Sunday, April 28, 2013

How hard is it to make a $*&^%(*! sandwich?!?!?!

Kevin:  Hello everyone.  I am a little annoyed right now.  I am so annoyed that I am pulling my soapbox out and standing on it now while typing this blog post.   I am this annoyed because I just received, yet again, a crappy sandwich from Carmel Bagel Deli...icious.

Now please, don't get me wrong.  They have great bagels.  Don't know if they make them in-house or have them delivered daily.  They make a good egg sandwich too, and the coffee is decent.  My issue is when ordering any deli sandwich, wrap, or panini. Every time I order a deli sandwich, it is made poorly.  For example:  I ordered a Grilled Caesar Salad Wrap today.  I also order a turkey and provolone sandwich with "just a little bit" of mayo, on a roll for Aimee. the process of making the sandwiches, one of the workers stated they are out of the black olives that go into the Caesar Salad wrap.  From my experience, there are no black olives in Caesar Salad, so I am not sure why they would add them in the wrap.  I told them to not worry about that and make it sans olives.  Now I stepped away from watching them work to pick out a bottle of iced tea.  When I came back to the counter, it was ready to go. I took my purchase and went home.

When I sat down and opened my sandwich, I noticed a few things.  After my first bite, I realized they they did not put thought into how the sandwich was made.  My first issue is that the person making this wrap did not bother tossing the lettuce with the dressing, like how a caesar salad is traditionally made.  That simple misstep was the biggest mistake of the sandwich.  One bite had too much cheese and little-to-no dressing. The next bite was just dry lettuce.  It was a poorly made sandwich.  My wife's sandwich had issues also.  It was a simple sandwich.  Turkey, Provolone, a little bit of mayo. Aimee doesn't like mayo that much, but needs something to moisten the sandwich a bit or it makes her feel sick.  They put on so much mayonnaise the roll was soggy.  Aimee was not happy at all with the sandwich.   In fact, neither of us ate.  It was just an all around bad experience.

Now a while back, I ordered a panini there as a to-go order.  I live almost across the street from this place so it's convenient. When I arrived home and opened the wrapped sandwich, I realized that the bread was toasted and had grill marks, but the sandwich was cold in the middle. The cheese was not melted. I had to heat it in pan at home to get it cooked correctly.  An unpleasant experience to say the least.

My main point is that if you own a business, especially a restaurant or deli, you should put some thought into how your prepare your goods.  It seems as if the workers are either not trained on how to construct their sandwiches, or they are trained poorly on how to construct a good wrap.  If you are making a caesar wrap, you can at least toss the lettuce before wrapping.  Also, use the right lettuce for a caesar salad wrap.  Romaine is the traditional type of lettuce for a caesar salad. They used mixed greens for the wrap.  By doing this, it was missing the crunch it needed. Finally, they used finely grated Parmesan cheese.  If they would of grated it differently, it would not have a powdery taste. It just upsets me that some restaurants overlook some of the small things that make a big difference.

Ok....I am off of my soapbox and I put it away for now.  I will still go to Carmel Bagel Deli....ious.  I will now limit my purchases to bagels and egg sandwiches only.  I believe in supporting our local businesses and will still do that.  I just hope that they will strive to improve the way they do things.  If they just put more thought and consideration in that they do, I am betting they would have many more happy, returning customers.

Aimee:  All I have to say is I'm very disappointed.  This is a great place for bagels with mediocre hit/miss service from a bunch of teenage boys.  This was my first time ordering an actual deli sandwich from Carmel Bagel Deli...licious and when someone says "just a little mayo" the obvious next step is NOT to schmear half a jar of mayonaise onto the bread so it gets so soggy it splits and is oozing everywhere.  Gross, white, mess.  Three sad and sorry descriptive words that you wouldn't want the sandwich you just sold less than 5 minutes earlier to be described as.  Now, I'm a hypocrite because I told Kevin to go back and get his $15.  But I know I wouldn't have.  I probably would have done something childish, like toss my sandwich at their front door and let the mayo-mess slide down the front so the rest of their patrons could be left wondering why.  But I'm vengeful like that.  *LOL* Kevin was angry and said that he's gone back because of something else once before and there was a middle-aged woman in there who argued & was short with him.   Note to business owners:  In this day and age when business is not what it used to be, don't give your few (now formerly-dedicated) customers an attitude when you can't make a sandwich correctly, or when they ask you to do something a certain way.  Isn't that your job?  Isn't that what you get paid to do?  Maybe you are having a bad day.  Maybe business is not going well and you haven't seen a raise in several years.  All I have to say to that is JOIN THE CLUB and get over yourself.  This is the way of the world.  No one can afford crappy service or shoddy product.  Don't be there to screw up business for someone else!  Hell, we can go to McDonalds and get a wrap, it may not be very healthy, but it would be RIGHT and served with a smile.  What really irritates me is that Kevin and I were going to go down there in the late afternoon to cover the Putnam County Cash Mob and post it to our Foodies 101 food blog to give Bagel Deli...licious a little positive free press!  I wasn't feeling up to it so we decided to support them anyway by getting lunch there.  Makes me wonder what would have happened if all 20-30 Cash Mobbers got bad sandwiches?  Either way, I'm glad I didn't waste my time and go down there to cover the Cash Mob because I would have had nothing nice to say. On our blog, we don't like to leave disparaging blog posts.  On our own blog.. we do what we want. :)

...I don't even need my soap box!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Indian: Chicken Tikka Masala

Hi everyone, Aimee here. Sorry it's been so long.  Things have been a little hectic.  But without further ado, I bring to you a restaurant review on some very flavorful and fragrant Indian food!

My friend Nicole wanted to take me out for my birthday. She lives about an hour away so we were trying to figure out someplace at the halfway mark to meet.  Me being in Carmel and her in Hyde Park we decided on Route 9 in Fishkill.  The biggest issue now was to figure out which of the countless eateries to dine at.  She mentioned an Indian place on Main Street/Route 52 called Tanjore. At first I was skeptical because it had been so long since I'd had Indian food, easily 5 years ago.  But the the plan was made and the more I thought about it, the more excited I became!

We got there at almost exactly 6pm on a Monday night. The place was empty except for a few folks I who were there for take-out. We were seated and a friendly waiter came and filled our water glasses and gave us menus.  I had basically decided right off the bat to stick to what I knew, which was Chicken Tikka Masala.  Nicole wanted the same thing and we ordered a Vegetable Samosa appetizer which Nicole said was really delicious. We also asked for some garlic Nan.

Within 10 minutes or so our appetizer came out and Nicole went right for what we think is Tamarind sauce.  I have researched it a few times and can't come up with any other possible answer, and of course I forgot to ask our waiter!  It's a sweet, fruity dipping sauce, a purple-red in color.  There was also Onion and Cilantro chutney on the table.  I stayed away from both of those, but the purple stuff was so tasty! 

Getting back to our appetizer, the vegetable samosa came to the table with 2 on the plate.  They were large, almost the size of my fist!  Perfect for the 2 of us to share.

The most popular snack of India! Punjabi spiced potato and peas stuffed in a triangular crisp pastry shell.

They were fried and crunchy on the outside and inside they were filled with a mixture of mashed up potato and green peas with some different spices.  It had a tiny kick but it was nothing we couldn't handle. I loved the crunchy outer shell and the warm soft flavors on the inside.

Pretty soon our waiter brought out our entrees.  We each had our own bowl and a shared bowl of white rice and our garlic nan.   Everything smelled divine!  Now for those of you who have never had Indian food, let me tell you exactly what is in the Chicken Tikka Masala so you don't think it's some kind of smelly, gross, scary food that you will never want try, because I promise it's really good! 

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala consists of boneless chicken breast grilled in the tandoor (clay oven) and slow cooked in a creamy tomato sauce.  It has a really tiny kick of heat from the spices but when you put it over the white rice, that cuts the heat almost immediately.  The creamy tomato sauce is so good!  It's not like Italian tomato sauce (gravy) its very smooth and full of traditional Indian flavors.  Oh man, we had a party with that food.  I was so full by the time we were ready to leave that I had to take the rest home with me.  I had it 2 days later for lunch at work and it was just as delicious. 

 Nicole and I did have some dessert.  She had something called Rasamalai which is something of a cheesecake (2 bite-sized cheesecake-like balls) soaking in a milky sauce.  Nicole loved it. I tried it and the texture was definitely not to my liking so I stuck to homemade vanilla ice cream with pistachios on top. 

I have found the Tikka Masala simmering sauce at both ShopRite and Trader Joe's but so far, nothing compares to having it made the right way, fresh from a great restaurant like Tanjore!

If you're ever in the Fishkill area, stop by Tanjore at 922 Main Street Plaza (Route 52), Fishkill, NY.  Or call ahead and pick some up if you like, 845896-6659. Here is a link to their MENU, check it out!


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Corned Beef Hash - Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Top of the Morning to Ye!  Or top of a mountain of Corned Beef Hash!  It’s Kevin Ellis, the more adventurous half of Eats and Treats (and column Foodies 101).  My wife Aimee is going to sit this one out, as corned beef isn’t really her thing.  I’m flying solo but I’ve got a tasty story for you!

Corned beef hash is one of my guilty pleasures.  I try to order it whenever we go to breakfast at our local diner.  Aimee turns her nose every time I order it and says it looks like dog food but I beg to differ!  Maybe it’s not the most attractive of food item on the menu, but the bold flavor and salty bite from the pickled brisket mixed with the fluffy, creamy potatoes and the warm, buttery onions?  It’s like all my food fantasies rolled into one forkful.  Aimee doesn’t really like corned beef and cabbage so it’s not something we would normally make at home.  But let’s face it..this time of year changes everything.  Since St. Patty's Day is upon us  the essential ingredients of this dish have been on sale everywhere in the last few weeks.  This passed weekend my cravings and the supermarket flyer joined forces and convinced me to make my first attempt at tackling a corned beef hash recipe in my own kitchen.  I have always wanted to make it myself, I guess I just never thought to do so when it’s so commonly found on the breakfast menu of most restaurants.  Once the thought was in my head, there was no stopping me from going out to buy a corned beef brisket just for this very occasion!
According to all the recipes I found online, corned beef hash calls for pre-cooked corned beef and pre-cooked potatoes.  (Basically, lots of great recipes meant for leftovers). I was thinking of going all the way and corning my own brisket, but that is way too much work for me.  So, I purchased a 2.5 lb. Flat Cut Corned Beef Brisket.  I followed the package directions in cooking it, and it let it simmer for about 2 hours.   Then took it out of the water and let it rest for 20-30 minutes before trimming off any excess fat.  Then I simply cubed it up small and stored the beef in the refrigerator to cool down while I peeled and diced 6 Yukon Gold potatoes.  I boiled them until tender, drained them, and put them aside.  Yes, I was going to be making a lot of hash!

Once everything had been cooked and cooled, I finely chopped a medium yellow onion. I heated a 12 inch cast iron skillet to medium and melted 3 Tbs of unsalted butter. I added the onions in the skillet and cooked them until translucent. While they were cooking I combined 2 cups of potatoes with 2 cups of corned beef. I added the mixture to the skillet and pressed it down, letting it cook until brown on the bottom, then flipping it over to brown up a little more.   The smell wafting through my kitchen was making my mouth water. I could not wait to taste it!

corned beef hash

I was happy to find that it was not nearly as salty as the canned version and it has much more depth of flavor. I do have to admit,  I would rather eat this meal out than cook it myself.  It is a bit of work to make, unless you are using St. Patty’s day leftovers.   I hope to try this again sometime soon, when I do make corned beef and cabbage.  (If my wife will let me, that is). We sure hope you all have a yummy, safe Saint Patrick’s day – don’t forget to wear green!

What will you do with YOUR Saint Pat's leftovers?   We want to know! :)