Thursday, January 28, 2016

Nashville Hot Chicken from KFC!

The birth of Nashville Hot Chicken is a spicy and sordid tale. According to legend, a woman, fed up with her boyfriend’s philandering ways, liberally dosed a fried chicken breast teeming with extra hot peppers. She coyly fed it to him- I assume to see his face explode in red with cartoonish steam pouring from his ears. Instead, he fell in love with it and opened his own hot chicken restaurants. (Thanks Wikipedia.) 

Nashville Hot Chicken is no joke. It’s so hot and spicy you’ll need constant breaks, a clump of moist towelettes, and a partner to wipe the perspiration from your Steven Avery levels of sweat accumulating on your brow. It’s that good hurt. It’s a feat of strength. So how did KFC’s new “Nashville Hot Chicken” compare against the legend?
Not well. I could’ve guessed because the masses aren’t ready for that level of heat. Nice try, KFC, but without lard as an ingredient, it will never compare. 
This is why I don't go to Yahoo for food reviews.

The hype was building. I perused the flyer and started salivating. KFC was telling me that I would soon be tasting some next-level heat. 

Not a legally binding warning label...

I went with the 3 piece chicken fingers meal that also included a biscuit and a side of slaw . At $5.49 the value ain’t bad. They’ll sub the slaw for another side but I kept it to battle the incoming heat that never materialized. I know I’ve been critical up to this point, but overall the meal was tasty and satisfying. The spices they used just weren’t strong enough on the Scoville test, but the chicken was perfectly done. The skin stayed crunchy even after being slathered in the sweet and spicy sauce. The chicken was tender. The biscuit was flaky and made a perfect vessel for ½ a finger. 

There was a moment there where I thought I was in trouble. Sweat started accumulating but quickly subsided after a gulp of water. 

Extreme close up!

Even though the KFC attempt at Nashville Hot Chicken couldn’t live up to the original, it was a valiant? attempt that resulted in something delicious. I dug the sweet/smoky/spicy flavor of the chicken. It elevated the chicken finger to something much better. The accompanying slaw, biscuit, and potato wedges (with ranch dressing, natch) were also enjoyable. 

This got me thinking, what’s the spiciest fast food item you’ve ever eaten? Comment below. Now. 
Review by Mark!

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Cinnamon Bun Oreo Cookies!

 Well, a new year has begun, and if I was a betting man, I would have bet that we'd get a new Oreo cookie before the end of January.  If only someone was willing to take that action, because I rolled up to my local supermarket the other day only to be faced a huge display of Red Velvet (Which are back for a limited time, but who cares because we reviewed them last year), and...THESE:

I snatched a package off of the display so quick you would have thought my name was Barry Allen.  I was in such a hurry to buy them and get out of there that I forgot I was on foot and had no bag. So I did what anyone would. I stuffed them inside my jacket so nobody driving or walking by would see me carrying a package of cookies down the street. Makes sense right? So the whole way home I'm wondering if there's any way they could have captured the true glory of a fresh, delicious cinnamon bun in a cookie...

I instantly ripped into the package the moment I got home. Right off the bat, before I even touched a cookie I knew that they were going to be good. The smell of them literally filled the room. Was someone cooking cinnamon buns before I walked in? Nope, the mad scientists behind the flavors at Nabisco had just nailed the smell. Bravo gents, but the real test is the taste test...

The cookie part reminds me a lot of the cookies from the Gingerbread Oreos. They are crunchy and bursting with cinnamon flavor. But the creme? The CREME. That is where the magic happens.

Yes they have somehow nailed the flavor of cinnamon bun icing perfectly. That, combined with the cinnamon cookie ends up being an awesome Oreo version of a cinnamon bun. They definitely hit the flavor right on the head with these.  Another good thing is that they seem to have a plentiful amount of the creme in each cookie. It definitely seemed to be more than a regular Oreo, but not quite as much as a Double Stuf.  Damn, is it good! 

If there was one change I would make to Cinnamon Bun Oreo cookies, it might be to put a cinnamon swirl there, just for the gimmick. Imagine the icing in the middle swirled with cinnamon? It would be great. Or perhaps if they had gotten the Cinnabon license? That would be incredible. 

But honestly, that's grasping at straws. The first new flavor of Oreo out the gate in 2016 has set the bar high. Cinnamon Bun Oreos get an A from me. Get out there and get some before they are gone! 

Review by Rich! 

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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Cheese Wizards Food Truck!

Since I moved to Seattle a year ago I've been trying as many restaurants, food trucks, bakeries and specialty shops as I can. There's maybe a million of them so I have my work cut out for me. But one there was one that I wanted to try over them all, that somehow eluded me. That one? The Cheese Wizards. Legend has it these wizards use forbidden magic to create some of the greatest grilled cheese sandwiches that this land has ever known.  I had seen the truck around, but usually parked for the night. Once it drove by me when I was out for an adventure and when I stopped to watch it pass, the driver looked over at me and tipped his giant wizard hat. Yes, you read that right. The wizard behind the wheel was wearing a giant wizard hat. 

So when I heard they were finally coming to my neighborhood I decided the time had come for FGFB to meet...

When I arrived they were still setting up, so I used this time wisely to creep around and take a good look at their truck. I have to say, there's a lot of food trucks out there that embrace their gimmicks, but none hold a candle to the Cheese Wizards. 

The bright yellow of the truck is so vibrant that it could easily be seen by even the most blind of cave trolls. The front of the truck is decorated with dual battle axes and owls.

Their logo is everywhere you look and for good reason. It's just about the greatest logo I have ever seen. Second only to our own, of course.

Their menu is fantastic. It's dubbed the Nom-Nomicon and features such wonderful sandwiches as, "The Goblin King, the Voldemortadella, the Forest Lord, and the original Cheese Wizard. The menu has a ton of great little hidden jokes and references. My favorite was where they call bacon their "Highest level flavor magic."

After much deliberation I decided to keep it simple so I got the Cheese Wizard with Bacon while my lady friend decided she wanted to take on the Voldemortadella.  The actual wizards themselves were awesome. Fun guys, joking around, answering any questions anyone had. They also gave out free hot apple cider. And here I thought they might just be conjurers of cheap tricks!

Once we ordered I was too excited. It didn't take long at all for our sandwiches to be ready. But in my brain it was a lifetime. I stood there like...

But when the head Wizard suggested we check out their sauce station, I instantly perked up. Sauces you say? Something every fat man loves? And so many that it needs a station? What manner of witchcraft was this guy spinning?

Not only was there an ornate sauce station, featuring six special sauces, (as well as some standard sauces in bottles),  but check out the artwork that accompanied them...

Adventure Time?!?! Could the Cheese Wizards be any cooler?

Oh, and just so you know, you have to milk your sauce of choice from this thing like it's a cows udder. Both cool and kind of gross at the same time!

Suddenly my name was called. My sandwich was ready. The Cheese Wizard in the truck handed it out to me like this:

And before I closed up the box he reminded me to grab a sauce before I left. I looked into the box and saw one, single sauce cup. Immediately I realized that they probably only give you one sauce per sandwich because it's mentioned on the menu. I didn't want to be the fat guy asking for extra sauce cups, so I approached the Wizards Sauce station with a little bit of sadness in my heart, knowing I could only try one...

But in the end I couldn't choose just one. So I squirted some of the Smaugs Smokey BBQ into the box, and filled the sauce cup with Merlins Magic Mustard Honey, closed up the box and began the journey home.  Why didn't we eat them there? No good lighting for pictures! So after a quick jaunt over the Misty Mountains, we got home and it was finally time to experience what the Cheese Wizards had conjured up for us.

Behold, the Cheese Wizard.  Heaps of Tillamook cheddar and lots of creamy Monterey Jack on buttery french bread. Plus I added bacon. The menu let me know that it's a "classic grilled cheese loved by apprentices and old maesters alike." I took one bite and I was like:

So. Good. The bread is perfectly cooked. Buttery and crispy on the outside. Inside, a ridiculous mixture of creamy cheeses and bacon. Every bite was perfect. It was the kind of sandwich that you savor. Every bite was slowly chewed so I could enjoy it.

After the first bite I was fully under the Cheese Wizards spell. Incredible all around. When dipped in the sauces it was even better. The mustard was sweet but had a nice bite to it and the bbq was dark and smokey. I wouldn't have wanted either sauce on every bite of this sandwich,  so I was glad I had the option to dip. Not that the sauces were bad, at all, but because the sandwich alone was so damn good. It was great to go from a bite with nothing on it, to one with sauce and back.

If I have one negative thing to say about Cheese Wizards it's gotta be the side salad. Listen, on Fatguyfoodblog, we're never going to praise salad. Not once, ever. Now, I understand they are trying to have a healthier option here to go with the cheese packed sandwich. Especially out here in Seattle, people are very conscious of what they eat. I also know that having a frialator in a food truck is a pain in the ass, which is why a lot of them don't offer fries. But the salad isn't the best fit for this, especially when you're taking your sandwich home. By the time you dig in, the greens are a bit warm and soggy and it's just weird. Did I eat mine? Yes I ate every bite. I'm not a fool, I know this body needs some green if it's going to run at 110% at all time, but I think I would have rather had a handful of chips instead of salad. a perfect world, some Tater Tots.

I also got to try a bite of the Voldemortadella, but I won't spend too much time on it because I didn't eat the entire thing. It was also a magical sandwich. The menu says it's "Provolone and Mozzarella, cream cheese, mortadella, salami, black forest ham, and herbed olive muffeletta." The stand out flavors in this were definitely cheese and olives. If you like olives, you would lose your mind over this. I found it to be a very unique and interesting bite. I might actually get this one the next time I visit the Wizards!

In the end, when we were finished and I'm looking back on my dinner with the Cheese Wizards over a pipe full of the halflings leaf, I have to say, I'm quite impressed all around. Not only is their presentation second to none, but the entire experience was fun, and the food was incredible. Some might say the price tag is a little steep for a grilled cheese sandwich, but I honestly wouldn't think twice about. Worth every cent.

So if you're cruising through Seattle and you spy that familiar logo on the site of a giant, yellow caravan covered in owls and axes, hop on your horse and follow it through the fields of Rohan and through the Fangorn Forest until it reaches it's stop. Tell them Fatguyfoodblog sent you! Then let the Cheese Wizards work their magic. Trust me, you'll be happy you did.

I give the Cheese Wizards a solid A!

For more information check out the Cheese Wizards online HERE and be sure to LIKE their Facebook page HERE.

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Review by Rich

Sunday, January 17, 2016

FGFB New Years Chinese Food Spotlight: Highland China House. Rochester, NH

What witty play on words or what hilarious gif can I insert here to knock the final Chinese food spotlight out of the goddamn park? You're not sure? I am. And you'll see both in my absolutely riveting review of Highland China House, located in East Rochester, NH.

Let's get started.

You'll be shocked to know, that as a freelance artist, I'm not a man of means. So, when choosing my selection for this review, price was definitely ringing around inside my brain like the loose change in my pockets. The Highland China House is like any other hole in the wall Chinese food strip mall establishment, with one glaring difference, which I'll fill you in on momentarily. I've been coming here for years. Watched the small children grow from babies taking their first wiggly steps in the corner, to preteens watching cartoons on ipads, in the corner. The HCH is small, and on NYE, crowded as hell. So me and the lady grabbed a bag moderately filled with food, and popped on the television for some GODDAMN AMERICAN Holiday festivities.

If science could replace my blood with Lo Mein noodles, I'd be jamming my arm in between two boulders and would be feasting on it for the next 127 hours.

It's odd that Chinese food has developed this symbiotic relationship with itself where noodles or rice has to be present despite the vast amount of award winning cast members throughout the menu.
HCH Lo Mein is stellar, not that greasy, and doesn't have that weird half plastic aftertaste that I've found some cheap Chinese places have. It provides an excellent appetizer vehicle, in which exotic meats can safely be delivered into my mouth.

The chicken fingers here were oddly thin. The batter, crispy, but within a small wedge of meat, although tasty, leaves you wanting MUCH more. I'm sad I only got a smaller order of these, but if you'll remember the whole change jingling bit I did above....but yeah! Don't shortchange yourself and get a large. Odd at first, but that may in fact be the beauty of them.

Crab Rangoons often times make of break whether or not I'll visit a Chinese place again. Highland China House has probably the best recipe for Crab Rangoons within a 50 mile radius of Rochester, NH. Crispy and sweet, the cream cheese that is encased within this fried wonton is not as thick as you'd imagine. Perfect in it's simplicity.

Another tried and true staple of Chinese cuisine, Beef Teriyaki. Now, these guys, these....are a little odd. Presented well, the meat tastes slightly over processed and segments off the stick really easily. It tastes decent, but not great, not horrid, and just leaves you with a slight uneasiness. The teriyaki sweetness is a like someone dipped their finger in a bowl of really good teriyaki sauce, then took that finger, and then rubbed it all around the outside of your lips.

it's there, you want to taste it, but it's nowhere near strong enough.

I obviously went with the most basic of meals for Highland China House, and if an extablishment can't get what is the absolute basics down, how would they fair if you decided to get a little more adventurous? I think, in HCH's case, they do farely damn well. The food, slightly greasy but doesn't leave your stomach in knots, they excel in some areas, lack in others, but one thing about HCH that we have to keep in mind: They aren't gross. 99% of the small hole in the wall chinese eateries are downright awful, and with that knowledge, it is refreshing to see a place take pride, taking the high road, NAY, the HIGH LAND, and reflect that pride in their product. I'm glad they're around.

I give the Highland China House a

-Review by Josh

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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

FGFB New Years Chinese Food Spotlight: Pink Bamboo Hot Pot Cafe in Portsmouth, NH!

Chinese food is like pizza. Most of it is average but still satisfying, unless it is particularly fantastic or particularly nauseating (although, in both cases they can be at the time fantastic and later nauseating, especially if you have a tendency to eat it in the quantities that I do).  But in my opinion, the biggest difference is if you find yourself craving it on Jesus’ birthday, you’re SOL with pizza unless it was previously cold. So when we were brainstorming ideas in our weekly meeting at the Fatcave, the inspiration of a post-holiday Chinese food review struck me like the minute hand touches 12. That was intended to be a clock pun but whatever, you try of thinking of something being striking besides lightning.

Having a short window of time in my hometown of Portsmouth, NH, and not willing to be stuck (not struck) waiting for a table at a restaurant the weekend after a holiday, I decided to revisit a classic establishment I’d often enjoy after long shifts as a hotel front desk clerk in the very same city. That is, before I moved to the bigger city for an opportunity to make myself miserable in an environment crammed with approximately 500,00 more people. But my despair was welcomingly vanquished when I walked into what is quite possibly the most hidden gem of downtown Portsmouth, the Pink Bamboo Hot Pot Cafe on Penhallow St. Now try not thinking of what the minute hand touches every time I say Pink Bamboo.

Name jokes aside, I knew the Bamboo would be a great contrast to the disappointing experience I recently had during my last experience as a reviewer for the blog . In that, I was not wrong. The Pink Bamboo is a very clean, almost sterile restaurant with only few of the cultural knick-knacks that you’d frequently find in a typical Chinese restaurant.

Despite my appreciation of the atypical, I decided to go with a standard appetizer platter to maximize my exposure to the food and minimize the damage to my wallet (Christmas ain’t cheap). My selection was a platter that included three sticks of beef teriyaki, five chicken fingers, and four crab rangoons for a reasonable $9.95. It was a pretty nice day out so I ordered my food to go so I could take it to the park down the street. Also partially to get myself away from a possible second Scorpion Bowl because it’s important to be an unbiased reviewer (read: not drunk before 1pm).

I went for the chicken fingers first. They were good, but not the highlight of the meal. They were had a great crunch on the outside and were starchy between the meat and fried outer shell with an oily taste. The meat was thoroughly cooked. I was impressed that the chicken didn’t slide out of its fried casing 5 out of 5 times, an unfortunate common issue I’ve found time and time again at lesser Chinese restaurants.

I then moved on to the beef teriyaki. These were absolutely the star of the show, like the best beef jerky you’ve ever had but much better. I truly savoured every bite of these strips of paradise, which was tricky because of how fast I was inclined to eat them. They had a flavor of garlic and red pepper. Truly fantastic.

That left me with the rangoons, which were a delightful treat. The fried wonton shell was crispy where it should be, with a delightful crunch on the outer edges. The center was softer, almost a fried packet of cream cheese. I barely detected the taste of imitation crab, which again, at times with Chinese food can be overbearing. Overall, I found the combination of oily wonton and cream cheese to be buttery and delicious.

Then I got a message from my pal, Nick. I told him I was downtown sampling some food for the site, and he decided to come down and check it out with me. Time for my second Scorpion bowl, and the best item I had there all day. It was the pork fried rice and it was absolutely grand. The pork and onions were sweet, chives and bean sprouts added a flavorful crunch. There’s no way I’m not immediately going to get this dish every single time I come to Portsmouth. So damn good.

Pink Bamboo Hot Pot Cafe of Penhallow St, Portsmouth- you got the easy A. It was my pleasure to review this exceptional restaurant. This isn’t just some great Chinese place, it’s easily one of Portsmouth’s top five eateries- and Portsmouth has no shortage of eateries. But the next time you’re there, don’t get distracted by some place expensive place on Bow St. Go find Pink Bamboo, and the next thing you’ll be doing is thanking me.

For more info about Pink Bamboo, check out their website: , and be sure to LIKE their Facebook page!

Review by Sl33zy

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