Friday, 13 October 2006

The Great Wing Tour 2006 Recap

So, its been weeks since the Great Wing Tour is over and conclusions were definitely concluded.

First: road trips rock. Sure the border guards were mean in the US, but the travel was great. Rick was a great driver and we got to see sights, family and explore our national cousins to the south. Sure they were like those relatives your not super keen to see, maybe once in a while, but its fun going to see them none the less. The wings may not have been top notch, but the trip was not a failure. Like the words of wisdom say, "Its about the journey, not the destination"

Second: you can get your hopes up too high. We went to 4 places to be well known for their wings, and they were all disappointing in some respect or another. We traveled deep into the heart of Buffalo Wing territory, and found nothing to rave about. Yes I got a lot of wings, a novelty dollar bill, and to see how differently the Buffalo wing could be done, but my hopes in finding a wing that would meet the expectations of a religious experience, just didn't happen.

Third: you can eat chicken wings for almost every meal for almost a week, and still crave wings a day or two later.

Finally, sometimes the grass is greener on the other side, but what you really want is right at home. We went through several states, and ended up feeling the best wings came from a take out joint in London Ontario. I can name a dozed places that I prefer wings from here in Toronto alone.
Now with all of this said, will this be the last Great Wing Tour? I highly doubt it. I know, I believe that the perfect wing is out. Remember,

From city to town, province to state, we will find it. If you have a chicken wing,
if no one else can eat it, and if you can find us, maybe you can hire
The Chicken Wing Team.

Tuesday, 10 October 2006


The Great Wing Tour 2006
Sunday October 8th
Day 3

We left BW3's on time, but what seemed to be very late. It was a long drive on the highway, where we saw all sorts of road kill (about 3 carcasses every 1 minute - so many raccoons, ground hogs and deer). We even saw some live deer. But we were more interested in dead chicken than anything else.

We made a brief stop to see some more of Rick's relatives and then it was Sunday evening. The Buffalo skyway, a highway that raises quite high above the city, gave a breathtaking night time view of Buffalo. As we came into the city, the one way streets gave us some minor trouble, but in the end Rick came through in bringing us to our final destination: The Anchor Bar.

Found in not the nicest area of the city (at least at night) this place was a Mecca for me - this was the place where the modern chicken wing, the Buffalo wing, was founded. This was a holy pilgrimage for me, and after a string of disappointments, I put my faith in the Anchor Bar.

The founding of the chicken wing came about over 30 years ago:

Buffalo, NY (1964)-On a Friday night, Dominic Bellissimo was tending bar
at the now infamous Anchor Bar Restaurant in Buffalo, NY. Late that evening
a group of Dominic's friends arrived at the bar touting a ravenous appetite.
Dominic asked his mother, Teressa to prepare something for his friends to eat.

At about midnight, Teressa brought out two plates she had prepared in the
kitchen and placed them on the bar. The aroma from the plates captured the
attention of Dom and his friends and everyone asked, "What are these?"
they looked like chicken wings, a part of the chicken that usually went
into the stock pot for soup. Teressa had deep fried the wings and flavored
them with a secret sauce. The wings were an instant hit and it didn't take
long for people to flock to the bar to experience this new eating sensation.
From that point on, Buffalo Wings became a regular part of the menu at
the Anchor Bar.

Wow - what a humble beginning to such a phenomenal food.

This place was packed for a later Sunday night. Made up of mostly families, this place was hustle and bustle with activity. Like Duff's, this place was quite loud inside, not because of thumping music but because of the general chatter among the patrons. It was hot inside too - way too warm for comfort. We even checked for a heater or radiator but there was none. Was it simply the heat of the wings? Only time would tell . . .


SIZE of WINGS: large
HEAT: 3/10
PRICE: $8.00(US) for 10 wings, $12 for 20, $27 for 50 (add a$1 for suicide)


SAUCE CHOICE: mild/medium/hot/suicidal/spicy bbq
SIDES: celery & blue cheese dip
deep fried
WING NIGHT: none advertised
OTHER: they ship wings all over the world

I didn't want to review these wings. I almost felt sacrilegious doing so. Why was that?
Because my messiah, the one institution I had hoped to restore my wing faith, shattered it and not in a good way.

But lets start with the good. These wings were big. With no breading, they were the right size of wing. The skin was crispy and there was just the right amount of crunch and the smell texture totally reminded me of my childhood wing experiences that converted me to the wing. There was also what I consider the perfect amount of sauce on the wings - they were wet, but not enough to make the wings soggy.
The downside? The sauce. It was really really really mild. I ordered hot with a side of suicide (I asked about the suicide sauce and she said it was not the same flavour, that it was a pepper flavour). Suicide was a pepper sauce, that was maybe a medium in heat. The hot wings themselves were definitely mild. And to make matters worse, the flavour itself was so mild there was almost no taste to speak of. Say it ain't so Teressa, say it ain't so.

Rick ordered a side of deep fried veggies - which are an excellent side to chicken wings (I will do a review some day on the best sides to have with wings). Our neighbor table also had a great looking pizza that I really wanted to steal a slice from.

So, like with all religions, my faith was somewhat shattered. Fortunately, I have had excellent wings elsewhere in the world. Don't get me wrong, The Anchor Bar is a cherished site, it has given a gift to the world that the world can never repay. But in the evolutionary chart, the wing has definitely grown up since leaving Buffalo.
3 out of 5 Flappers

The Anchor Bar
1047 Main Street Buffalo New York


The Great Wing Tour 2006
Sunday October 8th
Day 3

A refreshing rest at the Patel household, a gathering of family and a feast of food was how Rick & I started day 2 of the GWT. Despite being full, we trekked on to our next destination, Buffalo Wild Wings. We were quite frustrated with the directions Rick got from Yahoo maps, as we drove around and around the area until we discovered the location on the back end of a strip mall. Although we had seen a sign for BW3's, it was hidden from view, but upon actually seeing the bar, a cheer arose from both of us.

So what is BW3? Well, its founding history was described to us by our waitress, but Wikipedia describes it as:
"Buffalo Wild Wings was founded in 1982 after Jim Disbrow and Scott Lowery
moved from
Buffalo, New York, to Kent, Ohio. Unable to find authentic Buffalo-style
chicken wings in their new town, they decided to open up their own restaurant"

For you smart cats out there who ask ~ "Why is it called BW3? when its only Wild Wings?" The reason for this is that they also used to serve Weck, or Kummelweck, "a salty roll, made only in the Buffalo-Rochester area" but eventually moved away from this product.

We were both thrown off when entering the place. It had a huge ceiling, a separate counter for take-out orders, a very young staff but most of all, the cram-sports-down-your-throat atmosphere. Rick and I knew that this was a sports bar, but I think we were caught off guard by the American fervor for football as loud cheers erupted or thundering boo's at the giant tv's all around us.

BWW's was definitely interested in chicken wings. There was chicken wing references everywhere, from the wetnaps, the food boxes, menu etc. Some quips include:
"Order Blazin: 'Its a wing sauce & a copper cleaner. Eat a wing, shine a penny'"
"Thus begins the wetnap shortage of 2006"
"2 things guys don't like having stolen from them: wing & girlfriends"
"If you need more than 3 [wetnaps], use the sink"

So once we ordered the wings we sat in excited anticipation while worried about the emotional status of the football crowd.


SIZE of WINGS: large
HEAT: 7/10
PRICE: $3.79 for 6 wings, $6.99 for 12, $9.99 for 18
$12.99 for 24, $26.99 for 50, $49.99 for 100


SAUCE CHOICE: mild/medium/hot/wild/blazin/sweet BBQ/honey BBQ/hot BBQ/
Teriyaki/Parmesan garlic/Asian Zing/Caribbean jerk/mango Habenero
SIDES: veggies and dip $0.40 extra
WETNAP: wes, 2 for each of us
deep fried
WING NIGHT: Tuesdays all day $0.30 wings, lunch hour specials
OTHER: Mr Pibbs to drink (coke's Dr Pepper), free refills, sauce tasting

Its important to mention that we had several questions about the sauces before ordering them on the wings, and our helpful waitress offered to bring us tastings of the sauces before we ordered. Rick ordered Blazin & Mango Habanero, while I ordered Blazin & Hot BBQ.

The Blazin sauce had heat, and at first a good flavour that was distinct from other wing hot sauces. It actually reminded me of a hot sauce I had while I was in Hong Kong. And like that sauce, after a while I couldn't eat it anymore. More than 6 wings of Blazin and I think I would be sick. As for the Hot BBQ, it was all right, but it tasted more like a sweet hot sauce rather than a spicy BBQ. Rick's Mango Habenero was too sweet for me and Rick would have liked more Habenero than a 'honey-garlic' type sauce.

My other big complaint was the quality of the wings. They weren't very crispy, and the chicken seemed of a very low quality, very rubbery in fact. Mind you they were large, but in this case, I didn't want more. It might be again that we hit a bad day, but I don't think so in this case.

In the end, I give these wings 1 1/2 out of 5 flappers. This place definitely loves its wings, but its that kind of love where you forget to be a little self critical. The two founders must have found really terrible wings in Kent to think theses were an acceptable replacement. I really want to like this place, but I just can't.

Buffalo Wild Wings Bar & Grill (BW3's)
Canton Ohio (and many other locations), USA


The Great Wing Tour 2006
Saturday October 7th
Day 2

On the road again, and shortly that evening Rick and I arrived at another popular wing joint in the US, Quaker Steak & Lube. In fact, we went to the original QSL in Sharon Pennsylvania. We had some difficulty finding the place with the directions Yahoo Maps gave us but we found the place across the rail road tracks in the 'not nicest' part of town.

Out front we found all sorts of paraphanelia dealing with auto-racing, but wings as well. QSL advertises itself as "Best Wings USA", putting the bar quite high. There was even a photo cut out for people to get their pictures taken next to a chicken and their thermometer of chicken wing heat. QSL was definitely building up the hype for great chicken wings and I was definitely excited.

What excited me the most was the having to sign a waiver after ordering the Atomic wings, their hottest flavour. The waiver stated:

"I the undersigned, about to consume Atomic Chicken Wings
being served at Best Wings USA inc, do hereby acknowledge that
I am aware that these chicken wings are advertised and presented
as "Eat at Your Own Risk." Furthermore, being aware of the most
extreme danger of heat (100 000-300 000 Scoville units of heat
scale) I am willing to hold harmless Best Wings USA inc, its owners,
operators, employees and agents. The undersigned acknowledges
that he/she has read the above, and is giving up his/her right to
recover for the acts above for the indigestion above in the acts above."

So how would they turn out?


SIZE of WINGS: medium but skinny
HEAT: Atomic: 8 /10
PRICE: $6.99 (US) for 10, $10.29 for 15, $13.99 for small bucket plus other sizes and combos.


SAUCE CHOICE: 18 flavours! some of the more interesting sounding flavours
include Arizona Ranch, Buckeye BBQ, Pennsylvania Premium Garlic
& Atomic
SIDES: veggies and dip are an extra $0.99
WETNAP: no but a larger disinfectant towel.
deep fried
WING NIGHT: Tuesday after 5pm, $10.99 AYCE
OTHER: free sunflower seeds at the table, Dr Pepper on tap
I ordered a sample size Atomic and a 'Sprinster' sized Buckeye BBQ, which came out in egg cartons, which was curious because Rick's BBQ and his Suicide(? I forgot the other order) came in a basket.
By the time dinner arrived, a small crowd made up of three women on one side and a small family on the other were waiting in anticipation to see someone eat the Atomic wings. They were also curious about us as we were filming the event for the documentary. The waitress had warned that the night before a bunch of guys attempted the nuclear blast of chicken and broke down in tears, unable to complete them. The challenge had been laid down, the waiver signed. Rick was teasing about the body bag that was needed. All that was left was the crying. Or so I thought.

I took a bite - a slight burn. A hush fell over the tables. I waited for the fire to strike and the burn and tears to begin. I took another bite, then another and another. Quick work was made of that first wing and I was still not suffering. It had happened: the dream was gone and the burn was not enough for me. Rick took his chances with a wing, and while his spice tolerance had been dulled by a summer in Zambia, for the most part, could take the wing. They simply were not the death defying wings they had been made out to be. A little girl wearing face paint at the table next door asked "is that the hottest thing you have ever eaten?" to which I had to reply, "No."

So the burn wasn't really there, how about the wing and the flavour? Thumbs down again. The sauce was a pepper sauce, reminding me of Blair's Death Sauce, which I have been stomaching for years. There was little sauce, making the wing almost dry. The chicken itself was tough, chewy and too crispy. They were overdone. As for the BBQ, the sauce was ok, but having more than 6 wings would have been too much.
Rick was equally disappointed in his wings and we both felt unsatisfied. We each ordered some deep fried pickles, which were quite good. We left QSL feeling disappointed in all the hype about the wings. We wondered if we had just hit a bad night or whether their wings in general were terrible. I was still tempted by seeing buckets of wings go by, a Klingon Crossing sign and the people who seemed to really care about our quest. Before we left, we looked at the wall my name was going to go on. What we found was booklets of hundreds and hundreds of names each month people ate the atomic wings. Clearly the Atomic accomplishment was not that great.

I would be willing to give Quaker Steak and Lube a second chance, but I sure would not go out of my way to do it.

1 1/2 out 5 flappers

Quaker Steak & Lube
Sharon Pennsylvania (and other locations)

Monday, 9 October 2006


The Great Wing Tour 2006
Saturday October 7th
Day 2

After a late night of watching Russel Peter's new video "Outsourced", plotting out routes and eating chicken wings, Rick and I ended up getting very little sleep, having to wake up early to hit the road. Before we headed out, I found Ricky looking at the blog entry from the night before, and questioning him on why he was reviewing it he said "you have to know where you have been to know where you are going".

Spirits were high on the road, as we were both very excited about the road trip as much as the wings. Things turned a little dark when we arrived at the border. The American Border Guard asked us questions about our student status (demanding to see our student cards asking how students could do international travel etc). She proceeded to tell us to turn off the car as she searched our trunk, then went through our bags in the back seat. Of course, all was in order as the Great Wing Tour is completely legal, and over into Buffalo we came. We made a brief a stop at Rick's relatives, and shortly there after we pulled into the parking lot of Duff's Famous Wings, the original.

Like its Toronto counterpart, American Duff's was loud, faced paced and extremely packed. We waited at least 10 mins for a seat for 2. The atmosphere was also family packed, but I have to say the Toronto location's decor was cleaner and less 1970's ish.

Once seated, we scanned the menu to find it was relatively the same as Duff's TO. Rick and I both ordered a lunch special (only available in the USofA) which was 10 wings, veggies & dip, and your choice of 2 sides (fries, chili, soup or salad). We didn't have to wait long for our feasts to arrive.


SIZE of WINGS: large to jumbo
HEAT: super hot/suicide 9 /10, Death 11/10
WET NAP FACTOR: 6/5 drowning!
PRICE: $7.95 (US) for 10, $12.59 for 20, $25.99 for 50


SAUCE CHOICE: mild/mild medium/medium light/medium/
medium hot/hot/superhot/death/bbq
SIDES: giant celery with giant blue cheese, other sides in combos
WETNAP: yes and they were needed!
deep fried Buffalo Style
WING NIGHT: none advertised
OTHER: lots of wing combos available to choose from. Good old white bucket for bones
I was overwhelmed by the food when it came. My combo was a Caesar salad, fries and the giant celery and vat of blue cheese dip. The wings looked, smelled and tasted just like Canadian Duff's. This actually surprised me, only because I thought there would be some variation on them. I also ordered a side of Death sauce, which was also identical, and a sauce that make me want to vomit, not so much for the heat, but the flavour.

The only thing that really differed was the bowl American Duff's served them in, and the lake of hot sauce that they came in. They weren't swimming, they were drowning in hot sauce! As seen in the picture above, I had to tip my wings on the edge so that they wouldn't be so submerged in sauce. Although said presentation was breathtaking, after a while the wings got soggy and certainly lost the crisp wings that they are so good at making.

Rick got the chili as his other side dish, which looked terrific, covered in cheese and played well I think into the menu of Duff's. We both got fries which were shoestring, McDonald's style and very hard to stop muching. They were great with the blue cheese dip (which had a different flavour, almost mayo-like taste compared to blue cheese in the north.

So how did the wings fare overall? Rick's take on them were that they were mono-flavoured - he had hoped for a greater 'bouque' of flavour. As for me, these wings were good, but the same as Canada. And I like the atmosphere and staff at Toronto Duff's more. Also, there was no Armageddon wings on this menu. Disappointing over all.

Duff's Famous Wings
3651 Sheruidan Drive, 
Amherst NY, USA

see HERE for better Duff's in my opinion

Saturday, 7 October 2006


The Great Wing Tour
Friday October 6th 2006
Day 1

Jeff Says:
"And so began the momentous day. I boarded the busy bus in Toronto and took the arduous journey to London Ontario. The anticipation to begin the Great Wing Tour was running wild all day. Both bus stations in London and Toronto were packed, but Rick whisked me off to his tree rampant cluttered sophisticated lair where we were quick to order our first batch of wings"

Ricky 'Peterman' Says:

" Jeff's arrival was eagerly anticipated like one would anticipate a bowel movement. He arrived amidst the rumble of busses and the bustle of a busy bus station. The station was littered with vagrants and smelled of urine and stale coffee. Jeff was dressed as usual, wearing pants that weren't quite shorts. The childish look of anticipation was upon his face, he was a child about to enter a candy store. I cannot deny that I was not also excited. Amidst my days of formulas and transfer functions in the dank engineering building the dream of the wings pulled me through the dreary week. Quickly returning to My apartment complex surrounded by Forrest we plunged head first into a vat of gluttony that will frame our weekend adventures."


SIZE of WINGS: large
HEAT: 6.5-7/10
PRICE: $7.95 for 1 pound, $15.75 for 2 pounds, $22.95 for 3 pounds
(there is more increments, specials, party platters etc. check website at the end)


SAUCE CHOICE:Mild/Medium/Hot/Honey Garlic/Smoky BBQ/Montreal Spiced BBQ
Louisiana BBQ/Pad Thai/Thai Sweet & Spicy/Jamaican Hot/
Spontaneous Combustion/ Cajun (dry)/Lemon Pepper (dry)/
Creole Mustard (dry)/Sweet & Sour/Teriyaki

SIDES: none (there are combos one can order with onion rings or veggies & dip etc)
WETNAP: none
DEEP FRIED, GRILLED, BAKED, BATTERED: battered, then deep fried
OTHER: lots and lots of options, combos, platters etc - and most importantly,
DELIVERY TO YOUR DOOR! (in London only)

Jeff Says:
"Wow. For a take-out wing these things were large! Even though they were battered, they were still mostly meat. The skin was a bit soggy and the skin not crispy, but I think it really worked for this style. The Montreal Spiced BBQ sauce had a spice flavour (not spice heat) with a hint of BBQ while Spontaneous Combustion had an original taste with some heat thrown in. For take-out wings, Ring-A-Wing is definitely tops in my book."

Ricky says:
"The wings were conveyed to us by a blonde haired woman wearing a red rain jacket, even thought there was no rain in the forecast. The moon shone brightly through the large sliding glass doors providing the wings with an ethereal halo glow. I could not resist their intoxicating, spicey aroma and quickly sank my teeth into these morsels. They were succulent and tender like the breasts of a maiden. They caused a river a saliva to form and run out from my mouth like a flowing mountain stream in the spring. The cool night air complimented the spicey aroma of the wings. Like their name sake, the meat on the Montreal wings was not reluctant to separate from the bone, but was still appreciated as it borought a necessary flavour and uniqueness to the palette of the wings being consumed this night. The Spontaneous Combustion lit a fire in my soul which had remained unlit during my days eating Nshima in Zambia. I dreamed of these wings and this quest for many a night and was not disappointed today. "

We ate our wings over Russel Peter's new DVD, OUTSOURCED and with spice and laughter, we learned 2 valuable lessons:

1) There is no comeback to someone calling you a 'blowjob'
2) Be a man!

So how did these two Wing Voyagers find their first wing feast overall?

Jeff: 4 out of 5 flappers for these take-out wonders
Rick: To evaluate these wings with a number scale would be a grave injustice.

The qualities of these wings are too numerous to be merely enumerated but
must be celebrated. 3.962493

941 Oxford Street East, London (and other locations)

Thursday, 5 October 2006

The Chestnut Report: Part IV of a XX Part Series

"This is the church, this is the steeple,
open the doors, ATTACKED BY AN EAGLE (wing)! AW! AW!
This is The Chestnut Report!"

Welcome back to Part IV of a XX part series, Better Know a Chestnut Wing

One would think it would have been simple to figure out what to have for lunch today, but I had to use the DaWing Code to figure out.

It started out with:

Lunch - lunch box - boxing - Don King - King Wencesslass - mur - Mer-man - He-Man - Skeletor - Skeleton - Keith Richards - Rolling Stones - rock and roll - the 70's - That 70's Show - Wisconsin - Michigan - Detroit - Detroit Red Wings : WINGS!!!!

Wings in the caf. The DaWing Code worked again. But wings were not all, there was also perogies to be had.

Topped with cheese, fried onions, sour cream and some rooster hot sauce, I had to put these potato dumplings On Notice because they were good, but not great. These were soggy and without bacon on top, so I couldn't fully endorse today's side dish. But of course, loyal readers know the main event was: Chestnut Wings, The Fight'n Chestnut Wings.

Knowing these wings, I had to give a Tip of the Hat and a Wag of the Flapper. The tip of the hat goes out to the BBQ wings - with their crispy coating and sweet but mildly spicy sauce that had me going up for seconds. I wanted to have more, but the perogies acted as a filler, and I didn't even have the curly fries that accompanied them.

My Wag of the Flapper goes to the other flavour of sauce served today: Honey Garlic. What a waste of the chicken wing. So much so I'm putting it up on the THREAT DOWN board.

-honey garlic wings
-wasted wings

My other Threat Down goes to wings I saw wasted on other peoples trays - extra wings that were destined for the garbage. How could you even toss half of one away? my precious . . .

So the Truthiness of the matter is, the BBQ wings are great, meaty, crunchy and very very saucy. What a great way to get into training for THE GREAT WING TOUR

Wednesday, 4 October 2006


Are Proud to Present:

Yes ladies and gentleman, The Great Wing Tour of 2006. A 3 day trek into the United States of America to sample some of the finest wings the world's super power has to offer.

For 2-3 years now there was discussion amongst the Away Team about taking the search for THE chicken wing from Canada into the US. The idea was tossed around, but scheduals conflicted and it never came about. But one man never lost hope: Rick. With the same zeal to preserve Ribfest, the dream of a Great Wing Tour was always there. This year, I planned ahead, and with both of us off for Thanksgiving, it was decided that YES - The Great Wing Tour would occur!

So what does the Great Wing Tour of 2006 entail? Wings, Wing and more Wings.

We will be testing out wings from chain restaurants where chicken wings are the star. We will be hitting family restaurants that require waiver signing. We will be comparing the Toronto Duff's to the original Duff's, to determine who did it the best. And finally, we will be going to the birth place of the Buffalo Wing: THE ANCHOR BAR

Folks, I'm excited, and I hope you are too.
Check back for updates often
The Lord of the Wings