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Eating America: A Coast-to-Coast Culinary Road Trip With Jane and Michael Stern

Glad to see Zuppardi's highlighted here! They're not quite as well-known as Pepe's or Sally's, but their homemade sausage is among the best I've ever had on a pizza.

The Chain Breaker: A Dairy Queen Like No Other

At Five Points in Davenport, Iowa, we used to have a DQ that served up stunningly good pork tenderloin sandwiches wrapped in foil. We'd go there in the evenings and there was usually a line out the door. If I remember the building right, it was low-profile, run-down, and shacklike. They closed maybe 20 years ago, I think.

10 Great Takes on the Classic Potato Salad

One of the best potato salads I ever had used... Miracle Whip. Yes. I'm not joking. Miracle Whip and bacon bits. Not one of us guessed that's what it was, but we all loved it.

The Best Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches in the Midwest

I grew up in Davenport, Iowa and we often went to the Dairy Queen at Five Points. They offered very good pork tenderloin sandwiches wrapped in foil. This DQ was a local franchisee, much different from the cookie-cutter Grill 'n' Chills that dominate now.

9 Stand-Out Meatballs Across the Country

Meatball grinders are practically a way of life in Connecticut, alongside chicken cutlet grinders and Italian deli meats. At "Giant Grinder" establishments, the meatballs start out the size of tennis balls or baseballs and are sliced across, then piled up inside a grinder roll, often paired with eggplant or sausage.

I can recommend the meatballs at the following places:

Kent Pizza 3, Hartford
Franklin Giant Grinder, Hartford
Maple Giant Grinder, Hartford
Rosa's Deli, Wallingford
Carbone's Market, Torrington
D'elia's, Norwich
Bantam Pizza, Bantam

Breakfast of Champions: Why New Jersey is Crazy for Pork Roll

The ShopRite in Canton, CT carries Taylor ham / pork roll, as well as their own store brand. I've also found a restaurant in West Hartford, Goldberg's Bagel Cafe, that offers "Taylor ham" as one of the available meats for breakfast sandwiches.

Where to Eat Barbecue (and More!) in Kansas City, MO

@Titus: Ah, I'd forgotten about McGonigle's! Used to get tremendously good brisket sandwiches from there when I worked on Ward Parkway. They're on par with any of the area restaurants.

Where to Eat Barbecue (and More!) in Kansas City, MO

For late-night / non-gourmet burgers, allow me to suggest LC's Hamburgers Etc (no relation to LC's BBQ) over Town Topic. They're up in the northland, but utterly, absolutely worth the drive. These are burgers from a different time, rich with fat and grease that you can feel shortening your life with each delicious bite.

On a side note, the best St. Louis-style pizza I've ever had was in Kansas City, not St. Louis - from another northland establishment called Leo's Pizza. They made me appreciate the style right alongside NYC and Chicago. Yes, I'm quite serious.

Photo of the Day: Cheez Whiz-Laden Whiz-Burger

Mixing Cheez Whiz into the meat and spooning it on top seems like overkill. And if it were on top, I don't think you'd need the added creaminess of the mayo. Otherwise that looks good.

@Lorenzo: Cheez Whiz has a somewhat more complex flavor than other processed cheese products, and I'm guessing that's because it contains things like tamarind, mustard flour, and Worcestershire sauce. So yeah, if we're willing to put Kraft Singles or Velveeta on our burgers I don't see why we shouldn't give Cheez Whiz a try.

New Yorkers: Have You Tried These Regional American Sandwiches?

What I'd give for a good pork tenderloin or loose-meat sandwich in NYC. Gotta go back to Iowa for that.

Taste Test: The Best Spicy Brown Mustards

Wanted to give a shout-out here to Boetje's, a spicy brown Dutch-style mustard made in Rock Island, IL. Here's an example of how good it is: I introduced it to my coworkers in CT - a place with a deep Polish tradition of strong sausages and equally strong mustards - and they've raved about it ever since, ordering it in bulk, holding little kielbasa-and-rye parties here. Imagine their reaction when I revealed where the mustard came from!

Taste Test: The Best Mayonnaise

@NutBound: I first encountered Heinz mayo at Au Bon Pain where they use it in packet form. It was nice and smooth, with less of an outwardly eggy flavor than Hellmann's. Wal-Marts that I've visited in both central CT and eastern IA carry bottles and jars of it on the shelf - that's the only store I've found that has it.

Poll: Eggs on Pizza, Way or No Way?

Breakfast pizza is amazing - at least the variant I had in Iowa, at Hy-Vee and U of I. White sausage gravy for the sauce, *scrambled* eggs, cheese, and maybe additional sausage, bacon, and onion. Here's an example from Casey's General Store in Davenport:

We Try the Diner Double Beef, a '50s-Themed Burger From McDonald's Japan

@Erin Jackson - From the looks of it, that's the same type of egg used on McMuffins. It's cracked into a Teflon ring on a griddle, its yolk is broken, and then it's quickly fried. It's quite warm and it's pretty much king of the hill for fast food eggs; nothing that I'm uncomfortable eating.

Open Thread: What's Your Most Memorable College Dining Experience?

Oh, the food! I totally forgot. Haha. The specific cafeteria was the one in Burge Hall. Now, today, it's the Burge Market Place, a luxurious food court offering different styles of cuisine, but Back in the Day it only supplied a particular kind of food familiar to anyone that's attended an American public school: industrial, suspicious, juuust good enough that you could convince yourself it was better than it was, and a precious few dishes that pushed into the realm of actual deliciousness. These included:

Beef and Cheddar Melt - like the Arby's item, but with a drier, rougher, more "real" beef that far outclassed Arby's almost gelatinous product, a spicy cheese sauce that you actually got to drench on the sandwich yourself, and a toasted onion bun.

Broccoli Chicken / Chicken Kiev - both used the same sculpted chicken-shell, but one released its bounty gradually, while the other blorted it out all at once like a giant tasty cyst.

Individual Pizza - most of the time, Burge pizza was a thicker and higher-quality version of the slab pizza you had in grade school, but every once in a while they switched to a circular, personal-sized offering with braided crust (!), herbed cheese, and a sweetish sauce. The difference was amazing, and word quickly got around on round pizza nights.

Toasted Bacon, Cheese, and Tomato Sandwich - hands-down the best thing they ever served. Not a single weak ingredient... and big. At least the size of a panini. Best paired with a bowl of knockoff tomato soup ladled from an enormous stainless steel tureen. I couldn't have made better, not that pathetic collegiate cooking skills could make much to begin with.

Open Thread: What's Your Most Memorable College Dining Experience?

@iamdanfinn - I didn't attend Augustana, but as a pianist I participated in a lot of events held there. Four years of QCYSO concerts at Centennial, and recitals at Wallenberg (whose wonderful Bösendorfer I still remember).

I went to the University of Iowa from 1998 to 2002. A loose network of friends and acquaintances formed over my sophomore and junior years. It included myself, my roommate, my best friend, his girlfriend, her friends, her two roommates, their friends, and so on. Geeky misfits, every one of us. Somehow it evolved that a certain corner of the cafeteria was our place to eat. It was right by the entrance, near the student door-checker's desk (she was also in our group). Anytime anyone of us ever ate a meal in that cafeteria, whether breakfast, lunch, or dinner, we would sit in that location. If some damn stranger was stinking up our spot, we'd sit as close to it as possible, sometimes moving in if they left early enough.

Breakfast was poorly attended, but sometimes you'd get two or three together. Lunch, roughly three to six. And dinner... dinner was always massive, anywhere between a dozen to twenty people, easily. We'd push a few tables together; it wasn't a meal, but a feast above which conversation floated and danced in eccentric currents. Subgroups of talking would form, break, reform, the way they do in these situations, and every so often a particularly compelling topic or burst of wit would command everyone's attention.

This gathering of people, at that nook of the cafeteria, was my dinner experience every night for about a year and a half. I took it for granted then and now I dearly miss it. We always noticed an absence, even if that person wasn't especially talkative. I never saw another group that large in another cafeteria - at least, not one with our utter regularity. I wonder what others thought of us.

What Regional Sandwiches Do You Wish You Could Find in New York?

@joshterrible I'll go you one better: a chow mein sandwich from the Fall River area.

Reality Check: McDonald's New Quarter Pounders

"Because nothing says class like mayonnaise."

Funny you should say that, because in the UK at least, mayo has traditionally been perceived as upper-class compared to alternatives such as salad cream. It was, believe it or not, a status symbol of sorts.

Also, one note about these new "Quarter Pounders": they all have only a single slice of cheese. The regular QP always had two slices. I consider that an indispensable QP attribute. These new arrivals are frauds. Fraaaauds.

Remember school lunches?

@eam492: A year after I started high school, we got a daily dedicated lunch line that sold nothing but slices of Pizza Hut at I think $3.25 each. Or $2.35. One of the two. This would have been 1996-1998, when gas was still under a dollar (at least in Iowa). And out in the cafeteria, there was a little stand that sold breadsticks and fried cheesesticks. Plus a pop machine. I had to stop going to the pizza line so much once my parents saw just what that indulgence was costing them.

Favorite Chicago Deep Dish Pizza?

For me, Giordano's spinach stuffed pizza is the definitive one. The others are fantastic as well, but I always come back to that. Plus they let you ship pizzas as gifts!

Want Real Eggs at McDonald's? Just Ask!

Tried this today at my McD's with their Steak, Egg, and Cheese Bagel. Turns out that the folded egg, while not as good for taste, is actually better for structure - the round egg is thick and slippery, and makes the sandwich rather unwieldy.

However, taste wins out every time, and the difference was big enough that I'll never have a folded egg again!

Reality Check: We Try the New Premium McWrap from McDonald's

@JustinH: I imagine the main reason for the price point, and the "Premium" label, is the level of chicken. This McWrap contains pieces of an actual chicken filet, as opposed to the McChicken's patty.

Although, funnily enough, Burger King's "Original Chicken Sandwich" - advertised as having a "premium white meat chicken fillet" - is $4 and contains merely an elongated version of the low-grade patty found in their Chick'n Crisp (McChicken equivalent).

Taste Test: The Best Bottled Barbecue Sauce

One big Midwestern favorite is Cookies. (No apostrophe.) Molasses-sweet, smoky, a little more tangy than KC Masterpiece, maybe because it contains Worcestershire sauce. We had this all the time in Iowa.

Another I remember from childhood is Open Pit. Haven't had it in maybe 20 years, and all I can remember is that, at the time, I thought it was extremely spicy. I doubt I'd think so now, but it's nowhere to be found in CT grocery stores.


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