Archive | November 9th, 2009

Griffin to Go: Keep ‘Em Sliding

Griffin to Go: Keep ‘Em Sliding

WhiteCastleI returned to Louisville, Ky., recently for a visit with my parents, which generally involves more good home cooking than you can imagine in a week. Old favorites, new recipes – you name it, we fix it.

Most every trip is the same. Before I know it, the week  is over and there’s barely been enough time to squeeze in a visit to a restaurant, even for a quick treat. This trip was no exception, at least until the final day.  A plumbing problem kept the kitchen off limits for longer than any of us thought. So, where would we go?

I had only one answer: White Castle.

For those who have never had a White Castle slider, or those who have only had the close-but-no-cigar frozen version, I cannot offer you the right words to explain the hold that these beauties have on a person. The actual term for the small sandwiches is sliders because they slide down so well.

Their appeal isn’t about the square patties in the fluffy, puffy buns, the few shavings of onion or the pickle slice on each. It isn’t about the way the burgers are steamed, not fried or grilled. It isn’t the fun of putting away a half-dozen in a matter of minutes.

Sure, all of these factors contribute to the overall lure. But the magic hold White Castle exerts reaches beyond the food and into the memories that visits over the years have paid.

I was about 7 or 8 when I had my first slider. It was after a performance of “The Nutcracker” that a friend of the family had taken me to. I don’t remember much about the ballet, but I remember to this day the coating on the onion rings and the super-sweet Big Red I had with the juicy little burger.

My family didn’t eat out much when I was young, and fast food was almost never on the menu, even on road trips. So, it was probably 7 or 8 years before I returned to White Castle. Yet I remembered the flavor as if it had been the day before.

I also remember my high school’s National Honor Society sponsoring a White Castle-eating contest as a fundraiser. What eating all that grease had to do with brains, I can’t say. And, yes, someone who consumed more than two dozen in 10 minutes did lose his lunch.

About that time, the nearby White Castle on Chenoweth Lane acquired another reputation, as a haven for the stoned who ended up with the munchies. The neon signs in the windows even gave a kind of greenish glow to the interior as you passed by, making you wonder if the patrons were really enveloped in green smoke.

A few years later, I enjoyed many more sliders — way too many, as I look back on it — after landing a summer internship at a newspaper across the street.

I moved away from Louisville that year, but the taste of those little burgers stayed with me, calling me back whenever I returned for a visit. Friends in San Antonio who have also been blessed with slider fever would ask if I had managed to pick up a six-pack, so they could live vicariously through each juicy bite.

Occasionally, I could say yes. But the visits stopped after that Chenoweth location in its old-fashioned castle-shaped building was torn down.

So, I was simultaneously excited and cautious about approaching a new White Castle store. Sure enough, the shining new locale was a dull as any other fast-food place. No suggestion of a castle, no suggestion of eating food fit for a king or a queen.

But the food was every bit as good as I remembered.

The sliders were still greasy little delights. More than a dozen disappeared in a matter of minutes (and, yes, I kept them down). The onion rings were as crisp and alluring as ever in their manufactured way. I even enjoyed most of a pulled pork slider, though the barbecue sauce used had an offensively chemical aftertaste. What were they thinking? What was I thinking for ordering it?

No matter. I just hope White Castle, now in its ninth decade of business, stays around long enough for others to build their own memories.

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Holiday Cran-Raspberry Sauce

Holiday Cran-Raspberry Sauce

CranHomemade cranberry sauce has it all over cranberry sauce from a can.  SavorSA likes to think our Cran-Raspberry Sauce is better still. The two-berry sauce is bright and lively with holiday flavors such as orange, cinnamon, fresh ginger and even a dose of rum.  Expect requests for seconds, and maybe thirds.

Holiday Cran-Raspberry Sauce

1 (12-ounce) bag fresh cranberries
3/4-1 cup sugar, or more to taste
3/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Juice and zest from 1 large orange
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 knob fresh ginger, about an inch long, peeled and cut into 4 slices
1 (10-12-ounce) bag frozen raspberries
1 ounce rum or 1/2 teaspoon rum flavoring

In a medium-large saucepan, put cranberries, sugar, water, cinnamon, juice and zest from orange, lemon juice and ginger slices. Bring to a simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the raspberries (they can be thawed or frozen) and the rum or rum flavoring. Simmer until the cranberries have popped, the raspberries have turned very soft and the sauce has thickened a little. (Don’t worry if the raspberries fall apart, they’ll still add great flavor.) Taste to see if you want more sugar. Take off stove to cool. Take out the ginger slices with a spoon. (If you like a stronger flavor of fresh ginger, you can also mince the knob of ginger after it is peeled. Add to the sauce and leave it in.)

Serve warm or at room temperature.  If preparing ahead, refrigerate sauce until serving time.

Makes 3-4 cups sauce.

From Bonnie Walker and John Griffin at SavorSA

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A Chance to Sip, Savor and Hoist That Umbrella

A Chance to Sip, Savor and Hoist That Umbrella


Intermittent showers couldn’t dampen spirits Sunday at Sip, Savor & Shop, the opening event of the 10th anniversary of the New World Wine & Food Festival.

NWWFF-SipShop6Guests strolled through the new section of the Shops at La Cantera where fashion shows, food and fine wines were served up while the stores offered discounts and makeovers.

Wines ranged from Domaine de la Gardine and Franciscan Magnificat to Texas’ best from Becker Vineyards, Llano Estacado and Messina Hof. Restaurants and caterers, including Kona Grill, Grimaldi’s, Mariposa at Nieman Marcus, El Papalote, Così and the RK Group, served up a host of dishes including tacos norteños,  tuna tartare, bacon-wrapped chicken bites and pizza.

Towards the end of one shower, a rainbow arched briefly over the Shops at La Cantera, and the sight of it made the raindrops inconsequential.

NWWFF-SipShop2SavorSA was also on hand offering tastes of holiday Cran-Raspberry Sauce (for the recipe, click here), an easy-to-make relish that’s great with Thanksgiving turkey or poured on top of ice cream. As the afternoon progressed, more ideas on how to make and serve the sauce evolved. Pour it over cream cheese or alongside baked Brie for an easy appetizer. Serve it with pork tenderloin, pork chops or roast chicken. Add jalapeños or serranos for a kick, or stir in pecan pieces for a welcome textural addition.

The New World Wine & Food Festival continues at 7 p.m. Tuesday with Burgers & Beer at Bin 555. For a full schedule, click here.


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