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Posted by Michael Stern on Wednesday, April 16, 2014 5:14 AM

A fixture on Route 138 since 1966, Chez Micheline is an exemplary Quebecoise casse-croûte (snack bar). There is no indoor dining. Customers place orders at the window and carry their own meals back to the car or to one of the picnic tables out back. The counter itself is intriguing – littered with coins so servers can quickly push the right amount of change out along with the food.

I was wowed by a house specialty billed as "nouilles Chinoises," a dish reminiscent of the vaguely Asian ya-ka-mein served in New Orleans and in low-end Chinese restaurants in the mid-Atlantic states: boiled then wok-finished elbow macaroni glazed with sweet soy gravy, laced with caramelized onions and shreds of pork under a mantle of chopped scallions. I don't know if it will cure hangovers as ya-ka-mein is supposed to do, but it is a hugely hearty and delicious under-$10 meal. Burgers are a big deal at most casse-croûtes, the top of the line at Chez Micheline being one known as the "Inter Burger," a cheeseburger dressed with sautéed onions, ketchup, mayonnaise, and trio of onion rings hot from the fry kettle.

During a road trip devoted to finding good casse-croûtes throughout Quebec, I was delighted to discover that nearly all of them serve their version of "le hot dog Michigan," the chili dog that first took shape in Plattsburgh, New York, in the 1940s. Most of the Canadian Michigans I encountered were topped with something that was more Bolognese sauce than chili, and they were served in crisp-grilled, split-top buns rather than the softies more typical of New York's North Country. Chez Micheline's Michigan is unique because it also includes a handful of cheese curds (fromage en grains).

The curds Chez Micheline uses are resilient and squeaky-fresh. Bed them atop superior French fries, at once crisp-edged and creamy-centered, and you understand that the much-maligned north-of-the-border dish, poutine, really can be good. Topping variations here beyond traditional gravy include chicken and peas (galvaude) and red tomato sauce (Italienne). Each is available in three sizes: regular, large, and "familiale."
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Posted on Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Turkey Dinner

Jane orders turkey dinner whenever possible. At the West Taghkanic diner, she was in heaven. The turkey was freshly cut from a kitchen-roasted bird, and the mashed potatoes, ladled with gravy, were superb.
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Posted on Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Vienna-style, natural casing dogs, are done up on a flat top and served on steamed buns, topped with chili and a host of garnishes. They achieve a nice crust from the flat top. This is one good-tasting dog.
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Roadfood of the Day: Dillard House - Dillard, GA
Posted on Monday, April 14, 2014

The Dillard Dinner Table

Groaning under the weight of the wide selection of meats and veggies, this table kept us busy for a long time. The quick service by our young server was great. Be sure to ask about the take-home rules. They are very liberal!
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Roadfood of the Day: D.Z. Akins - San Diego, CA
Posted on Sunday, April 13, 2014

Corned Beef Close Up

One of the best corned beef sandwiches we've had in a long, long time: hot meat, fresh bread, snappy mustard. Perfection.
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Roadfood of the Day: Hob Nob Hill - San Diego, CA
Posted on Saturday, April 12, 2014

Pecan Roll

This is one of the reasons we especially love breakfast at Hob Nob Hill: a warm, gooey, nut-smothered pecan roll.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Friday, April 11, 2014 4:35 AM

Here is the great butter burger of Milwaukee, a city where burgers are a passion. It is a modest-sized patty of beef, cooked through, served on a bun quite literally bathed butter. Not margarine, not flavored oil: pure, dairy-rich, delicious butter. You can get a Super burger (2 patties, and a good idea; to us, a single one is overwhelmed by its bun) or a Super Special, which adds lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise to the mix (also a good idea), as well as cheeseburgers and burgers topped with mushrooms, onions, and Monterrey Jack cheese. The biggest of all burgers is the Cheesehead, which is a half pound of sirloin with Swiss and American cheese, stewed onions, raw onion, and mushrooms. It is virtually impossible to eat with one’s hands, but it’s fun to try!

There are a few other kinds of sandwiches on Solly’s menu, none of which we’ve tried, also omelets and fish fries, excellent crinkle-cut French fries, and made-here pie. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, we recommend you reserve it for a milk shake, which is Dairy State-rich and made in flavors that include chocolate, hot fudge, strawberry, pineapple, vanilla, and the superb fresh banana malt. Another confectionery alternative is a black cow made with Sprecher’s root beer. And, this being a city where ice cream is even more beloved than butter burgers, there is a full array of sundaes, too.

Seating is at two horseshoe-shaped counters with stools. The staff of uniformed waitresses go about their business with well-seasoned hash-house aplomb.
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Roadfood of the Day: Snook Inn - Marco Island, FL
Posted on Friday, April 11, 2014


These beauties were tasty to eat on top of toast that was dipped in the garlic juice.
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Posted on Thursday, April 10, 2014

Lithuanian Coffee Cake

A Claire's specialty now for decades, Lithuanian coffee cake is indeed great with coffee ... in the morning or for an afternoon break.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Wednesday, April 9, 2014 9:27 AM

Back in 2013, the Wall Street Journal declared that the cupcake trend had peaked; cupcakes were no longer the fashionable pastry they were when New York's Magnolia Bakery became a media darling at the turn of the century because its cupcakes were featured on the TV show "Sex and the City"; one food writer even observed a "cupcake backlash" among consumers who realized it was all too easy to make their own.

Those of us who loved cupcakes before they were chic continue to love them even if their status among food oracles has sunk. And as for making our own, we know for sure we never will make ones as good as those turned out by The Cake Box of Ridgefield, Connecticut.

These are handsome cupcakes, expertly baked and artistically frosted, modest in size but large in flavor, ranging from utterly simple "Very Vanilla" and "Life by Chocolate" to such daily specials as Wednesday's "Almond Joy" (almond buttercream in a chocolate cupcake topped with toasted almonds and coconut), Friday's "Elvis" (banana cake filled with milk chocolate ganache with peanut butter frosting), and Saturday's "Peppermint Patty" (chocolate cake filled with mint buttercream). They are baked fresh every day, and they taste it: moist, buttery, made from ingredients of the highest quality.

In addition to cupcakes, the Cake Box makes wickedly good chocolate chip cookies, brownie bites, Italian macaroons, scones, muffins and cinnamon rolls. They also are known for elaborately decorated special-occasion cakes. While much business is take-out, you can sit down here in a comfy chair and enjoy pastries along with coffee or espresso.

Note that while there are a few gluten-free items available at the 1 Big Shop Lane location, proprietors Robert and Jordan also have a sister store, Swoon, completely devoted to gluten-free and nut-free pastries. It is located nearby in Ridgefield at 109 Danbury Road.
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