Posts for March 22, 2012

Holy Guacamole: Taco Bell Is 50 Years Old

The OG Taco Bell in Downey.Photo: Courtesy of Taco Bell

That's right. The taco chain is half-a-century old. On March 21, 1962, Glen Bell Jr. opened his first Taco Bell in Downey, California, and our nation's late-night love affair with processed Meximerican cuisine (and FourthMeal) began. A new biography of Bell titled Taco USA makes some pretty bold claims about the chain's role in indoctrinating America into Mexican cuisine, and even goes so far as to say, "Taco Bell and its spawn became a gateway for Americans to accept Mexicans." We admit that as much as we might poke fun at the place and wonder a bit about their beef, we will admit to having devoured a Seven-Layer Burrito or two over the years, both drunk and sober, though mostly drunk.

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Say So Long to Christine’s Cabaret & Steakhouse

If you’re a fan of eating strip steaks at strip clubs, you’ll be sad to learn that Christine’s Cabaret & Steakhouse, the jiggle joint and prime meats palace way out on Passyunk Ave. near the Auto Mall, is closed. The Insider reports that after three years of pedaling meat, the gussied up nudie bar has served its final filets and last lap dances. The club’s owner’s death a few weeks ago may have something to do with its demise. Or more likely the fact that two of its employees beat a man to death there back in 2009. [Insider]

‘Wine Enthusiast’ Launches Mandarin Edition; ‘Pimpnho’ Raspberry Wine Is a Thing

"I prefer boysenberry wine."

• Want to entice a young twentysomething to buy a bottle of wine? The design of the label and the name are very important. Take for example this bottle of OMG! Chardonnay. [Washington Post]

• Catering to the booming Chinese market, Wine Enthusiast just launched a Mandarin Chinese edition, in partnership with something called [MarketWatch]

• There is now such a thing as Pimpnho raspberry wine, and a newly named American hybrid grape varietal called Valiant that can grow places like South Dakota. [Sacramento Bee]

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Grill ‘Em All: Metallica’s Lars Ulrich Has His Own ‘Trashy’ Burger

Some musicians think fame entitles them to be huffy about food. (Case in point: M.I.A.'s insistence on European cheese-and-cracker trays wherever she tours.) But not Metallica. L.A. food truck Grill 'Em All struck a deal with the band: In exchange for using their song and logo likeness, they had to create a Metallica burger. Fair enough. Owner Ryan Harkins concocted the Jump in the Fryer Burger with waffle buns, fried chicken, burger meat, cheese, and maple syrup with Sriracha. But his real masterpiece might be the burger he made in honor of drummer Lars Ulrich.

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The James Weird Awards: Reagan Robbery and a No-Fun Food Fight

Between product recalls and trans-fat wars, it can be easy to forget that food is fun. Luckily, this week was dominated by lighthearted food-related headlines: Marilyn Hagerty's adorable New York food tour, George Clooney-approved tequila, and the universal truth that "someday, somebody's gonna make you want to gobble up a waffle fry." But the weird stuff still found its way into the news, and we've gathered the best bits in the James Weird awards, straight ahead.

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The Iced-Coffee Economy: Why the Cold Stuff Costs More

What's the real cost?Photo: iStockphoto

All this week, Jonathan Rubinstein, the owner of the Joe mini-chain, has gone into work wondering whether today will be The Day. “Each year, there is one day when the world changes,” he says. It’s the day when the entire population it seems switches from hot coffee to cold, served from plastic pitchers into cups full of ice." When that happens, Rubinstein says, “my whole business changes for the next four months.”

"The hardest part is just making sure we’re prepared for cold brew." »

Stateside Represents the ‘Refining’ of the Gastropub Movement; Ela Shows a ‘Sense of Maturity’

• At East Passyunk’s Stateside, Craig LaBan surveys chef George Sabatino’s “small-plate study of great American (mostly local) ingredients,” and has mostly enthusiastic things to say. With “wonderfully rustic pork liver terrine spiked with applejack,” “truffled sausage with molten rich marrow,” and the “luxuriously silky texture of minced beef tartare, truffled, cool, and glossed with raw quail egg,” he writes that four month old restaurant in the heart of “this red-hot South Philly neighborhood,” “represents in many ways another refining step for the gastropub movement.” [Inquirer]

• Brain Freedman takes in some of what Queen Village’s Ela has to offer, and praises chef Jason Cichonski’s “deeply creative mind that’s willing to take risks.” From the “ingenious scatter of pretzel spaetzle” that comes with the duck magret, to the sherry vinegar and root beer marinated foie gras, dishes served represent “a sense of maturity far beyond Cichonski’s years.” [PW]

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Cuba Libre Makes Way For Empanada Alley


Not so long ago, we lamented the noticeable lack of empanadas from our dining landscape. But now we have some good news for devotees of the deep fat-fried dough pockets of deliciousness. Throughout the month of April, Cuba Libre chef Guillermo Pernot is setting up a makeshift bodega behind the Old City restaurant, which he and his staff have dubbed Empanada Alley, where they will serve empanadas from midnight to 3 a.m. every Friday and Saturday. Proceeds from Empanada Alley will be donated to Children of Restaurant Employees, charitable organization that provides special support to the children of restaurant employees.

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Flavor Ammo: Why Maggi Goes Great With Just About Everything

Maggi makes a mean Michelada.Photo: Ian Knauer

If you’ve ever been to just about any great dive in Mexico, you’ve seen a bottle of Maggi Seasoning sitting on the table next to the salt. The same goes for cafes in Vietnam and China. Bottles of Maggi have been a staple in many cuisines for over a century, but interestingly, the actual product hails from none of those places. The sauce-bullion-noodle company is based in Germany, and was originally founded by a Swiss, Julius Maggi, the son of an Italian. Maggi is an international sauce of mystery. But what is it, exactly, and why is it so popular in so many countries?

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Bagel Celebrity Murray Lender Has Died, and So Has Mr. Coffee

The most important bagel man of all.

Murray Lender, the highly respected man behind Lender's bagels, the bagels many grew up with and skill keep in their freezer for sentimental purposes, and that which Consumer Reports "hole"-heartedly raved about yesterday, has died at 81. Lender's Bagels was founded by Murray's father in New Haven in 1927; it evolved, as the Big Gay Ice Cream guys just tweeted, into the bagel that "introduced us hillbilly goyim to bagels. Thanks for the shmear." But that's not all.

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Han Dynasty Plans Westward Expansion

Han Chiang

Folks in University City are about to have their collective faces melted off from the brain-scorching hot Szechuan that a new Han Dynasty location will be serving there soon. Seems Han “the Man” Chiang has his eye on a spot west of Schuylkill for his next outpost. Eater Philly reports that it’s the former home of MidAtlantic, the locavorish and critically panned restaurant from Daniel Stern that closed in February. There’s no word on what kind of time frame Chiang has in mind for an opening. But considering that the turnaround on his recently opened Manayunk restaurant was just six days, we’re guessing it’s going to be pretty soon. [Eater Philly]

Earlier: Say So Long to MidAtlantic
Related: Hello Handy Nasty: Local Rapper Drops a Sichuan-Singed Ode to Han Chiang

Elizabeth Banks Has Good Taste in Burgers

As part of the Hunger Games media blitz, actress Elizabeth Banks paid a visit to the Late Late Show last night to chat with Craig Ferguson about, well, not going hungry. She loves meat too much to ever go vegetarian, or vegan for that matter, and she's got an affinity for hamburgers topped with eggs. (We can relate.) She's also into "butter on everything." Watch the clip straight ahead.

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Pink Slime? Not at Genuardi's; Mickey D's CEO to Step Down

• Today in pink slime: Local supermarket chain Genuardi's joins Safeway, SUPERVALU, and Food Lion in halting sales of the recent scourge of the meat industry. [myfoxphilly]

• Zitner's new owner plans to modernize and take the Easter candy maker nationally, but won’t mess with the original recipes. [Inquirer]

• Payback: Gordon Ramsay is suing Laurier BBQ, F.K.A. Laurier Gordon Ramsay, claiming he was unfairly ousted from a partnership after just six months. [LF Press]

• There's hardly a beverage market Starbucks isn't getting into these days: first juice, now energy drinks. What's next — "Tap water: brought to you by Starbucks"? [USAT]

• A study found that sleeping even an hour or so less than usual can cause people to eat 549 extra calories the following day. [NYDN]

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Grubstreet Sweeps

Recent reader reviews on MenuPages

  • Bryn Mawr Pizza See the menu

    “Pizza is alright”

    The food is alright... there honestly is no "atmosphere" since it consists of just an oven, two small tables and a television.

  • Derek's See the menu

    “Everything a restaurant should be!”

    Others talk the talk, Derek has always walked the walk.

  • Lion King See the menu

    “My other spot”

    When it comes to the generals...(chicken that is) they'll make you sign up for recruitment


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