Sunday, September 30, 2007

Rise Again

There is no correct way to eat a Mallomar; what is irrefutable is the cookie's place in the snack hall of fame. Sure, it may be featured in a smaller wing, sort of by the bathrooms or on the fourth floor by the privately-funded Teddy Grahams exhibit, but its display is a respectable one, poised beneath glare-proof glass and beside a stately foamcore timeline illustrating its illustrious evolution to the forefront of east coast pantries. If Tamalehawk was curator, or at least an influential docent, he'd probably oversee the installation of an entire east coast snack feature, annexing part of the gaudy Reese's wall in the lobby and reprogramming some of flat-panels to show a sepia-toned tour of the original Drake's factory on an endless loop.

Dreams aside, a Mallomar is a dense dome of industrial marshmallow atop a disc of graham-like cookie, submerged into a chocolate approximation, which then forms a formidable shield, a byproduct of whose purpose may actually be flavor. Tamalehawk could make an entire sleeve disappear in one sitting if he suspended his better judgement. Also, their buoyancy allows them to float in a glass of milk in a way that makes Tamalehawk marvel like he was an innocent eyas again.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Discounted Feelings

Tamalehawk resigned long ago that pizza was just different in the middle swath of states. His pizza epicenter starts in New York and radiates outward, transmitting an increasingly weak signal. Anyway. If you're looking for the best Chicago pizza, you're looking for Lou Malnati's. The buttery crust, the perfect thickness, the correct sauce-to-cheese propotions. It's excellent all the way to the end, and not the kind of deep dish you abandon because the crust has become a forbidding terrain of carbs and the cheese has congealed and assumed an altogther unsettling sheen.

If you live outside of the delivery area and aren't buying a shower curtain in Schaumburg or the EGV, then you have to settle for something else. Luckily, there are alternatives. The Art of Pizza, for example, shown here is really good, though Tamalehawk can't seem to break away from the pan variety and try the deep dish that is also allegedly worthy. Downside - they never have coupons, which they claim are unnecessary because of the daily specials they offer. There is something about a pizza place that doesn't offer coupons which ruffles Tamalehawk's feathers right down to his calami. It just feels vaguely unpatriotic to not incentivize the consumer like that.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Beneath The Surface

Another, and perhaps the most important, product of the griddle era. It is with a great deal of reverence that Tamalehawk returned the griddle back to its box and into the closet. The problem: what do you do with the remaining quart of buttermilk that is still in your fridge, if you're not up to the mental and physical feat of making fried chicken? You solemnly pour it down your sink a few weeks later. RIP.

Tamalehawk has eaten a lot since his mandatory sojourns south to New Orleans started appearing on his calendar. Some of the items weren't even fried. First, oysters four ways: Fonseca, Bienville, Rockefeller or fried. He didn't realize he cared for oysters as much as it turns out he does. Also, crab fingers? Crabs have fingers and you can eat them. The finger is the pincer, or the serrated and articulated terminus of the claw. You can bread those and eat them in a sort of crazed, dexterous manner, being careful not to eat the blade of cartilage that represents the crab's last chance for revenge. Tamalehawk eventually has to pull the brakes on the bullet train of fried delights and was surprised to find that NOLA can just as easily post up with some great Thai food.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Far East

Tamalehawk did not die in a tragic buffet accident. He has not been impaled on a beer garden umbrella, nor has he choked on a battered mushroom. He has been perched on ledges nationwide, lazily soaring above city buildings in search of something interesting to eat. He's landed back in the nest, briefly, and still hungry. To bring it over to pickles, Jimmy John's are near perfect, and Potbelly's sadly lacking. Never buy the cooked variety. Pickles belong in the fridge, swimming in a brine that you secretly take swigs of when you're a kid. Also, you can reuse that brine - chop up some carrots, celery, onions, and jalapenos and slide them right back in for a few days. You have made giardiniera, sort of.

Tamalehawk did eat Korean BBQ recently with the regular rookery of rogues. Amid a sea of banchan, suspiciously absent of tiny fish jerky, they dined on roasted quadruple bulgoki, shrimp, and squid. Tamalehawk can't resist the kimchi, the weird omelet things, and the crunchy discs that may just have been jicama. It took a fair amount of restraint to not wrestle the tongs away from the server. It's not often enough that Tamalehawk gets to man the coals.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Finding Balance

Does anyone know of any new ways to melt cheese? Please notify Tamalehawk posthaste. Until then, he'll stick with the basics: grilled cheese on the griddle, diner-style with no remorse. Puddle of ketchup for dipping if you please. This installment is part of the ongoing griddle series, which at this point has included burgers, chickpeas, corn, quesadillas, pancakes, and hash browns. Anything that needs to be cooked, heated, sizzled, prodded, forged, or flipped is going on there. If you don't already, take your griddle out from the hall closet, placing the detergent bottles back on the shelf and re-stacking the crate of winter gloves, and let it take up a temporary residence in your kitchen. It works for every meal, and you can often make the whole meal at the same time on the same plane. That is a life worth living.

Eat at: Essence of India. Tamalehawk figured out how to eat for two at this Lincoln Square hot spot for under thirty bucks. He use to march in there, order a korma and a sang paneer, rice and the rest, maybe a Kingfisher if he was feeling reckless, and promptly stop laughing when the bill came. Things would get somber, eyes would be averted, portentous swallows of regret would be audible. When had things climbed up over fifty dollars? At what point did our revelry become such lamentable excess? Should we ask to review the menu again or would that be too embarrassing? Then it all becomes a blur and you're even to demoralized to eat a cupcake at the Grind next door. But, Essence of India is completely awesome - so what Tamalehawk has learned to do is get one main dish instead of two (say, a murg lajwab or a butter chicken), the basmati rice, the pappadum, the naan, and the softball-size samosas - and you still walk away sore from the sheer grandeur of the East.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Escape

What, in the end, will these Cheerios find with their new freedom? Will life outside the bowl live up to the expectations they have created? Sadly, evidence to the contrary is all around us: under carseats, behind couch cushions, stuck to sock bottoms. No, the taste of freedom is not honey-touched like in the dreams of these rogue oats, but rather a series of failures, a stream of sad admissions that their round shape could not roll them to a better place. Their fate is in the awaiting maw of a fussy child, or decades later, a man who is just not interested in preparing a proper meal for himself.

But seriously, Tamalehawk knows you know not to front on Cheerios. They have always been there for you and are still there now, steadily expanding their varieties to suit your sophisticated adult palatte. Yes, you are correct that Honey Nut Cheerios are the best, but best is a relative term. Multigrain is an admirable yoga-instructor cousin, Frosted is a strange but welcome half-brother who is a mesmerizing juggler, and Apple Cinnamon is probably also a terrific uncle but really, with Honey Nut, why bother. Not to mention a new "burst" line, including Berry Burst and Yogurt Burst, which would presumably be a niece and nephew in the Cheerios family. Tamalehawk hasn't tried them but, if voting, he comes down distinctly on the side of adding "bursts" to any food product. And of course, the grandaddy, wonderfully nostalgic Plain. In Tamalehawk's books, these Mills are anything but General.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Alight, Retreat

Tamalehawk has expounded on the best city burgers he's tried, documenting discoveries within the boundaries of his fly zone, which ranges from medium-far north to sorta west and mostly east and about as south as maybe Diversey. The true barometer of any place serving them, the care put into the forming and grilling of your burger is a direct correlation to how much they value you as a customer. It's actually a complex equation evolving a cosine, a set of biconditional elements, and a heavily nuanced duodecagon, but the result is startlingly simple: the burger barometer never fails. This one is the first product of the griddle renaissance which lasted an entire holiday weekend, seared in some bacon fat.

Tamalehawk was honored to inhale a profoundly awesome ratatouille, crafted by some gracious crested owls. Flanked by a pair of grilled brats, he thought he might choose to never leave the table and instead see if delicious food would just continue to appear before him. Brats and chocolate chips cookies - two things Jewel hits out of the park. Their festering produce section could be visibly devolving down to a microbial level beneath the relentless mist sprayers, but brats and cookies are where they really soar. Also, a generally pervasive aura of savings.