Thursday, June 30, 2016

An Argument In Favor of PC

If you're anything like me, you are sitting at work on Thursday, June 30, at roughly 2:30 PM contemplating what sort of over-the-top, big-ass, red-meat, red-hot-BBQ, ice-cold-beer, 'Merican, eat-yourself-silly sort of feast you are going to whoop up to celebrate the Fourth of Juuuuuuuly. I know I am. Unfortunately, I haven't decided just yet. However, I know one thing that I am going to have on hand for certain: Pimento Cheese, a/k/a PC.

If you're a died-in-the-wool citizen of fly-over country, like me, your only exposure to Pimento Cheese was likely the kind made by Kraft that came in the little glass container that later became a juice glass. No one I know actually bought the stuff, opting instead for regular old Cheez Whiz, or maybe Old English on a very special occasion. (And of course, most of it was used to stuff celery.) Anything that had red pepper looking things in it was obviously considered entirely too 'picy by our Norwegian forefathers and foremothers. And as far as pimentos went, those were the things in the olives. So, PC remained a mystery.

Well, I'm here to tell you that this stuff can change your life. And, as a bonus, it's easier than hell to make. There is really no reason not to have some on hand.

Here's the basic formula:

  • 10 ounces sharp cheddar cheese- fancy or the store brand, just get sharp or extra sharp
  • 2 ounces softened cream cheese. Buy the brick of the stuff, not that spreadable crap in the container. Just cut it when it's cold and then let it soften. And for God's sake, don't buy the "lite" variety, it's just got more sugar in it
  • 2 TB good mayonnaise. Life is way to short for cheap-ass mayo.
  • 1 TB finely chopped onion
  • 1 4 ounce jar of pimentos. They are by the pickles and olives and stuff, get the sliced or chopped variety.
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper. Just use it. It's not that 'picy. Again, life is short, so live a little.
  • Some grinds of good black pepper. Maybe a 1/4 tsp. Like the mayo, life is too short for that pepper dust out of a can. Buy a mill and some good peppercorns.
  1. Grate that cheddar cheese and toss it in a mixing bowl along with the cream cheese, mayo, and onion.
  2. Give those pimentos a little bit of a drain and dump those in, too.
  3.  Add the salt, cayenne, and black pepper.
  4. Stir the hell out of it. It needs to look more or less like cheese spread, because, well, it is cheese spread.
You can also increase the heat level to a delightful warmish by cutting the cheddar back to roughly 8 ounces and then using about 2 ounces of pepper jack. Finely dice a fresh jalapeno and put that in there, too. Everything else stays the same.

What is this stuff good for? Everything. No kidding, everything. Here are a few ideas:
  • Spread it on crackers and enjoy it with a crisp white wine.
  • Make sandwiches with it on white bread. Cut the crusts off and wrap the sandwiches in green plastic. Eat them while wearing a green jacket and pretend you just won The Masters.
  • Use it to make grilled cheese sandwiches.
  • Or, my personal favorite, slather it all over burgers fresh off the grill. This is so much tastier than trying to get cheese to melt for a good cheeseburger. And what's more 'Merican than a good cheeseburger all slathered up with tasty, gooey cheese? Exactly!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Interesting News- New Chain Bar and Grille Coming as The District Gets a Rookies Infusion. How much Grill can we take?

I have to hand it to Jodi Schwan at the Argus Leader for rooting up interesting business news that includes new restaurants. Check out Jodi's story here.

The gist of the situation is that a new restaurant, Tanner's Bar & Grill, a chain from Kansas and not to be confused with Tinner's is coming to Sioux Falls and will land in the space currently occupied by Rookies Bar and Grill on Louise Avenue. Rookies is going to relocate to The District, apparently where the lounge is and the Woodfire Grill at The District is also apparently going to go through some sort of re-birth.

Admittedly, I am a little confused, which is probably par for the course. I'm not clear whether Rookies will be sort of separate from Woodfire Grill, or whether we are talking about some amalgam of the two. I guess we'll find out.

This whole situation is rather interesting to me, though, for the following reasons:

  • The Rookies location has always intrigued me since it doesn't seem that any of the tenants there have been able to give it a go. Bennigan's started at the location. To be blunt, Bennigan's sucked.
  • Rookies has/had some interesting burgers. They have a big selection with some unique options that are fun to try. However, I have to note that the place has somewhat recast itself over the years. Rookies has been a big stadium sort of sports bar, featured live bands (including the Drive By Truckers once, if memory serves), and now has a comedy club area attached. Maybe the new location will allow some focus.
  • As to The District, it ought to be interesting to have what appears to be two distinct eateries under one roof. Thus far, the all-things-to-all-people Woodfire Grill has never seemed to catch, well, fire. (See what I did there?) It's an odd concept to have a lounge and allegedly fine dining in an area that does not seem particularly suited to either. Maybe Woodfire can recast its menu and re-define its space to become a little different option than the same old, same old.
  • Speaking of same old, same old, how much "Grill" can this town possibly absorb? Grille 26, Cherry Creek Grill, Tinner's Bar & Grill, Backyard Grill BBQ, McKenzie River Pizza, Grill & Pub, Carnaval Brazilian Grill, etc. etc. etc. There are more. And now Tanner's Bar & Grill (not to be confused with Tinner's)? I wonder how many Grills it takes to trade for a good Thai joint? We've got to be close.
  • And from Jodi's description of Tanner's, not to be confused with Tinner's, how different can another sports bar-ish, chicken wing-ish, burger-ish, wrap-ish, salad-ish joint be from every other place serving more or less the same stuff? For forking crying out loud, for every one of these places that closes another three sprout up. It's like the heads of the hydra, not to be confused with the brewery.
Good thing it's summer. Perhaps I can just stop by the bar for a beer and skip the grill in favor of going home where I can fire up my own grill and grill me a pork chop or a Thai-seasoned grilled chicken.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Great Place to Try: Fernson on 8th

If you like beer and know anything about the local beer scene, you should know about Fernson. They brew some great stuff. After getting operations underway, the Fernson guys opened a tap room. I hear it's really nice. Unfortunately, it's located waaaaaaay up north near Spader's Camper Sales just north of I-90. This is great if you live near say, Renner, or if you're a Sanford employee assigned to their north citadel. Not so great for me, because it's just far enough out of the way to make it into my general presence of mind when it's time for a weekend beer. Besides, 15 minutes of interstate driving isn't what I'm in for when I want to drink a couple of beers, especially IPA's and other varieties that tend to sneak up on a person fast and hard.

Well, problem solved. The fine fellas at Fernson have set up a branch office in the old Flatiron building at 8th and Weber. This is the former location of Latitude 44.

Blogging on this sort of thing conflicts me, because I want to hog up a nice place like this all to myself. It's neat, tidy, bright, open, and still features live music. Fresh, tasty Fernson beer on tap- several varieties are available. And, there are a couple added bonuses. First up, thanks to the familial connection with eye surgeon and Napa winery owner Dr. Vance Thompson, Fernson on 8th has what is probably a more complete catalog of Jessup Cellars bottles available at any given moment, outside of Vance's cellar, anyway. And, if you like to eat when you drink, Breadico is located right next door- where Queen City Bakery started out. Breadico has expanded its offerings to include sandwiches and pizza. And, I'm hear to tell you that I wholeheartedly agree with Cory Myers on this point: Breadico offers the BEST pizza in town, hands down.

Good beer (or good wine) and good pie in pleasant surroundings? What's not to love? Actually, the parking isn't much to love, but hey, sacrifices must be made.