This thought came to mind while making hamburgers for the holiday. I remembered the commercials for ranch burgers & I had a packet of the ranch dressing mix, so I looked up their recipe. It contained breadcrumbs. I always thought breadcrumbs belong in meatballs or meatloaf, but not hamburgers. Then there’s egg. I put it in meatloaf but not in meatballs or hamburger. They’re all almost the exact same thing… but then they’re all completely different.
I generally always throw them all together without a recipe. They’re easy to do that way. I guess everyone has their own way to do things. I make them all the same sometimes, but sometimes I add something different for fun.
I’m just wondering how other people do things?
I’d love some feedback in the comments below. I’ll share how I generally do things. These aren’t really recipes, and I don’t measure much, but this is typically what goes in each:
I walked into the house today and saw this rather large box on the couch where I normally sit. My wife had arrived home a little while earlier, and brought it inside. FedEx dropped it off on the front porch earlier in the day.
I saw my name, then the Arby’s logo, and I could hardly contain my excitement.
I mean, I thrive on the ridiculous, and this is most certainly ridiculous. This couldn’t be a box full of Bronco Berry Sauce, could it? Indeed, it could. Absolutely ridiculous. Personal supply? I mean, I like to eat but…
That is a whole lot of horses and berries! Well, it would be… if Bronco Berry Sauce actually contained any broncos or berries. The label on the box says that it’s 240 1.5 oz. containers of this decadently delightful dip. It also contained this lovely letter…
Hala Moddelmog, President of Arby's
A letter from the President of Arby’s?Hala Moddelmog rules. I mean, I don’t see the presidents of McDonald’s, Wendy’s, or Pizza Hut responding to a crazy person on the internet with such individually directed kindness & generosity.
I’m obviously going to need help finishing this case. It expires in June, so I highly doubt we can get through it all. Want some Bronco Berry Sauce? I’m willing to share what is now a rarity in our region.
I’m saddened by the news that Jalapeño Bites won’t be returning to Arby’s in Pittsburgh any time soon, but I do believe that my emails have actually been passed along. I will pass on the Occupy Arby’s sauce sit-in. But I still may write a song, even if no one helps me.
Perhaps the song will be the thing that puts our market managers and the marketing team over the edge. I’ll have to write to my new friend Ms. Moddlemog, and see exactly where to direct my comments.
I almost want to build something out of them. It looks like 1 or 2 popped (or was squeezed) open, but it’s an acceptable loss. I mean, it was free. We had some Bronco Berry Sauce tonight with a few Tyson chicken tenders for dinner in lieu of boring old bottle barbecue sauce.
Bronco Jalapeño’s appetite may be satisfied for now, but my quest is not over. Arby’s in Pittsburgh, are you listening? Bring back the Jalapeño bites! This potato bite shenanigans is just that, shenanigans.
To follow the story from the start, check out these posts:
So they intend to silence the great Jalapeño with a free sample or some coupons? Perhaps with just their word? I have not received a reply to the tweet yet… and I’m not sure how they would send a supply of Bronco Berry Sauce as I don’t think Bronco Jalapeño has an address… unless they know that I am Bronco Jalapeño… (which isn’t too hard to figure out) but then again I don’t remember if I provided my address in their contact form, and they haven’t reached out to ask me for it.
On the other hand, I received this email…
From: “email@example.com” <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Sent: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 10:20 AM Subject: Customer Feedback #474233
Dear Mr. Carroll,
Thank you for your comments regarding our Bronco Berry Sauce. Our customer’s input and comments are always welcome and very important to us. We use this information to guide the decisions we make about our brand and our products. We have shared your comments with our Menu and Product Development team for future consideration. Also, Bronco Berry sauce is not available for retail sale.
If you have any additional questions you can give us a call at 800-599-2729.
Thank you again.
Arby’s Customer Relations
Allow me to translate a few key lines…
No hat is too big for Bronco Jalapeño!
“We have shared your comments with our Menu and Product Development team for future consideration.” means a couple of things:
“We’ve shared your comments” means that it’s off of their collective customer service desk, so they consider the issue resolved, and can blame any further lack of progress or answers solely on the “Menu and Product Development team.”
“For future consideration” means I won’t get a reply from them either, and this will most likely go ignored, completely negating the statements “Our customer’s input and comments are always welcome and very important to us. We use this information to guide the decisions we make about our brand and our products.”
Perhaps I’m too cynical.
“Also, Bronco Berry sauce is not available for retail sale” means “too bad for you!”
This is ridiculous. I can be more ridiculous. So, I decided to submit an email via Arby’s webform:
No more Jalapeño Poppers & (perhaps more importantly) BRONCO BERRY SAUCE®?
Please tell me that this is temporary insanity & that they will be back soon. Please?
I understand that the stores were given a choice between carrying some loaded potato bite shenanigans and the Jalapeño poppers, and local stores in my area (Pittsburgh, PA) opted for the not-so-awesome menu selection.
I understand that we (the consumers) are directed to voice our opinions to the local Arby’s locations.
My questions to you are as follows…
☘ WHY? Why did they have to choose? Why not carry both?
☘ WHY (again)? Why would one choose some potato things over the awesomeness that is BRONCO BERRY SAUCE® (& Jalapeño Poppers)?
☘ HOW? How do I contact the local Arby’s via email? Do they each have email addresses? Is there a regional manager?
☘ WELL? If I can’t get the BRONCO BERRY SAUCE® locally, can I order some online? Will you start bottling & selling it in grocery stores now that it’s no longer readily available to the masses?
It most certainly does not put me in a good mood to not have my BRONCO BERRY SAUCE®. I’m pretty sure I could straight-up just drink the stuff were it a little thinner. Rude Mood Food is more like it now, my friends.
I may have to organize an OCCUPY ARBY’S at a nearby location. It may get crazy. There may be news cameras. It will be a peaceful protest, so please don’t pepper spray any of us. You may, however, shower us with packets of BRONCO BERRY SAUCE® and hot fresh Jalapeño Poppers. We’ll have to chant things like “Don’t be a dingleberry, bring back the Bronco Berry!”, “No Jalapeños dude, that’s Rude Mood Food!”, or “Potato Bites, really bite!” (Well, that one may need work.)
Please, talk some sense into the Arby’s locations in the Pittsburgh area before it comes down to this insanity.
Bronco Berry Backer, -Eric
This is all I have received so far:
From: “firstname.lastname@example.org” <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Sent: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 Subject: Arby’s Feedback #473197
Dear Arby’s Guest,
We have received your Guest Feedback message and are directing it to the appropriate department. For follow-up purposes, your feedback tracking number is 473197.
Your feedback helps us improve the overall guest experience at our restaurants. Thank you for taking the time to contact us.
Sincerely, Arby’s Guest Feedback Team
Ridiculous. It’s still not the most ridiculous thing that’s happened in an Arby’s parking lot around here. I mean, remember this dude?
If they have to tell you that it's delicious, maybe it's not really delicious.
Not that I’m the biggest Arby’s fan in the first place. I’m more of a fan of actual Roast Beef, not this lunch-meat stuff like Arby’s or the all-gone-except-the-ones-on-the-Turnpike Roy Rogers has. (Remember Rax? They had that too.) Ever been to Lion’s Choice? I believe they’re centered around St. Louis. That, my friends, is how roast beef is done.
You might say “just get your jalapeño bites (or poppers) somewhere else, you weirdo”. To that, I say…
Are you also angry about this? Voice your opinions below… perhaps we can get Arby’s to look here & reconsider this grievous error. If not, maybe we’ll to the Occupy Arby’s thing. I bet we could get on the news.
Beyond that, the next step may be petitioning McDonald’s, Wendy’s, & Chick-fil-A to carry them…
Do you have any suggestions for protest slogans? Would you join an Occupy Arby’s movement? What should be our next course of action?
CHAINS. I wanted to tackle the prominent area pizza chains for part 3. (You read parts 1 & 2, right?) I’m really not supposed to eat pizza right now thanks to recently diagnosed GERD/Acid Reflux/Barret’s Esophagus, but I have eaten many pizzas from these many chains over the years. I’m going to be extra picky about my pizza from now on. I’ll probably stick with Slice on Broadway and Aiello’s. But the event may come up where I need to pick a chain place again, and here’s where they fall…
Fox’s(or Fox’s Pizza Den) is pretty good. The different locations aren’t always consistent, but when you find a good one… stick with it! I really dig the one in Bridgeville as of late, but the one closest to home is the one in Brookline. I grew up on Fox’s in Murrysville, as it was the only place who would deliver to my house out in the boonies. I don’t know if Fox’s recently revamped their UrbanSpoon profiles or what, but I know I’ve reviewed the one in Brookline, but it’s not there. Their pages all seem to have little to no reviews or votes. I remember going on & on about the wedgies. In fact, I found it at another source…
Gimme a Wedgie!
It’s not the sick twisted fantasies of a nerd that likes being dominated by bullies… It’s a call to order the best #%@$ing sandwich you’ve ever had. It’s served up on a pizza crust instead of a bun. How awesome is that? The steak one is my favorite, but I’ve never seen one that doesn’t look appetizing. Just make sure you’ve got plenty of napkins on hand.
Their pizza is pretty damn good too. There was a Fox’s near where I grew up in the suburbs, but they never had a menu this vast. I sometimes end up getting the fried zucchini or the potato wedges… but really can’t ever eat anything after finishing a whole wedgie. In fact, my wife & I even sometimes just split one to avoid over-stuffing. Ordering for delivery is usually the standard half hour to 45 min., and they’re usually there before they said they were going to be… so that’s a plus. You can’t go wrong with Fox’s.
Vocelli Pizzais another one that must have purged old UrbanSpoon reviews. There’s virtually nothing there. I used to love Vocelli’s, even if they’re just named after a made up Italian sounding word. The service at the local one went down hill, and this is what it used to say on UrbanSpoon:
I used to love this place, & would order quite frequently. But, the last time we got a Buffalo chicken pizza, there was hair on it. My wife called & told them, they said they’d send a coupon for a free one next time. We never got any coupons, and were hungry for their food again… so I got a stromboli and the wife got a buffalo chicken pizza… and the pizza had hair on it again. She found it (luckily) on the first bite. So, she called the call center. She of course, didn’t eat any more, so we could show them. The delivery boy showed up… was incredibly rude, didn’t look at the old pizza, and practically threw the new one at my wife.
I don’t know why he took it personally… I was gonna tip him for coming out the 2nd time because he didn’t put hair on the pizza… but with actions/service like that, they can shove it. I always tried to tip well too, as we (used to) get pizza form there all the time. This was enough to end it. There’s plenty of other pizza shops around, apparently they don’t need our business, anyway. Hair in a pizza once? I can see it happening. Twice within the span of a month or two? That’s just absolutely ridiculous.
So… in closing, I’d say what used to be a great place has now sunken to a.) being filthy, and b.) having terrible customer service.
…but in all fairness, after a while we did go back & they seemed to have weeded out the bad employees. I’ve also tried their artery-clogging Alfredo sauce on a pizza, and loved it. My triglycerides did not. I do like Vocelli’s normal sauce, and they generally make a consistent pie & decent subs. If you’re ordering for a crowd, I’d say Vocelli Pizza is an across-the-board crowd-pleaser.
''Vocelli?'' Sure, that sounds Italian enough!
Papa John’srules with their online ordering. The sauce isn’t quite as good as Vocelli’s, but they do always give you the tasty garlic dipping sauce and a Peperoncini. They do rock as far as consistency. You know what you’re getting every time. I wish they had subs, I always like to get subs… especially turkey, or sometimes you’re in the mood for a pizza-shop Italian sub. But then again, maybe they just want to focus on pizza & doing it well. Check out these amusing blog posts about Papa John’s:
Little Caesar’s, what the hell happened? When I was a young lad, we would pickup a pizza after we left Network Video (a place where you rented VHS tapes for the kids out there), we’d pop into Little Caesar’s for what I think was called a Bigfoot… two big-ass square pizzas side by side? I’d always want breadsticks, because I have an unnatural love for carbs. I was sad when Little Caesar’s all but disappeared and was relegated to Kmart stores for some strange reason. When there was a recent resurgence, and a subsequent person paid to stand on West Liberty Ave. and sling a Little Caesar’s sign… I was excited. We tried the new incredibly cheap pies one night… and they were terrible. The sauce is definitely much more bitter than I remember, and perhaps in my old age I forgot about all the grease that adorns (soaks) their crust. I still like the breadsticks, and $5 is pretty good for the amount that they give you, but $5 of crap is still crap. If I’m in the mood for punishment, need an immediate meal, and it’s a week where I need to pay for dinner with couch change, I may go back.
CiCi’s ought to change the name to CaCa’s. I’ve only ever been there once, but that’s all I need. Wow. It was like eating wax & tomato soup spread out over crackers. Who cares if it’s cheap and all-you-can-eat when it’s absolutely terrible nutrition? My high school cafeteria served better pizza, and even better pizza imitation food. I think there was a salad bar, and an unholy “mac n’ cheese” pizza. I don’t remember much other than the dried crusty partial pies getting tanned under the hot lights and maybe even someone shouting a welcome when we walked in. I just wanted to leave but had paid and tried to just stay & eat my few dollars worth. CiCi’s won that day. There’s no way I had eaten more of that crap than hat I paid for.
Pizza Hut causes me great gastrointestinal distress. Every few years, I forget and enter a Pizza Hut thinking “ah, it wasn’t that bad”. Yes, yes it is. Perhaps I hit an age long ago where Pizza Hut was no longer compatible with my intestines. Perhaps I was really slow to learn the pattern. We didn’t do Pizza Hut too much when I was growing up. Maybe I never built up a tolerance/immunity. The pizza itself isn’t bad, I’ve had the personal pan, the normal pies, a few lunch buffets… they generally have a good crust & good flavor… albeit greasy. It’s just that their pie unleashes itself like an assault team on my digestive system. The one in Greentree is the last one that I visited. The service was slow, and I didn’t feel welcomed at all. Hopefully it steels my resolve to skip Pizza Hut in the future.
A letter within a maze, for my pals at Pizza Hut. (They never did write back!)
I know I missed Domino’s, but I was never impressed with their pies… and there’s never one around where I’m ordering. I did like the Noid commercials back in the day though. I haven’t tried their revamped pies. I don’t feel like I’m missing anything.
Did I miss your favorite chain pizza? Did I miss your most reviled?
I recently realized that I haven’t blogged yet about one of my favorite local places to eat, so I will now. I have a few reviews & photos on their Urban Spoon page. I really don’t have enough good things to say about the place. Reading my old review, it looks like I went there for the first time in 2008.
They’re tucked away on Glenmore Ave., right off of Potomac, with plenty of parking (for Dormont) in a nearby public metered lot & some metered parking on the nearby streets. It’s a tiny yet incredibly inviting shop. Everyone who has ever waited on us has smiled & said hello, has been polite, welcoming, and a great host or hostess. The place is small, but it’s cozy. Last time we were there, there was three two-person tables inside, and in the warmer months they have two picnic tables outside.
Hot Dog w/ Baked Beans, Cheese, Ketchup, & Mustard. • I get this one even though it's not on the menu. They'll make anything for you!
Dormont Dogs offers hot dogs served up gourmet style on delicious fresh bakery made buns. They’re mostly all named after the neighborhood streets, and they’re all unusual yet delicious combinations. My favorite menu dogs are probably the Reuben Dog (self-explanatory if you’re a Reuben fan) and the Wisconsin Ave. (Swiss, Pepper Jack, Cheddar, & Provolone Cheeses!). A lot of times I order the one above… starting with a “Plane Jane” (a regular dog) & I ask them to add baked beans, cheese, ketchup, & brown mustard. Maybe they should name it after my street? Ha ha. I generally have a side of nachos and cheese. I’ve seen signs for Sloppy Joes, and have seen a delicious-looking taco salad served up, but I’ve never gone in & gotten anything other than a hot dog. I need to just go more often, I guess. I generally wash it all down with some of their excellent sweet tea.
My wife is a fan of the Texas Ave. (Chili sauce, cheddar cheese, sour cream, Fritos), Mississippi Ave. (Chili, Mustard, Coleslaw) minus the mustard, and Bruschetta (tomatoes marinated in olive oil and basil and creamy pesto Parmesan) dogs. I need to muscle up the courage to make my way through the rest of the menu. If you eat ‘em all, you get your photo on the wall!
They’re not foot-longs, there’s no natural casings, there not sausages… they’re just hot dogs, done really well. They’re prepared with tasty ingredients, and they always look like little works of art in a basket. You can even get a vegetarian dog if you’d like, in any style on the menu. If you’re near Dormont, and a hot dog fan, you need to check this place out.
Beto’s is another place nearby that is just excellent. They’re the place that you’ve probably heard of that doesn’t cook the cheese & other toppings. You’ll probably either love it or hate it. I dig it, the wife does not. The only thing I’d change is the consistency of the sauce… I’m not a fan of chunks of tomatoes in pizza sauce, but the flavor is excellent. They don’t get all fancy with toppings here either, just simple, straightforward pizza with cheese that’s melting as you eat it. I think my favorite way to eat it is just as plain cheese pizza. Why mess up such a beautiful combination?
Molly’s Pizza is close by too. They have some great pizza, and some really crazy specialty pies like the Ranchero Steak Pizza and the Pierogi Pizza. I personally like to get a pizza with zucchini on top. Excellent stuff! It’s hard to pick a favorite around here.
Foiri’s is a south hills institution. Sorry, I don’t get it. Is it good pizza? Most definitely. Is it overrated? In my humble opinion, yes. Maybe I’m biased because you can get deathfish as a topping there. At any rate, if you’re in the area and a pizza aficionado, it’s worth checking out before you decide that Slice is the best place around.
…the restaurant has become a vibrant gathering place for lovers of Neapolitan pizza, pasta and Italian wine. Nearly everything on the menu is hand-made. And if it’s not made in-house, it’s imported from the best artisans, cheese-makers and salumeria in the world. Mozzarella di Bufala comes direct from Naples every Thursday and the pizzas are baked at 1000˚ in a handcrafted, wood-fired brick oven for less than 90 seconds. This, along with perfectly leavened dough, San Marzano tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil, produces the most authentic Neapolitan pizza possible.
So obviously, this is no Pizza Hut. They make incredible gourmet pies. Unfortunately it’s entirely not what I’m craving when I “just want a pizza”. This is where you want to go when you’d like a nice evening out to enjoy some of the lightest most delicious pizza you’ve ever eaten.
Italian Village Pizza is all over the place. Both by location and quality. They used to have a killer A1 Steak Sub at the one on Rte. 51, but I don’t think they have that any more. The last one I frequented was the one in McMurray, but I only ever got the pizza once or twice. The steak & Italian subs are incredible, but the sauce was just too bitter for me. It tasted like straight tomato paste with some basil thrown in. Some people love it, but it just wasn’t my thing.
I’m still not sure what the exact dispute is… if there’s still a dispute, and if there are only two Vincent’s involved in this saga. Can anyone fill me in on this? I’ve heard several amalgamated stories over the years. Some credible news even. First, you’ve got to get your head around the locations…
I haven’t been to Vincent’s Pizza Park in Holiday Park in a long long time, but I remember it as the greasiest pizza I have ever had. It was good, but greasy. Some people like that. I’m not the biggest fan of grease, but I remember they had a nice thick crust & a flavorful sauce.
I don’t think I’ve ever been to the Vincent’s in Greentree, but the one in Southpointe has great steak subs, garlic buns, and pretty good pizza. Their “like it” percentage on Urbanspoon is pretty low though. No idea what’s up there.
Which Vincent’s is your favorite? Which Vincent’s location is the best & the original? (I think it’s Vincent’s in Forest Hills)
Please, chime in on any of these locations, any from my previous pizza post, or any that I may have missed. I may dive into pizza chains next. Pizza is always a subject of hot debate (and it goes well with beer).
I’ve been quiet with blogging lately. I’m not all that busy, and I’m certainly not out of things to ramble on about. I guess I’ve just been doing other stuff. I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday & any time with friends, family, or time off of work. Today. I was inspired to make a post about buttermilk, and thought I’d get it down before I forgot about it.
Charlie’s Old Fashioned Buttermilk
I like buttermilk. Occasionally, when at the grocery store… something hits me that says I want buttermilk. Much to my wife’s dismay, I listen. Buttermilk is an acquired taste to say the least. Most people any more seem to see it as a cooking ingredient. It makes great pancakes, ranch dressing, and mashed potatoes. It’s a good dredge for breading. It’s good in many recipes. But, it’s also a delicious drink.
I don’t remember not liking buttermilk, but there aren’t many of “us” out there. My parents always drank it, my grandparents drank it. I was used to it forever I guess. It’s delicious, and now something I crave like a special treat. I’ve had people make horrible faces after trying it. I’ve had people swear at me, and even hit me after letting them try it. This is how you man up (no offense to ladies, the dairy-allergic, or the lactose intolerant) & drink buttermilk the right way:
Get a nice tall glass. (I like a nice beer mug or even a really tall weizen or pilsner glass.)
Pour in just enough buttermilk to cover the bottom.
Add salt & pepper to cover a good portion of the top of the buttermilk. (Paprika like on old-school diner cottage cheese if you’re fancy.)
Pour buttermilk to the top of glass. Top off with more salt & pepper if desired.
Make the first gulp obnoxiously large.
Make a refreshing “ahhh” sigh.
Enjoy the rest at a relaxed pace.
…or just drink straight from the tiny jug or carton if you’re a barbarian.