Thursday, 27 August 2009

Wendy's Boneless Wings "Flair" Commercial

So about a month ago I sampled and reviewed Wendy's Boneless Wings. Bold Buffalo, if you will. And I wasn't too impressed. Too sweet for my liking. And I was fine to leave it at that.

I like Wendy's in general. I turned and looked the other way when they started their new ad campaign of Waaaaay Better. Sure I found their tagline of "It's better than fast food, it's Wendy's" when we all know, its still fast food. But recently a new commercial came out and I can bite my tongue no longer.

Please note, I couldn't find this commercial on the net, so I had to resort to taping it on my digital camera from the TV. Please excuse the crappy quality of image and sound. But you will get the gist.

"At some restaurants when you get boneless wings, what are you really paying for?"

That is what the announcer states as the over-the-top waiter passes the establishments Cocktail bartender, flat screen tv's, people singing happy birthday etc etc etc.

My biggest problem I have with the commercial is how is skews reality. My big beef, is the chicken. When I get boneless wings at a restaurant, yes I may be paying twice as much (keeping in mind Wendy's entree is $4.99, about 1/2 what one pays in a restaurant) but I get full size chicken tenders/fingers. Wendy's gives you chicken nuggets. Yes you pay less, but you get less too.

The most I have paid for boneless wings is probably $11.99, which came with some sort of side. At Lonestar you get free chips and salsa before you even order boneless wings. And yes my price may be higher to pay for flat screen tv's, decorations, people singing and "flair", but people go to those places TO HAVE someone serve you at your table, with a smile, or a song on your special day.

Well if you think I'm crazy about this, I'm not alone. Over at the website "Commercials I Hate", people are slagging the ad:

  • "Ah yes Wendy's, because your boneless wings and boneless wings from a sit down restaurant are exactly the same. NOT. My husband has had these "wings", and they just look like pieces of chicken strips that fell off other chicken strips. I'm tired of fast food trying to act like it's every bit as good as a sit down restaurant, because they simply aren't."
  • "My mom suggested marketing something called "Boneless Cubes" "
  • "There's a wing bar around here that has loads of TVs on the wall, live music on weekends, trivia games on wednesdays, and like 15 different sauces. And their portions are awesome. So yes, I will gladly pay extra for that "flair" (and a beer) and enjoy my dining experience, as opposed to paying $4 for ten cents worth of sauce on two bucks worth of chicken nuggets eaten in a booth that smells vaugely of bleached urine."
  • "What I don't get is why Wendy's keeps using it's low budget Fast-Food-quality service and atmosphere as a selling point-it's like, are you saying that I should eat at your restauraunt because you DON'T serve gourmet food and because your restaurant is boring and the waiters are assholes?

    if an extra $2 at a sit-down restaurant means my waiter is going to be nice to me, then I'm okay with spending it-if i'm going to eat out, I would hope it's a pleasant experience, and a mean waiter kills that hope..."

I understand that the neighbourhood grill type restaurants can be plastic, cookie-cutter, and fake. BUT SO IS A FAST FOOD OUTLET LIKE WENDY'S, and I don't even get table service. It's one thing to try and claim your better than your fast food competitors, but why attack a superior venue? WHY?

Have you seen this commercial? Does it bug you? Let me know! Comment today!

Bacon-Wrapped Jalapenos V2.0

Summer may be winding down fast, but that doesn't mean I'm going to stop grilling. I hope to be out on our building terrace with charcoal until there is snow or they shut the patio down (which they do for the winter). Grill forever!

Last month, Ricky prepared some Bacon-Wrapped Jalapenos (BWJ's)for our Backyard Ribfest. That got me and LJ jonesing for more, so when we got back to Ottawa, we made them for some company down visiting. Then I remembered the problems I had last year trying to make them on our lidless charcoal pit while they were cooking. This attempt was good, but still it wasn't satiating our BWJ cravings. So I decided to try again.



  • Jalapenos, sliced lengthwise, seeds/ribs removed
  • cream cheese
  • cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Parmesan cheese
  • smoked paprika
  • bacon, cut in half
  • toothpicks, soaked in water


  1. Fill emptied jalapeno shell with cream cheese.
  2. Wrap shell with bacon, secure with toothpick.
  3. Grill (or bake) until bacon is crispy. Enjoy!

Alright, following Rick's footsteps, we've gone 'three cheese' with cream, cheddar and Parmesan (fake stuff).

Slice the jalapenos and remove seeds and ribs. I don't wear gloves to do this because, well, I'm crazy like that. You may want to wear gloves so the oil doesn't get on your fingers and possibly in eyes or other sensitive areas by accident.

Mixing of the three cheeses. No measurements, just go with what you feel.

My new secret ingredient for BWJ's: smoked paprika. Ooops, secret out.

Spoon mixture into jalapeno 'shell'.

An armada of cream cheese jalapeno boats. Arrrrrrrrrr, shiver me timbers. Bacon ho!

Ok that collection of bacon had very little meat. Remember when bacon wasn't just white with a few specks of red?

2 wrapping styles:
1) cover the end, bring it around and spear. Covering the end because I cut out the stem so that you can just 'pop' these into your mouth when done. But otherwise, cheese mixture will leak out.
2) fully wrapped. Only possible with long bacon strips and small jalapeno shells.

So again, my BBQ pit has no lid. And no 4th wall. This means a lot of heat loss. It also means I have a hard time cooking certain foods. The problem is the bacon won't cook on the top of the BWJ's because the heat normally goes straight up. The only real option is to flip it, but the cheese mixture will ooze out.
Above, I have tried to create a 'lid' using tinfoil wrapped around another grill (from the adjacent pit) in which to create a tent of heat on an easily movable, handled grill. Problems? Oh yes.

Problem #1: The adjustable grill is the same size as the grill the BWJ's are on, so it doesn't sit above it. So I began to rearrange the bricks that make up the 2nd pit. Even still, the tinfoil grill doesn't fit right.
Problem #2: The tinfoil is not securely attached and keeps coming off.
Problem #3: I am cooking on direct heat. Why? I am afraid of under-cooking the bacon / loosing heat from the charcoal too quickly. But it's too hot and the bacon grease is causing flair-ups.
To combat these problems, I toss some water to cool some coals (careful not put it out though), then move the coals to the left, the poppers to the right (for indirect heating). I also just take the tinfoil off of the extra grate and make a tent as best I can.

This does not create the most desired results (as it would in say a gas grill), but lets be honest, the bacon cooked, the cheese melted and the jalapenos bit.

BWJ's were the stars of the show, but the main course was burgers (not shown being grilled).

What Would I Do Differently Next Time? There isn't much I can do to fix my grill problems, short of looking to buy a used lid from a garage sale. I would like the top bacon to be a bit crispier, but that's my preference for bacon. The 3 cheese mixture was great (you could taste all three cheeses) and the smoked paprika gave it a slight flair of mystery to the mix. BWJ - one more way to enjoy life.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Jean Albert's American Style Soul Food ~ Hallville, ON (Near Ottawa)

[Note: Jean Albert's has moved to 495 Somerset St. W Ottawa]

I've been wanting to go to Jean Albert's for a very long time now. From TV, to newspapers to blogs and websites, I listened to good and bad about this eatery; The good: good food and good service. The bad: decor, portions, prices and supply. I decided to check it out for myself with LJ in tow on a road trip for dinner, and a drive-in movie after. We called to make sure of their hours (open until 8pm) because we tried to come once before, but they were set up at Ottawa's BluesFest vendoring and the establishment was closed. They were open this Saturday night, and we were on our way.

Found about 30 mins South of Ottawa in the hamlet of Hallville Ontario, this place serves "authentic soul food", something when you cross North of the border we are devoid of.

Here's the story: local girl (Jennifer) goes to Toronto to a concert and meets Detroit boy (LeRoy Walden). The two get married, and decide to open a soul food restaurant in Jennifer's hometown. LeRoy uses his great-grandmother's recipes to bring a style of cooking sorely lacking in Ontario.

The outside is not much to look at; in fact, it kinda looks like a feed mill store. Inside is a great cottage/country store feel. Wood panelling, high rafters, brightly coloured picnic tables. The walls are decorated with family/friend photos and Americana. Abe Lincoln sits in a place of significance the same way a portrait of the Queen would. And anything Obama can be found as well.

The place was busy Saturday night (there's about 4 picnic tables and few tables and chairs for seating). At the main counter a hanging sign states "Order - Pay - Pick Up", so LJ and I stood, scanning the giant chalkboard menu. There was only one waitress who was busy with tables and people paying. As we gawked at the menu, Jennifer (co-owner) politely shouted from back in the kitchen, welcome, take a seat and that there were menu's at the tables.

The tables were stalked with caddies of menus, salt & pepper, ketchup and my highlights, Frank's and a roll of paper towel. A roll of paper towel may not be classy, but its a good sign of things to come in terms of the food. I think, anyway.

The menu is full of soul food faves: fried chicken, ribs, homemade mac & cheese, collard greens, blackened catfish, sweet potato pie and more. Jennifer came from the kitchen personally to first apologize; they were busy and it was only her and the waitress on duty that night. She also wanted to let us know that they were short a few menu items (the last take-out patron requested several sides of mashed potatoes wiping out their reserves; the collard greens were gone due to low Ontario supply).

She took our drink orders (we both went for the homemade lemonade) and said when we were ready to come up to the counter to order. When we had decided, I went up to the waitress to order, who looked whipped from a day of service, and she also apologized for being busy. LJ went with the Chicken Breast Fillet with the sides of candied yams and french fries. I was going to get the wings (for a wing review) but LJ convinced me (rightfully so) to go with the fried chicken (beans and coleslaw as sides).

The lemonade, is freshly made (there's a big glass jar on the counter where the lemons are kept before squeezing) and I watched it being made. I really liked it because it was more sweet than tart, but very mild overall. LJ prefers hers tart and felt it was a little watery for her liking.

Both of our meals came with sweet water corn bread. Skillet fried like a pancake, these were truly addictive. From the media and internet, this is clearly their signature item, and I can see why. Crispy, but light, with that great corn bread taste, but the sweetness just makes you want to gobble up one after another. These came out first and were gone very quickly.

LJ's chicken fillet. Fried in a light coating and full of juicy white meat. The candied yams were soft, and just slightly sweet. The fries were, sigh, frozen. Unfortunately. The redeeming quality was that they were crispy and they were tossed in a great seasoning/dusting.

My meal, the Southern Fried Chicken with sides. Great portion, but I had to move the chicken onto my tray because the liquids from the beans and coleslaw overtook the plate. I don't like my food mixing.

The beans, while good, tasted like canned beans from the grocery store with something sweet added. I had read this as a criticism on the Net and had hoped it wasn't true, but it was. The coleslaw was very creamy, loved that, but the cabbage was a little chunkier than I would normally prefer.

The highlight was the fried chicken. 3 big pieces, and boy, was it good. It wasn't greasy at all. Most people expect heavy breaded chicken like the Colonels, but this is light and crispy. The skin was, sooo good. The meat was tasty. I didn't even bother with a knife and fork: it was my hands tearing it up all the way.

With the ribs and chicken you have the options of adding (for $2.50) some homemade sauces (which they sell to take home) baked into the food. When Jennifer was talking to us, I asked what the difference between Buffalo and Hot Sauce was. She said Buffalo was standard chicken wing sauce, but Hot was a special concoction that her husband LeRoy makes, and that he keeps it such a secret that even she didn't know what was in it. So when I ordered, I asked for it on the side (because I wanted to taste the chicken for itself) for $1.50. I was warned by both Jennifer and the waitress that it was hot, but clearly they didn't know who they were dealing with.

It was a great sauce. It reminded me very much of Wing Machine's suicide sauce. It's peppery; it's smokey; it has a great kick. There are a lot of things going on when it hits the mouth. I like it because it has heat, but it also has a lot of flavour. Next time I would definitely order this cooked on the chicken or if I order the wings!

Afterwards, we had no room for dessert, but they seem to be popular with just about everyone.
FINAL THOUGHTS: My fried chicken was excellent. So was the sweet water corn bread. I liked LJ's chicken fillet too. And the lemonade. But many of the sides, while good, were nothing special. Some of the prices are high ($22.99 for a half rack of ribs is more than I am willing to pay, no matter how good they might be), but the service was really good. Jennifer especially was so friendly and made us feel at home.

I thought it was worth the drive. Actually, they said they were looking for a new location to move to in Ottawa, which I think is great. I want to come back and sample the wings, and have some more corn bread. Yum! It just goes to show that you really have to try things for yourself. Critics (my blog included) are good for indications and ideas, but everyone's tastes vary, so always experience something for yourself.

Jean Albert's American Style Soul Food
1759 Reids Mills Rd. Hallville, ON (South of Ottawa)

Click HERE to go to The Wing Bucket for Jean Albert's Take Out Menu & a flyer for a BBQ Contest & Yard Sale September 5th 2009

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Bud Light Lime

I'm not a beer drinker. Alcohol in general. I'm not against it, I'm just not into it. I know, weird to love wings and not beer. But I'm crazy like that.

So it was a bit of a surprise when I got this e-mail back in May:

"Hi Wing King,

My name’s (name removed, let's call her HER #1), and I work at Edelman Public Relations. I know that Lord of the Wings focuses on the wonderfulness of BBQ, but since beer and barbequing go so well together, I wondered if you’d be interested in receiving a sample of Bud Light Lime, which will be available in Canada starting May 25th.

Previously only available in the US, my client Labatt recently announced that Bud Light Lime will now hit Canadian shelves – thanks to a couple thousand Facebook fans who petitioned for its release north of the border. Bud Light Lime is a premium light beer, which combines the easy drinking taste of Bud Light with a splash of 100 per cent natural lime flavour.

Please let me know if you’re interested, and I’ll arrange to have samples of Bud Light Lime sent to you. If you don't respond to this email, please note that I will respect your privacy and not contact you again.


HER #1"

I get e-mails from companies all the time wanting me to sample products, and frequently they are bots, or someone who has never read the website. So far most have never sent me anything they said they would. When HER #1 wrote in, I had some skepticism about the authenticity. I mean, she called me Wing King, which was correct and not just bot info; but then she mentions that the blog "focuses on the wonderfulness of BBQ." I actually focus on wings, but yes, there is some BBQ grilling in there too. Ultimately, I was just happy to get an e-mail for a freebie that might come true. I don't drink beer, but heck, I'll sample it for free.

I e-mailed HER #1 back to go over a few legal things (ie if the sample is for reviewing, if I review I am not obligated to give a positive review etc etc.). She e-mailed me back, and then I e-mailed her to give her my address. This happened within a day. Then I got an e-mail back the next day stating that HER#1 was no longer with Edelman Public Relations. Wow, that was quick. Her 'out-of-office' reply gave me the info on who to contact, and shortly, HER #2 sent me a coupon for free beer.

That was June, and very shortly I received a coupon in the mail. Awesome, the deal came through for 6 bottles of Bud Light Lime. And I had that coupon until mid August. Why? Because Bud Light Lime was soo freaking popular in Ottawa that it was constantly sold out at The Beer Store and the LCBO (the only two places to buy alcohol in Ontario). I found out it was nearly impossible to get across the province (except at pubs and bars) at one point. It was outrageously popular. Thanks Facebook. Here I was hoping to do a review and ride the wave of its debut for summer, but no deal.

Now it is late August, and when I walked into an LCBO, I looked on the shelves (no bottles) and after just about leaving the store, decided to ask a clerk if they had any. The employee said that there might be some in the back, otherwise, sold out. He went, and there was a case with several six pack bottles, and I took my one, gave over the coupon, and left content I could FINALLY do the review.

Each bottle is 330ml, which is less than a can of pop, or cans of BL Lime. Despite my photo above, the colour is more light brown than green. It's 4.2% ABV with 116 calories. Very technical. What does that mean?

Bud is an American-style lager beer: "a common variety of beer, a type of pale lager, traditionally made and consumed in North America. It derives ultimately from the Czech Pilsner, but is characterized by a much lighter color and body and the frequent use of rice or corn as adjuncts . . . The style is categorized by a light-gold or straw color, moderate alcohol content (4-6% abv), and muted to nonexistent hop character (carried to an extreme in dry beer). Malt flavor is generally rather light, with a very light-bodied mouth feel. Due to their extremely light body and flavor, combined with a distinct lack of character, modern American-style lagers are sometimes criticized as being bland or watery and yet due to sales figures is an obviously popular style for most in North America and abroad." (from Wikipedia, italics and colour added by WK)

I love that last comment.

My expectations for this drink were mixed. I believed if I was going to enjoy a beer, it would probably be this one. I thought it would be limey, like a 7-Up, with a beer kick.

What I actually got was a cold, fizzy light beer, with next to no lime flavour and no beer kick. Now I didn't taste the lime, because I expect a bold lime flavour like a soft drink. LJ, who does drink beer and was sampling with me, did taste the lime. She liked it, but it wasn't amazing.

FINAL VERDICT: Meh. Once again, I don't drink beer. I've heard this described as 'the beer for those that don't like beer' or people call it a girlie beer. As for me, I found it pretty bland, I didn't really taste lime, but it didn't have the strong alcohol kick I normally dislike in spirited beverages. I am not the consumer to really to review this, but I appreciate the freebie and the sentiment. Thanks!

Bud Light Lime

Monday, 24 August 2009

Crunchy Coating: Super Breaded & Beer Battered Wings

Buffalo wings are good, that much is clear. Buffalo wings are simple, and it's that simplicity that makes them great (you know, and the awesome sauce). But that doesn't mean you can't improve the wing situation.

Hot sauce, we've covered before in terms of taste; you can make it, you can buy it, we aren't worrying about that today. No, we want to focus on texture over the taste today. We want a wing that's big, crispy, nay, CRUNCHY. I want to feel that first bite. I want to HEAR that first bite. The best way is to put on some sort of crispy coating on the outside of the skin. So I'm putting on my lab coat and goggles, and heading to my kitchen lab to whip up some bizarre culinary science project.

(please note, I don't actually own a lab coat or goggles. Actually, I do have goggles, just not here with me)



  • Wings (washed, split) (approx 10-15)
  • Flour (approx 1 cup)
  • Corn starch (approx 1 cup)
  • Eggs (2)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Hot Sauce


  1. In a bowl, add wings, salt & pepper, egg. Then add flour and corn starch.
  2. Mix mix mix. Will become thick and gloppy, don't worry. Just make sure chicken is coated (don't worry about it being clumpy).
  3. Deep fry (in my deep fryer, its 5 wings for about 5 mins).
  4. After deep frying all the wings, deep fry a second time for 2-4 minutes to make them extra crispy.
  5. Pat dry with paper towel immediately.
  6. Drizzle sauce over (if you toss in sauce, it may pool and make the wings soggy) and enjoy immediately.

This breading is super simple. You could jazz it up with spices and other ingredients, but I'm just covering some basics today.

A traditional breading would have you dust the wings in flour, dip into egg wash, then into a flour mixture. While that would create an even breading, we want SUPER breading. This is messy and you will doubt what you are doing because of the clumps on the wings, but stick with me. We will have super crunch.

The final product. You can't tell me those don't look crunchy.

Fresh from the deep fryer, 2nd dip, too hot to hold.

Sauce drizzled over. I just did a simple Buffalo hot sauce. Drizzled over top and I've only done a few wings at a time so they don't get soggy. But make sure that you get sauce everywhere.

BIG CRUNCH. These wings delivered my texture goals.




  • Wings (washed, split) (8-10 wings)
  • Flour (1 cup)
  • 1 Egg
  • Beer (355ml approx)
  • Salt & Pepper


  1. Dust wings first in flour (very light, to give batter something to cling to).
  2. In a bowl, add flour, salt & pepper, egg.
  3. Begin to mix with whisk; slowly pour in beer until batter is relatively thick (like a pancake batter).
  4. Make sure deep fryer oil is hot and ready.
  5. Dip individual wing in batter, then slowly drop by hand into oil, one by one.
  6. Deep fry for about 10 minutes.
  7. Remove from oil, dry on paper towel.
  8. Serve immediately and drizzle with hot sauce. Enjoy!

The cast of characters for batter isn't that different from breading. But the outcome is sooo different.

The batter. Not too thick, not too runny. But way more than I needed.

The process: take wing (drummette here), dip into batter, slowly lower into hot oil. Deep fry, remove. Simple but dangerous. Please be careful.

Beer battered wings. Truly an amazing experiment. Smooth and crispy.

You know how these taste like? Chicken balls. North American Chinese chicken balls. Unbelievable.

With some sauced drizzled over, these were really good wings. The batter was light, and very crispy. My tasting partner LJ really enjoyed these.

What Would I Do Differently Next Time? Overall, I was very happy with the experiment. I wanted crispy, crunchy wings, and that's what I got. If there was a chicken wing science fair, I think I just won. Or a close 2nd place.

SUPER BREADED: This would be great to be tossed in a honey/goopey hot sauce. Something sticky. If I was going to do the same way, I would season the wings afterward.

BEER BATTERED: I should have deep fried them a bit longer. Otherwise, these were good the way they were.

If your looking for a big crunch in your wings, these are two different ways you can go with for awesome texture.

Remember, tune in next time for another exciting episode of: