The Great Bagel Debate: Montreal v. NYC

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A little over a month ago I ventured to the FAR NORTH with my new hubbie (Romeo).  That’s right folks, I’m talking about Canada.  We spent a little under a week in Montreal, an exceedingly charming city full of appealing, beautiful, smiling, amiable people who seemed to do almost everything better than their southern neighbors.

Our luggage arrived at baggage claim within mere seconds of us exiting the secure area and public transportation was far-advanced and gloriously easy to understand. The city was thoroughly walkable and every neighborhood left us gasping at its beauty. Nearly everyone was bilingual yet didn’t look down on us for our inability to speak French. The food courts were full of healthy food: fresh and delicious and diverse. The more upscale dining joints were completely comfortable with my food limitations and whipped up thoroughly decadent dishes.

Everything was beautiful, perfect and French Canadian.  I was in love.

I was eager to try one particular morsel of Montreal cuisine that I had heard about from all the Canucks I’ve ever known:  The Montreal bagel.

Every Canuck I’ve come across has sung the praises of the Montreal bagel, asserting its clear superiority over the New York bagel.  As it was hard for me, the daughter of a New York Jew, to imagine any way of improving on a genuine New York bagel (far easier to improve on the piss-poor excuse for bagels we tend to encounter in DC), I couldn’t wait to try this mythic culinary invention.

Would the Montreal bagel stand up to my expectations? And what’s the difference between a Montreal bagel and a NYC bagel anyway? Answers after the jump….

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Food Blog Feud! The Scanwich War

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Well, it was bound to happen. Everyone and their grandmother now has a food blog, and the market is starting to look a little crowded. Most of us play nice with each other, but what happens when competing food blogs start to look a little too similar? Food blog feuds!

We love us a good blog war, but who to side with? As always, ES is here to be your judge and jury.

First Up: The Scanwich War.  Undoubtedly, many of you have recently come across Scanwiches, the latest hot food blog making a viral jaunt around the Interwebs. Jon Chonko, the NYC-based blogger behind Scanwiches, spends his workdays scanning cross-sections of his meals, and his drool-worthy shots of Reubens and Cubans are enough to make anyone leave for lunch at 10:15. The simple concept has gotten Scanwiches a whole blogload of praise. Serious Eats calls it delicious, Gizmodo proclaims Chonko a “genius”, and even our boy Andrew Sullivan has taken note. In short, the Scanwiches dude seems to be well on his way to a blog-to-book deal.

But there’s a slight problem with Scanwiches, and it isn’t just mayo stains on the company scanner. Turns out it’s not the most original idea ever. Another hungry NYC-er, Justin Bilicki, has been posting his own lunch shots on a site called Scanwich since 2007. Bilicki, somewhat understandably, is hopping mad about all the buzz for Scanwiches, and has updated his site to reflect its status as “The Original,” along with a few choice words for his new nemesis:

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Pittsburgh Wins!

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Yes, yes, we’re aware there was some kind of footie game this week, but in more important news, the city of Pittsburgh was crowned champion in the Endless Simmer Super Bowl Food-Off!

With nearly 1,800 of you weighing in (biggest ES poll ever!), Arizona didn’t even stand a chance. Iron City takes home the crown with an impressive 69 percent of the vote.

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In fact, ES has become so enamored with the ‘burgh’s one of a kind heart attack-inducing culinary talents that we’ve decided to go ahead and award them the ultimate food world prize. Yes, Pittsburgh is the first city ever inducted into the Endless Eaters Hall of Fame, where the entire town will live on in edible infamy alongside such eating luminaries as Anthony Bourdain and JoeHoya.

Congratulations on a magnificent win, Pittsburgh. Can I get fries with that?

(Photo: jdebner)

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Pittsburgh vs. Arizona Super Bowl Food-Off

Super Bowl week is here and ES is confused. With no cheeseheads, cheesesteak-heads, or scrappy underdogs to root for, and no Patriots to root against, we just don’t know what to do. This year’s game is between Pittsburgh, which we think has something to do with steel but we’re not quite sure what; and Arizona, which we can always find on a map given two guesses but don’t know much else about.

There’s nothing worse than showing up at a Super Bowl party and not knowing which team to root for, but how to decide? Between making dips, buying beer, and ordering pizza, there’s just no time to research the merits and demerits of the individual teams.

So we’re choosing who to root for the only way we know how — based on which team has the best food. Will it be Pittsburgh with its all-American blue collar traditions? Or Arizona, with it’s sun-baked spicy flair? (The Cardinals are based in Phoenix, but since they claim the whole state, we’re gonna go ahead and give it to them, since we suspect they might need a boost anyway). Without further ado, the Pittsburgh vs. Arizona Super Bowl Food-Off: 

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First Quarter: Best Sandwich

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 OK, we lied. Turns out we do know at least one thing about Pittsburgh. Namely, Steeltown is home to Primanti Brothers, one of the most outrageously amazing sandwich shops in the country. We can’t think of a more appropriate way to enjoy the big game than with a Primanti Bros. pastrami sandwich, piled high with perfectly spiced meat, coleslaw and french fries. Yes, fries inside the sandwich, not on top of or beside. The only problem is trying to stay awake for the second half. (Photo: The Halberg)

Uh-oh, Pittsburgh. We did some research and it turns out America had outrageous sandwiches before the Italians got here – and we mean waaaaaaay before. If you ever find yourself around Mesa, Arizona, you’ll want to stop by Arizona Native Frybread and pick up a traditional Navajo Sandwich — golden frybread filled with grilled lamb meat and topped with lettuce, red onions, tomatoes and fire roasted green chilis. Now that’s a sandwich. (Photo: chowdownphoenix via Serious Eats)

Point: Arizona. Can’t hate on Primanti Bros, but that frybread is just too damn enticing.
Second Quarter: Best Pizza

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 We try not to eat pizza outside NYC, but we’d make an exception if we drove by Vincent’s Pizza Park, because that crust looks so crispy, the cheese so golden brown, and, um..for g-d’s sake there’s an entire pig on that pie! Might have to start carrying around a pic of this beauty so that every time we go into a pizzeria and see a pepperoni pie with five or six measly ‘ronis on it we can show them this craziness, where the pepperonis actually have to be placed sideways to make room for all of them. Bravo, Pittsburgh. Youse sure know how to eat some meat. (Photo: hanzabean)

 We gotta say we’re a little surprised by how many people out there on the Internets claim the very best slice in America is served up at a pizzeria in Phoenix. Specifically, they’re talking about Pizzeria Bianco. The thin-but-not-flimsy crust does look impressive (seriously, look) and the toppings are nothing if not ballsy. For example, the “Rosa” you’re looking at is topped with onions, parmagiana reggiano, rosemary and Arizona pistachios. Yes, that’s pistachios as in pistachio nuts. On a pizza. We’re intrigued. (Photo: roboppy)

Point: Pittsburgh. Arizona gets an A for effort, but this is the Super Bowl, not the Oscars, so pepperoni trumps pistachio.
Third Quarter: Best Hot Dog

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 Good gravy! If we had to paint a picture of what the Super Bowl means to America, it would probably look very much like this photo. The bacon and cheddar dog is one of just many heart-stopping options offered at Pitt favorite D’s SixPax & Dog’s, but in our humble opinion, it’s the most perfect. Nothing fancy, nothing complicated. Take meat. Cover with bacon. Douse in cheese. Pray for forgiveness. (Photo: Mr. Velocipede)

The legendary Sonoran Hot Dog may have originated in neighboring Mexico but it was made famous by the Hispanic-heavy neighborhoods of southside Tucson, Arizona. A bacon-wrapped hot dog is placed on an oversized bun and topped with pinto beans, tomatoes, onion, mustard, mayo, crema, relish, jalapenos…well, you get the point – basically whatever the hell else they have on hand. (Photo: Mr. Frosted)
Point: Pittsburgh. For pure all-American outlandishness, we’ve gotta give it to Pitt.
Fourth Quarter: Best Beer

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Iron City Brewing company has been drowning Pittsburgh’s sorrows for going on 150 years now, and the Steelers probably wouldn’t have won half as many games if their fans didn’t have this solid stand-by to get them through all those snowy seasons. (It’s also safe to say this brew probably played a hand in the invention of the three culinary delicacies presented above). (Photo: Iron City)

Daaaaaamn, ‘zona! Is there anything you people won’t put hot chilis in? It doesn’t get much more macho than drinking a beer laced with hot serrano chili peppers. Arizona gave the world just that with Chili Beer, a Cave Creek, Arizona original (now produced in Mexico). (Photo: srboisvert)


Point: Arizona. Hot, cold, and drunk, all in one bottle. What more could a fan want? Tie game!

Look’s like we’re headed to overtime, and it’s up to you, readers. Who cooked it better? Pittsburgh or Arizona? Vote below, and don’t forget to do the thing where you tell me how dumb I am and that everything I said is completely wrong.

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Previously on ES: 

March Madness: America’s Top 10 Drunk College Foods

America’s Real Best Ballpark Food

The Top 10 Foods Only America Could Have Invented

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Who Cooked it Better? The Beer Shake

I know this is the time of year when a lot of you start breaking out the Irish coffees, the hot toddies, and the bourbon hot chocolate, but to be honest, those hot drinks just put me to sleep. When you really want a winter pick-me-up, it’s time get cozy by the fire and whip up the most efficient combination of god’s two greatest creations: The Beer Shake. This winter I’m on a search for the best beer shake out there. Which one do you guys think looks tastiest? Or if you know of a better one, holler in the comments.

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The first pic is the Rogue Beer Float from Little Red Bike Cafe in Portland, Oregon.This one starts with an appropriately rich beer (Rogue’s chocolate stout), mixes it with vanilla ice cream, and spikes it off with espresso. I imagine the choco-vanilla combo tastes something like a black-and-white milkshake, only with caffeine and alcohol as well. Hey, if I can get my caffeine buzz, my drunk on, and my dessert in one jar, I’ve just tripled my productivity.

Moving down the West Coast a little bit, San Francisco’s Sauce restaurant serves up another black-and-white original. This one (top right) starts with Guinness, mixes it with vanilla ice cream, then tops it off with fresh cream and white chocolate. (Photo: Sevenworlds16)

Our third entry, from blogger South Hollow, starts with a beautiful beer, Mother’s Milk from Kingston, New York’s Keegan Ales, and gets points for creating two options–a blended shake made from chocolate ice cream, or a simple float: a pint of beer topped with vanilla.

The last entry is from Harry’s at Water Taxi Beach in Queens, which means it’s only available in the summer, but it is so simple-genius that we just had to include it. The Klondike Beer Shake takes two chocolate-covered Klondike Bars and blends them up with  a Dogfish Head World Wide Stout, for a bitter-sweet-rich glass of amazing-ness.

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Who Cooked It Better: Thanksgiving Turkeys

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We know, we know, Halloween isn’t even over yet. But for serious foodies, it’s time to start thinking about the bigger picture. One of the best parts of fall is waiting for our November issues of the food mags to arrive, and seeing what kind of ridiculous, over-the-top spins they suggest we put on turkey this year. I mean, come on, it’s turkey. Everyone does it the same, right? Wrong! Check out what Gourmet and Bon Appetit have in store for your bacon-addled, fruit-enhanced T-Day this year:

On the left is Gourmet’s entry: Plum-glazed roast turkey with spinach, bacon, and cashew stuffing, and plum gravy. Yes, that’s right, Gourmet managed to turn “roast turkey” into a full 13 words. Since one of those words is bacon, we’re intrigued. On the other hand, the plum jam/Chinese five spice glaze sounds a little intense for good ol’ turkey. Check out the full recipe here.

Bon App, meanwhile, keeps it to a mere five words this year with their roast heritage turkey with cider gravy. But don’t worry, they incorporate the B-word in the form of bacon, dijon, and herb butter slipped under the bird’s skin. Mmmm. The rest of it is way more traditional, with a cider gravy base and an apple-veggie dressing. Points for restraining themselves. Although, like Gourmet, no explanation for why there has to be random fruit on the serving platter. Full recipe over this-a-way.

So, which fancy-pants advice will you be following this November?

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Can’t Stop the Hoya

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Thanks to everyone for participating/voting in our epic Pine Nut Cooking Contest. We had four a-mazing recipes, but everyone’s favorite prototypical Georgetown student ran away with it, concocting a Pine Nut Butter app that should be added to every pignoli-lover’s permanent repetoire.

With 42 percent of the vote, JoeHoya takes home the pint nut crown, avenging his recent runner-up finish in the Spice Master contest.

JoeHoya-be sure to send us your address to receive your free subscription to La Cucina Italiana magazine, and everyone else, check out the newest profile in the Endless Eaters Hall of Fame.

I think this is the closest G-town has come to a major title in a few decades, huh?

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