Posts Tagged ‘cheese’

April 29, 2016

First off, it has been more than a year since I’ve updated this fancy little blog. I was done with it. However, and yes I’m being serious, I had a LOT of people bring up my food blog at random times in the last few months.

This of course will take time, but us Orlandoans are used to it based on how much Colonial Drive is always under construction, as well as the Magic’s “rebuilding” process.

With the help of some amazing friends I’ve met in this town, my goal is to eventually frequent some of the loveliest establishments in the area and chow down on some meat. Influenced by Parks and Rec and one of my favorite scenes of any TV show, though, I wanted to start with a simple homemade burger before racking up SunPass tolls on the journey.


Voting on burgers works by ranking its Appearance, Juiciness and Overall Taste on a scale of 1-5 with five being the best. Points will be totaled and then an average will be calculated.

Homemade Burger on the Grill

Drinking an adult beverage while grilling some flavorful items serves as one of my pastimes. I could have a live antelope gnawing at my leg and I would just keep cooking. I love it.

To deliver a grilled, juicy burger is incredibly easy, even on this day when we were thankful to a ton of friends who came over to the house. Our ingredients consisted of a couple of packs of ground beef, slices of cheddar cheese and some sesame seed buns, all of which came from Costco. Two big stepsHomemade in the cooking process are simply making an indentation in the middle of all of the patties (laying that side face up when starting) and just flipping the burgers once.

I’m hopeful that everyone was telling the truth, as our friends were loving these burgers. While grilling a burger is easy, making sure they are still juicy and not crusty on the outside can be as difficult as understanding a Rick Scott TV ad (please don’t come after me too…wait, no please do, I’d love to hear what fictional stories you come up with).

Getting that grilled flavor all over your taste buds is a glorious feeling. These homemade burgers won the crowd with their juiciness and taste, however their appearances were lacking. I guess I need to educate myself on plating.


Brisket Burger at 4 Rivers

This indeed happened. For two weeks a year according to management, 4 Rivers Smokehouse serves up its Brisket Burger. I gobbled a brisket burger in Philadelphia and it was easily one of the best things I’ve ever put my mouth around. I had to try the 4 Rivers version.

4RiversHanging out with some UCF friends at the 4 Rivers location by campus, we learned the Brisket Burger was only $8.99 and came with two sides. Can McDonald’s even achieve this type of price for a hearty burger and sides these days?

I needed more intel. Another member of management gave me some of the lowdown, but asked I keep a little of the information private. So what I will say is that the brisket is mixed with ground chuck and an egg binds it together. They then add some eye-popping ingredients (such as a cheesy snack one would find in the crackers/cookie aisle at a grocery store).

4rivers2Served up on a perfectly grilled bun, most of us were in love and thought the burger was exceptional in the juicy category, however not everyone agreed. A true brisket lover was a touch upset it was mixed with ground chuck and that hurt the taste. Personally, I enjoyed the hints of garlic and parsley that were shining through, and washing that down with mac and cheese as well as some fries hit the spot.

The only thing upsetting to me about this burger was that we won’t be able to acquire the object for another 50 weeks.



B&B JunctionJuly 2014

When 4Rivers changed locations in Winter Park and something called B&B Junction popped up, I of course became skeptical. Whatever it was, my immediate opinion was that it was going to fail just like me trying not to drool when I sleep. So I ignored it.

That is until I received some sporadic feedback claiming that it actually served up a decent burger. And when LivingSocial offered up a $40 value in food and drinks for just $20, I decided, what the hell.

On a Sunday afternoon, we trekked over and found plenty of parking (unlike when 4Rivers held its ground there) but still no indoor seating on this warm and very muggy July day in Florida. For our deal, we were able to choose two drinks, two sides/starters, two burgers and two desserts. We just had to pay tax as well.

Where the specialty drinks like craft root beer used to be now stood a similar cooler but this time it was filled with craft beer. I went for the Bell’s Oberon Ale, and from the burger menu I decided to go for just the standard offering, the #1. However I noticed the #3 burger had blackened seasoning so I added that along with cheddar cheese to my meat. We also got some fries and chicken tenders as the sides, plus a chocolate chip cookie and a cupcake.

Not a bad deal at all.

And the burger? So money. I ordered mine pink (that’s another difference these days, so many places just say pink or no pink instead of rare, medium, etc. I think it’s because the chefs can’t handle a burger medium well and screw it up so much) and the first bite packed a solid punch. The house sauce looked just like what’s spread on burgers at Big Boy, yet tasted much cleaner and had a nice spicy kick to it.

B&B Junction advertises that its beef is “made from 100% local, sustainable, antibiotic and growth hormone free grass-fed beef … served on a brioche bun.” It certainly does not taste like the beef at the supermarket that’s for sure. Every bite delivered what I needed.

Top five in Orlando? For now, definitely. I need to try it one more time to know for sure. However, the bison burger might be up next for me here.

The only issue I had, besides the non-indoor seating, was that the chicken tenders were pretty bland. They looked good, but the batter needed some seasoning.

On the drive home we turned by Johnny’s Filling Station, a place I’ve always wanted to try. On the outside wall, it said it had Orlando’s best burger. We’ll see about that soon.

BrocatosSpring 2014

Sometimes I wonder why I do not know the Gulf Coast of Florida better than I should. I am certainly familiar with perfect eating establishments in Pass-a-Grille and how driving back from a Tampa Bay Rays game is like receiving a wedgie for 2.5 straight hours. But that’s about it.

So when I was introduced to Brocato’s Sandwich Shop in Tampa, I immediately removed my wedgie and stretched out my belly. Located very close to downtown and in a stretch that really featured nothing exciting, the place was packed. I mean, to the point where it felt like I was in some outfield bleachers during a home-run derby.

Even though moving inside Brocato’s was next to impossible, the lively walls were decorated beyond belief, which helped me pass the time. Noticing that it advertised itself as having the “Best Devil Crabs in Town,” I elected for a ham and cheese sandwich simply because it looked phenomenal. And I got it with extra cheese and mayo.

It’s difficult to ruin a sub sandwich. I believe Firehouse subs may be the worst, and Subway never fills me up, but beside that I certainly prefer local eateries. And when my name was called at Brocato’s I snatched my bag and headed out the door to a trailer-like barn filled with tables. When I opened up my selection, I immediately became disappointed.

BrocatosMy ham and cheese sub was not located in the bag, but instead I had a devil crab, some other weird object and a messy sandwich that still looked scrumptious. I returned and stood at a counter, watching as a massive amount of employees were either playing with dough, building sandwiches or yelling out orders. It was chaos. I managed to flag down a manager who was very apologetic and said I could keep what I had, and he provided me with my sandwich and a couple bags of chips if I wanted. A great way to show hospitality amid so much organized confusion.

And the sandwich hit the spot, providing a very hearty meal that I struggled to finish. And everyone around us was inhaling their lunches as if they were pigs around a trough.

What makes a good sub is the bread itself. Sometimes the simplest can be better, and when you add on a boatload of options like ribeye steak, buffalo chicken and roast pork, there are plenty of choices at Brocato’s. Combining solid food with an interesting experience makes this a must-see place to chow down in Tampa.

If continuing on to St. Pete, might as well finish the day at Ferg’s since the one in downtown Orlando STILL isn’t open.

Hot Dog SteinsWinter 2014

Somehow I never knew about Frank and Steins in downtown Orlando. My first visit opened my eyes to the joys and wonder of a great beer menu and food that attacks the heart in seconds. And of course it had table shuffleboard – how I longed to find a local establishment with this addicting game.

Add in the fact that Happy Hour runs from 3-7 p.m. and includes half off selected drafts and hot dogs, and Frank and Steins had the chance to be one of my perfect eateries.

With some friendly board games on the table, I ordered up the chili cheese frank and not surprisingly I downed it in seconds. Albeit I needed 14 napkins to accomplish the task. It was a solid dog but unfortunately not too impressive for a restaurant which brags about its franks. I could easily make this chili cheese concoction from my home.

But I still enjoyed the visit to Frank and Steins, sparking a second one with friends from Chicago. This time, however, I realized I might not be making a return trip any time soon. Service was painstakingly slow, from switching a TV to a game we wanted to watch, to taking our food order, to providing us our beverages. And all of our meals did not do anything for the soul as they simply just took up space in our bellies.

To top it off, we were still using our table directly next to our shuffleboard game when our waitress decided we were done with it and started seating new customers in our place, even though there were empty tables elsewhere and no line to get in. Thankfully it only took close to 30 minutes from the time we asked for our check until we actually got it. I like to tip well, but this time I have to be honest, I did not.

It takes a lot for me to have a negative opinion about a restaurant, but with so much hope for Frank and Steins, I was certainly disappointed. What did not help my opinion was that after my second visit, we ventured over to The Lodge and barely spent a thing compared to how much Frank and Steins charges for adult beverages during regular business hours.

Pajama BurgerJanuary 2014

Practically every burger-type establishment now has a choice on its menu to order one with an egg as a topping. The burger likely will have a name to it like Morning Glory or Sunny Side Up Burger. It makes me think of people everywhere attempting to develop their own creation with all sorts of toppings, hoping to find a magical blend of meat, spices and other edibles.

I am certainly guilty of this endeavor, and do not have my own personalized burger…yet. I do love adding deli meat, however I cannot take credit for that idea.

I was late to the egg party, simply because I rarely consume the product. If I want to eat something from a chicken, damn it I am going to annihilate the white meat, not something coming from its undercarriage. But I eventually tried it on top of a burger and I was surprised at the texture it provided. It did not give a huge eggy taste, just complimented the sandwich in an elegant way.

So we whipped up a couple of these burgers on the grill at home and as I type I decided to name them Pajama Burgers in order to fit in with modern society. This was, though, the first time I had an egg with a hardened yolk instead of a runny center. If securing that eggy taste is your thing, covering the egg as its cooking is a marvelous idea to keep the yolk from escaping down the sides of the burger.

For an easy burger with a little flair to it, adding an egg is perfect. But next time maybe I will get some sliced chicken to decorate the meat instead. Mixing the animals for a burger I guess is my thing.

What You’ll Need

Hamburger buns (or two slices of toasted white bread)

80/20 hamburger

Cheese of your choice


The Steps

1)      Form patties – for one pound of beef you should be able to make four burgers

2)      Start cooking the meat, about four minutes per side on the grill over high heat

3)      As the burgers get going, get the eggs going in a pan – for a hardened egg yolk, cover the eggs

4)      When all done, put it all together with a slice of cheese and begin munching

Nacho2(I still call it The Jake)

June 2013

Easily my favorite food at a ballgame comes in the form of nachos. Crisp, hearty, flavorful, cheesy nachos. I stay away from jalapenos and salsa. I just like buckets of cheese on my nachos.

And my favorite ballpark in the world is Jacobs Field. So combining the two results in a state of pure bliss for my body, soul and stomach

The nachos at The Jake are pretty standard, as is the cheese. And 25% of the time the nachos end up being a tad stale. They taste good no matter what though due to the environment in which they are devoured.

Upon my visit back to the park in June, I noticed my eyes light up when I discovered that this year’s nachos received a different twist: you can get them served in a replica Indians helmet. My heart fluttered. And within moments, my brother Russ acquired this adventure for me. Good thing because the Tribe put on a rather lackluster performance against the Rays in an 11-3 loss, so these nachos really stole the show.

And I wasn’t the only one with this behemoth. It looked like half of the left-field bleachers cheerfully dipped into a nacho helmet. From the outside, it appeared as though it was a standard amount of nachos, but it seemed like it kept regenerating itself the more I inhaled it. And I am pretty sure I drank a full gallon of cheese during my quest to finish, which I did not even though I had plenty of help.

For any ballpark meal, I usually go with either nachos, a hot dog if it’s dollar dog night or chicken fingers with fries. Out of all of the burgers I have gulped down inside stadiums, I do not recall any being that yummy. So I stick with what works.

If I get a replica helmet to boot, that will most definitely work for a long time.

Melt1June 2, 2013

This is the best question of all time: What would be your last meal before you hit the chair? I could spend hours diagramming my answer in a personalized chart based on what time of day I am supposed to get fried, what types of food my tummy requires and all of the side dishes I crave. The end result, though, almost always will bring me to the entrée called the Fat City Burger from Melt Bar and Grilled in the suburbs of Cleveland.

On my very first visit to this grilled cheese establishment in a few years ago, I felt like Wayne and Garth entering the dressing room for Alice Cooper. “I am not worthy!” I did not care that the wait was about two hours, as I sat I noticed every single patron carrying out a box of food. Then I discovered how many edible objects are arranged on plates.

I probably should have done some stomach exercises in preparation because I became one of those patrons.

Now I count down the days each time before I make my next visit to any one of the four locations, and my cubicle wall even has a menu hanging on it. My latest journey put me in Cleveland June 2, and it once again did not disappoint.

Each Melt defines the word “eclectic.” From Dairy Queen signs and plastic Halloween and Christmas statues, the walls bleed emotions. I personally favor all of the Cleveland Indians and Cleveland Browns memorabilia, no matter how disturbing it can be to the eyes. I just always wonder what the women’s restrooms contain because the men’s rooms’ walls are littered with awesomeness.

In-house menus are listed on the back of old vinyl albums, and it can be quite a chore to determine your order. For example:

-Westside Monte Cristo – ham, turkey, swiss, American, deep fried, dip in mixed berry preserves

-Smokey Russian – turkey, napa vodka kraut, gouda, Russian dressing

-Godfather – 3-cheese lasagna, red sauce, garlic spiked grilled bread, provolone

-Parmageddon – 2 pierogi, napa vodka kraut, grilled onions, cheddar

-Turtle Pizza Roll – pizza rolls, marinara, pesto cream cheese, provolone, romano

-Rising Sun – Asian marinated fish or seafood, ginger wasabi dressing, lettuce, tomato, muenster

-Wet Hot Buffalo Chicken – chicken breast, spicy buffalo sauce, celery and blue cheese slaw, ranch

-El Diablo Burger – 8 oz steak burger, ancho, pasilla negro and chipotle pepper rub, jalapeno, pepper-jack

That is not even close to half the selections. I have likely frequented the Melt about seven times in my life, and on all but one of these occasions I ordered the same thing: Fat City Burger. With a local adult beverage of course (and they have a massive list to choose from).

Served on thick slices of toasted bread, this monster features a healthy dose of salami, ham, bacon, Swiss and American. When it arrives in front of you, do not dive in. Take a couple of minutes to stare at this creation. Take a few pictures of it if you feel inclined to brag to your friends as well. After a sip from the beer glass, carefully consume the first bite as you do not want food particles to escape. With each chapter of this burger brings different tastes. On one bite, you not only get the burger, but maybe the cheese. The next bite could feature a good heap of ham or salami. Nibble on the hand-cut fries, oh they’re soooo good.

I’m ready for the chair.