Friday, 28 September 2018

#fryday = Double Breaded & Smoked Fried Wings


These were good. I didn't have them today though. But I wish I had.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

DEKE & SQUEAKs SPORTS BAR & GRILL - Cornwall ON

Sometimes the stars align just right and things work out in your favour. Recently LJ had business in Cornwall again, and this time it was an overnight trip. This also meant dinner out, and it just so happened I found that one sports bar downtown had wing night that night: Deke & Squeak's.


If the building looks familiar to long time readers of the blog, this place used to be BoJangle's which had just re-opened in 2010 (there had been a Bojangles in that same location almost 30 years ago).  They had pretty decent wings, but they closed down around 2014 or so, with Deke & Squeak's  (D&S) opening in it's place.


D&S's continued the sports bar theme but went with a different colour scheme and decor. We were confused by how to enter; I'm pretty sure I saw some people in the parking lot enter via the back patio, but we went to the front. The main door was closed (now seating) so we moved to the next door, which looked like it might lead to the upstairs instead as there was no signage on it. We kept going but that was the last door. We tried it, and it turned out to be the main door.

As you enter, there was a large table in the window, but the rest of the seating you had to go up some stairs. There was a large dining room on the left, on the right, a bar at the back and a game room off of the very back.


We arrived between 5:30 and 6pm and the place was packed, with more and more people coming. I had read on D&S's social media that it get's busy so come early, and boy were they right. We grabbed a table and our server dropped off the menus. Never caught her name, but she was friendly and great, if not very busy with the crowd.


I scanned the menu for the wings and found a big red panel. Then a smaller wing night menu fell out, then I noticed that LJ had another different wing night menu that described the specialty sauces. They had 25 different sauces and while we went pretty traditional, they had some interesting sauces like Pizza, Poutine, and Chicken Caesar.


To diversify our meal, the Tornado Poutine ($10) caught LJ's eye. This is not your classic poutine! It's made with seasoned curly fries, sprinkled with deep fried cheese curds, then topped with a gravy and Tornado Sauce (tangy-sweet hot sauce) mix. It was a savoury, salty, spicy good dish. Everything is elevated over a regular poutine. We couldn't finish it and I had it cold for lunch the next day and it was good again. LJ really really liked this.


The wings weren't out quick because of the crowd (I saw plate after plate of wings go to tables around us) but that's ok.


Wings here are sold by the pound, which works out according to the menu as about 6-8 wings. One order we had was 6 wings, another 7, so ya, it does range. It's also a good mix of flats and drums.



The wings were a good size, both in length and meatiness. The wings are breaded, but they aren't overly breaded. The breading is crispy, but the wings lost points because they were quite tough and difficult to chew. I don't think they were using wings, but I suspect that the wings might have been cooked earlier in the day and re-fried before serving to deal with the significant number of people ordering wings.


We ordered 3 pounds of wings with a bunch of sauces on the side ($0.50 on wing night). This allowed for lots of sampling.



CHICKEN CAESAR SAUCE

Described as Caesar Dressing and Parmesan sauce, this was very creamy thick sauce. It was, however, super mild in flavour. I mean there was that hint of parm, but you couldn't taste much. But it was nice a creamy.


SMOKED SEA SALT & PEPPER

This was another one that was quite mild in flavour. Just a dry rub, and while you can see the flecks of pepper and salt, you couldn't tell that it was smoked sea salt. Because the wings were so tough, you couldn't enjoy the chicken, which is usually what the seasoning brings out.


BOLD BBQ SAUCE

A commercial sauce that was sweet, but also dark, bold flavour. Slightly thick but still a bit runny. I liked this sauce and would get it again. It would be great if you could up it with spicy heat.


BUFFALO SAUCE

This was a slightly unappetizing looking sauce but it actually tasted good. It's hot sauce with butter and garlic. I think they may just mix garlic butter with the hot sauce. The garlic is pungent but good. I've had this type of Buffalo sauce before, at City Limit's Bar, which coincidentally is in Cornwall too. It's not traditional Buffalo, but it's flavourful.



SUICIDE SAUCE

This was a really great sauce. It might have had a Frank's type base, the built upon from there with chilies and other ingredients. It was thinner than the Deke sauce, but it was good. I would put it just above a hot heat level.


SQUEAK SAUCE

This was another homemade sauce with good flavour. On the menu they call it a 'Spicy Pepper Sauce'. It's base was 3rd Degree, and chilies and other ingredients. The waitress mentioned it might have ghost peppers, but this was not that hot. Tasty, and at least a suicide, but not killer.



FINAL SCORE:
These wings had real potential; good size, tasty sauces, fried crispy. They would have been better if the meat was not so darn tough. Overcooked or cooked twice was the downfall here. I suspect on non-wing nights the wings are better. Maybe it was just our order, because clearly the locals just keep coming back. I'm happy to go back and try again especially on Thursdays. I wouldn't mind trying that Tornado Poutine again either.  8.5/15


Deke & Squeak's Sports Bar & Grill
58 Pitt Street, Cornwall ON
dekeandsqueaksbar.com

Doreen Brown - 1925-2018

On Tuesday we lost my Gram.


Monday, 24 September 2018

LOTW Meme Monday - My Collapsing Will Power




It's a nice try, but nothing stops the juggernaut that is my addiction obsession.

Tornado Blackout Wings


We've been on the road since Thursday, but my now home Ottawa and area suffered from two Tornado touchdowns that did some pretty bad damage. I heard it on the radio and wondered if our place was ok.

We came back Sunday late afternoon to find our building in darkness. The tornado had hit a major hydro power dealie and much of the city was still without power. We were fortunate because there was emergency power that kept one elevator running (we live midway up the building). I lit up some candles and not having anything to eat without cooking, I took to getting some pizza and wings. My phone was sufficiently charged and I was able to eventually track down a Pizza Pizza that was still open and get some pizza & wings. At 10:30 pm we got power back (thank you Ottawa Hydro), but everything in the freezer and much of the fridge is trash. That's my day today cleaning that out.

We are fortunate for many reasons. We were safe and away for the weekend and didn't have to worry about eating, heat, and our possessions. Many others have not been that fortunate. If you can, please help those that need help. I know I will:

https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/how-to-help-the-victims-of-the-ottawa-tornadoes-1.4106026

https://ottawastart.com/how-to-donate-for-ottawa-tornado-relief/

Friday, 21 September 2018

HOLLY's HOT CHICKEN pop-up @ BAR LUPULUS - Ottawa ON


I'm an equal opportunity wingist - I don't discriminate against commercial wings or small business wings. But, I'd prefer to give the local folks the business when I can. So when I heard that a local named Holly Laham was holding pop events as Holly's Hot Chicken (HHC) serving Nashville Hot Chicken sandwiches, my interest was peaked. I wanted to try, but the pop ups were at time's I couldn't go. Then I heard she was doing Nashville Hot Wings, and I knew I had to go. Then this summer I heard that Holly had partnered up with Bar Lupulus on Friday and Saturday nights from 10:30pm-1am. This was my chance to go.


I'd never heard of Bar Lupulus before seeing it on Holly's Instagram with her partnership with them. This is funny because I live very close by and have driven by almost daily without ever noticing the place. LJ and I went on a Friday after going to the cinema (saw A Simple Favor, highly recommend) on a beautiful September evening when they had their big front window open and the crowded bar was presented to the street.

I walked in right at 10:30 (Holly's opening hours) and was greeted by a friendly Bar Lupulus waitress, but she said Holly's weren't up and ready yet, not for another 15-20 minutes. She said I could have a seat, but I went back to the car to sit with LJ. After waiting for 15 minutes, I went back, and the waitress told me they were ready and head to the back bar.


I really liked Bar Lupulus. It's dark, it's a bit chic, and it has an eclectic crowd. The waiters seemed to be all in overalls and the waitresses in jean aprons. A bit hipster in presentation and clientel. They are big on craft and local beers here. They also have a restaurant service, but it must end by 10pm and that's why HHC comes in at 10:30pm.


HHC takes up the back kitchen counter; the whole restaurant is dark but the kitchen with it's low level but bright lighting shows off the prepping space. There is a portable marquee that is like a beacon in the dark to let you know where to order. You can see the crew rushing around prepping and cooking - I like that. I saw Holly herself working like crazy, and I was a bit disappointing I didn't get a chance to chat with her about her business and craft.

The way it works, whether you are drinking at Bar Lupulus (apparently the wait staff don't take orders) or you are getting take-out like me is you go to the back of the bar, check out the paper menu on the counter, and the dude with the tablet takes your order. You pay (cash, credit or debit) and they give you a number for your table. I got two orders of the Nashville Style Chicken-Wings (I was order #4 of the night) and didn't have a table but crashed at a long empty one at the back. I chilled watching as patrons from both the restaurant and take-out come and order as well. Then I got politely booted out as the reserved table's party had arrived. I stood awkwardly trying not to get in the way of servers and patrons. When there was a moment of no one at the bar, I went up to snag some photos when I saw something interesting:


Since I ordered, and maybe 4 or 5 people after me, they had scratched out wings off all the paper menus! I got scared that I wasn't going to get wings, but I'm sure they would have said something. But what happened? Did they run out of wings already? They were only open 10 minutes! After waiting about 15 minutes, I had our wings and didn't stick around to find out about the wing situation; I was out the door and headed home.


We got home and I opened the brown paper bag our order was in. At the top were containers of pickles, ranch dipping sauce, napkins, and wetnaps. After pulling that out I found at the bottom two cardboard 'poutine' boxes as I call them with our wing orders. It smelled spicy and good ...





I have to admit in all the excitement I didn't get a good count of the actual amount of wings in the order, but based on the photo evidence and the box size, it was about 7 or 8 wings. The box was an explosion of spice and grease. It was all very exciting.


The size of the wings is not very long, maybe stretching to a medium. They were, however, pretty meaty chunks of chicken. Even if you took the breading off of them, they were a plump flapper. They did not look disappointing at all.


The breading was packed on, and it and the skin were very crisp, almost cracker crunchy. It was not a light breading, but it wasn't too heavy. You can`t bite into this politely without making a mess or knocking off sheets of the breading.


The wings are sauce-less, but that doesn't mean these are dry. They are freaking greasy, and some folks might find that wrong, but I find it soo right. I mean that's why they give all the napkins and wetnaps right?

This chicken is marinated in lots of spices; they are Nashville Hot Style after all. If you are unfamiliar, Nashville Hot, as defined by Wikipedia, is chicken:

marinated in a water-based blend of seasoning, floured, fried, and finally sauced using a paste that has been spiced with cayenne pepper. It is served atop slices of white bread with pickle chips. It is both the application of a spicy paste and the presentation that differentiates it from similar dishes
I have had very little experience with Nashville Hot Chicken, but Holly seems to have nailed it here. From my research, fully authentic. Crispy breaded seasoning with cayenne pepper spicy paste. The flavour is peppery, mainly cayenne. The heat is good; it attacks the throat more than the mouth. People not used to spice will die, but heat eaters are going to be happy with the warming sensation.



To make it Nashville Hot, you gotta have the pickle chip. This pickle chip seems to be a Bread & Butter type pickle, and I think it's a quick pickle rather than one that's been pickling for a long time. It's sweet and sour and you need that sweet/tart contrast to the peppery chicken. LJ really liked them and while they give you a lot in each order, she wanted more.


You also get a choice of house made Honey Garlic or Ranch sauce. Well we are going for ranch ovy. The ranch is a bit watery, but it has a nice ranch flavour. You know, whatever ranch is. I really appreciate that it`s made in house. Or in pop-up ...


LJ and I both agreed that the wings were pretty much a one note flavour of cayenne pepper, so they need the pickle and the ranch to give a nuanced experience. But these wings are delivering an experience. It's hitting your nose, the mouth, the fingers, there's crispy skin and bursting pickle. You have to devote your moment to this wing, you can`t just suck them back like your average bar wing.


Oh don't forget the Wonder Bread. At the bottom of the box is traditional Wonder Bread and it's soaking up the grease, the spice, the seasoning. It looks like a visual representation of a heart after a heart attack. LJ questioned whether we should eat it or not, because when you go to say a breakfast buffet they often put bacon on bread to soak up the grease, and you don't eat it. I said f*#^ it and we ate it, dipping it in ranch. Wow, my heart stopped, but it was good.*


FINAL SCORE:
Holly knows her way around a deep fryer, that's for sure. The wings were fried crispy, the breading was great and held up all the spice and for take-out. The wings have a great crunchy texture, and scooped up the ranch when dipped, and the pickle when eating altogether. The warming cayenne heat is good, but it renders the solo wing a one note flavour. So you gotta eat it with the ranch and pickle. These were good wings, but I'm willing to bet that the sandwich is even better. 8.5/14



Holly's Hot Chicken
facebook.com/hollyshotchicken

Bar Lupulus
1242 Wellington Street West, Ottawa ON
barlupulus.ca

Thursday, 20 September 2018

President's Choice CAYENNE & SCOTCH BONNET WING SAUCE


When I'm at the grocery store, I always wonder down the condiment aisle just to see if a) any hot sauce is on sale b) there are any new hot sauce. Most times, neither is the case. 


But earlier this summer I was pleasantly surprised that there was a new sauce! President's Choice Cayenne & Scotch Bonnet Wing Sauce.


In general I'm not a big fan of scotch bonnet pepper sauces; I like the white hot blistering heat, but not the more fruity flavour of the pepper flesh. But with the cayenne in there, and it marketed as a 'wing sauce' and not just a hot sauce, I had to try it.


 I mean the bottle even says it is "Scorching" in the PC heat rating scale! And the fact that Hot Sauce and the Scotch Bonnet Peppers are listed near the top of the ingredients, it seemed pretty promising. When you open the jar, the smell is slightly sour, slightly vinegary, and slightly fruity. The look of the sauce is light orange.

Taking a taste, the sauce attacked the tip of my tongue. The heat was white, quick and stinging. I was shocked and surprised - this was actually a hot hot sauce after all! I used it on a few food products and the taste was kind of a watered down cayenne based hot sauce, with a big bite. I immediately knew this sauce would be great on a grilled wing.


At the moment we live in a condo/apartment building and have to use a communal BBQ grill. I got some charcoal on fire, and I was excited to get to use my cast iron sauce pot. I lobbed in some butter, and then added the hot sauce.


Once the sauce was heated thoroughly and mixed, I put it off to the side of the charcoals to keep it warm while the wings cooked.


For the wings, I brined them in water, vinegar, salt, and spices. Once the brine was done, I seasoned them with Frank's Dry Seasoning, paprika, salt, pepper, roasted garlic and spices. Once the coals were flaming hot, I put down my BBQ mat and let them cook.

This grilling pit is really hard to control the temperature so a few wings got a little more scorched through the mat than I had planned. The fire was HOT. In the above photo at the bottom you can see the fat and seasoning is bubbling (there is no sauce on those wings). I tried one just as it was (Level 1) and they were good. I could only imagine how with the sauce it would be.


I transferred the wings to cook directly on the grill and started to baste them up with the sauce. If this grill pit had a lid I wouldn't have bothered, but I wanted that skin to get direct smoke, as well as some flame kisses. But it was so hot and my basting brush was very small, my hand had a hard time reaching those back wings.


I took the wings off the grill after flipping and basting a few times. I tried them as they were (Level 2) ooh wow they were good. I could have just eaten them at this stage as is, but I wanted to go to Level 3 with these wings.


Level 3? Yes, lets sauce these wings up! Also keep in mind that at this point the sauce was picking up the smoke from the lump charcoal and growing that flavour as well.


The photo above is one of my favourite moments of wing eatery. It just looks so beautiful.



I sat outside at the picnic table and took it all in. The grilled, charred rubbed wings, basted in butter hot sauce, and slathered in more butter Cayenne & Scotch Bonnet sauce. This was a perfect summer moment.


Wow. Wow were these good. The flavour was ON POINT. Charred and smokey wings, buttery and spicy sauce - it was a match made in heaven. As mentioned before, the PC sauce is a bit watery on it's own, but you mix it in with butter and you've got a kicked up Buffalo Sauce. A worthy suicide for the average spice lover.

The only downside was the wings themselves. Despite brining them they were still tough and a bit chewy for my liking. I can't seem to get tender wings on this outdoor pit.


Would I get this sauce again? You bet. It has a nice flavour, but it also has a lot of heat. Good heat. This isn't a sauce I would use all the time; I'm not crazy about scotch bonnet sauce but the added cayenne makes it a more full flavoured sauce. What elevated this hot sauce was the addition of butter. And grilled smokey wings. So good. Well done President's Choice, well done.


PC Cayenne & Scotch Bonnet Wing Sauce
Presidentschoice.ca