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Sunday, November 9, 2008

Honey Makers Bring Heat

Spicy Food Guy and Beautiful Spouse of Spicy Food Guy (BSOSFG) met Zane and Zack's Mom and Dad at Zestfest 2007. Nice family. They have lots of boys, lots of bees, but no daughters. Spicy Food Guy is OK with that. That's just how they roll, as Loud Only Son of Spicy Food Guy (LOOSOSFG) would say.

Besides making boys (three, at last count, Zane, Zack, and Hans. Hans probably coming as a real relief to realtives who were expecting Zippy or Zillow, but Spicy Food Guy digresses), Sam and his wife also make most excellent honey hot sauces. Spicy Food Guy particularly likes the Honey Chipotle Sauce and the Three Brothers Hot Pepper Sauce.

The Chipotle sauce is a thick mixture of roasted jalapenos and sticky honey. Think sweet and smoky. Spicy Food Guy mostly likes to mix it with mayonnaise for a summer burger grill out. The Three Brother Hot Pepper Sauce is great with fried eggs.

Zane and Zack's is good stuff, even if the owners are Seahawks fans. So says Spicy Food Guy, Steeler fan extraordinaire.

Stagecoach Salsa Introduces Award Winning "Smoke and Fire"

Spicy Food Guy reviews "Smoke and Fire" Salsa on Sogoodblog this week.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Mouth-Watering Smooth and Spicy Habanero Garlic Mustard

Who is Danny Cash?

Spicy Food Guy has no earthly idea; probably some biker guy made good in the hot sauce business, to judge by the graphics. The look reminds Spicy Food Guy of his old army buddy from jump school about 100 years ago.

But Spicy Food Guy digresses.

Whoever the real faces are behind Danny Cash out there in the Mile High City, they sure know a thing or three about making a first class spicy garlic mustard.

This particular mustard has a very familiar smooth yellow texture. It's American, dammit, not some grainy mamsy-pamsy high-fashion mustard spread on a whole-grain cracker by some corn-holing European guy with a false sense of self-righteousness and a dandruff-flaked black sweater who has never seen a Monday Night Football game in his entire miserable life.

Not at all.

Danny Cash Flaming Habanero Mustard
kicks some ass. Despite the smooth texture, the garlic comes through in fine fashion. So does the heat, but not in an overbearing way. Have it on a bologna and cheese sandwich. On white bread.

And if you are a pretentious foodie type who wants to extol the virtues of grainy European mustard, go leave your comments somewhere else. Spicy Food Guy thinks you're a Pussy.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sorch is Appropriately Named

No lies here.

No pepper extracts either.

Spicy Food Guy is generally disdainful of hot sauces made with pepper extracts. Extracts in hot sauces are like steroids in athletes. Cheating. Un-American. Godless. Counter to the very fabric of the universe.

But Spicy Food Guy digresses.

Scorch is an all natural sauce made by the folks at CaJohn's. It's supposedly one of the hottest natural pepper sauces ever made. Not surprising, given it is made up of Fatalii Chiles, Red Savina Habaneros, and Orange Habaneros. And yes, it scorches, but not insanely so.

One of the big reasons Spicy Food Guy thinks Scorch is the bomb (har!) is that it is thick. Chunky thick. 60% pepper solids, according to John Hard, the formulator.

Scorch has the texture of a thick BBQ sauce, so it allows for delicate presentations if you are one of those uptight pretentious foodie types, in which case Scorch probably kicks your ass. Kinda serves you right. So says Spicy Food Guy.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Armidillo's: Another Superb Ohio Based Rib Master

Spicy Food Guy recently reported how he enjoyed the recent Coors Light Kickoff and Rib Festival this past Labor Day weekend.

Spicy Food Guy especially enjoys Armadillo's, an Austintown, Ohio based catering business that produces a first class regional BBQ. The sauce is an interesting mix of Carolina and Kansas style that Spicy Food Guy believes goes best with Armadillo's ribs.

Not surprisingly, Armadillo's wins awards year after year all over the mid-west. Next year come to Heinz Field and give armadillo's a try. You won't go away hungry or disappointed. So says Spicy Food Guy.

Taco Bell Volcano Taco Delivers Some Real Heat

Spicy Food Guy, who usually chuckles disdainfully at any fast food chain that touts one of their offerings as "spicy", is happy to report that the Taco Bell Volcano Taco actually produces a distinct and noticeable burn.

Add one each of a Fire and Hot sauce packet and any chilehead is set for a real, honest to god spicy fast food snack.

Spicy Food Guy crosses his fingers in hopes that the Volcano is a harbinger of future spiciness in the fast food industry.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Really Good Carolina Style BBQ in Ohio and Pennsylvania

Due to both good fortune and weather on Labor Day weekend, Spicy Food Guy got to spend several quality hours at the Coors Light Kickoff and Rib Festival, held every year at Heinz Field in the Steel City.

One of SFG's favorite regional BBQ teams, Old Carolina, was there cooking mountains of ribs (pictured here). Spicy Food Guy wolfed down a half slab covered in a very hot and spicy BBQ sauce called, kid you not, Screaming Beaver. If nothing else, the Old Carolina team is to be congratulated on their creative naming process for their sauces.

But alas, the folks at Old Carolina are just as good at cooking ribs and pork shoulders as they are at naming sauces. The ribs are smoky, tender, and have just the right amount of fatty juiciness. But if you want some of those ribs or pulled pork, you have to go to Massillon Ohio (official motto: "Massillon means more!" To which SFG adds, "more than just a meadow, but not by much") or Canton Ohio to eat at one of the Old Carolina Restaurants.

Or you could come to Heinz Field on Labor Day. Get a rack of ribs and a dose of Steelers. Can't be beat, so says Spicy Food Guy.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Green Chile Festival Time at Chuy's

As usual, for reasons best left unknown to the American public, Spicy Food Guy recently hit the road and found himself in Dallas, Texas.

In the mood for a little regional southwestern fare, Spicy Food Guy saddled up to Chuy's Tex Mex, an institution of sorts in most major cities in the Longhorn State.

As luck would have it, Spicy Food Guy happened to stumble onto the Green Chile Festival at Chuy's, which tales place from late August to mid September. During the festival, the restaurant heats up the green chiles in big hand-churned roasters out back, and then offers the roasted peppers up via a special green chile menu.

Spicy Food Guy had the green chile enchiladas, which had, not surprisingly, rich chile flavor. SFG wished the green sauce had packed some more heat, but neither the menu nor the festival lent itself to complaints. Spicy Food Guy bought a t-shirt to celebrate the occasion.

To paraphrase a comedian that Spicy Food Guy once saw but cannot recall the name of for bibliography purposes, Green Chile Sauce festivals are a lot like sex. When they are good, they are really really good. And when they're bad, they're still pretty good.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Great Beef Jerky with a Hot Slow Burn

One week out of every year, Spicy Food Guy makes it a point to sit in a small fishing boat every day and ponder the meaning of his life. As a rule, Spicy Food Guy's pondering is remarkably upbeat if he catches a stringer full of Walleye that will later turn into a classic Canadian fish fry.

Stringer full of fish or no, Spicy Food Guy gets hungry on the boat. And when he does, his snack of choice is Jack Link's Carne Seca Beef Jerky. Moist and chewy; great beef flavor. Jack's jalapeno jerky produces a good slow burn that hits 3 minutes after swallowing, usually prompting the first beer of the day.

Also, the folks at Jack's seem to be friendly, authentic folks who don't take themselves all that seriously. They're the ones that produced those "Sasquatch" commercials where the goofy young guys always get creamed. Jack's also has "Sasquatch" games on their website. Bonus!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Terrific New Mexican Green Chile Sauce for Homemade Huevos Rancheros

Time was, if you wanted some Huevos Rancheros with hon
est to God New Mexican Red or Green Chile Sauce, you had to fly across the country and saddle up to a rusty diner stool in some dusty southwestern state.

That is, until Kera Fresquez and her Mom decided to introduce a line of New Mexican Chile Sauces to the unfulfilled masses. According to the website, My Favorite New Mexican Food Sauces have won about 40 different sauce awards. Spicy Food Guy is totally not surprised.

Fact is, Spicy Food Guy uses the Green Chile Sauce liberally on his fried eggs, combining the requisite tortilla and refried beans to make the perfect homemade Huevos Rancheros.

Authentic stuff, not to be missed by spicy food lovers. Just another public service announcement brought to you by Spicy Food Guy.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Besr Burger Chain in the Flyover States

The East Coast has Five Guys.

The West Coast has In-n-Out.

Move over, coastline dwellers, the best burger in the land may well just dwell in some towns and cities you have only seen from your window seats during your last red-eye.

Shiver in fear, big burger chains, there is a threat from the Midwest, and it calls itself Culvers.

Suffice it to say, for reasons best left unknown to the American Public, Spicy Food Guy recently found himself in Duluth Minnesota, which has recently been named by Outside Magazine as one of the top ten "Greatest Outside Towns" in America. This is especially true if you are in the business of outdoor Popsicle preservation. Cold, it is, in Duluth. But SFG digresses.

Looking for a place to lunch in Duluth, Spicy Food Guy spotted a fast food looking place that was just flooded with cars and people. At 2:00 in the afternoon. Curiosity took over, and Spicy Food Guy elected to give it a try. Therein he found the famous Butterburger (pictured here), and a big damn secret unknown outside the Flyover States.

Culvers, founded by a visionary couple in Wisconsin, features the Butterburger as well as a host of other entrees. And a whole menu of desserts, which are fabulous in their own right.

But the burgers, by God, the burgers, they are rapturous. Served fresh, never frozen. Condiments served on the bottom of the burger so they don't leapfrog over your taste buds. To die for. Spicy Food Guy was totally unsurprised to learn that "Restaurants and Institutions" Magazine had named Culvers as the "Best Burger Chain in America" in 2007.

Burger fans, heaven awaits you in Wisconsin and several other Great Lakes States. So says Spicy Food Guy.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Best Line of Spicy Sauces Named After an NFL Quarterback

And to Spicy Food Guy's extreme delight, it just happens to be the QB for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Spicy Food Guy swears the Big Ben's hot bbg sauce is right up there with any Fiery Food Festival or Scovie Award winners. It's that good. And Spicy Food Guy also uses the spicy wing sauce as his go-to first string sauce when he is grilling up some buffalo wings and buffalo burgers.

How'd this happen? Easy. Big Ben's BBQ and other sauces aren't produced by some third rate hack or even some major food manufacturer that goes soft on flavor.

Big Ben's is made by the folks at Roadside Ribs, a fabulous rib catering business in the south hills of Pittsburgh. Sadly, to Spicy Food Guy's chagrin, Roadside Ribs has no retail outlet -- you have to just get lucky and spot their grill in one of the random parking lots that Roadside sets up in during summer holidays. But Spicy Food Guy digresses.

Word on the street is Ben, he of the strong arm and an alleged avid fan of BBQ, hooked up with the folks at Roadside at some cookout and a deal was quickly struck. And a portion of the sales goes to the Ronald McDonald House. So it's delicious and classy.

Can't beat it with a stick. So says Spicy Food Guy.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Best 5 Fast Food Product Innovations From the Past 44 Years

The best 5? Criteria are as follows:

  • Only national fast food chains are eligible.
  • Marketing and packaging can't be the source of the product innovation. No Happy Meals.
  • The innovation does not count if it represents a change in the way an item is cooked or prepared. Taking something that was fried and offering it as grilled doesn't count.
  • The product innovation had to be developed only after the initial menu was in place.
  • The new item cannot have been readily available outside the fast food industry when it was first offered, so fish sandwiches and chili dogs don't count.
  • The item must still be on the menu.
  • The innovation must have been developed in Spicy Food Guy's lifetime; hence the 44 year rule.
  • The innovation must represent a significant and radical change in a food offering. Spicy Food Guy recognizes that he is entering a gray area here. Was the Big Mac a radical change, or just another way to dress a burger? Was the the launch of the Spicy Chicken Sandwich at Wendy's just a flavoring change to the chicken sandwich, or did it act as a catalyst that allowed the fast food industry to begin to unleash the power of hot spices? These are the huge, universe-shifting issues that Spicy Food Guy will wrestle with and ponder long after this post has been published.

And the winners, in no particular order, are:

  1. The Dairy Queen Blizzard. The Blizzard is perhaps the unexpected surprise on the list. A frozen milkshake ice cream sort of thing with candy, yes candy, all through it. Fabulous beyond measure. Spawned a whole sub-industry in the ice cream world. Think Cold Stone Creamery. And every ice cream isle in every grocery store in America now has dozens of ice creams packed with candy. The Blizzard started it all. It commands our respect and reverence. Plus, when the folks at Dairy Queen hand it to you, they flip it upside down for a second. That, says Spicy Food Guy, is way cool.

  2. The McDonald's Egg (or Sausage) McMuffin. Not only did the McMuffin brilliantly combine the best parts of breakfast into a sandwich, it added an entire meal to the fast food industry. Arguably, the Egg McMuffin is solely responsible for a significant change in the breakfast eating behaviors of an entire nation. Just awe inspiring. Breakfast sandwiches are available everywhere now, including in the frozen food isles at grocery stores.

  3. The Taco Bell Double Decker Taco. Spicy Food Guy recognizes that the Double Decker Taco might be a tough sell as a top five innovation, but hear him out. The Double Decker changed the entire flavor and texture profile of the taco. Soft and Crunchy was no longer an either-or proposition; you could suddenly have both. And the refried beans added a subtle layer of additional flavor to the simple taco. Tastes absolutely fabulous. And it has lasted on a menu that seems to change every month.

  4. The McDonald's Chicken McNuggets. Spicy Food Guy loves the simplicity of the McNugget; boneless fried chicken gone portable. Suddenly you could eat fried chicken in the car. Came in a convenient small box. Plus you could dip it in sauce without making a mess. And you didn't have to bother with greasy chicken bones. Kids went bonkers for it. Is there any family restaurant or grocery store in all of America where you can't get some version of a boneless fried chicken strip? Spicy Food Guy can't think of one either. The McNugget started it all.

  5. Pizza Hut's Meat Lover's Pizza. Spicy Food Guy supposes that the Meat Lover's Pizza is a controversial addition to the best 5 list. After all, isn't the Meat Lover's just another way to serve pizza? Spicy Food Guy thinks not. In fact, Spicy Food Guy posits that the Meat Lover's represents the 20th century Americanization of the pizza pie. The Meat Lover's is the Porterhouse of pizza; bold, excessive, decadent, and aspirational. It is designed for people who love big taste and big meals. The Meat Lover's led to an entire line of "Lover's" pizzas at Pizza Hut, and a version of the Lover's can be found in every frozen pizza brand in grocery store freezers. The Meat Lover's has earned its top 5 billing.
So there it is. Spicy Food Guy is aware he has left significant product innovations off the list. So Spicy Food Guy challenges his readers -- what was left off that should have been included? What on the list is a sham? Let the debate begin.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Stagecoach Mustard Rocks the House

Spicy Food Guy is an admitted fan of Larry Kling and his Stagecoach Salsas. Fortunately for all of us, he (Larry, the Stagecoach formulator, owner, and all around very nice guy) has directed his formidable spicy culinary skills to the arena of mustards.

The result is Bubba's Jalapeno Mustard, a great addition to the Stagecoach Salsa line. Nice visual appeal; the chunks of jalapeno pepper are seen clearly through the jar.

Also, Spicy Food Guy likes that the mustard combines the light, airy tanginess of a French's type yellow mustard with the spice and burn of jalapeno peppers.

Spicy Food Guy conducted his test on a bologna and cheese sandwich, and he notes that the slow burn did not set in until after about five bites, about the perfect delay for a classic slow burn.

Trust Spicy Food Guy. Stagecoach stuff is first class and the mustard is now a permanent part of SFG's fridge.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Best Non-Red Meat Sausage for Gumbo and Other Gumbo Secrets

First secret to a really good gumbo? Grill the meat ahead of time. Put some cajun spice from the Atlantic Spice Company on two chicken breasts and grill them up.

Also for the grill, some al fersco chicken sausages. Spicy Food Guy recommends two each of the roasted garlic and spicy jalapeno varieties.

Then set the meat aside.

But first an explanation. Beautiful Spouse of Spicy Food Guy (BSOSFG) is a non-eater of red meat, but she is a gumbo lover, and a hot one at that. So Spicy Food Guy does his gumbos with veggies, poultry, and seafood. And when it comes to chicken sausages, no one beats the folks at al fresco. And Spicy Food Guy means no one.

Back to the gumbo. Set the grilled meat off to the side, and then make a roux with about 3/4 cup of veggie oil and a cup of flour. Stir the roux for the time it takes to drink two Yuenglings.

When the roux looks like a Hersheys Bar, add the holy trinity: onions (2 cups), bell pepper (1 cup mixed red and green), and celery (1 cup).

Add in about 8 to 10 cups of chicken stock, a few bay leaves, and whatever creole or cajun spices suit your fancy (a couple of tablespoons). Shake in some hot sauce. Toss in all the chicken meat and simmer for the length of time it takes to watch a Steelers game.

After the Steelers win, add in a pound of shrimp and some green onion. Simmer another 20 minutes.

And here is another huge secret: serve gumbo in a bowl around a small ball of steamed bismati rice. Bismati rice has a popcorn like sweetness that offsets the cajun spices of the gumbo.

To die for. You heard it here from Spicy Food Guy.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Best BBQ Sauce for Ribs

Spicy Food Guy is very particular about the type of BBQ sauce he uses on his home smoked ribs. Seven hours of hickory smoking go into Spicy Food Guy's ribs, which he turns every hour so as to apply a secret mopping sauce. Also, Spicy Food Guy uses a careful blend of commercial spices and brown sugar as his dry rub. The end result is a delicate smoky tender rack of ribs that Spicy Food Guy does NOT want to be overpowered by some chipotle-garlic-honey roasted-mesquite smoked BBQ sauce.

Enter Hogs Ass Hot Habanero BBQ Sauce. Made by the Sauce Crafters people. Hogs Ass is a former first place winner of Chile Pepper Magazine's Fiery Food Challenge. It has also won a Scovie award or two.

And Spicy Food Guy loves Hog's Ass simplicity. Starts sweet and gets hot at the perfect pace. No sneaky flavor undertones that undermine the delicate flavor of the rib. Hogs Ass seems to enhance the smoky taste of the rib, not hide or overwhelm it. And a nice full texture that lays nicely on the rib rack. Not runny.

Did Spicy Food Guy say hot? He meant really hot. A burner. Not for those guests who think Kraft Hot BBQ Sauce is hot, which it isn't. Hogs Ass ain't for no wusses and you shouldn't be wasting home smoked ribs on people who buy Kraft branded BBQ sauces.

So says Spicy Food Guy.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Celebrate! The Stagecoach Salsa Company is on the Web

A few months ago, Spicy Food Guy extolled the hot and delicious tomatillo based Green Extreme Stagecoach Salsa and its enigmatic maker, Larry Kling.

At the time, Spicy Food Guy pronounced Green Extreme "the best salsa to mix with Velveeta". SFG also expressed his disappointment with the fact that none of the Stagecoach Salsas were available anywhere on the Internet. Spicy Food Guy urged his readers to e-mail Mr. Kling and ask him to open up a distribution channel so we could access his salsas.

So bowing to intense public pressure, or just deciding to make salsa lovers everywhere happy, Mr. Kling has gone live with
Spicy Food Guy proudly notes that the website features a recipe featuring Velveeta, showing that Spicy Food Guy is prescient in matters of spicy culinary masterpieces.

Spicy Food Guy also notes that Stagecoach Salsa sells jerky, relishes, and what looks to be one great mustard. SFG intends to try it all. stay tuned.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Very Thought Provoking Lunch

The lunch was highly unusual for a host of reasons, among them: 1) the lunch was in Athens, Greece, and 2) the name of the place was called "God's Restaurant".

As usual, Spicy Food Guy cannot tell you why he was in Athens, Greece, as this information is best left unknown to the American public.

The reason Spicy Food Guy ate at God's Restaurant, however, was because SFG smacked his head, a hard thump, on the restaurant sign that hung from the sidewalk awning. "Is he OK?" asked the diners sitting at the sidewalk tables, "Get him some ice", "He should sit down", "What a dumbass!" OK, so Spicy Food Guy made that last one up, but it would not have surprised him had it been said.

So, with a goose-egg bump and suffering from mortal embarrassment, Spicy Food Guy allowed himself to be seated at a table next to a Canadian couple.

This is where things got complicated.

First the food. Spicy Food Guy, rather than perusing the menu, boldly asked the waiter to set him up with two of their most popular appetizers. A sort of "surprise me" bravado. The first one, a sort of fried cheese pictured here, was quite tasty, sort of crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside.

The second appetizer, a sort of Dolmades slathered in a creamy lemon sauce (pictured below), was awful to the point where Spicy Food Guy had to gamely choke it down as his waiter watched him suspiciously.

During this culinary adventure, Spicy Food Guy noticed that the restaurant staff was noticeably gentle, friendly, and attentive with the Canadian couple, bringing them small pieces of desert, drinks, and serving these items with warm pats on the shoulder. This gentle attention was led by a restaurant employee that Spicy Food Guy labeled "Pappy". SFG pegged Pap as somewhere between 60 and 110. Hard to tell, so SFG took a picture.

Every time an attractive woman would walk past, Pap would grin at Spicy Food Guy and give him a big thumbs up. Pap also smoked, encouraged customers to do ouzo shots, and generally made a minor bother of himself. SFG liked him immediately.

But as said, Pap kept his attention focused on the Canadian couple, a man and woman in their mid fifties. They saw Spicy Food Guy looking at them curiously, so they told their story.

Three months ago, the man walked out to his driveway and discovered he could not remember how to unlock his car. A visit to the hospital revealed he had a brain tumor -- the worst kind. A "class 5 hurricane, a Katrina" was the way the man described it. He was told he had a zero chance of survival, and had 18 months to live "if everything went perfectly".

So here he was in Greece with his wife, who had roots in Athens. Spending his last 400 days or so seeing the world, and enjoying it immensely, given his cheerfulness, friendliness, and high spirits. Hard for Spicy Food Guy to reconcile, given that the man was going to leave behind a wife and four kids.

So Pap brings the man a glass of ouzo, who turns it down because it would make him dizzy. The restaurant staff immediately declares Spicy Food Guy to be the substitute drinker. The Canadian couple leaves with hugs and kisses all around, and Spicy Food Guy is left sipping his ouzo.

Sitting alone, Spicy Food Guy ponders his life and his own love for his wife and four kids. SFG ponders his mortality. SFG ponders his fortune in being able to see Athens. Spicy Food Guy ponders that he will never again drink ouzo, that tastes like liquid licorice (which SFG hates) mixed with vodka.

Silently declaring himself a wiser man, Spicy Food Guy rises, shakes the hands of Pap and his waiter, and strides away from God's Restaurant. And he hits his head on the sign, again! Same sign, same head, new goose egg! The restaurant staff is stunned at this development. Spicy Food Guy laughs at himself. There seems to be a lesson here, just out of grasp, like the meaning of life itself. Just out of grasp.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Best Twist on a Philly Cheesesteak

So it's spring break week. Spicy Food Guy, Beautiful Spouse of Spicy Food Guy (BSOSFG), Curious Stepdaughter of Spicy Food Guy (CSOSFG), and Wild Child Stepdaughter of Spicy Food Guy (WCSOSFG) load up the car with pillows, stuffed animals, ipods, and various toiletries and head off to Washington DC for a little sightseeing.

On the drive into DC, Spicy Food Guy makes the command decision (after checking with BSOSFG) to stop for lunch at the Waffle House.

Spicy Food Guy looovvves the Waffle House. He finds it authentic, gritty, real. More American, let's say, than the International House of Pancakes, which sounds sophisticated, worldly, and incredibly pretentious.

So Spicy Food Guy and party enter the Waffle House at the same time the computer goes out, the shift changes, it gets busy, or all of the above. Hard to tell. A bit chaotic, a bit confused. Kind of like Spicy Food Guy's own life, so he feels very much at home.

Spicy Food Guy orders the Texas Bacon Patty Melt, which of course he doesn't get. What he gets is the Texas Cheesesteak Melt, which is about ten times better, not to mention it represents a major step forward in innovation as it relates to the Philly Cheesesteak. Same juicy chopped steak and cheese, except rather than being served in a big old sub roll that mutes the juiciness, it comes in texas toast, which actually brings out the cheesesteak flavors in a kind of buttery goodness. Spicy Food Guy was in heaven, joined there by his hash browns that he ordered smothered and covered (onions and cheese).

CSOSFG, she of the sophisticated palette, spoke highly of the Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Wraps she ordered. Not surprising, given they disappeared within minutes. Not that Spicy Food Guy casts any judgment -- the girl knows her food. Just one of many reasons Spicy Food Guy loves her so much.

Best Burger in DC

So it's the end of Day 1 of Washington DC sightseeing and Spicy Food Guy and weary family head back to their hotel near Dupont Circle.

But Spicy Food Guy's day is not over just yet. Acting on a tip from, Spicy Food Guy is driven to try a burger from the famous Five Guys, which has won numerous awards and has been declared DC's best burger by Washingtonian Magazine every year since the Jurassic era.

Spicy Food Guy is here to say that, despite making boneheaded decisions to fight wars in wretched foreign countries, ruin the economy, and destroy the environment forever, the people of the District of Columbia know how to spot a good burger.

Spicy Food Guy ordered the Bacon Burger with all the toppings (which he now in the know orders "all the way"), and he got the girls some French Fries. Spicy Food Guy thought the burger actually exceeded his expectations, which is technically never allowed to happen on a family vacation. The burger itself reminded him very much of an In-N-Out Burger ordered animal style. Curious Stepdaughter of Spicy Food Guy (CSOSFG) declared the fries some of the best she had ever eaten. We immediately agreed that further investigation was needed, and a future trip was hastily planned.

Next trip Spicy Food Guy ordered the Cheeseburger, and each of the Stepdaughters ordered a burger as well. CSOSFG clearly enjoyed her bacon cheeseburger, but young Wild Child Stepdaughter of Spicy Food Guy (WCSOSFG) was very suspicious of a freshly prepared non-frozen patty grilled right and juicy. And no steamed bun. She is a child of the McDonalds generation, but someday she will shed her bonds.

So declares a very full Spicy Food guy.

Best Greek Restaurant in Washington DC

So Spicy Food Guy and Family are getting close to the end of their DC trip, and a little weariness sets in. Lots of walking required to see stuff in DC. Lots of walking. Of course the founding fathers really didn't think of the aerobic requirements they were placing on future generations of citizens when they founded this city. Spicy Food Guy is inclined to give them a break given that they (the founding fathers) were trying very hard not to get hanged by the British.

Plus they had horses. Lucky bastards. Had Spicy Food Guy and family had a few horses, we could have really made up some time in our travels. But Spicy Food Guy digresses.

Hungry bunch, we were. And Beautiful Spouse of Spicy Food Guy (BSOSFG) decides it's time for a cultural experience (and no more Five Guys) and steers us to Zorba's Cafe for some Greek food. That decision alone, decides Spicy Food Guy, is reason to have married BSOSFG. That plus she's hot. But again Spicy Food Guy digresses.

Washingtonian Magazine declares Zorba's one of the best bargains in DC. Washingtonian is spot on. Spicy Food Guy and Family ate heartily for about seventy bucks, and it would have been less had not the friendly folks at Zorba's randomly added a grilled chicken salad and a plate of olives to our order. The folks at Zorba's might indeed offer a bargain, but they could use some work on their organizational skills.

In any case, Spicy Food Guy ordered the Combination Plate, which he was told is the most popular item on the menu. The kefte and slices of yeros were first rate, but Spicy Food Guy most enjoyed the creamy homemade hummus. BSOSFG loved the flavor in her chicken shish kabobs, but by far and away the Spanakopitta was the biggest hit. Spinach and feta in a flaky pastry, it was melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Only the Delmades fell flat, all of us a bit unfamiliar with the pickled grape leaves.

Zorba's Cafe in Dupont Circle. You heard it here from Spicy Food Guy.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Really Great Diner in Woonsocket

For reasons best left unknown to the American public, Spicy Food Guy found himself in Woonsocket, Rhode Island this week. The town motto of Woonsocket is "A city on the move," to which Spicy Food Guy would add "but not exactly in a big damn hurry".

Nice place, Woonsocket. According to knowledgeable sources, Woonsocket comes from a Native American word for "thunder mist", a reference to the waterfall in the center of town. Also, Woonsocket is almost 50% French-Canadian, which is very cool with Spicy Food Guy, who is a major fan of Canada.

Anyway, one morning for breakfast, Colleague Friend of Spicy Food Guy (CFOSFG) suggested Patriots Diner, a classic chrome and aluminum trailer style diner. Spicy Food Guy would show it to you, but it turns out the millions of people who have posted pictures on Flickr and Google have never thought to snap a photo of the old Patriots Diner.

Too bad, really, because Patriots Diner is a classic comfort food diner (open 24 hours on Friday and Saturday) serving terrific food at great prices. Spicy Food Guy ordered the breakfast sandwich: two fried eggs, bacon, and cheese on whole wheat toast, at the steep price of $5.50. When served, the dish actually arrived as two open faced bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches, which secretly delighted Spicy Food Guy. SFG then slathered some Tobasco on the top of each sandwich and snarfed it all up, possibly inhaling much of it. Spicy Food Guy's side of corned beef hash was nice and filling as well.

Spicy Food Guy had a great experience at Patriots Diner and his appetite has been whetted to see more of Woonsocket. He plans on returning.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Best Bobby Flay Restaurant

Spicy Food Guy loves to make fun of Manhattan, but Lord knows he loves to eat there.

For the past 10 years, one of Spicy Food Guy's favorite haunts has been the Mesa Grill, Bobby Flay's restaurant located near the corner of 5th Avenue and 16th Street.

Before Bobby Flay became "the" Bobby Flay, everybody loved Mesa Grill. Nowadays, it always seems to get bad reviews for not meeting expectations; as if every diner expects to get a culinary experience similar to being a judge on Iron Chef America.

Spicy Food Guy doesn't get why everyone is in a huff. Spicy Food Guy has had nothing but fantastic meals at Mesa Grill, and he has eaten there dozens of times.

The Goat Cheese Queso Fundido, with its creamy and full flavored dipping cheese topped with roasted chilies and served with blue tortilla chips, is one of Spicy Food Guy's favorite appetizers of all time -- from anywhere. And the Blue Corn Pancake with barbecued duck and habanero chile sauce is scrumptious, spicy, and melt-in-your-mouth tender. For lunch (which is when Spicy Food Guy usually eats there) try the grilled Mahi Mahi Tacos with the lemon-habanero sauce.

Spicy Food Guy is no supporter of fancy pissy overpaid chefs who are full of themselves. Bobby Flay is not one of them and his southwestern style food is damn good. So says Spicy Food Guy.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

A Fabulous BBQ Sauce and the One Way to Order It

Spicy Food Guy discovered 3 A.M. Bobby Que Chipotle Sauce at Zestfest 2007.

Actually, the Bobby Que Sauce sat around for a while with the 50 or so other sauces, salsas, and spices that Spicy Food Guy shipped home from Dallas, Texas.

Once opened, the 3 A.M. Bobby Cue Chipotle Sauce quickly rose to the top of the elite few BBQ sauces Spicy Food Guy identifies as "his favorites." The 3 A.M. is not so much spicy as flavorful in a smoky and tangy kind of way. Spicy Food Guy loves the dark flecks of chipotle peppers that float around inside the bottle. For a first class culinary expeience. slather Bobby Que on leftover roasted chicken stacked between a toasted bun. Eat at the kitchen counter while reading the comics. Trust Spicy Food Guy when he says it doesn't get much better than this.

Bobby Davis, the presumed creator and owner of Bobby Que, has won himself a couple of awards. The 3 A.M. Chipotle won 3rd place in the American Style BBQ Sauce division of the Scovie Awards. The 4 A.M. Cipotle Sauce, which can't be found even on the BobbyQueProducts website order form, placed 2nd in the Chipotle BBQ Sauce Division.

As far as Spicy Food Guy has been able to determine, printing out the order form on-line and mailing a check to Mr. Davis is the only way to acquire a few bottles of Bobby Que. And the 4 A.M may not be available at all. This is a shame. Write to Mr. Davis at and encourage him to widen his distribution.

Years from now Bobby Que will readily be found on the shelves at Wal-Mart. Prescient is Spicy Food Guy.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Best Cajun Restaurant in Downtown Orlando

For reasons best left unknown to the American Public, Spicy Food Guy found himself in Orlando, Florida last week.

"I know," Spicy Food Guy declared to none-too-bright colleagues of Spicy Food Guy (NTBCOSFG) one warm delightful evening, "let's go find a hole in the wall cajun tavern where we will sit on stools, munch on tater tots covered in hot wing sauce, drink beer, and step over scary homeless people sleeping in the public bathrooms!"

NTBOCOSFG, not bright by definition, readily agreed.

So off Spicy Food Guy and friends went to the Crooked Bayou. The tater tots in spicy wing sauce? First class. The fried pickles in spicy honey mustard sauce? Even better. Because Spicy Food Guy took a large party with him, it took a while to get everybody drinks. And some of the more, shall we say, refined and cultured members of NTBOCOSFG never did look very comfortable, hunched over their stools as they were.

Spicy Food Guy loved it.
As an entree, the spicy catfish was decent, not great. Fun Friend of Spicy Food Guy (FFOSFG) got the rajun' cajun poboy, which was tasty and tangy and was slathered in a signature creole mustard that made Spicy Food Guy wish he had ordered one of the poboys.

All in all, good eats, good company, scary bathrooms. Two out of three ain't bad.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Best Salty Snack of All Time

Proudly does Spicy Food Guy declare Bugles the best salty snack of all time.

In an era where items like sourdough pretzels and baked garlic pita chips have ascended to the upper stratosphere of style and fashion, the Bugle will not be condescended to.

Long since booted out of the kicky red box (remember rooting your hand around the bottom of that thing?), Bugles can still be found on store shelves, albeit boxless and usually relegated to the lower left hand corner of the snack isle. God forbid Bugles should encroach on the turf of hundreds of bags of Tortilla chips. Not that Spicy Food Guy is bitter.

Spicy Food Guy is enamoured with the light airy cruch of the Bugle. And how cool are the ridges? But best of all, of course, is that the Bugle is the only salty snack you can put on the tip of every finger, rendering your hand a decent replica of the Wicked Witch of the West. Then, of course, you are required to point at your Sister and cackle "I'm going to get you my pretty, and your little dog too!" Giggle and snark up the Bugles while your sister calls you immature.

Truth be told, you just can't get that type of quality experience with another salty snack. Bugles rule. So says Spicy Food Guy.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Best Chili Cheese Fast Food Item

Several months ago, Spicy Food Guy mourned the demise of the Taco Bell Chilito. The flour tortilla, the chili, the cheese; all combine for the optimal fast food palette experience. And it was lost to us. Gone forever.

Enter Sonic Drive In and the Frito Chili Cheese Wrap. Not only are all components of the Chilito replicated, but the visionary chefs of Sonic have recognized the need to add a "crunch" experience to softness of the tortilla, chili, and cheese. Spicy Food Guy is keenly aware of the public lack of appreciation given to this step change in culinary brilliance. Spicy Food Guy can only bow low to the developers of this ingenious wrap.

There are other reasons to clebrate the Sonic menu. Curious Stepdaughter of Spicy Food Guy (CSOSFG), she of the sophisticated palette, rightly champions the merits of the Sonic extra-long chili cheese coney. Spicy Food Guy applauds his stepdaugter's acute sense of chili dog greatness. And while the Sonic coney holds no candle to the Skyline Coney or the Varsity Chili Dog, it is a damn good chili dog served by a national chain.

Spicy Food Guy, who is a former member of the American Armed Services, knows when a salute is merited. Consider this a smartly thrown salute to the great folks at Sonic.

Monday, January 21, 2008

A Terrific Cajun Spice in New England (Really)

Spicy Food Guy has purchased dozens of cajun spices over the years, most of them with cool names like "Crazy Cajun Killer Rub" with a graphic showing a swamp, crayfish, gator, or all three. Made in Louisiana and hot and tasty as all get out. Great on fish, chicken, and pork chops.

So imagine Spicy Food Guy's surprise at finding one of the best cajun spices he has ever tasted at the Atlantic Spice Company in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

A couple of caveats. First, it's really not fair that New England has a really good cajun spice. They already have the Championship Red Sox, the Championship Patriots, and the best lobster rolls you can get in the continental United States.

Secondly, Cape Cod is a cool place to take kids. One day, when Spicy Food Guy took Intellectual Eldest Daughter of Spicy Food Guy (IEDOSFG) and Loud Only Son of Spicy Food Guy (LOOSOSFG) on a whale watching trip, we saw a basking shark up close. It was the most bizarre animal Spicy Food Guy has ever seen in the wild; you could stuff an oil barrel in its open mouth, and still have room to add a couple of presidential candidates. We're talking one big mouth. To date, the basking shark is the only thing seen anywhere that has rendered LOOSOSFG absolutely silent.

Anyway, one rainy day in Cape Cod Loving Mother of Spicy Food Guy (LMOSFG) talked him into a trip to the Atlantic Spice Company, where Spicy Food Guy bought a small jar of cajun spice. Months later, Spicy Food Guy ordered a couple of pounds of the same spice, put it in a big oversized jar and placed it in a position of honor in the pantry. Later, one of the kids cut a picture of the word "hot" out of a magazine and taped it to the jar.

No lie there. The Atlantic Spice Company cajun spice is very hot, and very, very flavorful. Spicy Food Guy especially loves it on fish, shrimp, gumbo, and grilled vegetables. Great stuff. The Atlantic Spice Company makes spices for a living. They nailed the hell out of this one.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Best Cajun Restaurant Not Technically in Louisiana

There are three really excellent reasons to love Mara's Homemade in Manhattan (342 E 6th St).

One, Mara hovers.

She waits tables, she chats up the guests, she asks pointed questions. Spicy Food Guy was not even slightly surprised to find out Mara is the Mother of 4 kids. She has that aura.

Second, the food is a fabulous combination of Cajun, BBQ, and Southern Comfort foods. Spicy Food Guy especially enjoys the crawfish boil, the crab fingers, the mac & cheese, and the lobster roll. Though the restaurant has won a gazillion awards and has been featured on "Roker and the Road", New Yorkers seem to go out of their way to keep it a big secret from everyone and each other. The Amateur Gourmet admits as much.

Finally, the ambiance of Mara's is reminiscent of a small town bar bar and grill. Wooden chairs and tables, low lights, dishes all over the table. Feels like a place to gossip, to cast judgment on the arrogant and self-righteous. "You know James, that pompous VP of Communications? His wife ran off on him for a wrangler. Serves his ass right for always hitting on the administrative assistants."

As Alice Roosevelt once said, "If you don't have anything nice to say about anyone, come sit right next to me." Spicy Food Guy posits that ol' Alice would have enjoyed Mara's Homemade.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Best Wet Burrito in an Unexpected Place

For reasons best left unexplained to the general public, Spicy Food Guy found himself in Grand Rapids, Michigan this past week.

A culinary mystery, that Grand Rapids. Two Mexican cafes or restaurants per block, all promoting their burritos. Makes no sense whatsoever. It'd be like being in some random small town in Mexico and discovering authentic Philly Cheese Steak establishments on every corner. That being said, Spicy Food Guy delighted in the murky mystery that led to this peculiar juxtaposition of ethnic food preferences. Sometimes, we just don't know how it happened. Grand Rapids. A love for Burritos. Black holes. Dark matter. There is much we do not understand.

The wet burrito was also a new concept for Spicy Food Guy. Technically, a wet burrito is a standard burrito slathered in melted cheese and red Chile sauce. Who'da guessed? Then, Former Grand Rapids Resident Friend of Spicy Food Guy (FGRRFOSFG), discovering that SFG was on his way to Michigan, begged, pleaded, and cajoled SFG into trying a wet burrito at the location where they call their wet burritos "famous", the Beltline Bar.

Spicy Food Guy loved his famous wet burrito at the Beltline Bar. Mexican authentic, no. Distinctly Midwest American Mexican, yes. That's what makes it scrumptious. Ground beef, not shredded beef. No rice to be found. Lettuce and tomato and onions inside the burrito, not served on the side. Melted cheese outside the burrito. Fattening as all get out. Worth the trip. Spicy Food Guy is filled and content.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Best Blend of Hot Sauce and BBQ Sauce

A good way's back, Spicy Food Guy had a business trip that took him to the Green Valley Ranch Resort and Casino outside Las Vegas. Incidentally, Spicy Food Guy notices that every time he travels to Vegas for a business meeting, none of his colleagues ever admits to having lost money at the casino. Everybody has either "broken even" or is "up a little bit." Spicy Food Guy, who could not flush his cash down the toilet any faster than he loses it at the Blackjack table, is very, very suspicious.

So one afternoon, after Spicy Food Guy had hurriedly given the dealer at the Blackjack Table several hundred dollars, he dejectedly meandered just outside the Green Valley grounds. Behold, Spicy Food Guy's good luck reappeared in the form of Lucille's Smokehouse BBQ. Lucille's is an authentic real deal hickory smokehouse and both the food and the people are first rate. Spicy Food Guy especially recommends the ribs.

The real find, though, was not the food, but what Lucille's calls "non traditional" hot sauce. Smokin' sauce, according to the label. To Spicy Food Guy, it tastes like a habanero hot sauce with some chipotle bbq sauce and some red peppers and onions thrown in. Simply outstanding. Spicy Food Guy now uses it on his own smoked ribs.

When Spicy Food Guy bought two bottles to take home, the folks at Lucille's warned him that if the bottles got too warm, they would explode. Spicy Food Guy was not sure if the folks at Lucille's were pulling his leg, but he took no chances. Spicy Food Guy took two Budweiser's out of his mini bar and stashed the Lucille's Smokin Sauce there for the balance of the trip.

So get yourself some Lucille's. A great, different kind of hot sauce.

Yes, Spicy Food Guy drank the two beers. Twelve bucks.

Best Peanut Butter Cream Pie You Ever Tasted

So last summer Intellectual Eldest Daughter of Spicy Food Guy (IEDOSFG) packs it off to Penn State for about a week of broadcast journalism camp. A bucket of fun, that broadcast journalism camp. Sometimes Spicy Food Guy is unsettled about what, exactly, goes on inside the head of IEDOSFG. But off to camp she goes as this is what she wants. OK.

So anyway, Spicy Food Guy is charged with the task of bringing her back home after the camp is over. Spicy Food Guy gets a little distressed from wandering around aimlessly on the Penn State campus unable to locate IEDOSFG, and IEDOSFG is in great distress because a camp friend dropped IEDOSFG's digital camera and broke it all to hell. Needless to say, on the car trip home, tensions ran high.

Right up until Blairsville, PA (rhymes with Nowheresville, PA), where Spicy Food Guy spotted Dean's Diner. Known for their pies. Sign says "Homemade Pies". No lies here. The diner food was average. The pies, and there must have been 10 different types sitting in two very big refrigerators, were pastry perfect. SFG and IEDOSFG had the Peanut Butter Cream Pie. The filling was neither too light nor too heavy. Perfect peanut butter filling. The crust was crumbly and delicious. Slices were big.

Spicy Food Guy took two pieces home, and IEDOSFG learned a thing or two about diner pies, and also diners. Back on the road, the tension was gone, the conversation was stimulating, and the company just couldn't be beat.
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