Archive | July 22nd, 2011

‘Want a Black Eye with That?’  and other Fast-Food Peeves

‘Want a Black Eye with That?’ and other Fast-Food Peeves

Maybe we shouldn't blame this on them, but when some places offer a "small" sandwich -- they really mean small. (In this case, however, I'd actually ordered the "medium.")

Odd but true, I was compiling a list of pet peeves about fast-food drive-throughs when the story about the woman getting punched out in the parking lot of an Atlanta McDonald’s came through.

Wow. Now we do have, at least, a benefit to using the drive-through at a burger joint. Unless the clerk simply comes through the window at you, you’re likely to be out of arm’s reach in the car.

In this case, a woman brought her two autistic children inside with her service dog. A female store manager, off duty at the time, was upset about the dog, followed the customer outside and hit her. The restaurant issued a statement about respecting their customers, etc., according to a report by the Associated Press.

Back to pet peeves, yes, physical violence on the part of the restaurant employee would be near the top of our personal list of peeves. Right after, say, “poisoning.”

So, here, in no particular order, is our list of peeves at the drive-through, including some from a few friends who wanted to chime in.

1. Those microphones at the ordering station:

It’s childish to get irritated at an electronic device, and we, as adults, know that. So, we get irritated at the person talking through the microphone, who simply will not speak clearly. Or loudly enough. Or too loud. Surely technology has advanced so that microphones could be improved. (Or clerks could get lessons in enunciating clearly.)

2. The upselling:

Yes, this is a marketing strategy and the restaurant certainly has a point in using it. Still, if you know what you want, and a biggie fry and the combo are not it, you shouldn’t have to say so twice. And, maybe not even once.

3. Other customers (ahead of you):

I think you know what I’m talking about here. If I pull into a drive-through line and ahead of me is a Suburban with so many kids inside that the vehicle is rocking like a boat at sea, I leave. Not only will the ordering process and filling process be lengthy, but the parent (having learned from previous bad experiences), will check every item to be sure every single kid gets what they ordered. And, of course, in the meantime that child will have changed his or her mind and back through the window goes the bag.

4. Other customers (behind you):

You pull up to the ordering station, roll down your window, you look up at the menu and the driver behind you honks his horn. That’s when my car suddenly, and inexplicably, wants to go into reverse. Fast.

5. The absence of expected items in your bag:

We’re talking about napkins, straws, maybe a salt packet or two, the sandwich, the drink. Whatever. We know, human error. Still, annoying.

6. The drip, drip, drip of that drink you ordered:

Here it comes, ready or not, thrust through the window at you. You grab, at the same time noticing that the drink has overflowed and your hands are now sticky with Dr Pepper. Napkins in your bag? If you’re lucky.

7. Getting iced tea with sugar in it when you know you hollered “no sugar” five blinking times:

I think that says it right there.

8. Clerks getting impatient when you are putting away your change.

They have given you your drink, drippy or not. With it your receipt and change. You have one hand in which to grab all this and .25 seconds to set down the drink (and in some cases put the lid on because they didn’t), and put the change into a reasonable place, like your purse or wallet. All of this happens while the clerk is now shaking the bag meaningfully at you while glaring.  I have learned to look them in the eye and say, “I’ll get the bag as soon as I put the change in my purse.” It generally doesn’t help, but at least I tried.

9. Driving away, then having to go back.

You’ve checked your order and things are missing. Or, that tea is sweet. Or, you didn’t have a chance to count the change and it is wrong. I have learned that it is best to ignore the impatience of the clerk and the guy behind you honking while at least tasting the tea right after it’s handed to me.

10. That view into the messy area in which they are preparing your food.

Again, not much else we can say here, except, is it really better knowing where your food came from?



Posted in News, Restaurants, WalkerSpeak4 Comments

Cool Off with Five Decidedly Different Ice Creams, from Harry Potter’s ‘ButterBeer’ to Bacon Walnut

Cool Off with Five Decidedly Different Ice Creams, from Harry Potter’s ‘ButterBeer’ to Bacon Walnut

By Jenny Martinez

Strawberry, vanilla and butter pecan ice creams are good any time of year, but unusual flavors from San Antonio ice cream shops are  intriguing — if not sometimes just plain weird.

One we like currently is the trendy ButterBeer at Amy’s Ice Cream, a reference to a drink that the young wizards in Hogwarts consume, at times to their detriment.

So, keep your cool and try these ice creams with a difference. Keep in mind that when stores make their ice creams in-house, they can’t offer all flavors all the time. If there is a particular one you want, call ahead to see if that’s what they’re making that week.

Guinness Beer and, from Harry Potter, ButterBeer

Amy's Ice Cream's Tommy Deibel scoops up a big serving of Butter Beer, an ice cream flavor created specifically for young wizards from Hogwarts (or for their very good friends).

Guinness Stout is not only found in bars or at the grocery store. These days it is also found at Amy’s Ice Cream.

Although Amy’s Ice Creams is known for its unusual flavors, the Guinness flavor seems to ruffle many customers’ feathers.  Some are taken aback by such and odd idea, says manager Drew Garza.

“But once they try it they can’t believe how well beer and cream complement one another,” he says.

Guinness is a bestseller, but it isn’t always on the chalkboard of options. The last time we checked, it was not available.

But, for Harry Potter fans, Amy’s has developed ButterBeer.  We’re not sure what it was in drink form when served to the young wizards at Hogwarts. At Amy’s, though, it’s a mixture of Shiner Bock, sweet butter, butterscotch and Apple Schnapps, says ice cream scooper Tommy Deibel. Not everyone knows the connection to the sensationally popular series of books and movies, but plenty of people like it, he says.

Other ice cream flavors based on Harry Potter characters are also being made by Amy’s, according to their website. Watch for them.

As for the Guinness ice cream, Garza says that some customers can’t get over the fact that beer is in the mix. But, “once they get over it they’re surprised at how well the beer and cream work together,” he says.

Amy’s Ice Cream
255 E. Basse Road
210- 832-8886

Cream Cheese and Jelly Ice Cream

Cream cheese and jelly aren’t just for crackers anymore. At Justin’s Ice Cream Co., cream cheese and grape jelly have joined forces and morphed into a popular ice cream flavor that intrigues and satisfies many. According to manager Dale Johnson, most people enjoy the flavor but there are some that just can’t get over the fact that it’s cream cheese and jelly.

“Some think it is going to taste gross,” says Johnson. “When that happens I put a sample in their face and some people really like it and some can’t get past the fact that it is cream cheese and jelly,” he says.

Justin’s Ice Cream Co.
245 E. Commerce St.
(210) 222-2707

Lemon Basil Gelato

Lemon and basil are not only perfect summer flavors for savory dishes but for desserts as well. Da Vinci Gelato & Caffe owner Virginia Santiago created a lemon basil gelato for her shop.

“Lemon Basil is one of our most unusual flavors right now,” says Santiago.  “I always watch the food channels for new ideas and we work with a lot of chefs around San Antonio. Sometimes customers are hesitant, and we tell them it is really good. Then they try it and they love it!”

Da Vinci Gelato & Caffe
18720 Stone Oak Parkway
210- 545-6686

Bacon Walnut Ice Cream

Is mixing bacon and ice cream together wrong?  The folks at Brindles Awesome Ice Creams don’t think so. The Bacon Walnut Ice Cream – a mixture of a maple-based ice cream and caramelized bacon – is a top-seller that was inspired by a local chef who had created her own bacon-infused dessert. So what does such a creation taste like?

According to manager James Whitson, most customers’ reaction is: “Yep, tastes like bacon.”

“Our Bacon Walnut is a maple-based ice cream that we add caramelized bacon to and mix with brown sugar and walnuts. Customers either are going to love it or hate not. Most people aren’t used to having big chunks of protein in their ice cream. It sells very quickly actually,” says Whitson.

The Bacon Walnut Ice Cream is not always available. Call ahead to check.

Brindles Awesome Ice Creams
11255 Huebner Road
210- 641-5222

For a taste of ice cream as it was made in the 19th century, click here.


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Lemon Ice Cream, Circa 1839

Lemon Ice Cream, Circa 1839

Lemon Ice Cream

Freezing condenses flavors, which is why ice cream has to be sweet, otherwise the flavors in it will be tight and bitter. Lettice Bryan knew that in 1839, when she wrote the following recipe for Lemon Ice Cream, which is included in Richard Sax’s exhaustive and recently updated “Classic Home Desserts: A Treasury of Heirloom and Contemporary Recipes” (Hosuton Mifflin, $35).

Lemon Ice Cream

Pare the yellow rind from three lemons, put it into a porcelain skillet, with the beaten yolks of eight eggs, a quart of rich sweet cream, and simmer it gently till the flavor of the lemons is extracted; then strain it into a bowl, and stir in it while warm three quarters of a pound of powdered loaf sugar. When it is cold, stir gradually into it the juice of the three decorticated lemons, and freeze it as directed. … As much of the sweetness is lost by the process of freezing, ice creams require more sugar than the common cold creams.

From Lettice Bryan, “The Kentucky Housewife,” 1839

What is powdered loaf sugar? It’s a finer ground version of loaf sugar, which is defined on as follows:

“Loaf sugar is sugar which comes in the form of a solid block, rather than as a granulated substance. Through the early 20th century, the bulk of the sugar on the market was in the form of loaf sugar, for a variety of reasons. Several sugar producers continue to make loaf sugar as a nostalgia item, and in the developing world, loaf sugar continues to be extremely common.

“To make loaf sugar, sugar producers pour hot sugar syrup into a mold which is in the shape of a cone or loaf. When the sugar cools, it can be wrapped and packaged for shipping and eventual sale. The advantage to loaf sugar is that it is easy to handle and ship, because blocks are much less difficult to handle than granulated sugar. Producers of loaf sugar also obviously do not need to worry about clumping.

“The disadvantage of loaf sugar for cooks is that it can be difficult to handle in the kitchen. Loaf sugar was often hung from the ceiling in the kitchen, although it could also be stored in cupboards. Historically, people used tools known as sugar nips to break chunks off their loaf sugar so that they could use it in cooking and baking. Because of the difficulty involved in obtaining precise measurements, loaf sugar was especially irritating for bakers. It also had to be thoroughly broken up so that it would not clump in baked goods and other foods.”

In other words, the sugar is meant to be dissolved into the ice cream mixture before freezing.

For a taste of some decidedly different ice creams in San Antonio, click here.

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Chefs’ Corner: Johnny Hernandez’s Ceviche Verde

Chefs’ Corner: Johnny Hernandez’s Ceviche Verde

Ceviche Verde

In the newly redesigned Bon Appétit magazine, the August Challenge for four chefs was to come up with a dish using avocado. One of those chefs was San Antonio’s Johnny Hernandez of La Gloria.

His recipe was for a sensational Ceviche Verde, which calls for tomatillo, green olives, cilantro and jalapeño in addition to avocado.

The other recipes are from Carly Groden of Proof in Des Moines, who offered an avocado smoothie, Greg Baker of the Refinery in Tampa with Avocado Salad with Peaches and Shaun McCrain of Book Bindery in Seattle with Avocado and Crab Soup.

By the way, Hernandez was also honored recently by the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce as Business Owner of the Year.

Congratulations to him for both honors.

Ceviche Verde

1 pound fresh Pacific halibut or other firm-fleshed fish, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more, to taste
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
3/4 cup sliced green olives
1/2 cup diced tomatillo
1/4 cup very finely chopped onion
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded and minced (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Tostadas or tortilla chips, for serving

Place the fish in a medium bowl. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Toss to coat. Add lime juice and toss to coat. Marinate until the edges of the cubs begin to turn opaque, about 30 minutes. Add avocado, olives, tomatillo, onion, cilantro, and jalapeño, if using. Add olive oil and season with salt, to taste. Serve over tostadas or with tortilla chips for dipping.

Makes 4 servings.

From Johnny Hernandez, La Gloria/Bon Appétit

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