Gary Wiviott, Please Let Me Back in the Program

May 23, 2009

gwiv-lowslow by you.

Gary Wiviott’s new BBQ book published by Running Press (which he authored with food writer Colleen Rush) is based upon his popular web-based course on how to master the Weber Bullet smoker in 5 easy lessons. Unfortunately, because I decided to skip ahead to Step 3 after Step 1, he threw my ass out of the program.

Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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Kosher for Passover Coke: It’s the Real Thing Baby

March 27, 2009

It’s that time of the year again folks — Passover season approaches, and with that comes the annual stocking of the KFP Coca-Cola, the “Real Thing”. I’ve resurrected and updated this post from last year so you can get the jump on it early. Both Coca-Cola of New York and Chicago have just started their production runs, so be vigilant!

– Jason

(Originally posted on March 25, 2006)

In April of 1985, the Coca-Cola company announced that it was re-formulating its flagship carbonated drink, which to the horror of Coke fans everywhere, included a switchover to high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Soon, the rest of the soft drink industry followed suit, and the classic taste of cane sugar-based sodas became practically extinct. Today, only a few small boutique soft drink companies still make sodas with refined cane sugar (or sucrose, made from sugar beets) a costly ingredient when compared with HFCS — but true carbonated beverage connoisseurs know and can tell the difference, as corn syrup has a characteristically cloying sweetness when compared to refined sugar. For nostalgic Coca-Cola lovers, unless you live in a foreign country that classic taste is but a distant memory.

Every late March and early April, for the two to three weeks leading up to the celebration of the Jewish Passover holiday season in the United States, Coke fans living in major metropolitan areas with large Jewish populations get their Real Thing, if only for that brief fleeting period. According to Jewish law, nothing made with chametz (any of a number of proscribed cereals and grains, including corn) during passover may be consumed — so in order not to lose sales from observant Jews during that eight day period, a small number of Coca-Cola bottlers make a limited batch of the original Coke formulation, using refined sugar. Needless to say, stocks run out quickly and fans of Passover Coke have been known to travel many miles seeking out supermarkets with remaining caches.



Passover Coke products (and Passover Pepsi) in 2-Liter bottles can be distinguished by their yellow caps, inscribed either with just the “OU-P” symbol and/or the words Kosher L’Pesach in Hebrew. The canned variety is rare and is known to be produced only by a scant few bottling companies in the United States — if you can find any, be sure to snap it up.

Here’s the official word from the OU Passover Web Site for 2009:

Coca Cola will again be available with an OU-P for Pesach. Aside from the New York metropolitan area, Coke will be available in Boston, Baltimore-Washington, Miami, Atlanta, Houston, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles. This year, in New York, Coca Cola items will be made with an OU-P in 2 liter bottles and in cans. Other locations will have more limited Coke items made in different sizes. All these items, of course, require the OU-P symbol. Most of the bottling plants servicing these markets will designate the Passover Coke items with a distinctive yellow cap in addition to the OU-P symbol on the cap or shoulder of the bottle.

Chicago Coke fans need not worry — this year, the Chicago Rabbinical Council is having Passover Coke made with the cRc P-09 logo on the cap using local bottlers. cRc also has Passover Coke in cans, which is nearly impossible to find anywhere else in the country.

If you live in Cleveland, I also heard this recently from one of our readers:

“As an employee of the Cleveland Coca-Cola Bottling Company I can confirm that the plant does use sugar cane as a sweetener year round. Cleveland Coca-Cola is the exclusive Coke supplier of all of Cuyahoga County, however, not everything available in Cuyahoga County is actually produced in Cleveland. Look at the label and check the ingredients for “Sucrose.””

In addition to Coke and Pepsi products made with real sugar, you should also be able to find nationally Dr. Brown’s, perhaps the best black cherry soda on the planet in Kosher for Passover form. And to further improve your Passover Coke, hit it with a shot of Passover formulated Fox’s U-Bet chocolate syrup.

For more on Passover Coke, be sure to listen to this interesting NPR broadcast from 2004.

For more on Mexican Coke, KFP Coke’s south of the border cousin, have a look at what Kate at Accidental Hedonist has to say.

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The Great Off The Broiler Hot Dog Tasting of 2007

July 3, 2007

Spread the word: digg this story

In our previous hot dog tasting, in the summer of 2004, we evaluated 14 brands of hot dogs which could easily be purchased at supermarket chains in the New York Metropolitan area. Three years later, Consumer Reports released a similar study where the hot dogs from Hebrew National, owned by industrial foods giant ConAgra rose to the top — a result which ruffled the feathers of many seasoned hot dog experts, myself included. The gauntlet (or in this case, the bun) had been thrown down, and it was time for Off The Broiler to dust off its scoring sheets.

Click Here for Hi-Res Slide Show of the tasting day.

Click Here to view the Tasting Results data sheet (Adobe Acrobat Reader required)

Click Here to listen to the Hot Dog Tasting Podcast (34 minutes) with Jason Perlow, Rachel Perlow, Brandon Perlow, John Fox, Eric Eisenbud, Jonathan Lurie and Jordana Z.

Click Here to listen to the supplementary audio (2 hours and 23 minutes) with all the panelists, where we discuss all the hot dogs we tasted real-tine. Includes hilarious bickering and arguing, and the classic “What @#$%& number is it?” Abbott and Costello sketch.

Click Here to watch some video clips of the tasting day at Google Video.

Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below to read the results of the survey.

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The Superfans Tailgate Degustation Menu

February 5, 2007

Superbowl Sunday is not just a day to watch a football game on TV. It is a total rejoicing in everything that encompasses the American spirit, and much of that includes tailgate parties.

While our New York Metro-area teams were a complete disgrace this year, a group of us decided we were going to have a good time on Superbowl Sunday anyway. And what better way to do it than indulge in the holy trinity of Superbowl food — Sausages, Nachos, and Wings?

As we needed a team to cheer for, I decided that it would be ‘Da Bears. Why? Well culinarily speaking, Chicago has Indianapolis beat by a fair margin. Not only are they home to what is considered by many to be the best restaurant in the United States, but it is also home to two very important contributions to Superbowl cuisine, the Chicago Dog and the Chicago Style Pizza. And there is also that whole element of Chicago Polish immigrants and their food, and of course, Mike Ditka, also known as God. So we decided that our menu for this evening would pay homage to the Windy City.

First, you need to go shopping.

Ready for a Superbowl Tailgate menu fit for a Superfan? Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below.

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Podcast #25: Alinea Tour Wrapup and Commentary

July 5, 2006

Click Here to Listen to the Off The Broiler Podcast

Click Here for the related Off The Broiler post on Alinea

Click on each of these Bonus Tracks (approx 30 minutes each) of Ronnie and I commenting on the 5-hour meal itself as we go:

(Bonus1) (Bonus2) (Bonus3) (Bonus4)

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Click Here to Subscribe to my Podcast Feed with iTunes

Chicago Dining: Fogo de Chão

July 3, 2006

Fogo De Chao
661 N La Salle Dr, Chicago, IL
(312) 932-9330

In addition to Alinea, Malnati’s and Chicago Hot Dogs, the other place I really wanted to go during my trip to the Windy City was Fogo. In Northern New Jersey, we have our pick of perhaps at least two dozen Brazilian churrascarias, but Fogo de Chão has the reputation for being the very best in the entire country, in terms of both the quality and variety of its meats and excellent salad bar.

A group of us eGers and LTHers had a real blast on a Wednesday evening consuming mass quantities of meat and drinking dangerous amounts of Caipirinha cocktails (click for video)

eGullet Society manager Ron Kaplan (Ronnie Suburban) enjoying the salad bar.

The salad bar at Fogo is indeed one of the best I have ever seen at a churrascaria, but don’t get distracted by the rabbit food. You have plenty of meat to eat ahead of you.

These are fried polenta sticks with cheese, also very good.

Fried bananas.

Caipirinha, made with the Brazilian cane spirit cachaça, muddled limes, crushed ice and powdered sugar. Addictive and very dangerous.

The meat parade begins.



More meat…

Lamb Chops

Beef Ribs

The meat lands on the tables so fast and the servers come at such breakneck speed, that you barely have enough time to get the food off your plate. The photos I managed to take were just the items I was quick enough to photograph, there is at least a dozen different types of meat in the rotation.

This is a papaya/guava mousse dessert with creme de cassis on top. Its meant to help aid in digestion of all the meat.

Chicago Dining: Alinea

June 30, 2006

Alinea Restaurant LLC
1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL
(312) 867-0110

I’m on my way back to Jersey at the moment, so I don’t have time to post an elaborate writeup yet. So you’ll have to suffer with some these photos, (7/2) NEW a short flash video tour and the complete flickr stream and the menu (PDF) in the meantime. (7/5) NEW The Alinea podcasts are up!

Click the “Read The Rest of This Entry” link below to see more pictures.

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Chicago Dining: Hot Dogs

June 30, 2006

Superdawg Drive-In
6363 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago 60646
(NEW: 6/3 View Video of Lou Malnati’s, Superdawg and U Lucky Dog)

After a few slices at Malnati’s, we headed over to Superdawg, perhaps the most iconic Chicago Hot Dog stand in the entire city. Unlike many other dog joints, Superdawg does not use Vienna Beef wieners — they use their own proprietary formulated hot dog who’s manufacturer is a closely guarded secret.

From an architectual and aesthetic standpoint everything about this place, from the box artwork to the neon to the windows and the signage screams 1960s, although they’ve been in business since the 1930s.

Superdawg is a drive-in, where car hops come out to serve you.

If the weather is nice you can dine al fresco.

The box itself is classic Americana.

Packed inside is a meal fit for a king.

Extracting Superdawg from his paper sarcophagus requires major archaeological skills, or a large pile of napkins.

Superdawg, in all his glory.

Excellent chocolate shakes as well.

U Lucky Dog (Formerly Fluky’s)

6821 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL
(773) 274-3652

For a frame of reference and a point of comparison to Superdawg, Ronnie wanted me to have an experience at a classic Vienna Beef dog joint as well — he chose U Lucky Dawg, which was formerly known as Fluky’s, which was another legendary dog eating establishment.

As you can see, the buns are kept warm in a steam tray and the dogs are boiled.

A view behind the counter. Note the managment edicts — “BeNice”, “Suggestive Selling” “How Many Fries do you want” and “Will that be a large?”

Chicago Dog Mise-en-place.

eGullet Society Heartland manager Ronnie Kaplan.

Chicago Dining: Lou Malnati’s

June 29, 2006

(NEW: 6/3 View The Flash Video of Lou Malnati’s, Superdawg and U Lucky Dog)

Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria
6649 N Lincoln Ave, Lincolnwood, IL
(847) 673-0800

I knew that one of the things I needed to accomplish this week was to eat real Chicago pizza. Not just any old Chicago pizza, but to completely have the true “experience” in a classic setting and to eat a prime example. There are many opinions about which Chicago-style pizzeria is best, but in my estimation, Lou Malnati’s is tops. Like Gino’s East and Uno, Malnati’s is a chain, now with 24 stores in the Chicago metro area, but they are all family owned and their quality has not suffered. The original location in Lincolnwood which opened during the early 1970’s is at the same time a shrine to Chicago pies, done the old fashioned way, and a mecca for worshiping the relics of local sports heroes.

I drove in during the evening from the Western suburbs, in two hours of traffic, in order to meet Ronnie in Lincolnwood. Chicago is a megalopolis — unlike many other cities where you see the reverse type of traffic patterns, many people live within the city limits and commute to the ‘burbs where all the office parks are. No amount of traffic will deter me from eating the best pizza in the city.

Location #1, on Lincoln Road in Lincolnwood, IL.

Lou’s also makes serious old-school Italian ices.

These are frozen pizzas that are made in the exact same way as the fresh pies, and I can attest to their goodness, having had them shipped to New Jersey.

The bar gets some serious action and is a great place to watch a game.

The original Lou’s location is practically a sports memorabilia museum.

Jumbo sized drink tumblers, as they should be. Note Refrigerator Perry’s jersey in the background.

The “Lou”, a vegetarian combination. Chicago pies have a very distinctive crust, much more like pastry crust, with a lot of olive oil and a somewhat sourdough taste profile.

A slice of Pepperoni/Sausage. For the most part, Chicago pizza has to be eaten with a fork and knife.

Chicago Dining: Greek Islands

June 27, 2006

Greek Islands Restaurant West
300 E 22nd St, Lombard, IL
(630) 932-4545

My first night in Chicagoland was one of semi-desperation — the suburb of Naperville, IL is for the most part a desolate wasteland of corporate office parks, with very few dining options. Fortunately, eGullet Society manager Ron Kaplan (ronnie_suburban) clued me into a really nice Greek restaurant in nearby Lombard. I headed out there with a fellow co-worker who had recently moved into the area, who was really impressed with the place.

Greek Islands is a rather large restaurant and proudly displays its raw ingredients and desserts right up front.

The main dining room.

Taramasalata, caviar dip. Creamy and not overpoweringly salty.

Fried saganaki cheese. I actually have a video of how this was done at table, which I hope to post shortly.

The two of us ordered the Family Dinner #1, which included a sampling of several different things — home made gyro, moussaka, dolmades, roast leg of lamb, and Greek meatballs.



Greek coffee. Strong, sweet and sedimentary, as it should be.