Thursday, September 30, 2010


My blog was hacked, sorry about the last post. I will be back posting next week, I am spending time with my family right now.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Taste of Key West

401 South Swarthmore Avenue
Ridley Park, PA
(484) 497-8007

I was recently out in Ridley, fishing one afternoon, and after an early afternoon of mixed success, was hungry for some snack food. Although A Taste of Key West has had varied reviews, it is (as far as I know) about the only place you can boat up to for food and drink on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware, at least in the Philly area. Besides, DelCo doesn't frighten me (too much).

Located just off of 95, where the marina is by the airport, it's not hard to find this place. The outdoor "Tiki-style" bar was packed with locals, and we were told to seat ourselves. No problem.

They made an attempt to put down sand to increase the island feel, but the sand was a bit wet and came away more as hard pack. No biggie.

Although they have a huge menu, we played it safe with some "island brews," which inadvertently were Victory Lagers. I remarked how it would just be easier to call it by its name than to explain to every customer what island brew meant. Some crappy Jimmy Buffet played over the well-worn speakers in the background, and the crowd drank and ate peacefully. You really can't beat the option to park a boat outside of the restaurant you are going to.

We also played it safe on the food scene, and considering it was mid-afternoon, and we had dinner plans for a few hours later, just got a light round of food. Some of the food items sounded good in theory but I was not quite ready to jump into a $14-18 entree at a place that most likely doesn't require shoes.

Michael's Buffalo Chicken Tenders were quite tasty. They were served with a sort of peppercorn blue cheese dip, and with a side of fries. Not too bad for $8. They were also gracious enough to only scoff slightly at the request for sides of brown gravy AND cheese for the fries. What can I say, I like to dip. The wing sauce was good, and the fries with dipping sauce hit the spot. The regular chicken tenders were also good, served with a side of honey mustard, and another generous portion of fries.

Now for the wild card. I decided to give the cheapest item on the menu a go-round and ordered a Hans Weiner Dog. Mustard, onions, and special sauce, for a whopping $2.50. Awesome. I remarked how I was hoping the special sauce was a crappy chili sauce, like Nathans. And it was. They even served it with a bag of kettle cooked chips. For the price, you really can't beat it. It was a pretty okay cheap dog.

The inside looks like it's straight out of backwoods Florida, and I imagine it gets jumping on summer weekend nights. All in all, I will definitely be boating in that area again, and I will definitely stop at A Taste of Key West again.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Jug Handle Inn

1018 South Fork Landing Road
Pennsauken, NJ 08110
(856) 665-8696

I have heard the Jug Handle prides itself on having the "best wings in the world." Given the rather sorry state of good, cheap wings in the city, [which is hard to believe given that outside the city limits they are a dime a dozen (or $.25 a piece)], I often seek respite from the lackluster local offerings and usually find my desired level of flavorful crispiness in the 'burbs. I even have such an affinity that I will venture to . . . New Jersey.

As this was a wing journey, it was a 'must' to give some of the interesting varietals on the menu a go-round. I am glad I did. The buffalo-garlic were pretty much what you would expect, smothered in buffalo and tons of garlic. I ordered all the wings extra crispy, but I am pretty sure they just cooked them the usual way. You never know how each place does them, but Jug Handle was definitely unique. They were lightly breaded and fried perfectly, with crispy edges, and succulent inner meat. When I said they smothered the wings, I meant it. Luckily the crisp outside stood up to the hearty sauces, and retained the satisfying crunch that is so vital to good wings.

One gripe is that you have to order celery and blue cheese separately, but for $.55 a piece, I can deal with it. Also, the sauce is so thick and tasty that there is little need for the blue cheese. I do love some blue cheese on the side, but it was mostly lost in the thick sauce. The honey-hot was one of the better sauce combos, as the slight sweetness complemented the slight burn of the hot. Not quite hot enough for me, but absolutely delicious. You may also notice that they leave the wing tips on the double bone pieces, which I usually can't really get behind, but in this case I was picking the crispy skin off of them. These benefited more from the blue cheese than any of the others.

The BBQ were great, with a thick, sweet, smokey, rich sauce that stuck to the wings and your fingers. They were even better when we ordered more a couple of hours later mixed with extra hot sauce. From 5-7 pm and 10-1 pm they have a wing "happy hour" Monday through Friday, with half price wings. We also ordered another round of honey-extra hot and they were equally as good. Be warned, however, that the jump from hot to extra-hot is a huge one. The hot don't have much bite, whereas the the extra-hot really put the flame to your taste buds. They also offer an extra-extra hot "bald eagle" style wing, but I prefer to be able to taste my food, over simply burning my mouth.

To round out the meal, we sampled the "No Joke" pizza. At $10, it was well worth the investment. It features a crust brushed with horseradish, and a flavorful center piled with grilled chicken breast, bacon, and provolone. There was no actual sting from the horseradish, but there was the distinct flavor of the spicy root. All in all, not a bad pizza, but next time I will get a side of their BBQ sauce, as it could use a bit of sauce, and I think the BBQ would go perfectly.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


775 S. Front St
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(215) 271-9300

Well, I have been meaning to post this, but it is just too saddening to think that other people might find out about Catahoula - because then I might have to wait for a seat. Nevertheless, I think it's time I throw caution to the wind. You should try Catahoula. I have (so far) only been for happy hour, as it's an incredible deal, but I will be having a full meal there soon.

The Cornmeal Fried Chicken is basically chicken finger slices, battered, tossed in sauce and covered with smears of blue cheese. They are delicious, spicy, crunchy and the cornmeal is perfect. The sauce is hot, but flavorful, and wonderfully addicting.

A perfect way to quench your thirst while working your way through the happy hour food specials is a pint of Abita. They had the Turbodog on draft and it went down smoothly, especially with the $3 happy hour price tag.

The Cajun theme is strong here, I mean the bar is named after a dog bred in Louisiana, and the hush puppies were delicious as well. One of the biggest problems, in general, with hush puppies is their overwhelming density. Not a problem here. The interior was light, airy, and tough to stop eating when dipped in the Sauce Creole, which is basically a spicy marinara. They are a good choice when you want some real bang for your buck, and at $3 for 4, well, you just can't beat it.

Finally the Catfish Bites. Although catfish tends to be abused by the average fry cook, this fish was cooked to perfection. The flesh was bursting with moisture, and the cornmeal crust stood up to the truffled tarter sauce, no matter how overzealous I was with each dunk. Amazing.

They also give you some addictive, lightly spiced homemade chips when you first sit down. A fresh bowl of crispy fried potatoes is always welcome in my book.

Even though the chicken was definitely the standout dish, all were enjoyable, especially with those happy hour price tags. I will update with more menu options in the near future.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


You may not have ever heard of Machaca, but never mind that. Here is how to make it, just in time for football season. I forgot to post this up, I made it a while ago, but football season is here, and this is the PERFECT complement to a gridiron party. The rich, smokey, layers of beefy goodness are well worth the minimal work involved. Sorry the pics aren't the best, this was put together a while ago, before I got a better camera. You get the idea.

Here is what you need:
A nice fresh brisket
Coffee, both ground and brewed
Two dark beers, one for you, one for the beef
A green and a red bell pepper
An onion
Some fresh tortillas
Anything you like on your tacos

First off, wash the brisket, and rub it with some salt, fresh coffee grounds, hot pepper flakes and anything else you like for a quick dry rub.

Get your charcoal grill hot, and throw on some wood chips. No need for a smoker, this is a quick smoke. Try to get one side of the grill hot and keep this on the indirect side. We will only be smoking it for about forty-five minutes, so don't get too stressed. This will impart an incredible layer of smokiness to the finished product. Totally worth it.

The little Aussie, smoking away. I found this grill, and it's my favorite of the four that I own.

At this point, after about a half hour, you can add some peppers if you want to make a roasted salsa. I certainly did.

I threw some tomatillos on too, but this recipe is not for salsa.

Sigh, either way, throw in some vinegar, sugar, salt, spices and hit it with a stick blender for an easy complement.

Now pull the brisket off, throw it right into a dutch oven, and add the dark beer, and brewed coffee. This will be braised, so you want to cover about the bottom 1-2 inches. Throw a lid on it and cook for about two hours at 350°, take the lid off, see if it needs any more liquid, and cook for another hour-hour and a half.

Pull it out and let it rest (twenty minutes at least). You aren't done yet.

Now shred that hunk of beef up, throw it in a pan with the peppers and onions, diced, and the cooking liquid. Cook over medium flame for about twenty more minutes, until it starts to thicken.

Wow, now that is making me hungry. The combination of smoke, beer, coffee, and veggies, is almost too good to believe. I served it with some onions I marinated in vinegar, salt and mixed with fresh cilantro, and the aforementioned, roasted salsa. Although this is time intensive, it is really not too hard to make, and the rewards are well, well worth it. You COULD skip the smoking step to make it even easier, but I can't recommend it.