Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Your Grocery Store is a Sugary Mine Field of Processed Junk

My normal grocery shopping routine has changed over the last year or so.

I used to shop almost exclusively at Giant with the occasional stop at ShopRite or – if I felt like braving the parking lot (and craved their macaroni salad) – Wegmans.

But the opening of an ALDI about a mile away has drastically changed how I shop. While I was skeptical at first and had a sorely misplaced view of what ALDI offered, I am a full-fledge ALDI-vangelist at this point. The limited selection and lower price points mean I am in and out in about 20 minutes and I've cut my weekly grocery bill by 30% to 50%.

Oh sure, there are still things I can't get at my beloved ALDI but if I make one mid-week trip to Giant that about covers my needs.

Which means I'm out of practice at least as far as wildly over the top limited edition seasonal items go. So, when I had to stop at the Mega-Wal-Mart up the road for turkey wings the other day, I was taken aback by what a gauntlet of sugar-frosted monstrosities the aisles held.

Luckily, my daughter never liked sugary cereals, doesn't drink soda and is still pretty good about keeping her snacking at bay despite closing in on 6' before she hits her teenage years so if any of this stuff DOES appear in our pantry it's because I'm such a mark.

Here are just a few of the processed "treats" that await you this holiday season...


The Elf on the Shelf might come in handy to get your kids to behave after a couple bowls of the "Official Cereal of the North pole".


This cereal doesn't even try to hide behind a corporate shill or some kind of health benefit.


The post-breakfast crash should be over just in time for a healthy lunch. Or you can just give them this.


I think these were some kind of tie-in with FROZEN 2 but in looking at the package now I'm not so sure. Maybe they were just trying to capitalize on the flick without actually coughing up the csah to slap a talking snowman on the box. Either way the filling looks like toothpaste.

See any crazy limited edition treats (?) during your shopping trips? Send them to editor@hungovergourmet.com with your name and where you saw it and we'll share with our readers. – Dan Taylor

Dan Taylor is the editor/publisher of The Hungover Gourmet. He can resist sugary treats with the best of them but he is really jonesing for a McRib right about now.

Went Looking for Turkey Wings. Found Chicken Paws.


I wouldn't have believed this if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes. After striking out on turkey wings at four stores (ALDI, Giant, Shoprite, MOM'S Organic) I headed to Wal-Mart in the hopes I could avoid Wegmans and The Parking Lot from Hell.

I did find the wings I needed for the awesome gravy I make for the Thanksgiving turkey but I also spotted these and had to take a pic.

Is calling them "Chicken Paws" supposed to make them sound more edible? Is this a regional thing I'm not familiar with – I've lived here almost twenty years and have never seen or heard them called this. – Dan Taylor

Dan Taylor is the editor/publisher of The Hungover Gourmet and he loves himself some organ meats. But he draws the line at chicken feet. Or paws.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

McDonald's to Offer Boring Global Hits for Limited Time Next Month

After the successful launch of Cheesy Bacon Fries earlier this year, McDonald's has announced that they'll be offering other international menu "hits" for a limited time starting in June. (I had no idea the Bacon Fries were an Australian menu item for the Golden Arches. Did you?)

Offerings include such pedestrian-sounding items as a chicken sandwich with tomato and mozzarella, something called the Grand Extreme Bacon Burger, and a Stroopwafel McFlurry featuring bits of waffle with vanilla soft serve and caramel swirl.

While I'm always wooed by "limited time" offerings, I'm a bit disappointed that the new items are so, well, pedestrian. Where's the Ebi Filet-O-Shrimp? Or the McNurnburger featuring three brats on a bun with onions and mustard? Or the Malaysian classic The Prosperity Burger? – Dan Taylor

Dan Taylor is the editor of The Hungover Gourmet and he's still anxiously awaiting the return of The McRib.

Thursday, April 04, 2019

Where Some Saw Waste, Cultivate Saw Need

With all the wind and blather coming from DC – and elsewhere – these days, it's always nice to read a story where people are actually doing some good for their fellow man.

Food waste drives me crazy. I do my best to shop for what we need, buy portions that will serve their purpose for what we're making that week, and keep an eye on the fridge in case any excess or leftovers can be frozen before they go bad.

But things happen. Within the last few days we've tossed two-thirds of a bag of kale that was getting limp and watery, some slices of bread that had more mold on them than I was willing to scrape off/overlook, and a block of cheese that looked like it had been aged in some European cave.

And those last four strawberries nobody wants to eat probably need to go in the smoothie fruit bag I keep in the freezer.

At one Indiana elementary school, the issue of food waste was turned into a solution for children, and families, at need.

The food rescue non-profit Cultivate stepped in to assist the supervisor of student services at an Indiana elementary school. Now, food that would have previously been wasted gets repurposed into frozen meals that students in need can take home for the weekend.
Cultivate takes leftovers to its facilities, where a small staff and group of volunteers compile them into meals that include a protein, a vegetable, and a starch. They’re packaged in recyclable containers and frozen to maintain freshness, then placed in backpacks that are distributed by school officials to students in the program.
Check out the whole story here and don't forget to think about how you can make a difference in your community. – Dan Taylor

Dan Taylor is the editor/publisher of The Hungover Gourmet and needs to get off his butt and do some volunteer work.

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Looming Avocado Shortage? Eat These Recipes Now!

Avocado toast and eggs. Fish tacos topped with avocado. Egg salad with mashed avocado. Avocado BLT with turkey...

All these recipes – and many more – could be insanely expensive or downright unattainable if the Trump administration goes through with an economically-disruptive border closure between the US and our neighbors in Mexico.

Experts suggest that if the border with Mexico – the world's largest avocado producer – is closed, we'd have about a three week supply before we run out of imported avocados.

And with domestic crops likely more than a month from harvest, stores have already seen a 30%+ increase in avocado prices since Trump made his threats known, the largest increase in nearly a decade.

In the meantime, here's a handy guide to All the Avocado Recipes to Make and Eat Right Now. – Dan Taylor

Dan Taylor is the editor/publisher of The Hungover Gourmet and he loves avocados. Especially avocado toast, fish tacos with avocado and a turkey BLT with avocado.

(Image ID 115992751 © Dietmar Höpfl | Dreamstime.com)

FOOD COURT: PA Man Sent Over the Edge Due to Crushed Chips

According to police reports, a Pennsylvania man was "having a bad day" when he was sent over the edge by an indifferent cashier who bagged canned goods atop his chips.

A flip remark from the cashier...
set Bower off and he allegedly put his hand around the cashier’s throat and pushed him against a cash register, all while shouting, “You idiot!”
I would advise against this guy ever shopping at ALDI where certain cashiers fling your yogurts, canned goods, meat, paper products, pepperoni snacks, block cheese and more into the cart like they're trying to establish some sort of land speed record or just "tryna clock out".

Read about the whole grisly affair at Huffington Post or the York Dispatch. – Dan Taylor (Thanks to Dave Wright for the tip!)

Dan Taylor is the editor/publisher of The Hungover Gourmet and points to things like this when asked why he prefers to bag his own groceries.

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

A-Rod Mocked for Calling Cheesesteak A "Cheese Sandwich"

I always loathe the pandering of national sports broadcasts, but ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball took it to new lows the other night during the Phillies/Braves game.

In an attempt to show some love for the Phightin' Phils – who haven't exactly been a fixture on the network's marquee baseball broadcast in recent seasons – somebody had the bright idea to have the (ugh) Phillie Phanatic deliver cheesesteaks to the broadcast booth.

What followed was an ill-advised and uninformed attempt to embrace Philly while sampling some of the iconic sandwich, with Jessica Mendoza wondering why there was red sauce on one and Matt Vasgersian inventing something called "wiz wit sauce".

Why not bring some attention to Questlove's vegan cheesesteak, available at the ballpark and drawing rave reviews from Friends of THG, via a blind taste test?

But, fittingly, the most mockery was reserved for walking suntan bed A-Rod who gushed "this is the greatest cheese sandwich I've ever had – it's amazing" and smelled the inside of Bryce Harper's cleats. – Dan Taylor

Dan Taylor is a lifelong Phillies fan and the editor of The Hungover Gourmet. He is looking forward to visiting Citizens Bank Park, sampling a Questlove "cheesesteak" and jeering Johnny Haircut, er, rooting for Bryce Harper. Sorry. It's going to take some getting used to.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Ringing out 2018 with Pizza, Beer and THE THIN MAN (1934)

We rang out 2018 with pizza and beer at Joe Squared before trekking through the rain (discussing the rolls and dubious health benefits of McDonald's Filet-O-Fish) to The Charles Theater to see a 35mm print of 1934's excellent THE THIN MAN starring William Powell and Myrna Loy.

The first in the popular series finds retired detective Nick Charles interrupting his wife's Manhattan vacation to solve the case of a missing inventor friend suspected of murder. Lots of screwball antics, snappy banter, copious on-screen libations and great chemistry between the leads make this a standout of the genre. The flicks pop up regularly on Turner Classic Movies so be sure to "have a cocktail!" and tune in.

Today it's getting ready to go back to work after taking over a week "off" (I'm self-employed so I'm never really "off"), helping my daughter with her science project for school, watching the Winter Classic and the Flyers/Predators game, eating leftovers, diving into some homemade chili and enjoying a beer or two from the generous holiday contributions from friends and family.

Here's hoping your 2018 ended on a high note and 2019 is off to a rousing start. Remember, it is National Hangover Day and National Bloody Mary Day so if you need to cure the former before enjoying the latter be sure to visit our popular hangover cures post from a few years ago.

Thanks to all our friends and readers and we look forward to sharing more food, drink, travel and fun in the new year. Cheers! – Dan Taylor

Friday, November 30, 2018

Steve's Prince of Steaks (16th Street, Philadelphia)

Several years ago, before my wife and I welcomed our darling eating machine daughter into the world, we would meet up with friends for food-related excursions.

Sometimes it was a huge group from the old Roadfood forum gathering at G&M in Maryland for all things crab, like their softball-sized crab cakes.

Other times we'd get the bright idea to drive around Philly on the hottest, stickiest day of the year and tour varied cheesesteak joints. Like, five or six of them.

And on that day, as the sun beat down and the humid, subway air belched its way from the ground beneath us (or maybe that was just me), we ended our trek at Steve's Prince of Steaks on Bustleton Ave. There, some participants threw in the towel and couldn't eat another bite while the brave among us soldiered on, eating one... more... sandwich... a river of wiz and slightly less-processed cheese products cascading down our throats, grease dripping on our sun-baked arms, convincing ourselves that we'd eat salads all week to make up for this gluttony. (By the way, you can still read all about the High Steaks Showdown at The Hungover Gourmet website or in printed copies of that award-winning issue.)

When all the votes were tallied, Steve's ended up a close second to Dallasendro's (another personal fave) with points taken off by several voters for what some considered a sketchy bathroom.

These days, most of my trips to Philly feature scarfing down Wawa while enjoying film festivals at International House, or our annual Christmas excursion complete with the vintage light show at Macy's and a trip to Reading Terminal Market for a roast pork sandwich from DiNic's. In other words, I have to find my cheesesteak fixes where I can get 'em, even if that means the Korean bulgogi and beer cheese sandwich at The Point in Towson, MD or a no frills but tasty cheesesteak from The Gateway on LBI after a day of surf fishing.

So when some friends mentioned trekking up to Philly the Saturday after Thanksgiving in order to see legendary drive-in film critic Joe Bob Briggs give a talk about 'How Rednecks Saved Hollywood' I was definitely intrigued. When they suggested we could head up early and make a stop at Steve's for dinner, I was hooked.

While crummy weather and roads packed with holiday travelers and shoppers did their best to keep us from our cheesesteak rendezvous, we were undeterred. Though I always prefer to hit the original location whenever possible, the Steve's on 16th Street was near covered parking and much closer to our North Philly destination, so that became our stop of choice on this day.

And while $9 for a half hour park job sounded steep, the jump to $19 at 31 minutes made it sound like a bargain. And a challenge.

As the clock ticked we dodged the raindrops and hustled through the doors into Steve's brightly lit but no frills eatery (silver tables, light as air chairs and no restrooms). After re-familiarizing myself with the menu and the ordering "rules", I stepped up and asked for a Cheesesteak (American) With (Fried Onions) and 'Shrooms. Though intrigued by such menu items as the Shrimp Roll ($2), this trip was all about speed eating a cheesesteak. There will always be a next time.

With our orders placed we grabbed a recently unoccupied table and thanked the heavens we arrived when we did, as a couple large groups streamed through the doors just after we sat down. Our sandwiches arrived within minutes, with freshly grilled meat (a big Steve's selling point!) and ooozing cheese barely contained by the long, flat rolls.

Unencumbered by shrimp rolls we dug in and I was briefly transported back to that time when I could still wolf down (parts of) five or six cheesesteaks in an afternoon. Those days are long gone but it's nice to know that while times have changed and some things will never be the same, you can still count on Steve's Prince of Steaks to deliver a timeless Philly favorite. – Dan Taylor

Dan Taylor is the editor of The Hungover Gourmet and a lifelong cheesesteak aficionado. He's still searching for a good Baltimore cheesesteak joint.