white and a choice of entree. But hold on, that's not all. They also throw you a six piece California roll, crab rangoons, and a salad. For nine dollars. I went with the hot and sour soup, Thai red curry with shrimp, and brown rice. The soup came first, chock full of mushrooms and green onions and was pretty good. I don't eat hot and sour that often, and I always forget that it sometimes has a thick consistency, almost gelatinous.

The box came next, and everything on it was pretty decent. Nothing mind blowing, but a really solid, healthy lunch. The salad came with the typical ginger sesame dressing that I LOVE, and the Cali roll was decent. The rangoons were light, sweet and rich, with a crispy shell.

They had a variety of other items, as well as a lunch special with two sushi rolls for eight bucks or three for eleven. Sounds good, but I think the only reason I would be back is to get in on the bento box again.