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Monday, August 8, 2016

Cocktail craft at Django

Living around the corner from Django makes its a go-to place for a highly civilized drink. Among their house cocktails are the Django Vesper, left, with Bombay Sapphire gin, Ciroc vodka, Lillet Blanc, and lemon twist; and a Waistcoat and Tar, right, made with Templeton Rye, Pimm's No. 1, dashes of simple syrup and Peychaud's Bitters, plus muddled orange and grape.


Seasonal cocktails of late featured Django's housemade syrups and bitters from Fee Brothers. A Rhubarb Gimlet, left, blends gin shaken with ice, lime juice, a rhubarb and pink peppercorn syrup, and rhubarb bitters. The Strawberry Smash, center, adds bourbon, lemon juice, a honey-thyme syrup, and peach bitters to muddled strawberries. Spying a bottle of Aztec Chocolate bitters piqued my interest. Barkeep Kira Barker obliged my curiosity with an on-the-fly creation, right, featuring the bitters with vanilla vodka, Frangelico, Baileys, and a black cherry with a drizzle of cherry juice on top.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Recent pizzas: Something Italian, Centro, Wig and Pen, Parlo Pizza

Pizzas from Something Italian: An epic meatball pizza featuring medallions of sliced meatball with peppers and onions, and a basic but no less delicious pepperoni pizza.

Its not an official Farmers' Market until I've had a slice of breakfast pizza from Something Italian, such as a French toast/bacon/hash brown pizza, or one with Italian sausage.

Coal-fired oven pizzas from Centro: A formidable New Yorker with mozzarella, Mama’s meatballs, mushrooms, roasted red pepper, and red sauce; a simple pepperoni and red onion.

On the left, a slice of Wig and Pen's deep-dish stuffed crust pizza, this build with pepperoni and mushroom. A thin, crispy Pizza Mattina spotted with char from Parlo Pizza, on the right.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Appetizers and a fine Grinder at The Iowa Taproom

The Italian Grinder at the Iowa Taproom is a fine sandwich, featuring Graziano Brothers' Italian sausage with marinara, onions, Anaheim and red Bell peppers, all stuffed in a grilled Italian roll and topped with melted Provolone. Its not too spicy, but quite flavorful and juicy underneath the cap of melted cheese. The grilled Italian roll betrayed an enticing aroma of garlic and stayed quite toasted. Hollowing out and stuffing the roll with the meat filling was genius. Think of a pizza boat upgraded to container ship. Battered onion rings sport a light, crispy exterior; a bit oily but I'm game to revisit them.

Iowa Ham Balls, glazed with sweet and sour sauce over grilled pineapple. Tender, delicate ham flavor. Lovely grilled flavor to the pineapple, though I'd prefer them warm than lightly chilled as they were served.

Kielbasa Fritters feature a crisp exterior, with a hearty mélange of finely cut kielbasa, sauerkraut, onion, and cheddar within. So rich, the side of Thousand Island dressing is overkill. I did dab it onto the bed of shredded cabbage for an ersatz slaw.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Blaze Pizza: Does a quicker-made pizza make it better?

A coupon in the mail compelled me to try out Blaze Pizza's much-touted 180 second pizza. For my free pizza I tried a signature build, the Link In with Italian sausage, roasted red bell peppers, sauteed onions, mozzarella, and a choice of regular or spicy red sauce.

I went the latter. Despite my skepticism I enjoyed the spicy sauce, the clean-tasting vegetables, and the spots of char on the underside. Even the sausage was better than any other chain pizza could offer, and after time spent on the table the über-thin crust didn't go limp.

Blaze won't sway me from frequenting either of my favorites Centro or Something Italian, nor even crack my Top Ten. But if heading home after an afternoon spent bar hopping around the East Village or along the MLK corridor, its a safe bet that Domino's won't be getting any carryout orders from me anytime soon.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Recent eats: Pita Pit, Burger Daddy, Burger King

Wraps at Pita Pit. Meat the Day breakfast wrap, left, with egg, ham, bacon, peppers, onions, hash browns, and cheese, Pepper Jack for my choice, plus Louisiana style hot sauce. Gyro wrap, center. I swapped out red bells and banana peppers for cucumber. Thick tzatziki-flavored sour cream, cool veggies; the white pita is a little doughy, I'll stick with wheat. Falafel wrap, right, with feta cheese, spinach, tomato, onion, and tzatziki sauce.

Inferno burger basket at Burger Daddy in Grimes. Housemade hot sauce, lettuce, tomato, a jalapeño/banana pepper mix, and pepper jack cheese. Zesty though the hot sauce overpowers most everything else. For a well done burger it retains a few tiny hints of pink, and worth trying again on a simpler build, and most importantly as a double. The onion rings are okay, but the fries were like a McDonalds/Five Guys mashup: skin on, shoestring cut, well done.

Mac n' Cheetos at Burger King. If you like a Kraft cheese powder flavored mush of pasta within a thin veneer of crisp, then rejoice. Five come in a box.