Tuesday, October 27, 2009

October 9th Part 2: Burgers/Monster B's Party Bus

Previously, on Food Plus Beer:
Uh…just read the post below this one. That should provide adequate summation.

Anyway, with the rapture of Stew Leonard’s still fresh in our minds, Food Plus Beer decided it was time for…

Food and Beer. What, are you surprised?

In my case, it was more like Food Plus Beer Plus Rum. Always ends well. We threw back a few while watching UConn football build up an impressive lead against Pittsburgh and then throw it away in vulgarity-inducing, heartbreaking fashion. It was the type of sports-related tragedy that only meat can fix.

Now; there are burgers, and there are blog burgers. And we’re not going to bore you with the former.

It's common knowledge that everything is better when it's wrapped in bacon. In this case we decided to wrap it around a pair of massive beef patties. Here's how we did it:

Start with some fatty ground chuck (80/20). Make sure you have enough for at least two-third pounds per burger (otherwise you'll have wimpy burgers). 

Season your meat as desired then make two one-third pound, flat patties of equal size.
Put a slice of cheese on top of one, and then put the other patty on top.

Pinch the sides together so that you have one large burger stuffed with cheese. (make it a little thinner in the middle so you don't end up with a meatball)

Lay out 4 slices of bacon in a weave formation:
Center the burger on the bacon weave and fold the strips over the burger.
Grill on high heat on both sides for 2 minutes to start in order to sear the bacon and have it properly stick to the burger.

Cook as desired and add more cheese to the top during the last minute.
How was it you ask? Well, it was awesome. With bacon drippings getting absorbed by the burger as the fat renders, and a slice of cheese in the center, this might just be the juiciest burger you'll ever have. You'll have a hard time burning this one. Although the burger was full of delicious bacon flavor, the only problem I had was that the bacon didn't get crispy. I enjoy a bit of crunch when I'm eating my burger. Solution: cook more crispy bacon in the traditional way and throw it on top!


After dinner, we were joined by several more friends of Food Plus Beer, and the thought of going to a bar arose. I was indifferent at first…there were drinks where we were that weren’t 5 bucks. But then someone said something that woke up megabuzzed One-Track-Mind Ryan: “Monster B’s Party Bus.” You may remember a brief mention of this magical service in our initial Monster B’s writeup.

It was over. This was happening. Even if no one else wanted to go, we still would have gone. But as it turned out, everyone seemed pretty thrilled about this magical idea, and so we called. There were 9 people in our party, and they said we needed 15. We pulled the old “Well, I suppose I’ll just take my business elsewhere” routine, and before long, the bus was picking us up.

There’s just something surreal about an actual bus that brings you to and from the bar free of charge. I’m still not sure whether or not that happened. We didn’t stay long, and our time there was a bit hazy, but one thing is for damn sure – we haven’t ridden the party bus for the last time. Also, smart business plan. Seriously. That bus provided them with 9 customers who otherwise certainly wouldn’t have gone to Monster B’s – and there was a cover charge. (The one bummer about the whole thing – there was some cover band there that night).

So the bus brings us back to our downtown location, and drops us off in the middle of the road. As we’re walking away, the bus gets pulled over. Kind of funny, but mostly, it’s a shame. Anything that disturbs the Monster B’s Party Bus in the performance of its duties is ill-advised in my book.
October 9th. Nice day to be alive.

One more thing...Stop by your local delicious Taco Bell on Halloween and pick up a free Black Taco! 6 pm to midnight.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

October 9th Part 1 – Stew Leonard’s

Just about every town in America has a grocery store, but only four (Norwalk CT, Danbury CT, Newington CT, Yonkers NY) have a Stew Leonard’s.

Answer me this: Does your local grocery store have a petting zoo? Ice cream store? Singing and dancing mechanical Chiquita banana? Free food samples every 3.5 feet? Dairy products made in-store? A hoedown-inducing animatronic country-western Milk Carton band? Or the crème de la crème, a push-button controlled mooing cow? This is not a grocery store. This is a spectacle of the highest order.

The Chiquita Senorita performing the Banana Boogie.

In my youth, I can remember going to Stew’s fairly often, and the years in between have done nothing to diminish the mystique. I still push the cow button. I still watch the milk band. I still make noises at the goats hoping they will understand my dialect and respond in kind.

As my sisters and I got older, we didn’t really go to Stew’s anymore. I get it – there are obvious benefits to bringing children here. All the bells and whistles of this magical place would keep us wide-eyed and slack-jawed long enough for my mom to get some shopping done, unlike at our local Grade A ShopRite, where we likely pelted each other with produce and threw shiny cereal boxes into the cart when mom wasn’t looking.

Push button, cow moos. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Still though; being there again makes me feel like I’ve missed out on years of quality Stew’s time. There’s a sense of joy about the place. You never see somebody with a “Why the hell did I come to Stew Leonard’s?” look on their face. You just don’t. Young and old people alike are jumping up and down on the inside…it’s just that kids are also jumping up and down on the outside.

And my God, the samples.

They had free samples of the following: Pumpkin pie, apple cider, pomegranate juice, French bread + olive oil, salmon salad on a cracker, chicken pot pie, gelato, garden salad, tortilla chip with cheese dip, chicken salad on a cracker, and at least two more that I’m forgetting.

It’s unbelievable. For one, it totally increases your excitement about shopping. Also, I decided then and there that if I ever found myself unemployed and homeless, I’d be setting up cardboard camp near a Stew’s. Not a bad life.

We had it in our minds that the drawback to all this was the prices; you’ll certainly pay more for all the hubbub. Not the case. Granted we only bought burger-making supplies, but we found that the prices were comparable to the grocery stores we usually go to. This of course begs the question; why the hell don’t we just always go to Stew’s?

I’m still trying to think of a reason why not. (Well, there's the fact that they don't seem to have toiletries and a lot of your other everyday grocery store items. But who cares? Why make a grandiose statement if you're going to back down? Go to CVS for all that other junk).

Stay tuned for part 2 of the October 9th Food Plus Beer mega-day; including a new way to make death-defying cheeseburgers, beer, and the Monster B’s party bus.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

McDonald's and Miller High Life

When Food Plus Beer went on its first two culinary missions to Monster B’s and Black Bear, the trips were predetermined. Kyle and I had brainstormed earlier in the day and picked restaurants based on appeal, specials, and overall relevance to our cause. We were accompanied by friends of the blog, ate at dinnertime, and paid attention to our surroundings for fun anecdotes. This was nothing like that.

So, it’s about 9 PM, and Kyle and I are polishing off glass number 2 or 3 of his homebrewed Porter. Here’s a riddle for you: How do you get beer out of the fridge without opening it? Easy. Install a tap.

This is the greatest thing Kyle’s ever done, and I’m so excited about it that I’m threatening to abandon the rest of this post and list 100 or so reasons why every American should have a tap on their fridge. But I won’t.

Anyway, not eating dinner and throwing back homebrews alerted us to the fact that we were both hungry, and eating took precedence over watching The Office at that particular time. We discussed criteria for food.
  1. Leftovers won’t cut it.
  2. Can’t be expensive.
  3. Faster is better.
  4. Preferable if food is endorsed by creepy clown.

Do you see where this is going? That’s right. The Golden Arches.But we needed a beer that was appropriate for the mission. How’s your SAT score?

Filet Mignon is to Homebrewed Kegerator Beer as McDonald’s is to ___________.

If you said Miller High Life, give yourself a pat on the back. We grabbed 2 MLHs from my house and headed to the drive thru. 4 McDoubles, 1 McChicken, 2 small fries. $7.60. Amazing.

Note: I’ve always been suspicious that the McDouble is the Double Cheeseburger. We asked, and they said that the Double Cheeseburger has an extra slice of cheese. For 60 cents extra. What a curious pricing maneuver. Also, I cannot reiterate enough, never leave the drive-thru without looking in your bag first. Your order gets messed up approximately 300% of the time. Although, they got ours right this time – fate must have been on our side. I credit the lucky High Life cans. We’ll get back to this in a second.

So, we get back to Kyle’s house and we pound the food as you might expect. The smell of grease permeates the house. There is a tacit understanding that both of us are going to be fighting over the bathroom in the near future. I love McDonald’s.

And that brings us to the Miller High Life. What can you say, it’s cheap beer. You get what you pay for. But the reason I bought Miller High Life was the cans. They are hilarious; head to toe in camouflage. You know, except for the label and everything. This is definitely the beer to drink on a deer hunt. Or an Army mission. Or when you’re hiding in a pile of leaves waiting to scare children. Beer already makes me giggle – beer in a camouflage can gets me even sillier. Which is why Kyle and I decided to test out the can’s ability to blend into its surroundings.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t see it anywhere.

Like a chameleon.