Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Fast Food Review: McDonald's Triple Cheeseburger

I have mentioned before that I like McDonald's McDouble. No, it will never be confused with a Double-Double or even a properly-grilled backyard burger. But for a cheap, fast-food-chain burger, I like it more than anything that Wendy's, BK or Jack in the Box serve. (Hell, last December I even wrote about doctoring up eleven McDoubles.) So a few weeks ago, when I read that McDonald's would be introducing a Triple Cheeseburger, I figured it might be even better than the McDouble.

But I didn't rush out to try it. McDonald's - well, all fast food - was a much bigger part of my life back in California. With all the delis, pizza joints and Chinese take-outs close to me in Brooklyn (I would walk by at least a dozen of them combined before I got to the nearest fast food joint, other than Five Guys), fast food doesn't really figure into the equation.

The other day I was walking by and, for the first time, did not see a line of people inside McDonald's. (Often the line literally goes out the door.) So I decided to pop in and try the Triple Cheeseburger. It was $2 plus tax.

It felt light when I held it in my hands. I know the patties aren't exactly large, but I was curious, walking the four blocks back to my place, if they had given me the wrong burger. (Remember, my only other time at this McDonald's was trying the Spicy Chicken McBites, when they gave me a smaller size than I paid for.)

But when I unwrapped the burger I realized that it did indeed have three patties... it was just kind of a pathetic little burger, looking like it had been thrown against the wall.

I think the thing I have always liked about the McDouble are the several slices of pickle and ample amount of chopped onion. This had only one pickle and a small amount of onion.

Not quite as appetizing as the advertisement, eh?

I was disappointed. Sometimes less is more. The combination of all the flavors that I enjoy in the McDouble - which were already skewed because of the paltry toppings - were even worse here with the addition of the third patty. It may look like a good deal for only two bucks, but the McDouble is usually $1.19, and I like it much more. It could be that the McDonald's closest to me isn't a good one - they are now 0-2 with my customer satisfaction -and other McDonald's will do a better job with the Triple Cheeseburger. But I doubt I'll ever make the effort to find out. There are too many other places to try, not to mention too many other burgers I can make at home.

One of which I'll be making tonight...

Monday, July 30, 2012

Wi-Pie Pizza Restaurant

I haven't been experimenting with pizza very much lately. That seems kind of silly, I know: I moved to New York, where there are hundreds if not thousands of pizza-by-the-slice joints. Why wouldn't I being trying different pizza every week? Well, Elizabeth and I go to dinner with her dad once a week, and it's always to My Little Pizzeria. I have no problem with that, I really like the place. But the standing dinner date takes away a lot of my desire to try new places during the rest of the week. I always think Well, I'll be having My Little Pizzeria in a day or two.

I was out for a walk the other day, however, and a slice of pizza (or two) sounded like a great lunch. I noticed quite a few people in Wi Pie. I didn't know anything about the place, but I figured with all those customers, at the very least the pizza would be fresh.

It was kind of a clusterf**k inside, there was no rhyme or reason to the way they were taking orders. So, when I felt everyone who was already there before me had ordered, I elbowed my way to the front of the counter and loudly placed my order: one slice of Margherita, one barbecue chicken. Into the oven my two slices went.

A couple of minutes later I had my slices, hot and a touch crispy, just how I like them.

The Margherita was a first for me: it had Parmesan cheese on it. I've never seen (or, I suppose tasted) it that way. At first bite it was distracting. But as I got closer to the edge of the crust, where the tomato sauce was concentrated, I kind of liked the way the cheese contrasted with the sweet sauce. The best Margherita I've ever had was from Totonno's in Manhattan, many years ago, long before I had a blog. The worst Margherita was a frozen one from Whole Foods. Wi Pie's is right in the middle.

The barbecue chicken was not as good as the Margherita. The chicken was low quality and the sauce was too sweet for my liking.

The crust at Wi Pie was quite good and they reheated it for the perfect amount of time. So I would certainly have no problem returning (although I would just stick with plain cheese on my next visit). But I'm not in any hurry to, and if I never do, oh well.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Redhead Chewy Lemonhead & Friends

A couple of weeks ago my parents gave me, for my birthday, an Amazon.com gift card. Considering how much stuff Elizabeth and I left behind before moving to New York, such a present was even better than cash. I'm sure my parents hoped I would use the card to get things like a new vacuum or steam iron... and indeed I got both... but I also got myself some Redhead Chewy Lemonheads.

These are one of my favorite candies ever, and I have not seen them in any stores in a couple of years. Did I need to get a case of 24? Probably not. But it's not like they're going to go to waste.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Asia Dog

I was meeting Elizabeth at her work for something, it's three miles from us and normally I take the subway, but it was a really nice day so I decided to walk. Every once in a while I do this, always varying my route so that I can see new things. On this particular day I wandered through Chinatown and Little Italy, and stumbled across Asia Dog. The sign on the sidewalk was concise: "hot dogs w/ asian toppings." I can always go for a hot dog, and I definitely wanted a drink, so I popped in.

The room is tiny; I tried to take a couple photos but it was impossible to do without people taking up the majority of the shot.

My limeade soda was refreshing, and as tart with lime as any drink I have ever tried. The menu claims it's freshly-squeezed, which is undoubtedly true.

When I see something on the menu called "wasabi potato salad," I purchase it 100% of the time. Okay, this was the first time I have ever seen that; my statement is still true. Cold potato salad, sparingly dressed (as I prefer it) and containing the unmistakable kick of wasabi. I was expecting a cringe-inducing blast of wasabi, but it was much more muted. At first I was disappointed (I kind of wanted to cringe) but with each bite I appreciated the subtlety of the flavors a little more. I couldn't finish the container, but I ate more than I would have if the potato salad had been over-the-top with wasabi flavor.

I decided to get the pulled pork sandwich. It's topped with your choice of kimchi or Asian slaw. It was a tough choice for me but I opted for the latter. It was delicious. Really tender and juicy pork, a ginger barbecue sauce that complemented the swine perfectly, and the vinegary red cabbage slaw. (I'm not sure what makes the slaw "Asian," but it was great.)

I'd planned to stop in just for a hot dog and ended up not even ordering one. But that's okay, I will absolutely be back. I want to try the "Vinh" (a banh mi-style hot dog with pork pate and pickles), but I'll probably end up ordering the Wangding (pork belly, cucumber and scallions) simply because it sounds fun to say.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Empire Mayonnaise Co.

It was a hot and extremely humid day, but it also happened to be my birthday, so I was going to do whatever I wanted. I walked to the Empire Mayonnaise Co. - about two miles away - and browsed their selection. I'd never tried them but I'd read good things, and I was in the mood to buy some gourmet food. I selected the black garlic, vadouvan, smoked paprika, and lime pickle varieties. Here are some of the things I made with them. (Everything was delicious, including the mayos, so I won't be adding any commentary.)

 Black Garlic Peppercorn Steakhouse Burgers

I grilled one of those amazing brisket-and-short rib patties from Paisanos, slathered black garlic mayo on a kaiser roll, added caramelized onions and blue cheese, then finished it off with A.1. Peppercorn steak sauce.  
Lime Pickle Crab Cakes
Out for a walk one day, I ducked into Cobblestone Foods and bought one of their crab cakes - thick pucks stuffed with plenty of crab as well as spices - then added a dollop of the lime pickle mayo, which I had been told worked very well with seafood. 

Smoked Paprika Whiskey Pickle Burgers

There was a thunderstorm so I wasn't in the mood to walk all the way to Paisanos; I went to Heights Prime Meats instead, which is only three blocks away and pretty damn good in its own right. I put the smoked paprika mayo on a fresh brioche bun, grilled the meat, added Swiss cheese, caramelized onions and whiskey-maple pickles.

French Curry Mustard Salami Sandwiches
The deli counter of a local supermarket stocks a salami flecked with mustard seeds, and it's a rare week that a package isn't sitting on our refrigerator shelf. (It's easy to make a sandwich for Elizabeth to take to work and it's really easy for me to snack on the salami any time I get a craving.) I placed a few slices of the salami on a piece of flatbread with cheese and hot peppers, and slicked the other half of the flatbread with the vandouvan mayo.