Monday, March 31, 2008
Monday, March 24, 2008
Cozy Corner (bottom) versus Dot's Soul Food (top).
Having long relied on Trip Advisor for user travel reviews, and (well, only recently) Roadfood to tell me about hidden dive treasures, I regret to inform you that I have fired both websites from my bookmarks. Why? Consider the following case study:
Dot's Soul Food Cafe, Hillsboro Alabama
Cozy Corner Cafe, Memphis Tennessee
Both were rated high on Roadfood, with Cozy Corner's rating a little higher. Dot's food was rated an 85% with voters willing to drive 40 miles to eat there. Cozy Corner's food was rated at 97% with the reviewer willing to drive 80 miles to eat there. Trip Advisor, lists Cozy Corner as its number 9 restaurant out of 864 restaurants in Memphis. Dot's isn't even on the radar at Trip Advisor (probably because it's in the middle of rural Alabama--not exactly a vacation hot spot).
Wow. A restaurant that is number 9 out of 864, that people would drive 80 miles to eat at, and that scored a 97% based on the Roadfood editor's review? I had to go there. So I did as a Trip Advisor reviewer suggested and I got "thee to Cozy Corner." And regretted it. So much good food in Memphis and I was eating at a place that served chewy ribs, watery coleslaw, and spaghetti in barbecue sauce. That last one tastes as good as it sounds, which is, not very. Meals come with fresh from the bag discount white bread. Several slices.
By comparison, Dot served me homemade macaroni and cheese with that extra layer of cheese baked on top, actual fresh corn--not canned, and tender ribs. She baked the corn bread muffins fresh that morning and served several different homemade desserts, including chess pie.
Ambience at both restaurants was basically no frills. Dot's was cafeteria style, on a not very busy highway, in a small Alabama farming town. Cozy Corner was near the famed St. Jude's Children's Hosptial, in a bars-on-the-windows kind of urban area.
As for driving 80 miles to go there, I would say that with gas prices (and earth issues) the way they are, you must be kidding when you suggest that for any restaurant, let alone Cozy Corner.
Dineometer rating: Dot's Soul Food Cafe 90%
Dineometer rating: Cozy Corner 40%
Sunday, March 23, 2008
With recipes like Office Ramen 101 and Jack in the Box Marinade, slickly edited videos, a quote from Julia Child, racist and offensive language, and, of all things, a Crate and Barrel Ad at the top, RamenDays.com I predict will be wildly popular as well as being the only food blog flagged as offensive.
"Chefs" Tory-T and Caleb supposedly started the site after not finding any visual tutorials on the net for amature cooks ( *cough*
I think they just wanted to show off their comedy culinary stylings.
Works for me, I added them to my bookmarks.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Sunday, March 16, 2008
"But (the owner) isn't averse to tapping into the tastes of all nationalities. He said Cicero's cultural mix has inspired him to develop a new food fusion he calls "Czech-Mex." He hopes to incorporate it on his menu soon, but for now, only friends get to try the goulash tacos and duck enchiladas. "
He's just kidding, right?
I don't begrudge a person the opportunity to increase revenue, and I am aware that my single, annual visit to the place will not keep them in business, but Czech-Mex?!? This is a bastardization of bohemian cuisine that I don't think I can accept.
Cicero has already lost several other once common features of its psyche such as radical, extreme, segregating racism, and prevalent mafia ties. Gone are the days when no one of color dared cross the street dividing Cicero from Chicago, and when Chicago's WLS TV had it's own mafia reporter (a rather nervous and squeamish looking guy) regularly reporting on people that had been exploded in and across Chicagoland. Oh, I'm sure that racism and gang related activity are still common, they are just no longer the identifying features associated with Cicero.
The final stage of the grieving process is acceptance. With acceptance comes the realization that Bohemian food is everywhere and not confined solely to one Chicago suburb. Texas' Kolache Factory is rapidly expanding beyond the state boundaries and soon everyone may have access to this traditional Czech pastry. I have discovered listings for Czech restaurants in Atlanta and other large cities, and a huge encleave of Czech culture in Texas.
So for Cicero: Mafia and liver dumpling soup, out. Spanish speaking population and goulash tacos, apparently in.
For more on:
Cicero's colorful and openly sordid past
Sunday, March 9, 2008
German family (top) displays one weeks food.
Ecuadorian family's weekly food supply (bottom).
His newest book Hungry Planet, allows us to see what the world eats. Families from countries such as Cuba, India, Britain, Mongolia, and Chad, display one weeks worth of food for the family. Included are country statistics on population, caloric intake, life expectancy, number of McDonald's restaurants, and the cost of a Big Mac. Another interesting feature is the inclusion of family recipes. We have Bhutanese Mushroom, Cheese, and Pork; Dried Goat Meat Soup from Chad; Cuban rice and beans; Potato Soup from Ecuador; Roulades of Beef from Germany; and Seal Stew from Greenland. Recipe notes such as in this recipe from Mali: Broth made from Sumbala (spice made from nere tree pods), indicate that I won't be cooking Malinese for dinner any time soon.
The beautifully photographed (as are all of his books) Hungry Planet is highly recommended, not just for the cultural information that it provides but also because it is an opportunity for personal re-evaluation of one's own eating habits from a global perspective.