Monday, 25 October 2010

Haiku - Chicken Wing Poetry

A Bowl of Crispy Wings
Hot Sauce Stings My Lips and Mouth
Nirvana is Reached

Monday, 18 October 2010

Smokes Poutinerie ~ Toronto ON

Finally, I made my way to Smoke's. After reading and seeing so much on the Internet of this chain of eateries devoted to just poutine, it was time. Ryan Smolkin creation of a place that just sells poutine has led to so many comments, comparisons and . Blogs, newspapers, media outlets, critics, foodies - it created a little sensation, whether it was in 2008 in Toronto or this summer in Ottawa. I'm not big on jumping on band wagons, so I wasn't in a hurry. But I can't say my interest wasn't piqued.

There's a Smoke's just a few blocks from me, but I just never went. So I was in luck when Ricky of came to town to visit, it became our lunch destination. It was a beautiful Saturday to wander the streets of Toronto, but we needed some serious fuel first. I got Ricky to send me his comments, so join us on our journey to the poutinerie.

RICKY: "The vast array of choices bewildered my brain and excited my taste buds.  I was tempted my many of the offerings on the board.  The Robert Redford-esque Mascot lured me towards options like the Hog Town, the Country style, Nacho Grande or the Classic.  He mocked my indecision, but when my comrade in starch Wing King was ready to order, I had to quickly make up my mind.  He ordered and was promptly served before I was forced to decide."

WK:  Wow, there are a lot of choices. The Montreal with smoked meat and a pickle, the nacho one, pulled pork? Or even the classic poutine just to get a base understanding of what they are serving. Nah, I'm going with the Bacon Poutine. Base poutine with some bacon on top should be good. What size? Hmm, that small is looks like not much. Lets go regular. Oh hey look, it's ready all ready. I wonder if Ricky has finally made his decision?

RICKY: "He [WK] ordered and was promptly served before I was forced to decide.  The mound of bacon covered goodness he received startled me.  It was more potato than any carbohydrate fearing person should eat.  The shock of his order restored my mental clarity and I was quickly able to zero in on my indulgence.  I ordered and as Wing king before me, was promptly served my Chili poutine."

WK: Hmm, chili, sounds like a good choice. This location is small, not even a stool, just standing room. I like those bags of potato by the door with the Smoke's logo. That black board is cool. Maybe I should go write Lord of the Wings ate here. Nah. I'm content not writing anything up there - I have the Internet to write on.

RICKY:  "I had failed to grasp the concept of the offerings though. I thought I was ordering basic chili fries. I did not expect my fries to receive a topping of creamy cheese curd and a caress of silky smooth gravy before being assaulted by steaming chili.

 The combination was not, however and assault on my taste buds. It was delicious. It filled that unique niche between poutine and chili cheese fries that is so welcome on a cool day. The chili was flavorful, but did not overpower the unique flavour of the gravy and the delicious fries. The portion was well sized for my appetite and was joyfully consumed in a nearby park while watching bmx tricks on the basketball court."

Here's my [WK] meal. Can I just say, the empty box of the regular sized poutine looks, well small. But when that box is full, its a monster. I thought I had a monster hunger that day, but was I humbled.This was waaay more poutine than I wanted inside my tummy. Ricky definitely got to not make the same mistake I did.

Can I add that I love the Pop Shoppe black cherry? I love it. There, added.

Can you see the poutine? Like there is some in there, but there is so much bacon on top, well, there's a lot of bacon. I don't think I could get a bite in edgewise without having bacon.

My thoughts? There were things I liked, a few things I can complain about, and one thing I didn't like.

  • Portion size is huge. $7.99 for this sucker may seem like a lot, but it was a lot of food. 
  • Fries were pretty crispy. By the time we sat and ate, they were softer, but that is to be expected when you drench something in cheese, bacon and gravy.
  • I liked the Ricky's chili. It wasn't spicy, but a nice warm treat on a fall day.
  • Cheese curds were tasty. Not fresh mind you (No squeak. You NEED squeak) but it melted nicely.
  • The bacon - while good, was too undercooked for my liking. The full strips (like 7 or 8) visually looks like a lot (and it is), I would rather it was chopped up so I could evenly distribute the bacon instead of each forkful taking a whole strip.
  • The gravy. At first I thought it was an interesting earthy flavour, but there was something in the gravy I just didn't like. The more I ate it, the more I disliked it. I only ate 1/2 or maybe 1/3 of my order that day, and when I had the leftovers (in two sittings), it left a stronger distaste in my mouth.   

 So would I go back? Yes. But I won't have the regular gravy again. I'm not taking a chance like that again. But The fries were good and I would definitely try some of the other combos. And you have to like Pop Shoppe (reminds me of the 80's growing up). This is not authentic Quebecois poutine. I'm sorry, the gravy is not right and the curds weren't squeaky, but this was good grub. I'm just surprised with so many choices there isn't a Hot Wing Poutine, but maybe that's just me.

Thanks for sampling with me Rick. Hey, maybe we should go get some supper soon . . .

Smoke's Poutinerie
203 Dundas Street East,  Toronto ON (and other locations)

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

WWWWWW #31 - Simple Tailgating

Yes, World Wide Web Wacky Wing Wednesday. WWWWWW. This is where I will surf the Web, and find other people talking about chicken wings. The world is full of chicken wing stories, wacky and otherwise. Recipes, restaurant reviews, eating contests or whatever. Today's Blog relating to wings in some shape or form:

There isn't any info on this blog: I don't know who writes it; I don't know why they do it; I don't even really know where they do it. All's I know is that they do do it, and the recipes sound great.

The concept is simple: make tailgating simple and delicious. What is tailgaiting? 

"In the United States, a tailgate party is a social event held on and around the open tailgate of a vehicle. Tailgating often involves consuming beverages and grilling food. Tailgate parties usually occur in the parking lots at stadiums and arenas before, and occasionally after or during, sporting events and rock concerts. People attending such a party are said to be tailgating. Many people participate even if their vehicles do not have tailgates."                                                                   From Wikipedia really wants to help you organize your tailgate party. If you go to their Checklist & Tips page, you can find, well, helpful tips and a checklist so you don't forget anything! 

Of course I found this blog because of the wings and wing related food. Above is their Corona & Lime wings.

 What happens when you put a Caesar drink and wings on the same grill? Why you get El Caeza wings!

Or what about Lighthouse Wings? Interesting name, even more interesting ingredients: powdered mashed potatoes, sea salt malt vinegar . . . sounds interesting and maritime-y.

Craving wings but in soup form? Then the Buffalo Wing Soup will definitely hit the spot.

Or another wing-themed treat: "Get your Popcorn ready" Buffalo Wing Popcorn. Layers of flavour from hot sauce, butter and dry spices. I make my own with fewer ingredients, but its great to see variation on a theme. Why can't they have Buffalo Wing Popcorn at the movies?

 So if your planning on throwing a party from the back of your pick-up or just want some tasty party food, Simple Tailgating is a good resource. Man, I wish I had a truck right now.

Monday, 11 October 2010

BBQ Wings in Xi'an China

My good buddy Dude is still in China. Still in Xi'an. Still eating wings.We spoke over the Internet the other night and here are some excerpts from our texted conversation:

Dude: had a KICK ass order of wings last night
Dude: took pics...

WK:   Who are you eating with?
Dude: Ted is in the middle & on the right is Alan. Both from england and teach here in xian.

WK:   where are you eating?
Dude: its a local noodle/bbq restarant about ten min walk from my apartment.
Dude: great great food
Dude: friendly people
Dude: we don't know the name - its in chinese
Dude: its a family run bbq place - we spent last new years there
WK:   when you say BBQ, what do you mean?
Dude: its a noodle shop, but they have a section that will BBQ for you.
Dude: um, how to explain . . .
Dude: like this [Ed. note- photo taken from here ]
Dude: these wings were crispy and so juicy at the same time

WK:   are you in the muslim market? what is the name of the area of Xi'an you are eating in?
Dude: we aren't in the muslim area, the area is called east street, bell tower
Dude:  we sat there for some noodles ... so I thought I would order a couple of wings ... well we
            them ... and thought wow! so we ordered more

WK:   what kind of flavour are they?
Dude: im getting the name of the spice now ...
Dude: ok, the flavour is cumin and chili
Dude: the price was 5 yuan for one stick (2 wings) [Ed note: 5 yuan = approx $0.75]

Dude: No side dishes ... just pure meat on a plate

WK:   is there just one flavour?
Dude: ya, just the one kind
Dude: its the same flavour all over xian

WK:  What did the Brits think of them?
Dude: they loved them

Dude: sometimes this place doesn't make them crispy ... so we asked them to cook them well
Dude: to give a rating ... ive had better in xian ... and worse. I give them a 4 out of 5

Thanks Dude for the review and the photos - the wings look really good! Another reason I wish I could go back to China.

Chestnut Tree Wing Lunch: Teasing, Explosions and Good Byes.

I'm being a bit of a tease, so I apologize.

I've been fortunate enough that I've been getting restaurant quality wings that A) I didn't make, and B) The public can't get either. It's more food porn than anything else. I'm back in the caf, and wings came up again in the rotation. This time it was lunch, and I came prepared.

They saw me coming and gave me a special order of wings, sauce-less, curly fry-less, and heaped.

These were some very crispy breaded wings. A fried chicken that would be great on it's own. Today for lunch they are plating wings (about 5 to a plate) sauced either in honey garlic or BBQ sauce, with a side of curly fries.

I wasn't alone either; my co-workers were joining me in this noon-time wing-a-thon.

Kat was back with her honey garlic wings. You can't tell me she isn't enjoying those wings.

Sarah was also eating wing with us. BBQ was her choice of sauce, and you can tell it was good because it was all over her fingers. Also declining to be on camera and without wings were Laura and Andrea. Actually Laura and I had flipped plates: mine was all wings, hers were all curly fries.

Now I showed you the sauce-less wings I had, but I didn't eat them like that. I brought down some of Nathan's Scotch Bonnet sauce that he gave me a couple of weeks ago during the last wing night. But I really wanted to coat the wings in the sauce, so I had to improvise.

Simple instructions. Just call me Wing MacGyver.

Those wings were perfectly sauced. The smell coming off them was great and I just loved how they looked wet, hot and sloppy. Speaking of sloppy . . .

While trying to squeeze the sauce out of the bottle, a chili seed got stuck, causing a build up, when BLAM! Sauce explosion. All over Kat. All over me. I am so sorry Kat. I'm glad I live in my place of work, because I HAD to change after lunch. Again, sorry Kat.

I was mega hungry and with AYCE wings, I had to go back for more. I grabbed a plate of BBQ wings, and suicided them up.

This created a sweeter wing, very gooey, but still lots of layered burn from the suicide sauce. It was soo good. I was a very happy with lunch.

And I have some sad news for me and the dining hall; Sous Chef Nathan is leaving us to take over a dinning hall on his own. The caf will not be the same without him, but I wish him the best and I know he will make a big difference where he is going. Thank you Nathan for all your hard work, our conversations and for the chicken wing/suicide sauce love.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

WWWWWW #30 - Choosy Beggars

Yes, World Wide Web Wacky Wing Wednesday. WWWWWW. This is where I will surf the Web, and find other people talking about chicken wings. The world is full of chicken wing stories, wacky and otherwise. Recipes, restaurant reviews, eating contests or whatever. Today's Blog relating to wings in some shape or form:

What happens when you have a humerous couple team blogging about cooking awesome food? Well you get Choosy Beggars. I like this summation from their blog: "They’re like superheroes, but with fewer shot-dead parental figures and a better appreciation of pomegranate molasses."

Tina and Mike do a great job taking us on their culinary adventures. All sorts of great recipes. But what brought me to this foodie duo is their post series, Pub Night. Pub night is where they recreate, and often improve on, Canadian pub food favourites.

The post that caught my attention was of course chicken wings. But they didn't just do chicken wings, they did Sticky Honey Chipotle Chicken Wings. The discussion about the wings is great because they talk about things like:  "So here’s the thing about baked chicken wings:  they’re not crispy.  You know that recipe that says “Crispy Baked Chicken Wings”?  It was written by a liar." So true. Throughout the blog and in particular the wing article, conversations of of heat, what is hot, hot sauce etc come up, and not only is it funny, it's true too.

How about having Buffalo Wing Macaroni on Pub Night? I say yes, because of the philosophy that goes into a dish like this:

"For years I was convinced that home made mac’n'cheese was abhorrent, because it generally fell into one of three major faux pas:

1. Bland and flavorless. The pasta was beige, the sauce was beige, and the very flavor itself was just…beige.
2. Greasy noodles twisted away in oleaginous torment. The sauce had separated and congealed, with each bite coating your oily lips in an insidious film.
3. Dry and dense. Mac’n'cheese should be eaten with a fork, not a fork and a knife."

What other wing related items do Mike and Tina make? What about homemade Buffalo Chicken Sausages? Like, made from scratch with step by step instructions? This really made me want to get a sausage maker and start making my own!

And what Pub Night wouldn't be completed without Deep Fried Pickles Piri Piri Breaded Pickle Spears with Buttermilk Dill Dipping Sauce? Love me some pickle spears, and boy did these look good.

So if your looking for a laugh, some great food photos, and awesome recipes, check out Choosy Beggars. Do it. Now. You won't regret it.

Back on Track

Personal post here.

Things have finally stabalized round here. The transition is basically complete from the move, job, and general life restructuring. I've finally caught up in my blog posts, which means I can now go and do some new reviews, recipes and updating the news. I still have some catching up in answering LOTW e-mails and on many good friends blogs and posts. I'm looking forward to getting back into the 'wing' of things and thank you all for your patience while I abandoned the blog for like two months.

You guys, the Wing Nation, rock.