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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Foodening

As has been said elsewhere, I was a huckster at TsubasaCon this weekend last. Huntington, WV has many of the usual suspects as far as not-so-fine dining is concerned: Steak and Shake, Red Lobster, Starbucks...good enough, but one need not dress for dinner. I had Five Guys burgers three lunches in a row. Their burgers are freshly-made patties, and juicy, which is to say "can lube a tank with". The bags have tell-tale grease windows by the time you get them. The fries are freshly cut, with skin on, then fried, meaning they are full of moisture and un-crisp. BUT! They are full of flavor, and the place supplies malt vinegar with which to anoint the spuds, rendering them anything but bland. Why three days? It wasn't Subway. Or Jimmy-John's, or Jack LeScoulie's, or whomever's.

Z-Brick Pizza served my in-room dining Friday night. Their small calzone was twice what I could manage, and I was sad at that, because it was yumsome. The Pullman Plaza Hotel did not have an in room fridge in my digs, but it did have hot and cold running Book of Mormon, so I guess that's something. It also had a Free Hot Breakfast, which means I have paid for it already with my room cost, along with the soap and toilet paper, which may have been a better choice. The scrambled eggs were quite probably powdered. The bacon was industrial, and the Cheerios tasted like the box. They didn't used to. Thanks for the healthy choice. I had Starbucks after I got to the con. It was ambrosia compared to the hotel coffee. I have long maintained that out-of-date store brand coffee is repackaged for hotels.

Wil and Tyrene of Musetap had a taste for Asian, so we walked across the street Saturday night to "Taste of Asia", a mildly upscale hibachi and Chinese restaurant. It was Homecoming in Huntington, so the hibachi section was filled with overdressed teenagers, so we opted for a la carte in the Chinese section. Always the ghettos. They ordered unpronounceable things. I got Hot and Sour Soup, which was both for a change, and delightful. I also got General Tso's Chicken, which wasn't. so I don't think he missed anything. The waitress was winsome, so there was that.

The best meal I had was at The Marshall Hall of Fame Cafe on Sunday night. It is overweenngly sports-themed in the best "We are Marshall" tradition. The bathroom brought flashbacks of locker room embarrassments, as it is institutional in the showers sense, with the small white and black hexagonal tiles for the floor, as well as giving a visceral twist to the gut when you wash up. The soap is that green/yellow chemical-scent liquid that all schools used for economy. It smells like humiliation.

The meal more than made up the time spent weeping in the stall. French Onion Soup with a toasted cheesy crouton afloat, with a hint of sherry, that makes all the difference. A classic Reuben sandwich made well enough to almost hold together all the way through was my main course, with fries. I almost dashed across the street to get some malt vinegar, but opted for the Heinz catchup, which was also something, anyway.


Doom said...

On one hand, I offer zero sympathy. A hot meal, several times a day, with no prep, cooking, or dishes. But that is me pouting about my current lot in life. I can, on the other hand, having meals of unknown quality and of unfamiliar taste, not knowing if one will be good, bad, or just ugly is an odd form of hardship on the road, offer great empathy. It alone can lead to g.i. fits, upper, lower, or both, and worse. Odd foods have upset mood, left me with a bad taste that just won't leave, and disturbed sleep, causing very odd dreams. Still, I like the tales of travel and dining.

And, isn't funny, when you are eating at a restaurant where the chef truly knows his stuff, and adds that one thing, say sherry, that just makes the meal sparkle, your mouth smile, and your taste buds dance? While of the secular order, a solid chef is a cuisine saint, blessing us poor eaters with just a touch of a sense of the special.

Michael W said...

"It was Homecoming in Huntington, so the hibachi section was filled with overdressed teenagers."

I see a crowd like that at a restaurant and it's an automatic 180 for Yours Truly.

The Aardvark said...

@Doom-No sympathy required. I was just having fun reviewing essentially pedestrian fare. The restroom WAS a shock to the system, though.

@Michael- But the sequins and satin...so SHINY!!!

My friends had already acquired seating. If the Tso's had not been so bready, it would have been well.

Michael W said...

One of these days I'd like to write General Tso and thank him for all the chicken.

And yes, I've come across some bad examples of it. Like so many aspects of cooking, it's an art to make it come out just right.

Jay said...

@>'Vark- My job has made me immune to the sketchiness of restrooms. Just don't fall in!

The college students at work however, make me positively ill ...

@>Michael- Then there was that movie with Barbara Stanwyck: The Bitter Chicken of General Tso.

Michael W said...

@Jay --- I saw that movie. The whole village was up in arms because the wrong spices got used. Fortunately the Americans arrived, led by Colonel Sanders.

Jay said...

@Michael- Good thing too! "Gen. Tsos' Kentucky Fried Chicken" just wouldn't have cut it.