Sunday, April 29, 2018

Bill's Bar and Burger (Rockefeller Center NYC)

After meeting up with friends and taking a long post-HAMILTON walk we decided to duck into Bill’s Bar and Burger for a drink, a bite and shelter from the surprise appearance of some rainstorms.

We were burgered our after Iron Bar for lunch but the menu offered chicken and fish sandwiches for the gals and a spicy Buffalo chicken burger for me. (I thought in my haze that it was a Buffalo chicken sandwich but was pleased with the end result, packed with spicy sauce and blue cheese.)

Shared fries were of the classic fry variety and they had an excellent draft and bottled/canned beer selection including Bell’s Two Hearted Ale.

We were all pretty tired and hungry so this napkin was all I ended up snapping to record our visit. Good place, bustling atmosphere, kid friendly and comfy booths that offered ample relief to my bony butt after two days walking all over the Big Apple. Signs said they're opening an outlet in DC. Will definitely add it to our list.

A solid 4 pints. – Dan Taylor

Dan Taylor is the editor/publisher of The Hungover Gourmet. He really needs to hit the gym tomorrow.

Iron Bar NYC (713 8th Ave and 45th Street, Times Square)

I'm posting reviews and pics from our weekend trip to New York City a little out of order. Not that anybody cares...

On Saturday afternoon we had a hard out for a 2 PM show of HAMILTON at the Richard Rodgers Theater in order to fulfill a Christmas wish for our daughter. (Little did I know how much I would love the show!)

After doing a walking tour of Colonial Manhattan that involved the Stock Exchange, Federal Hall, 9/11 Memorial, Trinity Church and more we made a reservation at Heartland Brewery and Chophouse while we headed back to Times Square. Wondering if we'd have enough time to have a sit down lunch and make it to the show in plenty of time we decided to cancel and head to someplace closer to the theater for lunch before the show.

Unfortunately, Union Square Burger didn't open till 1 PM and the other place we scoped out didn't do much for the group so we headed down the street to Shake Shack, figuring if we didn't see anything appealing on the way we'd be happy with this old standby.

It wasn't long till we crossed in front of Iron Bar and decided we'd give it a try.

"We can be out within an hour, right?," we asked as we met the hostess. "We need to leave for the theater by 1:30..."

"Sure!," she replied with confidence.

I have to admit, we loved the look and vibe of the place. A dark but not impenetrable atmosphere, cool high tops with tables made of pipe and tabletops that looked aged from use, an endless line of taps featuring some of my favorite beers including Dale's Pale Ale.

Alas, the place was sorta hit or miss for our group. My burger – a midwest-inspired Juicy Lucy – was dynamite and tasted like the burgers my Mom cooked when I was a kid. The rest of our group didn’t fare quite as well as medium rare burgers were all super rare in the center and it took a good half hour  (!) to get our food while others who were seated well after us all got their lunches.

Great beer selection,  awesome Juicy Lucy and a cool vibe definitely help offset the crummy service and inconsistent cook on the burgers. Unfortunately, it all adds up to a three pint rating despite an excellent lunch for The Hungover Gourmet. – Dan Taylor

Dan Taylor is the editor/publisher of The Hungover Gourmet and he loves him a burger and some Dale's Pale Ale.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Crockpot Wednesday: SkinnyTaste Slow Cooker Turkey Breast with Gravy

Photo: SkinnyTaste.com
It's Crockpot Wednesday here at THG HQ and last week's recipe was a rousing success.

I love Thanksgiving but must admit that all the shopping, prepping, cooking, browning of wings (and necks and gizzards) for gravy, etc. makes it a meal I don't want to deal with on a regular basis.

Cue SkinnyTaste.com and their recipe for a pretty effortless and delicious Turkey Breast with Gravy.

The hardest part with this recipe was finding a frozen turkey breast in February but the effort paid off. I probably cooked this one a little longer than I needed to (my crockpot tends to run hot and my digital thermometer was on the fritz) so it may have been a touch on the dry side but that was negated by the rich, savory gravy that the breast produced during the cooking process.

On top of that, the long slow cooking process made the whole house smell like Thanksgiving, if only for a day.

Uh Oh... Trump Boycott Just Hit Home for Some Folks

Let's face it. Asking people to boycott Nordstrom's until they drop Trump-related merchandise probably isn't that big of a request. How many of us are shopping at Nordstrom's on a regular basis?

But shit got real for some people now that the National Organization for Women has asked consumers to boycott cult-like grocery retailer Wegmans until they pull Trump wines from their shelves.

According to an article in the Washington Post, Wegmans' VP of Media Relations said "individual shoppers who feel strongly about an issue can demonstrate their convictions by refusing to buy a product. When enough people do the same, and sales of a product drop precipitously, we stop selling that product in favor of one that’s in greater demand."

FYI, the picture used for illustration is of a chocolate and wine bundle from the Trump Winery website called "Taste of Trump". Ew.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Sister Publication EXPLOITATION RETROSPECT Launches 30th Anniversary Mega-Issue!

The Journal of Junk Culture and Fringe Media returns with a super-sized 30th anniversary issue clocking in at 130 pages! 

As some of you may know, The Hungover Gourmet got its start in a little drive-in movie and pop culture zine called Exploitation Retrospect. After that publication went on hiatus THG became its own publication and website and blog. Roles have reversed a bit in recent years with THG taking a break from printing while ER has returned with a handful of issues, including the recently published 30th anniversary issue #53.

This time out the ER Crew looks at the world of horror anthology films with a special review section featuring SLAUGHTER TALES (2012), TORTURE GARDEN (1967), THE UNCANNY (1977), TOMB OF TERROR (2004), HOLIDAYS (2016), GRIM PRAIRIE TALES (1990), ASYLUM (1972), THE BURNING MOON (1992), CRADLE OF FEAR (2007), SCREAMS OF A WINTER NIGHT (1979) and many more. Plus, we look inside the world of 21st century anthology flicks with filmmaker Scarlet Fry.

We remember THE DESTROYER co-creator Warren Murphy with an interview by The Paperback Fanatic and examine the legacy of Don Pendleton's Mack Bolan (THE EXECUTIONER) and other men's action heroes via reviews, articles and an interview with author Mike Newton.

Obscure horror gets its due thanks to an interview with Gary Wallace (star of video store oddity THE JAR) while Evan Romero waxes nostalgic about Joe D'Amato's PORNO HOLOCAUST and breaks down the films of Jorg Buttgereit.

Longing for the sights, sounds and smells of old movie theaters? Take a trip through Kris Gilpin's theatrical scrapbook while Chris Poggiali examines the history of hot pants cinema.

And what would an issue of Exploitation Retrospect be without a bulging review section? Join Douglas Waltz, Mitch Lovell, John Grace, Devin Kelly, David Zuzelo, Jim Ivers, Evan Romero, Eric Miller, Neil Vokes, Robert Segedy, Mike Hauss and yours truly as they dive deep into a video vortex of horror, action, exploitation and sleaze.

The new issue is currently available from CreateSpace as well as Amazon.

If you prefer to order direct from the publisher, please visit the ER website.

Friday, January 06, 2017

The Hungover Gourmet's 2017 Burger Challenge: Find It. Eat It. Rank It.

A few weeks back I was texting with an old friend and he mentioned that he'd just completed a Big Mac/Whopper smackdown that started during the summer and ended just before Christmas. The verdict? Naturally, The Whopper reigned supreme.

A couple things crossed my mind as I stared at his text:

  1. Who didn't know The Whopper is superior to the Big Mac?
  2. Why wouldn't you add more burgers to the mix?
  3. If I don't like Big Macs why can I still sing the jingle... backwards?
You'd have to ask my pal to answer the first two questions, but the answer to #3 lies with a Philly radio station contest back in the 1970s. You sent in your name and phone number and if they called your house you had to sing the Big Mac jingle ("Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun" – created by ad exec Keith Reinhard and set to music by Mark Vieha), but you had to sing it backwards ("Bun seed sesame..." and so on).

This guy learned it more recently and posted a video of him singing it and then falling down (I probably would have cut out that last part). Long story short, I can't remember 95% of what I learned during 18 years of school but I can still recall that backwards jingle on a moment's notice. 

Bravo, Dan. Money well spent.

Within a few hours of seeing the Whopper/Big Mac text and getting home I'd formulated a plan for The Hungover Gourmet's 2017 Burger Challenge... 
  • Find, eat and rank a different burger each week. 
  • Burgers can be from a restaurant, diner, bar, fast food joint, independent burger place, ballpark, even frozen (a stipulation put in simply to justify having White Castles one week and maybe some of those Ballpark Grillers I like). 
  • A homemade burger is allowed in a pinch.
  • Burger is eater's choice (ie, doesn't have to be the same style burger at each place nor does it have to be a restaurant's signature burger).
  • Beef is preferred but turkey, bison, etc. are allowed.
And that's about it: Find It. Eat It. Rank It.

In the meantime, I'm open to suggestions for any burger recommendations in the Maryland, Delaware, Philly, New Jersey region. Feel free to post in the comments below or email me via editor@hungovergourmet.com.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Holiday Horrors

As my house fills with the scents and sounds of a relaxing Thanksgiving with my wife and daughter, I'm reminded that not everybody loves holiday gatherings. Case in point, Evan Romero, who is a frequent contributor to our sister blog, Exploitation Retrospect. I'm not sure if everybody's holidays are more like I remember them or the way Evan describes them in the essay below, but either way I suggest a good stiff drink – or a nice craft beer – in hand before you dive into the holiday horrors that await.

Ah, the holidays! Time for families who pretend to like each other to get together for some good food and good times.

Unless you're my family: they don't pretend to like each other, and good food and good times are a rarity. If it isn't some unholy abomination concocted in someone's kitchen or a personal catastrophe following some, for a change, good food, then it only happens in YOUR family. So be thankful for that.

But then, these kinds of stories always make for some entertain reading, no? So, with the holidays fast approaching I invite you to take a walk with me, your Ghost of Holiday's Past if you will, through little incidents that have made my holidays a TAD less cheerful. So pour yourself some eggnog and prepare for a dose of schadenfreude as you laugh at my expense.      

THANKSGIVING
Thanksgiving is a holiday I have never liked. Not one bit. I just always thought the whole concept was stupid. I mean, why should we relegate thankfulness to one day a year - a day which just so happens to fall before Black Friday? "Hey everyone, let's be thankful for what we have. Now, let's head to the store and buy more shit to be thankful about. Oh, and we're gonna have to put grandma in a home because we need room for our 175-inch television. Sorry mom. We'll visit...maybe."

Not only that, but the food sucks. Well, at least when MY family has any say in the matter.

Let's start with the cornerstone of any traditional Thanksgiving dinner, the turkey.

Growing up, I had a deep and abiding suspicion of this article of food. Not only did its looks remind me of a female torso bereft of limbs and head, but the hole between the legs made me think that family members of dubious morals were filling it with a different kind of stuffing.

In short, you couldn't pay me enough to take a bite of this bird.

Finally though, one Thanksgiving I decided to take the plunge. I remember the setting perfectly: the garage of my childhood home. The kids table had been set up by the washer and dryer.

And the cat box. (So THAT'S where my family gets Thanksgiving dinner from!)

Anyways, the sliver of turkey I'd asked for sat there on the corner of my plate like Harvey the Pimp insisting that his cracked-out hoes are the best deal in town. I took the piece in hand and looked it over for anything suspicious (gotta make sure this bird ain't trying to poison me, or that it doesn't contain any baby batter from the aforementioned family members of dubious morals). Satisfied that nothing seemed out of the ordinary, I took a bite, chewed a bit, then spit it right into the cat box where it belonged. It was dry as cardboard and tasted the same. How in the hell can anyone eat this shit? I thought. I vowed from there on out that all my Thanksgiving meals will consist either of pizza; or mashed potatoes, pickles, olives, and rolls.

One year we had Thanksgiving at my grandmother's house with each family member supplying a different portion of the feast. My aunt was in charge of bringing the mashed potatoes. Thanks to my grandmother, my Thanksgiving feast that year consisted of pizza. Ah, lucky me. After devouring a few slices I went into the kitchen to put my plate in the sink and noticed a large bowl of mashed potatoes sitting on the stove. Cue heavenly choir! Ah, I love my family! Such wonderful folks they are!

I dashed over to the bowl and grabbed the spoon, but as I went to give them a little stir before serving I noticed they were falling about each other like dried clumps of Play-Doh. No joke, you could have taken them out and laid bricks with them. My faith in God, life, the universe, family, friends, and the goodness of mashed potatoes was brought into question.

I turned an evil glare towards my family, who were all laughing and enjoying their feast, and plotted my revenge against them – which I'm still plotting to this day.

CHRISTMAS
I often refer to Christmas as the holiday where we ask people to buy us stuff that we're too cheap to buy ourselves.

I also refer to it as the Day of Grandmother's Dubious Ham.

When my grandmother was alive, she always insisted on bringing the honey baked ham for Christmas dinner. Even when my mom would tell her not to bother because she was gonna cook one that year, my grandmother still insisted. (If memory serves me right, one year we had TWO hams to choose from: my mom's and my grandmother's. My mom's was eaten by everyone; only my grandmother ate from her unwanted offering.)

Now, I like ham, but whatever hucksters my grandmother bought HER ham from should be hanged, for these men of questionable food ethics INSISTED that the ham be served at room temperature for maximum enjoyment. Anytime anyone suggested we put the ham in the oven and heat it up she would have a fit and insist - usually with a butcher's knife in hand - that the ham be served at room temperature! I don't know about you, but ham that is anything but hot isn't even fit for the dog's dish.

Every year my grandmother would bring this slop; every year, the family would choke it down while hoping that the presents she'd brought us weren't equally repulsive.

Except me.

After trying that ham one time I gave serious thought to vegetarianism. It was supposedly a honey baked ham, but there wasn't the slightest hint of honey anywhere to be found in that vast wasteland of slaughtered pig, not to mention it tasted like a pig fetus smelled (I had to dissect one in 10th grade biology so I know of what I speak) and had the consistency of undercooked bacon.

One Christmas during my eleventh year, my grandmother made peanut butter blossoms. She had them laid out amongst some other goodies. I, being the genius that I am, decided to eat the entire platter.

By the time we sat down to open gifts my stomach was growling like a death metal singer and flipping about like a Ferris wheel. I was certain I was dying. My dad ran up to 7-11 and got me some Pepto Bismol. I took some and felt perfectly fine – for three minutes. Then, like an overworked office worker bolting from the office at the end of the day, the Pepto Bismol decided it wanted no part of me and promptly exited through my mouth, followed by whatever else was in my stomach. Luckily, I was standing by my grandmother's sink when this happened.

A sink, I should add, that wasn't working.

After I was chastised for vomiting in the sink instead of the trashcan or trying to make it to the bathroom, I changed into some sweatpants (I was supposed to spend the following days at my grandmother's, thus the change of clothes) and went and laid down on the ground atop some very large and comfortable pillows. And I soon fell asleep, visions of sugar plumbs being massacred by peanut butter blossoms dancing in my head.

An hour or so later I awoke with a nasty feeling in my gut.

Ah shit, I thought. Here we go again.

I then rolled over onto my stomach.

Big mistake.

From my mouth spewed a fountain of bile that would put THE EXORCIST out of business. To add insult to injury, my sphincter gave way and I filled my underpants with a heaping load of Sloppy Joe's.

In other words, I had become a dual fountain of sewage.

Stick with me now, my story gets better.

After hosing me off, my parents loaded me into the car, in the front passenger seat. My dad drove while my mom rode in the back. Now, my grandmother lived in Reseda at the time, which is about an hour's drive from my hometown of Palmdale.

In other words: freeways.

The minute we pulled onto the freeway I told my dad to pull over as I was going to barf. Not wanting me to ruin the interior of their 1989 Mustang, my dad zoomed the car to the side of the road where I opened the door and proceeded to fertilize the weeds.

As well as drop another load in my britches.

Now, for those of you who've never had to lay on your side with your own feces stuck to your ass for an hour or so, trust me when I say that it is absolutely miserable.

But it DID lead to an event worthy of national news.

My mom is a smoker. My dad isn't. He can't even stand the smell of cigarettes. However, this was the first and only time in my life I've ever heard him ask my mom to light a cigarette - because he'd rather smell that than my putrid essence.

I was sick for three days afterwards.

Now, it's highly unlikely that the peanut butter blossoms were the cause of my ailment. Most likely, the blossoms simply aggravated whatever bug I had. Regardless, I haven't touched those damn things since.

MEMORIAL DAY
In my family, Memorial Day is often celebrated with weekend get togethers. Which means it is prime time for my family members to show off their "phenomenal" cooking skills.

CASE 1:
One year my aunt decided to make us lasagna. Now, my aunt was FAR from a decent cook (she was the same aunt responsible for the Bricklayer Mashed Potatoes), but I didn't think it was possible to fuck up lasagna.

She proved me wrong.

I remember standing at the table when she brought the pan of lasagna out. Looked normal enough. However, the taste rendered its origins quite dubious. I remember the noodles were over-cooked and tough, and the stuff between the noodles would have taken a chemist to identify. If I remember correctly, I gave it to the dog, following it up with a deeply heartfelt apology.

CASE 2:
Many years after the Lasagna Catastrophe my aunt laid upon us, my other grandmother decided to host our Memorial Day get together. Lasagna, once again, was on the menu.

After slaving away for who knows how long in the kitchen, my grandmother called us all in. Starving and on the brink of death, we all rushed in and jumped into our seats – except me. I stayed near the chip bowl, perfectly content to stuff myself with tortilla chips and Ruffles. No way in hell was I gonna touch lasagna again after that filth my aunt dropped on us many years ago (yes, I was and am deeply scarred from that).

Anyways, my grandmother brings the crockpot over to the table, sets it down, takes off the lid and tells us all to dig in.

Upon looking at the contents of the crockpot, I thought: what hole did this unholy abomination crawl from?

Why would I think this? Simple: last I checked, lasagna doesn't float. So either the laws of physics have ceased to exist in my grandmother's kitchen, or she fucked up and unleashed something akin to THE THING upon the world. The latter is the most likely scenario.

CASE 3:
After my Bricklayer aunt passed away, my uncle had Memorial Day at his house, partly because he liked having family around, partly because he wanted to tell everyone he'd gotten back in contact with an ex-girlfriend and was getting laid regularly (this was less than two months after my aunt's passing), partly because he was moving to Kansas with said ex-girlfriend/now-girlfriend a few months later.

On the menu: burgers.

Now, beef is cooked two ways in my family: well-done and well-done. Requesting anything else will get you strange looks and whispers about your sanity.

That day, my uncle cooked the burgers medium. I didn't give a shit because I was finally eating a tasty burger (I ended up having two).

Everyone else, however, upon discovering the burgers weren't well-done, was convinced we were all gonna come down with E-coli, salmonellosis, brain cancer, AIDS, syphilis, Ebola, small pox, influenza, tuberculosis, and bubonic plague.

I didn't give a shit because at least I'd die having eaten a tasty burger.

And my uncle didn't give a shit because he was drunk and happy that he'd been getting laid.

This was also the night I had my first taste of vodka, my alcohol of choice to this day. I asked my uncle for some orange juice; he asked if I wanted any vodka in it. At 16, it seemed like a great idea. Thus, a screwdriver, which was my signature drink for many years until replaced by White Russians.

CONCLUSION
Many of the family members mentioned in this essay have either kicked the bucket or have moved out of state. These days, holidays are spent with my immediate family and three people I like to refer to as The Comatose Trio: my grandmother, uncle, and cousin – who can usually be found sitting on the couch and staring at the blank TV screen with drool hanging from their mouths. No more bad cooking. No more personal catastrophes. Just boredom and apathy that I usually combat by getting stone cold drunk and insulting as many family members as I can.

But that is a tale for another time. – Evan Romero

Evan Romero is a regular contributor to the pages of Exploitation Retrospect and spends much of his time reading morally questionable books and watching movies no sane person would touch. He is the vocalist/bassist for the punk band Porno Holocaust (you can find them on Facebook and listen to some demos if you’re inclined). You can read more of his reviews at ReelAtrocities.com or at PopHorror.com. This is his first piece for The Hungover Gourmet.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Costco's Kirkland House Brand Gets some Bon Appetit Love

One of my wife's co-workers was telling us that it was worth the 45-minute drive to one of the MD area Costco stores that sells alcohol because the Kirkland brand booze was as good and way cheaper than any big name brand. I've always been a fan of their house brand foods and I try to buy as much of my fresh meat there as possible because unlike a grocery store they turn it over so frequently.

Turns out we're not the only ones who love us some Kirkland brands... no less an authority on good grub that Bon Appetit recently heaped praise on, yes, Costco's house brand spirits, snacks, salmon and more.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Just Call Me Captain Beefheart or A Quick Review of Parts & Labor

Just Call Me Captain Beefheart
I don't usually go out to eat on back to back nights, but when it's dinner at Parts & Labor in Baltimore I can't resist.

This was our second visit to the restaurant and I have to say that of all the meals I've eaten out during my 15 years in Charm City, both dinners at P&L rank at or near the top. Plus, with the restaurant's ever changing menu I was excited to see what was new – and to see if any old favorites were still being offered.

Started off the evening with a delicious and refreshing Hop Knife IPA from Tröegs Independent Brewing to go with the Raw Cheeseburger (a favorite from our last visit that we were glad to see still on the menu and yes, it's basically exactly what it sounds like), Eggplant Hummus and thinly sliced Beef Heart served with thinly sliced cucumbers and the same sauce that accompanies the steaks. My dinner companions all passed (I think the words "beef heart" are off putting) but had I simply told them it was steak nobody would have known the difference. The rare slices simply melted on the tongue, much like the 14 oz. steak that my wife and I split.

Crazy Corn with Braided Husk
The crazy corn – topped with mayo and cheese – was also too good to pass up and I could have eaten a dozen ears. Naturally, my wife requested that when I grill corn at home I start braiding the husks like Parts & Labor.

Our friends ordered the steak, too, and finished off every bite while their chorizo was spicy without being overly so.

We also enjoyed being seated in a booth rather than out in the middle of the dining room like during our last visit. Conversation was easy and you never felt like you were listening in on your neighbors' conversation or vice versa. By the end of the dinner it almost seemed like we were the only ones there but when we got up to leave that definitely wasn't the case.

If meat's your thing I can't recommend this place highly enough.

Parts & Labor is located at 2600 N. Howard Street in Baltimore, just down the street from the iconic Ottobar (where I once bumped into John Waters after seeing Italian soundtrack legends Goblin).