Thursday, February 28, 2013

Recent Interesting Articles About Food Part 2 (food, rambling, economics/politics, entertainment, tv)

There were a couple of very interesting articles about food in mainstream media recently. I wanted to share them with everyone because they are thoughtful, interesting reads. I'm also going to offer up my opinions on certain points discussed in the articles because this is Rambling$ and Gambling$ after all and I haven't done any rambling in a while.

This second article is from Grantland on the state of food TV. For Part 1 click here.

It was no longer enough to...instruct. The new goal was to entertain.
Another example of this way of mixing instructing/entertaining that has proven successful is Jim Cramer on CNBC. I think it says more about the way people consume media than about food TV itself.
And so the TV part of the equation began to outweigh the food. Legit cooks...went out the door.
While this is true, the Food Network did spin off the Cooking Channel. There may be no more new episodes of "Good Eats", but you can find reruns, along with new shows that still actually teach cooking, on the Cooking Channel. While I might agree with the conclusion, I don't think it's fair to focus exclusively on the one Food Network channel.
Bourdain was...a thoroughly undistinguished line cook lifer
I'm pretty sure this is just plain wrong. I did read Kitchen Confidential, and I remember he was already executive chef when he wrote it. This just sounds like what someone who watches too much Top Chef would say. They think all real chefs are these endlessly creative artist types. Every real restaurant kitchen has line cooks, and actually running a successful kitchen is a legitimate big deal, especially for a place that did as many covers as Les Halles.
Look, it's perfectly fine for Bourdain to cash in
Yes it is, although my belief is that this happened well before The Taste. The last couple of seasons of No Reservations and The Layover show focused way more on already-known critical darlings than the earlier seasons.
Slumming alongside Bourdain as judges/mentors are Ludo Lefebvre, an actually gifted French chef....
I actually did not like Ludo when he first appeared on Top Chef Masters. I thought he was playing a character. But I think he's rediscovered his passion for food and has won me over, especially with his appearance on the Burgundy episode of No Reservations. I do watch The Taste (it's an easy show to have on in the background), and he's the only guy on there whose taste I trust even a bit. I think Bourdain's taste buds have been killed off by the all the alcohol he's drank over the years.
Bourdain's Rolodex is put to good use, too, as a dazzling assortment of legitimate geniuses, from Gabrielle Hamilton to David Kinch....
Those are some nice names, but did you know that "Master Chef", the Fox show about HOME COOKS, once featured Guy Savoy, Alain Ducasse, and Daniel Boulud as judges? That's a combined 33 Michelin stars. (Recent review of Boulud's restaurant Daniel here)
The main takeaway here is that amateurism just isn't all that interesting.
That to me was the best part of the article and my main takeaway as well. Unfortunately, he then loses me when he heaps praise onto Chopped and Top Chef. While the contestants on Top Chef do tend to be stronger as a whole than other shows, let's not get too carried away. There's a reason that every fcking season someone gets reprimanded for not seasoning their food. As for Chopped, I'm just not a fan of the whole food challenge thing. It goes back to this focus on chefs as artists, and forgets about chefs running a restaurant and feeding people. Even though Fox focuses too much on the whole cursing Gordon Ramsay schtick, both Hell's Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares do illustrate what it's like to run a kitchen professionally. The BBC versions of these programs, where the Ramsay character is dialed down a bunch, are very watchable.

Again, I think this article speaks more to how people (Americans in general) consume TV media than specifically to the state of food TV.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Recent Interesting Articles About Food Part 1 (food, rambling, economics/politics)

There were a couple of very interesting articles about food in the mainstream media recently. I wanted to share them with everyone because they are thoughtful, interesting reads. I'm also going to offer up my opinions on certain points discussed in the articles because this is Rambling$ and Gambling$ after all and I haven't done any rambling in a while.

The first article comes from the New York Times and is adapted from an upcoming book about the snack food industry. It's a long read but well worth it. For part 2 click here.

He drew a connection to the last thing in the world the C.E.O.’s wanted linked to their products: cigarettes.
I thought this was very interesting. But to me, it also adds a new question. Is it the food making part of the company that's at fault for making such unhealthy things or is it the advertising part that's at fault for selling them? At least with tobacco there's no delusion of a life-sustaining product whereas food is sustenance, no matter how much of it is chemically created.
“Don’t talk to me about nutrition,” he reportedly said, taking on the voice of the typical consumer. “Talk to me about taste, and if this stuff tastes better, don’t run around trying to sell stuff that doesn’t taste good.”
But that's the crux of the problem. Does this stuff actually "taste" good? Or does it just make you feel good? There's a distinct difference but the food companies would have you believe it's the same. By focusing on making things addictive, what they're doing is making you feel good. For something to taste good, you need to be able to discern tastes, and I'm not sure the target demographic is very good at that.
He fundamentally changed the way the food industry thinks about making you happy
Again, the focus is on making people happy. And people do, in fact, play a role in this. Culturally, I think it is a very American belief that more/bigger = better. So the companies, all major corporations, not just the food industry, give them exactly that.
Lunchables were born. The trays flew off the grocery-store shelves.
My mom was a full time housewife and a great cook, but I still had my share of these during my childhood. I remember bringing one of these with me every day to summer camp. This is on a bit of a tangent, but one of the fundamental things that people are willing to spend money for is convenience. There is nothing wrong with that. But there is a big difference between "I am too busy to cook" and "I am too lazy to cook". I think that many of society's problems come from the fact that people as a whole have gotten lazier, and that laziness is continually reinforced by the people looking to make money off it.
Discover what consumers want to buy and give it to them with both barrels. Sell more, keep your job!
Once again, from both the consumer and producer side, we are taught more is better. Actually, not just taught. We are conditioned to think more is better to keep our jobs.
So when Finnish authorities moved to address the problem, they went right after the manufacturers.
That will never happen in the US. I have no delusions about that.
Their tools included a $40,000 device that simulated a chewing mouth to test and perfect the chips....
One of the great takeaways from this article is the realization of how much thought goes into every aspect of what seems to be a simple everyday product.
Imagine this...A potato chip that tastes great and qualifies for the Clinton-A.H.A. alliance for schools
This is another part of the problem. When we do have regulations and guidelines, a huge amount of money is spent trying to backdoor an existing product into qualifying, as opposed to creating new, better products. The most well known example being the "ketchup is a vegetable" controversy.
In Coke’s headquarters in Atlanta, the biggest consumers were referred to as “heavy users.”
Because, frankly, if you buy it, they don't care if you drink it or shoot it up your butt. Reminds me of an episode of ABC's Shark Tank, where a jewelry designer is looking for an investment and the "shark" says, "So what happens if I invest in you and then you get hit by a bus when you leave here?" Investors want corporations to have easily replaceable units and many corporations view their customers in the same way.
Coca-Cola strove to outsell every other thing people drank, including milk and water.
That's just downright scary.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Anime Recommendation: Death Note (entertainment, tv, manga/anime)

There's really not much to keep us entertained at this time of the year. It's still too cold to go out, the NFL season is over, February sweeps is almost over, March Madness hasn't begun, and MLB spring training is just barely getting underway. I'm not sure who's getting ready to watch the World Baseball Classic, and the NHL and NBA are in the middle of their grind of a season. I mean, this is exactly why Vince McMahon created the XFL right?

So I'm going to recommend an anime for the coming weekend. For those unfamiliar with anime (Japanese animation movie/series), it's a terrific entertainment medium filled with a variety of genres and amazing stories. I know every one of you loved Toy Story 3, so don't use the fact that it's animated as an excuse.

A few points as to my criteria for choosing this and (future) recommendation(s):
1. Something that is easy for newcomers to get into. Minimal self-referencing and tropes.
2. Something that is easily accessible, available in its entirety on Youtube, Amazon Prime, or Hulu.
3. Something that can be finished over the course of a binge weekend or three. Not something with 150 episodes.
4. Something recent, within the last decade or so.
5. Entertaining. You may or may not feel like you want to recommend it to everyone you know, but you won't feel like you wasted your time watching it.

My guess is I'm mostly recommending this to people who are new to anime, so it's kind of fitting that I chose Death Note as my first recommendation. It is one of the most popular animes of the past decade, helped by the fact that it was actually broadcasted on Adult Swim in the US. The original material was manga (Japanese comics), but in addition to the anime version, they also made a live-action movie of it in Japan. That's how popular it is.

Quick description: Genius high school student finds a shinigami's (think grim reaper) notebook which allows him to control people's deaths. There are moral issues at play, but the real meat of the story is the cat-and-mouse game between the student and the genius detective out to stop him from using the notebook.

One word review: Smart
Much of what goes on is explained through voice-overs from the main characters. Think of it like Dexter. The thought process is deep and detailed, and really, really smart. It makes you want to follow what happens next as they go back and forth. In many ways the series is comparable to the first season of Dexter. The ability to go through the thought processes of both sides will also be familiar to fans of The Wire. I was hooked on The Wire about 3 episodes in. I was hooked on Death Note by the end of the second (half-hour) episode.

Other notes:
1. Death Note is technically a shonen manga, meaning teen/young adult. Think of it like Harry Potter. Adults will find it enjoyable, but this explains why the main characters are so young.
2. The opening and closing theme songs are important parts of the production of an anime. I personally did not enjoy the opening theme that much in terms of how it matched with the tone I wanted from the anime.
3. Semi-Spoiler, highlight to read: Although there are 37 episodes in all, in episode 26 there is a plot device such that I would tend to consider the episodes from there on out to be like a season two or a sequel, and I believe that that is the best mindset with which to watch those episodes.
4. When I first watched it, I watched the English dubbed version on Youtube. The distribution company has since asserted its copyright and you have to pay to watch the episodes on Youtube. You can watch the entire series for free on Hulu, but it will be the subtitled version with original Japanese voice acting. Embedded below is episode 1:

Enjoy! Please watch and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Impressive Dishes at Restaurant Daniel (food)

While we won the ICBL regular season (and tied for first in the playoffs) for the third consecutive time last year, we didn't get around to doing a celebratory dinner until just recently. We've done it at restaurant Daniel each time, and it's just gotten better and better.

I tend to feel that Daniel has a reputation within the foodie community as being not particularly exciting or impressive, especially for a 3 Michelin Star restaurant. As a friend put it, "Daniel is where men take their wives, not their mistresses." I was originally unimpressed as well, but my last two visits have changed that point of view.

The key is to order off the prix fixe/a la carte/market specials menu, and not the 6-course tasting. Many diners tend to believe that the tasting menu is a restaurant's way of showing off their best. It goes with the modern celebrity chef-centric route that food culture has taken. But for a restaurant that does so many things so well, you will end up with some rather "safe" choices in the tasting menu. To me, the best way to enjoy a place like Daniel (or even Le Bernardin) is to choose the things that you like or want to try, and then let them take it to another level. For the same price as the tasting menu, you can get the prix fixe and add another main course or two extra starters. This will be just as grand, and there will be plenty on the plate if you do come across a dish that you absolutely adore. Not just 20 courses of 1 bite each.

Nothing has changed in the decor since the last time we were at Daniel, but they did seat us in a nice little alcove in the corner of the restaurant. This was a really nice, spacious, area in a large, busy restaurant. Actually, Daniel is in fact the world's largest 3 Michelin Star restaurant, and did about 230 covers the random weeknight we were there.

Accomodative service and FOH:
We are not the easiest diners to deal with. As a group, we have many different dietary restrictions and preferences, and this time one of us had to come in a wheelchair. The staff was adept and professional, especially our server/captain Alex who handled everything we threw at him with ease. He even helped wheel my friend from the restaurant to the car parked outside the restaurant.

A couple of interesting points. When my friend in the wheelchair tried to tip our guy for helping wheel him out, he reminded my friend that his wife had already tipped him. Also, when one of my friends put down a $10 bill at the coat check, they actually asked if she wanted change. These may seem like minor points, but to me it's reflective of excellent training, and that the staff there don't take things for granted and just assume that everyone is on a huge expense account.


Our amuse was a trio of beet very similar to the amuse from our dinner a year and a half ago. Cured beet with smoked salmon, beet puree, and hamachi with beet and potato gaufrette. My favorite was the puree, which was luscious and sweet while opening up the taste buds instead of dulling them.

Excellent bread to go with excellent butter. The garlic/parmesan bread was especially flavorful, with a clove of garlic nestled in each piece of bread.

PHEASANT-FOIE GRAS AND BLACK TRUFFLE MOSAIC with Artichoke Barigoule, Celery-Mustard Coulis, Toasted Hazelnut
This was one of the market specials for black truffle season ($28 supplement to prix-fixe). The terrine was expertly layered, highlighting different textures of creamy foie, pheasant meat, and some sort of aspic. The meat was strongly-flavored, standing up to the foie, but at times seemed a bit chewy to me. There wasn't much of a truffle presence across the entire dish, but I loved the mosaic and the accompaniments.

FENNEL RAVIOLI WITH SCOTTISH LANGOUSTINES with Sauteed Cuttlefish, Sicilian Green Olive, Artichoke and Saffron Cream Sauce
It is interesting to note that the fennel ravioli is listed ahead of the langoustines in the name of the dish. While most places would consider very flavorful Scottish langoustines to be the feature of a dish, this was about harmony, and the fennel ravioli was indeed every bit the star as the langoustines. It is one of the things that I have to come to realize as being impressive about the food at Daniel. Every dish has many components, and yet flavors and textures are never muddled. This is in contrast to certain Michelin-starred restaurants where some items on the plate seem superfluous and the chef is trying too hard to do too much. Everything comes together in this dish, with an emphasis on great mouthfuls of texture and flavor, not just fleeting tastes.

OLIVE OIL POACHED COD SALAD with Mussel-Parsley Vinaigrette, Pickled Hon Shimeji Mushroom, Chorizo, Artichoke, Smoked Sablefish

BUTTER POACHED PRAWNS WITH POMELO with Braised Endive, Piquillo Pepper, Americaine-Ginger Emulsion

WILD MUSHROOM VELOUTE with Purple Potato, Parsley Custard, Confit King Oyster Mushroom, Hazelnut Oil, Black Truffle Cream

DUO OF MONKFISH CHEEKS - Hot Smoked with Potato "Boulangere", Leek Fondue - Braised with Littleneck Clams Chowder, Crispy Onion Ring
One, meaty and rich with a classic potato and leek flavor combination. The other, tender and comforting in a delicate yet umami-filled sauce. Just perfectly executed, from the choice of monkfish cheeks to the starchy, crunchy texture of the potato slices.

KATAIFI CRUSTED MEDITERRANEAN SARDINES with Cucumber Ragout, Blood Orange, Bottarga Oil, Celery Salad

ROASTED MILLBROOK FARM VENISON LOIN with Cocoa Bean Shavings, Celery Confit, Sunchoke, Parsley Root, Sauce Grand Veneur

SLOW BAKED EUROPEAN WILD TURBOT with Hawaiian Hearts of Palm, King Crab Legs, Wild Black Rice, Sauce Americaine
This was the type of dish that would lead one to have thoughts that a wow factor was missing from Daniel. While everything was perfectly cooked, and even the little slivers of crab meat had great flavor, it was a very good dish, but not a particularly impressive one.

GRILLED SWORDFISH with Pine Needle Gremolata, Gourgane Panisse, Brussel Sprouts, Pioppini Mushroom, Sauce Diable
Who would've thought that the most exciting and impressive dish of the night would be grilled swordfish? I never would have thought to order swordfish, so I was only able to get one bite from my friend's portion to try. It was revelatory. I don't know if it was the part of the fish itself, the way they grilled it, the combination of herbs in the gremolata, the sauce, or all of the above, but it tasted every bit like a gorgeous filet of beef. It was still definitely swordfish, but the give in the flesh as you bit down on the pretty thick piece was like biting into a terrific piece of steak. I just didn't know swordfish could take on those flavors and be cooked to that kind of texture. No part of the flesh was at all hard or flaked off during chewing. It's completely changed how I view swordfish. I would go back just for that dish.

ROASTED LIBERTY FARM DUCK BREAST with Hazelnut-Spinach Subric, Confit Turnip, Poached Quince, Garganelli Pasta, Winter Black Truffle, Sauce Civet
This was another market special for black truffle season ($38 supplement to prix-fixe)

This time, however, the presence of truffles was definitely noticeable! When I eat meat, I tend to want a textural sensation similar to eating steak. So it would have never occurred to me to serve medium-rare duck breast without crispy skin in such thin strips. But it worked. It really worked. With the civet sauce (thickened strained sauce, not the animal) and black truffle accompanying it, every chew of the duck breast brought out more flavor. More and more flavor kept coming with every chew, rehydrated and enlivened with sips of wine in between. While the texture might not be as satisfying as a sizeable piece of duck with crispy skin, it forces you to extract every bit of flavor and continuously re-experience it with wine.

KENYAN COFFEE GANACHE with Dark Chocolate Cremeux, Rice Crispy, Chocolate Sable, Coffee Ice Cream
The seasonal dessert themes were fruit and chocolate. Similar to my meal at Le Bernardin, none of the desserts jumped out at me. While I believe that the final dessert should give you a sense of comfort and being sated, I would have preferred some sort of pre-dessert that tries one last time to wow you, like during my meal at Brooklyn Fare. This one was another example of a dish that was perfectly executed yet not particularly impressive or memorable.

MILK CHOCOLATE DACQUOISE with Jivara Parfait, Toffee Tuile, Salted Caramel Ice Cream

CARAMELIZED HONEYCRISP APPLE with Vanilla Sable, Mascarpone-Calvados Cremeux, Granny Smith-Ginger Sorbet

ROASTED PINEAPPLE with Exotic Cream, Coconut Pearl, Pina Colada Sorbet

VANILLA POACHED PEAR with Maple Parfait, Mirliton Biscuit, Honey Ice Cream
I remembered from our previous visit that the honey ice cream was really good, so I asked if we could have a taste. They brought each of us a small scoop and it was indeed wonderful. Creamy with a natural honey taste, it was comforting and sweet without being cloying.

Assorted petit fours and chocolates

Fresh and warm, a perfect way to end the meal.

Like I said, I also started as a skeptic who thought Daniel was another "canteen to the rich" that served perfectly cooked but not particularly exciting food. But with my last two visits focusing on what the entire menu had to offer, I've found some truly impressive and memorable dishes, and I very much look forward to my next visit.

60 E 65th St
New York, NY 10065

Friday, February 15, 2013

NBA All Star Saturday (sport, gambling)

The NBA has tried to do many things to make NBA All-Star Saturday more exciting. This year they have introduced the East vs. West concept but my guess is it'll fall flat as usual. The best way to maintain interest in the festivities is probably to have some action on the events, so here are my picks for the main events of the evening. Remember, lines may vary significantly across sportsbooks for props like these.

NBA Skills Challenge

Tony Parker +300
Jrue Holiday +350
Damian Lillard +400
Jeremy Lin +450
Jeff Teague +500
Brandon Knight +600

People tend to think that this is an event about skills and speed. Actually, it's more of a shooting contest. You pretty much need to hit the mid-range shot on your first try to have any chance of winning, and a lot of the passing stations are just putting a ball through a circular target. It's why previous winners have been scoring guards like Dwyane Wade and Deron Williams. It's also this reasoning that led me to pick a big upset winner in Stephen Curry two seasons ago.

Because speed is less of a factor than people think, Tony Parker's age shouldn't matter. But his experience in this event (defending champion) and prowess with the mid-range shot are definitely key, and at +300 is a ridiculously good value play. None of the other names are real shooting/scoring types, but if you really wanted to pick another player, I'd say Jeff Teague is a similar player to Jrue Holiday but at much better odds.

Pick: Tony Parker
Dark Horse: Jeff Teague

3-Point Contest

Stephen Curry +225
Steve Novak +333
Ryan Anderson +400
Kyrie Irving +475
Matt Bonner +600
Paul George +800

There's no denying that Stephen Curry is a great shooter. It's hard for me to pick against him purely on talent. But there's a lot of stamina involved in this contest, and the majority of past winners have been taller, stronger players who tend to play a small forward/wing type of position. I think Ryan Anderson fits this perfectly, and is a better pure shooter than Bonner or George who tend to be good in-game shooters.

Pick/Dark Horse: Ryan Anderson

Slam Dunk Contest

James White +175
Gerald Green +375
Terrence Ross +400
Eric Bledsoe +550
Kenneth Faried +700
Jeremy Evans +800

On pure talent alone, no one beats Gerald Green. A past champion, even in the year he didn't win he made some absolutely ridiculous dunks (blowing candle out and between the legs with no shoes on). Then again, that was 5 years ago. The NBA has made a mockery of this event, what with the Blake Griffin controversy in 2011, and now allowing fan voting to completely decide the winner. Fans are allowed to vote even before they see a dunk, so popularity and hype are the only things that really matter. James White is a deserving favorite, as his dunks can be very exciting and the fact that he's a Knick plays into the popularity contest aspect of it.

One thing to note is that with the NBA pushing its East-West challenge thing, one player from each conference will be in the "finals" to determine the winner. So even though I think Gerald Green is talented and a good value at +375, I think picking someone from the West will be a worthwhile play because it's likely to be an easier trip into the finals. In that regard, I think +800 is incredible value for Jeremy Evans, who is in fact the defending champion.

Pick: James White
Dark Horse: Jeremy Evans

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Dinner Buffet at Tawa Tandoor (food)

Even though Jackson Heights is well-known for Indian food, I haven't really found any place that has wowed me, so I usually opt for a buffet. At dinner, the price for one entree at one of the more well-known places (eg. Jackson Diner) or one of the newer, somewhat fancier places (eg. Delhi Heights) costs more than the buffet at the other Indian restaurants. I haven't tasted enough of a difference to justify the higher price and smaller variety, so I usually end up at the buffet at Indian Taj.

The other day, I noticed that they now have a dinner buffet at Tawa Tandoor. It's about $2 more expensive than the one at Indian Taj, but the food is a bit better with a larger selection. Also, the place is much nicer. My guess is that they were originally going for something a bit more upscale than the usual restaurants around the area. They finally succumbed and began offering a dinner buffet about half a year ago.

The salad offering is a good start, allowing you to make your own bhelpuri.

The protein selection is pretty much the same at all of these buffets. Some version of chicken tikka masala or butter chicken, chicken curry, or goat curry. Here they have all 3 and the chicken curry is nice in that you get real pieces of chicken with bone and not just chunks of meat. In terms of taste, I couldn't tell that there was a significant difference versus other nearby places.

Where the buffet shines is the grill offerings. In addition to tandoori chicken, there are pieces of seekh kebab, chicken kebab, and skewered tandoori chicken chunks. These were all flavorful and juicy.

There are the usual vegetable offerings, including some sort of dal, some sort of saag or palak (spinach), and heartier fare with potatoes, eggplant, or paneer. I felt that their palak was brighter in color and seemed fresher than the ones I've seen at other buffets.

The most unique part of their buffet is the presence of Chinese food. This includes stir-fried noodles and fried rice, as well as vegetable curries with a sweet and sour type sauce. While the other more "generic" offerings are not spicy, these items are really hot, and can get numbing.

Naan is delivered to the table fresh, and they will ask if you want more when you finish. The restaurant gives off a nice bright, clean feeling, even though there is too much brown (different shades) in the color scheme. It might be a bit more expensive than my old go-to, Indian Taj, but Tawa Tandoor is my new choice when I'm in the mood for Indian buffet in the neighborhood.

Tawa Tandoor
37-56 74 St
Jackson Heights, NY 11372

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

John Brown Smokehouse for the Superbowl (food)

This past Superbowl was one of the most entertaining ones I've watched in recent memory. But the Superbowl is about more than just the game. There's also the ads (which felt really weak this year) and the food (it's estimated over 1.2 billion wing segments are eaten over Super Bowl weekend). I took care of the food part by going to John Brown Smokehouse and getting some quality BBQ to go. There was more than enough food to handle the extra eating time created by the blackout.

I'd read about the place on food blogs and heard a rave review from a cook during a supper club dinner that I went to a while back. I tried out a variety of things when I made my first trip there a few weeks ago (short rib, duck breast, ribs, burnt ends), and considering that the BBQ held up pretty well by the time I got home, I thought it was a no-brainer to go there for my Superbowl food needs.

I ended up getting their "First Down" Superbowl party pack, which consisted of 2lbs of meat, a quarter rack of ribs, three 16oz sides, with bread and sauce for $57, along with 30 pecan-smoked wings for $28.

Here were some (not all) of the wings. The rub was evenly distributed on all the wings, and they were huge.

Really, they were huge. I don't know if you can tell by this photo.

One of my sides was the mac and cheese. They use a long, tubular, ziti-like pasta. While there was a decent chunk of cheese on top, there just wasn't much cheese/cream sauce actually in the mac. I much prefer the one at Hill Country which looks similar but is much cheesier.

Everybody loves burnt ends. I remember going to RUB BBQ (now closed) and you had to get there early or they would run out. These were excellent, and they even held up fairly well in the almost half an hour it took me to get home. I'm sure they would be phenomenal for dine-in. Perfectly juicy with some well distributed fat, if you get one of the charred end bits there's just a wonderful depth of flavor and smokiness.

I don't usually get smoked turkey from a BBQ place, but I figured there was a high chance of leftovers and I wanted something that would probably still be good the next day. I was right on both accounts, and a cold turkey sandwich made for a delicious dinner the next night. The turkey is flavorful, and while the smoke was noticeable, it did not overpower.

Like I said, I've also tried a lot of other things from them and I think it's a great BBQ place. The location is a bit weird. It's located in Long Island City, not too far from where I used to live near the water. If you get off at the E/M station, it's a quick 3 block walk. Otherwise, it does seem like a pretty random location. They do have dine-in, which I think would be the best way to have BBQ, but I have not tried it there.

Actually, when I got home, I realized that they didn't give me the wings I ordered. When I went back to pick them up, they were nice enough to offer me some additional comped food. They are not an efficient machine like Hill Country which is used to handling a ton of people, but it's nice to know that they're trying with their service.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

2012-13 NFL Superbowl (sport, gambling)

I didn't write about the Conference Championship round because I really had no view on any of the sides and totals. I do have a view on this game, though, but it appears a lot of people do as well. There has already been a lot of money action on this game. Early odds had the line at Baltimore +4.5, with some places dealing Baltimore +5, and it was quickly bet down to Baltimore +3.5. At the current number, there appears to be a good amount of action on San Francisco -3.5. This could be fairly disastrous for a lot of books if the game ends with the 49ers winning by exactly 4 points. This actually happened during the Conference Championship, with money coming in on both 49ers -3.5 and Atlanta +4.5.

A lot of action will also come in on the props. With almost 300 prop bet possibilities at some sportsbooks, it's not unlikely that they may be off on a few of them. My favorite prop bet is "Who will have more penalty yards?" This prop will probably be dealt at around even odds, although slightly juiced towards the Ravens as they led the league in this category. I really like the 49ers in this bet. These are two of the most penalized teams in the NFL, so it's more of a toss-up than just seeing that the Ravens led the league in penalty yards per game during the regular season. The Ravens were also actually better at inducing opponent penalties than the 49ers. The main danger with the Ravens is that they hit too recklessly and accrue some personal foul penalties at 15 yards per. But the Ravens are also more likely to throw the ball very deep, and with two excellent receivers that can make fantastic deep catches, San Francisco could be vulnerable to large pass interference penalties, and that is what I'm counting on.

With the discussion of Baltimore's deep threats, let's move on to the game proper. I originally picked the under on the Baltimore-Denver game (and personally leaned Denver in that game) because I thought it was obvious after the Indianapolis game that Baltimore would live or die with the deep ball. I thought Denver would be able to stop it but they didn't. I wasn't sure if New England could stop it, and they couldn't. But I do believe that San Francisco, with two weeks of prep, will be able to stop it, or at least contain it enough to win the field position battle.

My pick: San Francisco -3.5

Enjoy the game everybody!