Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Christopher Walken Cooks Chicken

You have to love Christopher Walken. Even when he's cooking he's creepy. It may not be wings, but it is still chicken.

Monday, 27 August 2007

A Sad Sad Story . . .

Once upon a time, there was a young puppy named Starbuck.
He was named not for the coffee,

But for the pilots: the original,

. . . and the re visioned Battlestar Galactica.

One day, little Starbuck had two visitors:
Uncle Rick and Uncle Wing King. They came to dogsit
Starbuck because normally he was a good little puppy
and his mommy and daddy needed some time off.

Uncle Rick and Uncle WK needed to have dinner because they
didn't have anything to eat forever. They ordered from the
favourist place in all of London, Ring-a-Wing. They ordered the enchanted Buffalo style, Jerk and Louisiana BBQ which they had never had before.

They decided to watch a tale from days of yore:

Little Starbuck, who was curious like a cat, would not leave the two uncles alone. "No little Starbuck, chicken wings are not good for little puppies like you," said Uncle Rick. He got him a special chew toy just for him. Little Starbuck disappeared and the two uncles could watch blood and carnage and a very angry bearded guy.

Suddenly, things seemed really quite (except for many Greeks and Persians screaming). The two uncles travelled to the kitchen to have the last of their dinner. When Uncle Rick and Uncle Wing King got there, they discovered something terrible:

Little Starbuck had eaten the whole thing! He had pulled all the boxes off the kitchen counter and ate over 9 wings, bones and all. The two uncles were so upset, they did not pet the puppy for the rest of the night. They let little Starbuck know that he was a bad dog and that he might not ever be loved again if he did such and evil thing again. While the Uncles were sooo hungry, the puppy went into the corner, feeling guilty and sick. And little Starbuck learned a valuable lesson:


Thursday, 16 August 2007



Several years ago I did a summer exchange to Hong Kong - definitely one of the best times of my life. I saw China, bargained in the markets, and ate 'gai yik' (Cantonese for chicken wings - a very important word for me to learn while I was there). But what really made the whole trip was the people I met while I was on the exchange. I affectionately refer to them as my Hong Kong friends, and we had quite the adventures travelling, exploring and having a lot of fun.

Since then, we have tried to get together at least once a year for a reunion. At the heart of the reunions have been food: pot lucks, the Keg, Korean bbq etc. The last reunion was a few months ago, and the topic of the Lord of the Wings blog came up. Excited by chicken wings, we decided we would get together later in the summer and head off to a wing joint that Jeremy had been to, and I have heard about, but due to its location in Thornhill (North Toronto) I had never been able to get to. Well tonight was the reunion, and off to All Star Wings and Ribs we went.

L-R: Karen, Jeremy, Mark, Katherine, Eric, Vitra (aka chee seen Vitra)


STYLE: breaded, deep fried
SAUCES: over 100 different sauces & types
SIZE: 1 /2
HEAT: 8.5 (I think 20 for my compatriots) /10
PRICE: 10 wings - 1 flavour $7.95,
20 wings - 1 flavour $13.45,
30 wings - 1 flavour $20.45,
50 wings - up to 3 flavours (20/20/10) $30.45
100 wings - up to 4 flavours (25’s) $55.45
SIDES: celery and dip 2/7
WING NIGHT: Monday - buy 10 get 15
OTHER/SPECIAL: wing bucket
TOTAL: 26.5/35

We ordered 100 wings (split into 4 different flavours) and ordered another 10 of H-Bomb.

This sauce reminded me of "Home of the Brave" from the OWN, with a spicy butter-hot sauce taste, but a more syrup like sauce than regular hot sauce. It had a bit of a bite, and this was my favourite in terms of flavour, but everyone else felt this was the most 'boring' wing.

I know I know, not a real chicken wing. I refused to try it.
It was, however, the most popular with our crowd.

What a great name! A very unique flavour combo of hot
sauce and honey mustard. Starts of with the sweet flavour
with the heat kicking in a little bit later.

Dry style of wings, with a zesty blast of lemon. Unique, but we all
agreed you really couldn't eat a lot of these because they were dry.

I asked for their Armageddon, the hottest on their charts, waivre required wings. They were out. A roar of 'owwwww' came out. Asked if the second level of heat, The "H" Bomb was available. It was. No waivre, but definitely some heat. The following is the reactions to the
brave people who tried these along with me.

WK: Very similar to Duff's Death Sauce, this sauce had a lot of flavour (but I wasn't a huge fan). It did have a strong, slow burn that is deceptively weak at first, then it kicks in with a
vengeance. I felt a burn in my throat, some tingling in the mouth, but I have had hotter.

ERIC: The first brave soul to try these wings. He pretty much jumped right into them - only to suffer the atomic blast from the wings. It didn't take long for the tears to swell, the face to go red, and the pain to kick in - but it did take a while for it to go away. "I've never had food burn my lips before."

MARK: Didn't see the pain coming. He went from waiting for it to being hot, to "oh god", to banging the table in pain (thats a good sign of heat, banging the table).

JEREMY: Split a wing with Karen. He removed all the chicken/skin from the bone to take it all in one go. He played with it to avoid actually eating it, until peer pressure got the best of him. This was slow - a few mouth smacks, which turned to the dry burn coming up the throat, to burning the mouth. The above picture shows the exact moment it went from 'interesting' to 'ow'.

KAREN: She took the strategy of breaking her wing into 3 different parts to ration the pain. Her smaller pieces led to a much smaller doses of pain, but by the third piece she was dousing it in ranch to mask the heat.

Vitra, our 'ma fun' non-wing eating friend went for some calamari wings, Greek salad, and "garlic parm fries." The fries tasted amazing, almost like Caesar sauce but just good fries covered in Parmesan cheese and garlic. So good!

Katherine was happy to try all the wings, except The 'H' Bomb, which she wisely avoided - valuing her life and the pain receptors in her mouth.

The wings themselves were a medium sized wing, not too small, not overly large. They are breaded, deep fried, then tossed in the sauce of choice. With over 100 flavours, there is soo much to choose from. Unfortunately, with so many to choose from, neither the menu nor the website gave any explanation to what flavour they held. Scorpion Kiss sounded cool, but we had no idea it was honey mustard/hot sauce. I wish it was much closer to this place to try so many other options. What was really surprising was how packed this place was on a Wednesday night - it wasn't even wing night!

We ordered 110 wings between the 6 of us (Vitra had no wings). In the end, we had devoured just over 90 wings. What a feat! You can see from the giant bucket, or pail (no wimpy wing bowls here) that we filled more than half way, we enjoyed eating the wings.

FINAL SCORE: So if you make it waaay up North, definitely check it out. They are a bit strict with splitting sauces up with orders considering you want to try at least 30 different kinds in one go. But a decent sized wing, interesting flavours and some good friends, you're going to like it here too. As for the Hong Kong crew, I don't know when we will meet up again, but its guaranteed to involve some good food, and a great time. 26.5/35

10720 Yonge Street (another location at 11-9255 Woodbine Ave)

click HERE for a few more photos

Sunday, 12 August 2007

EIN-STEIN CAFE & PUB ~ Toronto, On

"Guten Tag, and welcome to Ein-stein! Spanning two millennia, the Ein-Stein Cafe and Pub has been serving the neighbourhood and university community since 1996. With our relaxed atmosphere, friendly staff and comfortable environment, you're sure to make Ein-stein your home away from your home away from home..."

That's a great description for this pub I used to venture to in my undergrad. Feeling some nostalgia for the old days, I wandered back to this student watering hole at the bottom of the University of Toronto campus. Above, they describe it as "relaxed atmosphere" and "comfortable environment" - this is because this place is a true dive. The furniture is old, the place looks dingy and that's they ways I's likes it. It serves cheap beer, and even cheaper food - and that's what they care about. They don't want the posh, they want the frosh.

There is lots of Einstein memorabilia, game tables, tv's and even serve-yourself peanuts. They have open mike nights, stand up comedy and some interesting characters around the place. On this warm day, I headed into the air-conditioned, empty inside. Summertime weekend is not a good business time for them, as most of the students have gone home. They have really good cheap pub fare, with two of my favourites, deep fried pickles, and of course, wings.


STYLE: breaded, deep fried
SAUCES: bbq/honey garlic/hot/spicy hot (suicide)/
Cajun/Jamaican jerk/naked with salt and lemon
SIZE: 2 /2
HEAT: 7/10
PRICE: $4.95 for 5, $8.95 for 10, $16.95 for 20
SIDES: 2 (side of fries $1.50 extra - so one point) + 1= 3 /7
WING NIGHT: none, but this is cheap for jumbo wings
OTHER/SPECIAL: wing bucket, patio, free refills on pop, free peanuts
TOTAL: 27/35

Its been a couple of years since I came to Ein-Stein's. Actually, not too much before I started the blog (one of the places that inspired me to really start Lord of the Wings). The big platter came out with jumbo sized wings, a heap'o'fries and a tall order of carrot and celery sticks. This is why Ein-Stein's was voted best wing in Eye Magazine in 2002 by its readers.

I picked up my first wing: it was so big and so wet it slipped out of my hand. This is the size a chicken wing should be. The first bite: crispy - a nice dusting on the outside and some well done deep frying. My problem: the chicken was a bit rubbery. Stringy almost. This might be due to the jumbo nature of the wing.

I ordered 5 spicy hot and 5 bbq wings. The bbq was nice, but it tasted like plain Bull's Eye bbq sauce. Not bad, but we could use a little originality. Before ordering the 'spicy hot', I asked about the 'Champ' sauce I saw in their dip section. It was described as a super heat flavour. I asked the waitress, and she said it was just the spicy hot. I've had this sauce before, but I wanted to clarify with her: "is there a flavour difference between hot and spicy hot? do they taste differently or is it just a heat difference" to which she replied, "the hot is just Frank's and butter. Spicy hot is our own cook's special mix". Spicy hot it was. It was a nice heat, nice flavour and I only wished I had ordered all the wings that way.

My fries were frozen and tasteless (actually, the leftovers I heated up the next day with some spices and they were much better - unusual for fries). The dip for the carrot/celery sticks was a terrible bleu cheese (if that's what it was - I would definitely ask for ranch or something else instead. I didn't order them on this occasion, but Ein-Stein's has de-lish deep-fried pickles. I would have ordered them, but I thought I had more than enough food on my plate. Or platter in this case.

FINAL SCORE: The wings were close to greatness, but the rubbery chicken took a little away. Lots of sides, napkins, wet-naps and free refills on the drinks were also welcomed. Avoid the fries and veggie dip like the plague. Thanks for the wing bowl by the way - the mark of a real wing place. 27/35

Ein-Stein's Cafe & Pub
229 College Street
416 59-STEIN

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

RIBFEST 2007, London

Ribs [ribz] –noun (used with a plural verb)
1. a cut of meat from the rib section, esp. of pork or beef, with some meat adhering to the bones.
2. a dish of this meat, usually baked, roasted, or barbecued with a pungent sauce.

Fest [fest] –noun
1. an assembly of people engaged in a common activity (often used in combination): filmfest; gabfest; love-fest; poetry fest.

Alone, these two words mean little, but together, they become something magical: RIB-FEST. A celebration of meat, of people coming together, and another form of deliciousnous with smokey greatness. Except for last year, Rick, Dude, Brad and I (but never all 4 together) have been attending this event for 4-5 years now, and this year, not only did we all come together - but Amanda joined us as well.

London Ontario is the home to one of many Rib-Fests that are held all around North America. Hundreds come to take in the Civic Long Weekend feast of beef ribs, pork ribs, roasted chicken and pulled pork, among many other types of carnie food. There are two sections - the smokehouse area of the ribs, and the selling tents (swords, cell phones, blankets, flags etc) and circus food (fresh cut fries, candy apples, popcorn, fresh squeezed lemonade). Of course, the rib section is the most important.

We arrived early on Sunday, afraid the cloudy weather would bring rain and wash out the event. The line ups were small, and unlike previous Rib-fests, the wafting smell of smoking meat was at a minimum. Most of that comes from the change of most vendors from wood smoking to propane. I know Hank Hill says "taste the meat, not the heat", but I like tasting the heat.

The ribs and dinners are not cheap - but they are uniform from one vendor to another. The proceeds all go to the London Boys and Girls Club. The Vendor's come from all over Canada and the US and compete for the honour of being named best ribs. This can be confusing as they all seem to have won the #1 spot at the same places in the same years. This means when your choosing which one to go to is based on the ribs you can see cooking, and your sense of smell. The meat all comes from the same place, so the rib joints must use their sauce and cooking ingenuity to win over our hearts and stomachs.

Here's a list of some of the places we tried:

From the London area itself, this was Rick and I's breakfast stop. We ordered a full rack with extra sauce to ensure you get a full taste of the flavour.

Rick: "its just a good tasting bbq sauce"
WK: "the ribs are very tough . . . a mild, tasty sauce [though]"

Overall - decent bbq sauce, over cooked pork ribs - nothing really memorable.

Once Dude and Bramanda showed up, we decided to do a three-way taste-test. Rick, Brad and I each went to 3 different Rib tents, ordering a full rack in which to split 3 ways, to get a sense of the different flavours.

    (Brad's Choice)

I'm assuming they are from Kentucky with their self-described 'smoked southern-style BBQ ribs.'

Brad and Dude tried this rib local. The ribs were quite a bit smaller than the other locations.

The sauce was pretty minimal on these ribs. The flavour was pretty minimal too. The meat was falling off the bones quite easily compared to other places.

A decent rib, but I don't think anyone would have gone back for seconds.

Indiana sent us their best with Boss Hog, a Dukes of Hazards homage rib kiosk.

Of the traditional style BBQ ribs, I think this was the favourite. The right amount of smoke flavour, sweetness and ribs BBQ'd just right.

    (WK Choice)
Walking down to the far left end of the parade of ribs, I came across a young man and woman offering free samples of the sauce from Fire Island BBQ. They were offering 3 different types of sauce: honey garlic, traditional mild, and suicide. While the traditional mild looked tasty, the concept of a suicide rib was VERY appealing to this usual wing lover. I had one dip of some bread in a chunky yellowish sauce and I was hooked.

I am not the biggest rib fan in the world. Ribs are good, don't get me wrong, but I'm a wing man through and through. Ribs are rarely spicy, as in hot, burning etc. Ribs are all about bbq and honey garlic - sweet flavours. So the concept of a 'suicide' rib is, well, unique. Waiting in line people all around me were ordering the suicide - on their pulled pork, alone, or topping up the mild sauce.

The sauce had a lot of flavour, a nice bite and a great smell. The extra sauce on top made this a knock-out ribs.

Traditionalist would scoff at these ribs, but they were heaven for me. Since the pork meat I find is pretty bland, the spice is nice. This would make a great wing sauce - but Rick pointed out the taste of 3rd Degree was definitely in their recipe (oh 3rd Degree, is there anything you don't get into? he he)

Amanda, famous non-meat eater was more than content with her cheese pizza. See, everyone can enjoy Rib-fest!
Everyone ~ even Bramanda's puppy Starbuck (named for the pilot, not the coffee) got in on the ribs!

Rib-Fest by the Numbers:
120,000 Number of people expected to attend
35,000 Pounds of ribs consumed
5,000 Cobs of corn consumed
3,500 Hours of volunteer time
500 Volunteers required for the event
150 Kegs of beer consumed
50 Food and Craft Vendors in the park
11 Rib Restaurants participating
5 Days of fun
2 Labatt beer tents
1 Largest Rib-Festival in Canada
0 Charge for admission - FREE, FREE, FREE!!

Rib-fest was fun, filling and fantastic. I still say it is really expensive, and I will not be happy until there is a Wing-Fest. Coupled with Dirigible-Fest. Now that would be sweet.

LONDON Boys & Girls Club

PS: Ribs Royale won best ribs. We tried their sauce (Rick's mechanic was offering tastings while we were leaving Rib-fest). It was alright, but my money would have been on Fire Island Suicide.
PSS: UPDATE -Tom Diavolitsis over at Boss Hogg BBQ was helpful enough to correct me in that they won the prestigous Peoples Choice Award - congrats and sorry for mistake!!!