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Showing posts with label food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label food. Show all posts

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Tannin Wine Bar & Kitchen - An Ode to Urban Romanticism

I went to Tannin for dinner last night. It seemed the perfect thing to do after a successful showing at the Gathering of Pagan Souls for Witchcraft and Wellness, for whom I am the official Kitchen Witch! Here, you can read all about it! But more on that later...

It seemed wrong to go to Tannin without ordering wine, so I opted for a sweet gewurtztraminer(say that five times fast), even though I seldom drink. I had definitely heard great things about this little place in the Crossroads, so when B suggested it for dinner on a rainy Saturday evening, I just couldn't say no.

The decor was nice, intimate without being too dark or cramped. We sat by the big bay window and watched as the rain fell down around us. It was like being in a 40s Noir film, and felt very sexy and romantic. When I was little, I would imagine how fabulous I would be as a gorgeous grown-up girl, with my hair long, wearing a pretty dress, sitting romantically across from the man I loved at a perfect little bistro as the rain fell down around us. These feelings were magically conjured up as B and I held hands over our table at Tannin.

The wait staff was attentive without being overbearing, and the tables were small without feeling, well, small. The wine list was, obviously, quite extensive so I can't imagine there would be something there that couldn't work for a person. I am not a wine aficionado, of course; I'm more of a food person. Onto the food.

Sausage. Potato salad. What else do you need?

On the appetizer menu, we decided to split "the Local Pig sausage" while we decided on an entree. It came sort of 'shielding' a really tasty potato salad hidden underneath! The sausages from The Local Pig are always great, and seeing businesses that support them so vehemently are nice. Kansas City truly is the biggest small town out there!

Now, THAT, is how you sauce a dish. 

When it came time for entrees, I opted for the chicken, and B got the short ribs. The short ribs came with yummy, garlic-y mashed potatoes and green beans. It was fall-apart tender, but still kept its shape nicely, which is hard to do. It was seasoned perfectly, and he ate the whole thing before I was halfway done with my chicken.

The chicken, though beautifully seasoned, was sadly a little dry. It was flavorful, but it was dry, and swimming in a pan-sauce that really needed to be reduced. It was just a crap-ton of liquid on a plate, albeit tasty liquid, that begged for some bread to sop it up. I actually kind of regret not asking for some....

Though gorgeous, the chicken was(tragically) a hair dry.

The chicken came with brussel sprouts and oyster mushrooms, which are my absolute favorite mushrooms ever. There were plenty of brussel sprouts, all yummy and hard-seared, but I really wished that the mushrooms were more aptly presented and not just tossed in. But then B said something:

"Not everyone likes mushrooms as violently as you do."

Damn, he's right.

I love mushrooms! I love them grilled, and I could just eat nothing but mushrooms of varying kinds for a whole meal. I just wanted a big fukken wedge of mushrooms, just grilled, and on a plate......but not everyone likes mushrooms like that. Some people like them just as an accent piece. Some people don't like them at all, so it actually makes sense for the people of Tannin to make it a more accessible dish for people who don't want their mushrooms loud and proud like I do. I almost felt like the mushrooms were hiding in the sauce/broth/stuff, but it was probably perfect to a person who wasn't a total mycophile.

The rain was coming down really hard by the time we finished up with our entrees, and we, like idiots, didn't bring the umbrella. This was my excuse for ordering coffee and dessert, and boy am I glad I did!

*heavy breathing*

What you see before you is easily the best dessert I've had in a long time. It's French toast, made with challah bread, and served with whipped cream. Dear God, was it delicious. I can't even begin to describe how moist yet crispy, soft yet textured this thing was. I just wanted to shrink myself down and crawl onto the bread and snuggle up into a sleepy, sugar-coated slumber on it, and then eat it. The coffee was good, too, I guess. I got a few neat pictures of it. I was trying to get a solid, clear picture of the milk swirling in the hot coffee, but a lot of my photos ended up a little blurry. Oh well.

When the rain finally let up, we had just finished scraping the dessert off the plate and were able to pay the check. We didn't have to sprint to the car, which is good, because I was really full, but I did not leave wanting to run away from this place. Rather, I would like to run TO this place. It was a great little bar, perfect for unwinding, meeting friends, having a date night.... I cannot think of a single thing wrong with that place. Even if the chicken was a touch dry, I'll be back. I will be back for the sausage, the French toast, the wine list, the atmosphere...I might just go there tonight, just for the heck of it! Big thumbs up for Tannin Wine Bar & Kitchen!  Great job!

Tannin Wine Bar and Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Lidia's Kansas City - Tiny Tables for Two, Big Flavors for All

I had the privilege recently to dine at Lidia's, which is arguably THE nice place to go in town, next to The American. Located in the Midtown/Crossroads area of Kansas City, it's nestled near other great places such as Lulu's Thai Noodle Shop(a new-er kid on the block, in comparison) and Grunauer. This place is a very upscale Italian-style restaurant that does not disappoint. The parking is fairly expansive for the area, and you get a great view of the bridges and the skyscrapers all lit up if you get out of the car just at twilight.

Walking in, the hostess stand is immediately to your right, across from a rack of coats which, I can only assume, belong to the other patrons. To tell you the truth, the idea of checking your coat literally next to the door with no employee directly next to it was a little unnerving, so I opted to keep mine. (Plus I get cold easily.)

We were seated within five minutes of arrival by a gorgeous Black hostess who, I must say, had the most beautiful head of hair I've ever seen. Her perfect red lipstick almost matched the decor. She sat us at a table that was easily the tiniest I've ever seen meant for two people and began to explain the wine choices for the evening. She stopped mid-sentence, though, to ask if we were over 21. I, a healthy 26, and my date, a robust 28, exchanged quizzical looks and promptly laughed as we nodded. "You two do not look over 21!" she exclaimed with a smile.

"Seriously? Look at his beard," I said. B laughed, she laughed, we all laughed.

The bread sticks, foccacia and compound butters and water were quickly brought to the table by our server, who was very well-versed at his job. The butters were vibrant hues of green and purple(one herb and one kalamata olive, if I had to guess) and both were and tasty. The bread wasn't my favorite, to be honest, but the fact that they make it in-house should be commended.

B was feeling a bit adventurous, and I know his appetite is always huge, so we went for a caesar salad and the antipasti plate to start with. The cheeses were served at near-room temperature, for which I was unbelievably thankful. We as Americans know nothing of eating cheese properly! Cheeses should always-always-always be served at room temperature! It's the only way to really appreciate the cheese's flavors and aromas properly. But, anyway, there were olives, salumi, pepperoni...all things that were good. There was this fantastic goat cheese, too, that I just loved. There was even vitello tonnato, an olive oil poached tuna that's left to sort of confit for awhile in that fabulous, flavorful fat. It was a little funky for B, so I happily polished it off. Thumbs up on the antipasti and it is definitely big enough to share! I don't know if B necessarily cared for his caesar, though; he made a comment about how he'd never had a caesar without the 'creamy thick dressing' before; this was more of a transparent-ish-vinaigrette style. It was good, but I can see what he meant. My darling Midwestern man...

See that? That's a big food coma, waiting to happen.
For dinner, he had the osso bucco, which was a dish he'd never had before. The meat was fall-off-the-bone, cut-with-a-fork tender and oh-so-flavorful I wanted to just crawl inside that shank bone and just make a house out of it. Perfectly done, if I do say so myself.

I saw that they had stuffed quail and just couldn't resist. Quail is fantastic little bird and is fucking delicious. I honestly have no idea for the life of me why it's not more of a thing in the US. The very classical Mexican/Spanish dish of Quails with Rose Petal sauce is divine, and you should try it if you ever get the chance. The mushroom-stuffed quail was pretty damn divine, too. The dish is just two perfect little quails, stuffed to the gourds with mushrooms, and served on a bed of roasted butternut squash and winter greens. The mushrooms were roasted well, as was the butternut squash. I loved the braised bed of greens that it was resting on, too. I really am a huge fan of dark, bitter greens, like kale or mustard greens, with game birds. I must say that my desire to be attractive and dainty miraculously kept me from sucking the meat off of those tiny little quail thighs in front of my date, so I made small talk and scraped it all off with a knife and fork like a lady.

It comes with two quails, forever entangled in a tango of flavor...
We were too full for dessert. I'm afraid we'll have to go back for it.

The service at Lidia's was excellent. We never saw the bottoms of our water glasses once; not even close. In fact, there was a point where I would take about three sips and a bus boy would come running with a pitcher of ice water. Our server was also cordial, professional, fastidiously groomed, and very knowledgeable about the menu.

The decor and atmosphere was great. Above us were these fantastic chandaliers of blown glass orbs all woven into, what appeared to be, some kind of industrial chicken wire.The lighting was warm and the colors were welcoming and friendly without being kitsch. In fact, it was very upscale, in my opinion. My only grievance was that the tables were tiny. Like, oh my god, so tiny.

Lidia's Kansas City on Urbanspoon
I understand that you need small tables to fit X amount into a restaurant, but B and I are long, leggy people that were a bit awkwardly cramped while people of a much more rotund nature walked by through the narrow aisles between the other tiny tables. Also, I felt a little low to the ground...but maybe that was because I'm so tall.

All in all, I give Lidia's Kansas City a thumbs up. Great service, expertly prepared food from a chef who clearly knows what he's doing, and a well-versed staff all make for a great meal. The Chef has been there for many years, now, and has clearly gotten his game down pat. I highly recommend Lidia's for a date night. It's romantic, intimate...and the food is to die for. But maybe skip the appetizers and save room for dessert, which is what I plan to do next time.

Sunday, October 5, 2014


Cannoli are Italian pastry desserts. The singular is cannolo (or in the Sicilian language cannolu, plural cannola), meaning "little tube", with the etymology stemming from the Latin "canna", or reed. Cannoli originated in Sicily and are a staple of Sicilian cuisine.[1] They are also popular in Italian American cuisine. In Italy, they are commonly known as "cannoli siciliani", Sicilian cannoli. [wikipedia]

I would be lying if I said that I loved cannolis. Mostly because I'd never really had them until recently. A coworker of mine was getting married, and we - of course - hosted their wedding party rehearsal dinner. I didn't make their wedding cake because their mother wanted to, but I did get to fill up their tasty request for dessert on the night of their shower: cannoli. And by fill, I just mean piped filling into little premade shells.


Hey, slow down, homie. There's something to be said for convenience, and it costs exponentially less to buy these little shells versus taking the time to make them, including special equipment. If you want to make them yourselves, by all means: here's a link to do so, courtesy of Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli. But I didn't, because I had never eaten one before and had never made them before. I didn't want to screw it up. Again, not a classically trained pastry chef over here. Just a savory-learned girl with a knack for sugar.
OMG "Crispeamy" isn't a word, Mom...

Anyway, the filling is traditionally a ricotta/marscarpone mousse-like kind of tastiness with a hint of anise/allspice going on, as well as folded-in chocolate chips. I ate one of them when I filled them up, and it was nice. It kind of reminded me of an Italian version of a French eclair. Nice! So they were easy to do. But I only filled about 30 of them at a time, since I didn't know how long the party was going to go on and I knew a cardinal rule of the cannoli: fill to order, if you can at all help it. Pastries like these are wonderful, but only if you have that fabulous contrast of texture: crisp and creamy. Crispeamy.

Fast-forward to present day, I looked in the freezer and realized: "Oh, dear! I've bought far too many cannoli shells! They're just sitting there! Not being eaten!"

Well, we can't let food go to waste, can we? There are children starving in Africa. Totally insulting to waste food. And I can't send cannoli shells to Africa. (Or maybe I can? I haven't looked into it.) So I made my own version of the cannoli filling and sold it as a dessert special that night. It usually calls for ricotta, but I prefer marscarpone's mild flavor and creamy texture. It turned out great. Here's how you can make it at home!


  • Cannoli shells A/N
  • 8 oz marscarpone 
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 c powdered sugar/confectioner's sugar
  • 1 pt heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Heavy pinch of kosher salt
  • Semisweet chocolate chips A/N(I used about 3/4 of a cup, but you can do whatever)
  • **Chopped toasted nuts, such as pistachio or hazelnut
Start with your marscarpone, which is chilled. You can either put it in the bowl of a standing mixer(which I did not) or just mix it by hand with a wooden/exoglass spoon(which I did). Mix with the vanilla, egg yolk(don't freak out, this is safe, it's pasteurized, and you're using sugar), half the sugar, and salt. Just stir to combine. Whip the remaining sugar with the cream using a standing mixer or just by hand with a whisk. All up to you. 

Fold this mixture together in thirds. As in, take a third of the whipped cream and stir it into the marscarpone mixture to lighten it up, then the other third gently, and the last third gently. Folding is an easy pastry technique, but words are hard so here's a picture:

And here's the link to the tutorial in case that's too vague: Joy of Cooking.

Once your mousse is all folded together, you can fold in your chocolate chips, and toasted nuts(if you want). I left the nuts out because of nut allergy possibilities, but you can add whatever you like. Pipe the filling in using a pastry bag with a plain tip...or just a plastic/disposable pastry bag with the end snipped off...or just a plastic bag with the corner cut off. Do whatever. Fancy pastries don't have to have fancy equipment all the time. I also garnished with a fresh fruit salad of berries and orange supremes, and powdered sugar. You can top with whatever you want, if you want to top it with anything. I think these guys are pretty fun just plain on their own, but, again, it's your cannoli. Just don't fill it until you know they're going to be eaten. It takes about 10-15 minutes for these little dudes to go completely soggy and gross(factoring in a high humidity in my area), so fill to order if you can at all help it. 

Happy filling and happy eating, guys!

Also, I now have an Official Fan Page for my blog at Facebook.com/WannaBGourmande, so please visit and "Like" and share it! Thanks so much for your support. It really does mean a lot!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Success Baby(Tiramisu)

Last night, one of the servers came back to tell me that she had just finished up with a 95 year old who was celebrating her birthday. Apparently, she had traveled all over and regarded herself an expert on tiramisu from all over the world.

And after eating mine, she said it topped them all. Manager overheard and gave me a high five.

I love my job. Recipe to come if anyone is interested! Or just tell me in the comments what you want to see next.

posted from Bloggeroid

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Pound cake French Toast

Leftover pound cake?

Soak 2 slices in 1 cup milk, 1 large egg, 1/2 tsp almond extract and 3 Tbsp sugar for 10 minutes to create the best French Toast ever.

Fry in butter. Slather with syrup or jam.

posted from Bloggeroid

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Healthy Desserts: A Tribute to Avocados

noun: dessert; plural noun: desserts
  1. the sweet course eaten at the end of a meal.
    "a dessert of chocolate mousse"
I always liked to think of a meal as a sort of literary device. Perhaps a paragraph, or a short story, or even a sentence. Just a single sentence. The more the courses, the longer your written piece.
Say you were hosting a dinner party with friends. Your party would have canapes or passed hors d'oeuvres, maybe cocktails to start. Then a salad or a soup. Then the entree. Then the dessert. The 1st course would be your thesis statement, be that your first bite of a pickled quail's egg on a canape, or a salad of tomatoes and frisee. It would be the start, the indicator of where your diners(readers) would be taken on their journey. Your entree would be your body, the main paragraph or paragraphs of your short story. Your curry or pan-seared duck or roast beef would be your whole story. The dessert, no matter what it is, is your closing statement. Your question mark. Your exclamation point. I don't always think it's proper to end a sentence with an exclamation point--I honestly think it's a bit like laughing at your own joke--but it can be appropriate to do so.  
This cake from Succotash was NOT an afterthought.
So often, dessert is an afterthought. There are far too many restaurants, in my humble opinion, that take dessert seriously. Don't get me wrong, it is of the utmost importance that your entrees and salads are tip-top, but dessert is so often shoved to the side. You'll see restaurants shove desserts over to the pantry cook or the sous chef, or (worse) over to Sysco or US Foods to send them cheesecakes or overly sugary and fatty chocolate layer cakes. I don't see too much wrong with it. Just like I don't see too much wrong with teaching a donkey to wear a top hat; there's just not much of a point to it.
I actively participate in a Twitter livechat called #Foodiechats, where food lovers can unite and talk about food, what they do with it, and what they like or dislike about it. It happens every Monday night at 8pm EST. I sometimes am not so active with my tweeting, but that's usually because I have work. If Monday nights are slow, however, I get to go home and tweet to my heart's content. The topic of Healthy Desserts came up, somehow, and thus it became the subject of my blog, today.
Healthy desserts? Oxymoron, don't you think?
I see nothing wrong with making adjustments to your dessert lifestyle by substituting coconut oil for butter(when appropriate), but I don't think that a cake is where you should get your daily fiber intake. So let me just tell you right now that this is not a blog for someone wanting to lose weight. Don't cut desserts. Cut cheetoes or crappy TV dinners or fast food out of your diet before you cut out a well-made chocolate cake. Eat anything you want, just make it yourself.
Let me repeat that: Eat anything you want. Just make it yourself. People cook differently from the way that companies do.
This flourless chocolate cake, for example: ENTIRELY GLUTEN-FREE
Also, you're probably not gluten-intolerant. There's most-likely no such thing. You either have Celiac's disease, or you don't. The whole Gluten-free thing is more of a fad than anything. You have Celiac's, Gluten ataxia...but you're not gluten-intolerant. It's been debunked by the scientists that discovered it, pretty darn recently. And you shouldn't go gluten-free without talking to your doctor. Actually, you shouldn't try any real diet without talking to your doctor. But you don't have to be on a diet to enjoy gluten-free desserts that were gluten-free before it was cool, or be vegan to enjoy vegan desserts. You'd be shocked as to how many desserts were gluten-free already. And let's not forget that gluten-free doesn't even have to mean healthy. Chocolate is gluten-free. Butter is gluten-free. Pesticides are gluten-free. So is cyanide, arsenic, and anti-freeze. All gluten-free! I realize that cyanide isn't necessarily meant for human ingestion, but you get my point, don't you? Fad diets are dangerous. Unless you're the one profiting off of all of the latest labels. In which case, good on ya, you slimeball.
Anyway, healthy desserts, in the mind of this humble Pastry Chef, are simply things that are still that fabulous indulgence, still that wonderful "ahh" at the end of the meal, but not loaded with bacon or chocolate or topped with obscene amounts of whipped cream and caramel sauce. Honestly, the Pastry Chefs get shafted a lot because of how good the meals are when the Head Chefs do their jobs: because if you're so satisfied with your excellently prepared meal, why would you want something else afterwards? You're stuffed! You're "Oh my God so full" right now. Why would you want to eat more?
Trust me. You do. Especially if the restaurant you're dining at has an in-House Pastry Chef, you do. So give the poor guy/gal a break and order that cake. Or not. Since cakes aren't often gluten-free.
This Fabulously French blog has a vegan chocolate mousse made with avocado instead of eggs. And here's another great recipe, which I snagged from Tumblr:
Head to Tumblr.com for more great recipes and food porn!
Chocolate Avocado Mousse with Blackberries and Pistachios
This recipe can easily be doubled to serve more people. The mousse thickens as it refrigerates.
serves 2 to 4
  • 2 very ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
  • 1/3 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate, melted (60% cacao)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup or other sweetener
  • 3 tablespoons almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • fresh blackberries, for garnish
  • chopped pistachios, for garnish
In a food processor, add the avocados, melted chocolate, cocoa powder, honey, almond milk, vanilla, and salt. Process until smooth and creamy. Taste for sweetness and add more honey if necessary. Spoon the mousse into ramekins. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. The mousse will become thicker as it refrigerates. Garnish with blackberries and pistachios and serve.
Want something more than chocolate mousse? Oh, fine, you greedy pig. Try this recipe for Avocado Ice Cream, instead, courtsey of Alton Brown.
Avocado Ice Cream
  • 12 oz avocado meat(2 or 3, once pitted)
  • 1 Tbsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice(1 large lemon should do)
  • **Zest of said lemon(this is my own personal touch to it)
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk(not skim, not 2%, whole milk, if you please)
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar(but I have tried this with raw sugar, and it turns out pretty great)
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Pop the first five ingredients into a blender and puree until smooth. If you desire, you can add a few cilantro leaves and get funky with it at this point(it adds fiber, a green color, and it just reminds me of my Southwestern roots), as well as a few grinds of black pepper. Transfer this to another vessel(a glass bowl, large-ish tupperware container, whatever) and whisk in the heavy cream until fully incorporated.

Like all ice cream mixtures, this must chill for a decent amount of time. Hot mixtures into an ice cream maker? Not a good idea. Let it chill for at least a couple of hours, or all day if you can, before processing in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. The avocado as an egg substitute sets up fairly quickly, though, so be prepared to let it process for a mere 5 to 10 minutes before ingesting. For a softer texture, go ahead and eat immediately, or scoop into a freezer-friendly container and let it harden for another couple of hours.

The texture is silky-smooth and tastes just like avocados, which is(freakishly) a good thing. But if you don't want a straight-up avocado dessert, use it as a component instead. Things like this were discovered in Culinary School for me when I studied Chef David Chang.

Wait, you say. Avocado as a component in dessert? Yes! Chef David Chang did it, with his Cereal Milk Custard dish,
which is a fabulous panna cotta made from the strained milk used for cereal. This is an idea which is fucking genius, by the way. I mean, seriously--the best part about cereal is the yummy milk you get afterwards! And this motherfucker made it into a dessert? Someone give him a Nobel Prize. Or just tweet at him to tell him how great of an idea it was. And tell him I sent ya.

This was a life-changing dessert, even if it was just done by me in culinary school.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, Panna Cotta is gluten-free too. So start googling, guys. Maybe if my boss lets me, I'll give you my panna cotta recipe to try at home! But not for awhile. That Pistachio Panna Cotta of mine is what got me my job and this baby is staying secret for a good long while.

In the meantime, however, please enjoy the recipes. Happy cooking, and happy avocado-eating!

Oh, and follow me on Twitter @WannaBGourmande for more updates, and to ask me questions about desserts. Happy eating!


Monday, April 28, 2014

Pro-cooking and Potbellies

This blog is going to be a bit different from my other posts, and yet will not be.

You guys know how much I love food, right? Of course you do! You follow me on Twitter, you see my Tumblr posts, and all of these ones here. But America's gone into kind of a weird place with body image and body positivity and fat-shaming and fat-cceptance, and the internet has come into an even weirder place with it.

Since my transition from savory to pastry chef, I've gained about 10 lbs in about 8 months. Apparently, that's great. The odd thing was that my clothes, which are often quite body-conscious, feel terribly different, nor did I feel any different. The only difference is that I can lift heavy objects(i.e. 50lb bags of sugar) with ease, now, and I can balance screaming-hot sheet trays with one hand and my weak little wrist with considerably less discomfort. But I stepped on the bathroom scale in my friend's apartment and saw it:

162 lbs.

I had always teetered between 145 and 155. When I started my pastry chef job, I was around 150-153 lbs. But 162? I had never seen a number that had introduced so many confusing feelings all at once.

A knock came on the bathroom door.

"You okay in there?"

"Yeah, sorry. Just washing my hands." I hadn't realized that I had been in there for a long enough time to be concerned. I went home that night and looked at myself in the mirror, naked.

Okay, so I was a little softer, kinda flabbier...but wow, was it fun to touch. I was so soft and pliable, and I could roll it in my hands. I took the sharpie from my chef bag and drew eyes above my navel, and breathed in and out, pretending it was talking to me. I looked at my thighs, my butt--I actually had one, now! I never had a butt! It always looked like a frog stood up straight and put on a pair of skinny jeans. And my thighs were rounder, sure, but when I flexed, I noticed how much of it was just...muscle. I was muscular. My  belly wasn't, necessarily, but my arms and legs were much stronger. It then occurred to me that muscle weighs more than fat.

This complete breakfast has been brought to you by Room 39
I've struggled with loving and loathing my body throughout  my life. I used to be a lithe twenty-something that never crossed over the 140 mark on the scale, and if I did, I'd starve myself for a week. I always looked so great in a bikini, and my legs were always long and perfect, and my belly often quite flat. Not toned, necessarily, just flat. My arms were slender, delicate--never strong. I stood in my tiny bathroom, looking in my tiny bathroom mirror, flexing my now-muscular arms. I was impressed. Turns out, a diet of eggs and cheese and whatnot really did turn out to be great for building muscle!

Oh, sure, there was a layer of subcutaneous fat under my skin, but the point is I'd never really ever had any kind of muscle before. When I practiced martial arts, I could never bulk up. I used my speed to take down opponents, and now I can use my strength, too. I'm strong. I liked my new body so much I had completely forgotten about the dreaded number, 162.

And then I stepped on the scale again.

Still 162.

I started jogging in the morning with my dog, instead of walking. My dog was being dragged, basically, and it made me realize that my dog was out of shape, too. I figured then that it's good to do cardio...and if we ever need to outrun a zombie, we're maybe going to be picked off, first, unless we can improve.

I realized, throughout the week, that I wasn't really wanting to lose weight. I just wanted to be able to outrun zombies without dropping a lung. And I didn't want to look better in a dress, because I decided that my broad shoulders are more meant for punching out my enemies versus looking good in a tank top. I don't want to be a supermodel anymore. I want to be a superhero. And that was a pretty weird concept for me. For the first time in my life, I cared about and respected my body because it's not meant to look good. It's meant to move, and lift, and cook the ever-living-shit out of a pie crust or a panna cotta. My arms are meant to carry sheet trays of cookies, and legs are meant to help me lift three or four fifty-pound bags of flour and sugar on a daily basis.
Lifting a case of these is kind of like weight training!

I jog in the mornings with my dog, now, and I do yoga when I can, but I don't watch what I eat. Know why? I don't eat fast food, ever. And I always eat at work. It's not always pastries, sometimes it's some nice fresh pizza, or a salad that I can throw together quickly from the pantry station. I taste as I go, but I noticed that I just lightly snack throughout the day, and seldom eat actual meals, until it's after I've gotten home. And whenever I do eat, it's almost always something I cook. I know I eat well because quality is so much important than quantity. I never eat a lot all at once, mostly because good food will satisfy after only a few bites.

I was at the ACF meeting last month and a very esteemed French Chef I was acquainted with had a nice conversation that was all about how Americans didn't know how to eat. See, I agree with him. Your average American diner doesn't care about quality, not really--they care about convenience more often than not. It's definitely great that we have more and more awareness of Monsanto and GMOs and whatnot, but we--as a culture--really don't care as much as we should.

We're also ridiculously fat. Like. Oh my God. So fat.

And while I think accepting 'fat' as a valid body type without shaming them is all great, we still have to look at the greater issues here. We are destroying our bodies. I don't mind being a little soft and squishy. It's actually really nice to not have that feeling of pressure; I just decided I'd rather have my body be useful rather than pretty. I think obesity is a huge issue(no pun intended, I swear) not because we are 'ugly' as a society, but because we are killing ourselves, and nobody cares.

Okay, so, maybe eating caramel corn isn't the healthiest thing...but it's homemade, man!
I think, as Chefs, we accept that everyone's body is not as simple as "food goes in, energy comes out, you eat too much, you get fat," because it's really not. To tell you the truth, a lot of it is genetics. Sure, if you eat a ton of processed junk and you do it every day with no exercise, don't be shocked that you got fat. I know exactly what I put into my  body  because I eat what I want, and I make it myself. But if you just eat like a normal, healthy human being, and you're gaining/losing significant amounts weight, you should see a doctor.

And please, for the love of all that is holy, don't start a new fad diet because it's trendy. Not only will the people in the restaurants you frequent probably roll their eyes a little at you for taking us through every single stitch of how many calories are in a spoonful of peanut butter, but fad diets don't work. Sure, they'll help you look good for swimsuit season, but you'll probably gain all of that weight back within the next year or so. Don't look to your local Barnes & Noble for your latest. See your Doctor. That is literally what she's for--answering your questions about your body.

Too long, didn't read? You only get one body. Just take care of it. I like my pot belly. I like the body that cooking and food gave me. I accept that if I never exercise, I'll get fat. I can probably do things to improve my diet and body and lose a bunch of weight, but I choose to be passive about it because it's no longer on my priority list to be a supermodel.

Like I said, I don't want to be built like a supermodel. I'd rather be strong than skin and bones.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Main Street Coffeehouse

Choco-vanilla soy mocha
For those of you who know me, know that I love coffee. This shouldn't come as a surprise, since (I think I can say with utter confidence) nearly every Chef on the planet has some kind of vice. Mine happens to be caffeine. This can come in the form of coffee, coca cola, and/or chocolate. Has it got caffeine? Give it to me. Ideally, in an IV that I can just wheel around the kitchen while I'm peeling peaches or kneading bread dough. I get major headaches if I don't get my caffeine, right behind my eye, so when my BFF JJ asked me to come down to the Main Street Coffee House, the coffee shop she's been working at and check it out, I was totally down.

JJ and I have been friends since the very beginning of Culinary school. She was, in fact, one of the very first friends I acquired three years ago when I first moved to Kansas City. We're tight. Plus, she's having a baby right now, so I have got to cram in all the time I can with her before the little one comes along.Not that we won't be tight after the baby, mind you...but I'm not the most maternal woman on the planet. I mean, no offense to babies, but it's awkward when we lock eye contact.

Main Street Coffee House on Urbanspoon Anyway, JJ is having a little girl come this spring, and she and I are getting our friendship on before her little bundle of joy comes. JJ has been a barista for over ten years now, so if she's making coffee, then I can say for certain that it is going to be good. She knows how to run every machine under the sun, perfectly tamp that tamper-thingy, and make the shot of espresso with that elusive crema on top that says: "Hey, you did this right." This woman knows coffee like the back of her hand, and she, like a well-trained sommelier, can tell you every note of every flavor in every kind of roast she might taste. She also has a hyper-developed sense of smell since her pregnancy, kind of like the little rat from Ratatouille, and it's the best she can do since no caffeine can come in contact with her for awhile.
It's an espresso. I don't have a giant hand.

Walking into the cafe, which(if you couldn't tell by the title of this blog) is called Main Street Coffeehouse, you get that immediate warmth that all coffeehouses should have. Nice red walls, a decently-sized wooden stage for performances, a big blackboard with a menu written out in colorful chalk...you know, the kind of coffeehouses you see in movies. It also has these really cool black wrought iron(or at least it looks like) chandeliers that give this oddly-cool Spanish feel.

It also has a REALLY cool area out back to sit in!

It was slow-ish when I came in, so JJ put me in an apron and took me behind the counter to show me how the machines worked, little tricks and tips about espressos and the new coffees from the Roastarie that they'd received. For those of you whom are unaware, The Roastarie is this big, wonderful local coffee roasting company that serves for Kansas City. Generally speaking, if you have a signature coffee blend from the Roastarie, you've gotten an immediate thumbs up from the KC public. Here in Kansas City, we fancy ourselves localvores, and a signature blend is a good thing.

She made me several things, such as mochas, lattees, drip coffees and French pressed coffees...all from varying roasts. To be honest, they were well-executed, but the roasts themselves were decent-to-fair at best. They were honestly just a little too acidic for my tastes, and one of them kind of reminded me of that weird, soapy mouth-feel you get when you drink water from a glass that your dishwasher didn't rinse properly. I truthfully didn't care for the coffees themselves, but the coffee drinks were pretty darn good. The lattes had a firm foam, the mochas and signature drinks were not only well-executed but had a really good balance of heat, body, acid, and sweetness...so I was happy. And then came the food.

Room 39 on Urbanspoon
Room 39 is gooood!
Many coffeeshops shouldn't be thought of as restaurants, and we should all just accept that. A coffee house should serve coffee and pastries, and just concentrate on that. Heck, I'm at Room 39 right now, and that's a cafe/restaurant that just happens to serve coffee and pastries, but they're still awesome and accomodating enough to let me type away at the end of the counter like a madwoman, using up their WiFi like any other coffeeshop would do. (Seriously, though, they're really cool there and I highly recommend them. All of the food that's gone out of the kitchen looks consistent and they make a pretty darn good soy mocha. Plus they let me plug in my laptop into the outlet behind the counter so that's a big thumbs up. Check them out if you're ever in the Westport area.) But Main Street Coffee House is just that: a coffeehouse. They make all of their pastries in an offsite location(technically, that may not be 'in-house', though it is claimed to be), and all from the same woman who makes pastries locally for the area. Here's where I'm going to get annoying and entitled and technical. Strap in.

Roast beef bagel sandwich
I was honestly starving when I got one of their bagel sandwiches(roast beef and horseradish), so it tasted amazing on the first bite. When hunger wore off, I began to see a few technical flaws. First off, it was just straight, raw horseradish spread on the bagel, so that was overwhelming to start with. The onions were unevenly cut white onions(whereas red would have been better), and the lettuce I got was pretty, but the storage of the lettuce and the quality I had seen of it was kind of sketchy, in my book. Granted, it was a teeny-tiny fridge under the counter, and I know it was probably just the best they could come up with, but I think one should strive for perfection if you're going to serve food.

The bagels were decently well-made, and consistent. The pastries were pretty-darn poorly displayed and tucked away behind a too-tall magazine, though, and mislabeled. I was able to sit down with one of the managers and asked about why they had labeled a muffin as a cupcake, and why--in Gods' name--was there misshapen pipette of frosting on a  pumpkin muffin with a random Brach's pumpkin candy on top. He had said that it was a combination of the pastry person's doing, and that people like cupcakes. Here's the thing, though:

A cupcake and a muffin are two entirely different things. A muffin is a quickbread. A cupcake is a cake. A freaking cake. HUGE difference! They're not only made differently, but the ratios of ingredients are totally not interchangeable. This is a huge annoyance with me, especially after spending so much time learning the differences while in school. One could argue: "Hey, the general public doesn't care." Well, they should care. They should care what they're putting into their body, and they should have the right to know that what they're eating isn't a cupcake, but a muffin with frosting(ugh) on top. It's a muffin, guys. Put some struesel on it and call it good.
Cafe! Ole! (Haha, no seriously, though, it's au lait.)

The cafe au laits(a coffee-free steamed milk drink) were super-tasty, and JJ (along with the other staff) like to make signature flavors. The one she had come up with on that particular day was called a Hayride. It was a pumpkin caramel-y cider-y tasty thing that was so good I asked for another one to go.

The menu on coffee was well-rounded, and had a really large variety of cleanly-presented flavors and syrups to choose from. The food menu was kind of jumbled together with a few mistakes that only working culinary professionals might notice, but I don't think that your average joe would really care about the menu size or weirdly inconsistent menu names. In the midst of the bagel sandwiches called "roast beef" and "hummus and cucumber" was randomly "the Da Vinci Code", and under the sandwich menu was a whole section of varying peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. One was called "The Elvis" which featured "peanut butter, banana, fluff(marshmallow?), bacon, and no jelly, and the Nutty Nutella was just peanut butter, peanuts, and Nutella, no jelly. It's really anal and kind of annoying, I realize, but why advertise a section of signature PB&Js if they're not going to have jelly on them?

Menu was okay, but could have been cleaner...
I couldn't speak for the customer service without being biased on that day, since I've known the acting barista for over three years now and she's one of my best friends. The other barista on duty(who, apparently, was a manager there, too) seemed like a nice enough guy, but I overheard a few things he was saying to the customers that honestly just sounded like he was pulling random answers out of his ass. There's no shame in saying 'I'm not sure, let me check,' and I just don't know if he seemed like 'manager material,' to me. I had since been back a few times to just kind of check in without JJ knowing, and the other employees were pretty nice, as people go, but as baristas? I could take them or leave them. Not horrible, not exceptional...normal, I guess.

All in all, the Main Street Coffee House rates as "Not bad at all." I wouldn't go out of my way for it, but I certainly wouldn't call it anything dreadfully special. I give it a 7 out of 10. It marks fairly high on decor, pretty darn well on coffee drinks, medium-ish marks on coffee choices itself, and not-so-hot on food and pastries...mediocre, I would say. So just go for the coffee. The espresso is good, the mixed drinks are good, and all the menu really needs are a few tweaks here and there to turn mediocrity into something better: good food. There's nothing stopping this place from becoming something amazing. Change the menu, tighten some things up, get a better roast blend...little things.

Will I go again? Sure, to see JJ and maybe pick up another mocha. But I won't be back for any food.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Pancho's Villa(dos)

I would have written "part deux," but we're a Mexican/Latino restaurant. It wouldn't have been right.

Anyway, things at work are going well. We're slowly expanding, but still not nearly enough people know about us. Today was Super Bowl Sunday and I knew we were going to be slower than usual - just like most of Parkville seemed to be - so not only did we clean-clean-clean...but I had some fun with our FOH manager taking fun pictures of our delicious food, and I even got to have some fun along the way with it. Here we go!

Enchalupa. Nomz,
This little item was my lunch today. For those of you following me on Tumblr have seen this before, I made it again - and it was DELICIOUS!

Sadly, this isn't on the menu(yet), as I've only recently invented it...but I hope to make it a lunch special sometime in the near future. It's something I call an "enchalupa." It's a flour tortilla deep-fried with the chalupa 'mold' so it forms a cruncy-fried bowl. Layer a touch of our queso dip, chicken, tomatoes, onion and enchilada sauce. Top with shredded cheese and pop it under the salamander til everything is melty and delicious. I like it with sour cream and cilantro on top. Serve this with beans and rice, and BAM! Instant lunch for the Chef.

Isa's pork taco lunch
This next item is the pork tacos. We have three types of meat at all times at the restaurant, which are chicken, pork and beef. They come in the form of chili colorado(red chili, beef), chile verde(green chile, pork) and our boiled chicken in broth.

The favorite of the FOH staff seems to be the pork, or chile verde. Our two FOH managers both absolutely love pork tacos, and usually put that in as their lunch orders. Isa was nice enough to let me take a picture or two of her pork tacos right after I made them for her lunch. She's very nice to me.

Sopapilla con hiel

This is a sopapilla. It's a beautiful dessert of deep-fried tortilla strips tossed in cinnamon, sugar and nutmeg, and served with ice cream. Being a Kansas City restaurant, of course we support Belfonte, which is a local company that makes premium dairy products for the public. I absolutely love their vanilla ice cream, which is both rich and light, while being super indulgent. Top it all off with honey, and you have our favorite dessert at Pancho's Villa. Also, here are a couple of pictures I took this morning of downtown Parkville. Enjoy!

100 S Main Street - that's us!

Sitting on a bench, looking out!

From the porch

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Project: PORK

This is just a copy-paste from a school project. But Marie(my beautiful and fabulous editor at StyleCoven.com said she wanted to eat it. Also, I got an 89 on it at school. It's technically an Asian F, but to white people it may as well be an A. At least that's what my Dad said... (Fellow Twinkies know what I'm talking about.)

Here we go!

stolen from FoodTease
Pork is a glorious and wonderful meat that comes from a magical animal known as the pig. It may not be a magical animal to some – in fact, it has gotten a reputation of being a filthy creature and even forbidden to eat in certain religions – but, as Jim Gaffigan once said, “It eats an apple and makes bacon, and that’s magical.” I’m pretty sure that bacon is the most-beautiful thing on earth, but we aren’t here to talk about just bacon. We are here to talk about pork and all the great things you can do with it.
Pork, unlike beef, is not broken down into “sides” when being butchered, but is usually just broken down into their primal cuts, which are:
  • ·         Jowl
  • ·         Boston butt
  • ·         Picnic shoulder
  • ·         Belly
  • ·         Side
  • ·         Loin
  • ·         Pork leg(Ham/Hindquarters)
  • ·         Hock
The pork primals are broken down into smaller cuts, called sub-primals, which are the portions that we cook off for service, for our families, et cetera. The beauty of pork is that it is truly one of the most-versatile meats on the market today. From the fatty belly to the lean pork butt(or shoulder), we can do just about anything with it.
Starting with the jowls of the pork primal, I’m reminded of the head cheese we are making in Garde Manger class. However, I know most of the jowl from my mother, an immigrant from the Philippines. The jowl is one of those ‘waste’ parts that we often forget about, since it’s right on the face of the pig. It’s commonly used in most ethnic recipes, and it is rich and dense with plentiful amounts of fat.  It makes a beautiful Head cheese, but is most-often found smoked in todays’ markets. If one were to go to the Philippines, however, you would find it cured in the form of Guanciale, a Filipino pork jowl bacon. Mom always used hers in sour stews or pastas, tossed without any cream.
Next we move onto the Boston butt, or the top shoulder. If we think about the tops of our own shoulder, we imagine a tight area where we often carry a lot of tension. Thusly, it’s a long-fibered piece of meat with little fat in it. Larding could be used to introduce some fat to the party, but Boston Butt is a favorite of many Kansas City BBQ-ers, as it is amazing when smoked over low temperatures for a very long time. Pulled pork is stringy, but when cooked slowly it’s really a beautiful dish and beautiful addition to a sandwich, salad, you-name-it.
The picnic shoulder is just below the Boston butt, and is another leaner part of the animal. It is a fairly inexpensive piece of meat and does very well for stewing or sautéing. I personally like it slow-cooked with some ginger, vinegar, bay leaf and garlic overnight, and then pulled, stuffed into a lumpia wrapper and deep-fried.
The pork belly contains the ribs as well as the belly part, which we use to cure and make bacon. There is a beautiful recipe for pork belly courtesy of the British Isles in International Cuisine, in which it is simply slow-roasted over a period of three hours, letting the fat render and the meat become caramelized. Ribs are best marinated to absorb in flavor and smoked slowly.
FilipinoFoodLovers.com is awesome too
The loin of the pork carcass is quite-easily the winner of the People’s Choice award. Not only does it contain the chops, but it contains the ever-lovely tenderloin, a long “rope” of meat that is oh-so-tender. Most prefer a light sear on tenderloins to make steaks out of, since it is such a tender morsel of meat. Many cooking methods can apply to this one, but grilling and searing seem to be a favorite, which goes for the pork chops as well. This is a part of the pig, however, that can go from juicy to bone-dry in a matter of seconds, so it’s very important that it isn’t overcooked. As far as the chops go, think of them as your pork ‘steaks’, so grill or sear accordingly.
In the pork leg we have many leg cuts, as well as the ham – which is most-famous for curing and honey-roasting(thank you, Honey roasted ham store) – and the pork leg itself is an interesting piece of meat. With the leg you have a log of nice lean muscle going on, so that means it can be tough – which means long cooking methods like slow-roasting on low temperatures or braising, which seems best to help break down the long fibers of muscle and make it nice and tender. Slow-cooked meat from the leg can even be set in a crock pot with some barbecue sauce and a little white wine and a chopped shallot for seven or eight hours and make some delicious BBQ tacos when you get home from work.
No real point. I just wanted to put up a picture of Miss Piggy...
Hocks are parts of the pig that, in theory, could be considered a waste part. It’s basically the little last bits of the leg on the pork primal, and they are a touch tricky. However, if we were to go back to a fundamentals point of view and look at another animal with a similar piece of meat – say, oxtail or something – we just have to think about slow stewing and braising, like a pork osso bucco. There is in fact a wonderful German recipe for pork hocks and sauerkraut, which is simply slowly simmering the pork hocks over a period of two hours, draining most of the water and adding kraut and some caraway seed for another quick half-hour cook. It seems overly simple, but it’s really a great way to utilize the pork hock.
Truth be told, the pig is a versatile animal that can be used for almost anything. I have, of course, a few personal favorites on how the meat is cooked, and I will probably never stop loving it. On an ending note, here’s the recipe for the Pork Chops & Fried Rice that my dad and I would make.

Dad’s Pork Chops n’ Fried Rice
·         4 pork chops, marinated in:
  • o   ½ cup soy sauce
  • o   1 green onion, chopped
  • o   1 splash vinegar, preferably white
  • o   1 tsp butter
  • ·         2-3 Tbsp olive oil
For the fried rice
  • ·         3 cups cooked rice
  • ·         Enough soy sauce to color it light brown, usually 5 or 6 big splashes of it
  • ·         1 egg, scrambled in the pan
  • ·         2 green onion, chopped
  • ·         Salt and pepper to taste
  • ·         1 small lime, quartered
Grill the pork chops over charcoals, using the marinade as the basting liquid. When off the grill, dot each pork chop with ¼ tsp of butter and allow to melt. For the fried rice, simply add enough oil to the pan so the rice won’t stick, and pan-fry while tossing with the soy sauce and green onion.
For the egg, beat with a drop of water and a splash of milk, and season lightly. Then push all of the rice over to one side and tilt the pan to create a separate egg cooking section. Scramble the egg lightly and set the pan down straight to combine with the rice. Toss gently and squeeze lime juice over the top to give it one last little kick.

Knowing how to cook pork isn’t so much about knowing the animal itself, but learning to slowly master the techniques needed. Everything is technique, really, and anyone can learn it with some practice. All in all, pork is delicious and I don’t think anybody will stop eating it any time soon.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Back Home...To Bumsted's!

For all of my not-so-avid readers that do not know, I am a Tucson native. Born-and-raised in the Arizona sun, this Prickly Pear Blossom is sweet and spiky for a good bit of local food(I'm not counting the four years I lived in Lake Arrowhead, CA when I was like two). Like my parents, I'm a big supporter of the Green Movement(would it be Beige Movement in Tucson?), so I'm all about shopping locally. I like supporting local businesses and Tucson Originals, otherwise known as independently owned and operated by Tucson locals - and you can check out their website here.

So I only had five days in Tucson, and what time wasn't spent with my family and boyfriend running around like crazy chickens with our heads cut off. We did everything from shopping at Silver Sea Jewelry on 4th Ave(which is a really neat shop to check out on Facebook) to the Sonoran Desert Museum way the heck out there on the east side. But this is a blog about Bumstead's, which is not a Tucson Original, but is tasty nonetheless.

My loving boyfriend A. and I met my old high school chum Jessica at Bison Witches, which is another neat place to eat at on 4th Ave, but was unfortunately packed to the brims because it was a Saturday. Fortunately, Bumsted's was right down the street, and I'd never eaten there before - so off we went.

Bumsted's on UrbanspoonThe first thing I was semi-surprised about was how spacious it was. I mean, seriously, it went really far back. It had a combination feel of an old diner with a dive bar, only huge. It was rather dark on the inside, or maybe it seemed that way since I was being blinded by the bright sun, but there were some very comfy seats by the windows off to the right. In the middle is a rather large fish tank with a "Nemo" fish and a "Dory" fish, as Jessica described it. There were other fish in the tank as well as some coral, and it looked a bit murky to be honest, but it was still very neat to look at.

There wasn't any uniform that our server was wearing, who was a big, thick red-head with a beard, but he was very friendly and informative. My only real complaint about him is that his visits with us were few and far between, but that's the kind of vibe that 4th Ave sometimes gives. Maybe it's just me trying to defend a Tucson local legend, but I understand the service industry and I know that when it's a slow day, you sometimes can relax and chat with other customers, chat with the line cooks, etc. I generally give people the benefit of the doubt, and when someone's friendly, they get a good tip. Also, he recommended some really good ideas for the orders we placed, and was very accommodating.

The menu was rather large(almost too large, to be honest), and had a very creative amount of names to their food. The hot subs section was dubbed "A Hot Affair" and all of the meatloaf dishes were named after - ha ha - Meatloaf songs. All of the burgers were named after mullets(wtf?), and the sense of humor continued throughout the menu. I think there was even a sandwich in there called M.I.L.F, which was some kind of turkey sandwich with avocado on it...or maybe not.

Anyway, the menu was big and random, but was funny enough to make me laugh. Jessica, instead of ordering one big entree, opted to just order a couple of small appetizers to nibble on - the mac n' cheese and chicken fingers - and I had the Michael Bolton Bleu Burger, which was a burger with bacon, blue cheese, grilled onions and had a marinated portobello mushroom cap as the protein - but the waiter was nice enough to have them replace it with an Angus beef patty instead.

The food took forever to make(like, over 25 minutes), but was uber tasty. And the portion sizes were huge. I was nowhere near hungry enough to eat the amount of food I was given, but as far as bang for your buck goes, it's a Winner. I mean, $10 for a huge burger that had to be eaten with a knife and fork and a huger than huge amount of fries? (Safe to say I took half of it home, but that's another story.)

The mac n' cheese got cut out of the shot :(
The Mac n' Cheese was unimpressive, but portioned well. The pasta was cooked fine and was basically just shredded cheese tossed in butter and hot pasta. It was baked in a little ramekin and nicely presented on a lettuce leaf on a larger plate. It was really kind of a slap-together thing, but passable. The chicken was nicely cooked and tender, and had this really great seasoning on it that I can't quite describe. The presentation was very nice too.

And the burger? Insanely good. Blue cheese melted nicely(which is kind hard to do right sometimes), bacon was cooked very well, and the burger was juicy and tender. Nice big toasty warm bun. The waiter was great enough to bring me a steak knife to cut into that bad boy.

So all in all, Bumsted's is a great place. If you're starved and want a big f#cking sandwich or a place to hang out with your friends, go there. They play a lot of great music(especially if you're into Lady Gaga!), and have a pretty chill atmosphere. So definitely go. And tell me how the other 98% of the menu is.