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Posted by Michael Stern on Sunday, August 31, 2014 4:16 AM

Big Okie

Hank's has been doing what it does for six decades now – frying hamburgers. It is one of countless restaurants in Tulsa and throughout Oklahoma where burgers are taken seriously by the cook and relished by customers. Not to say that they are gourmet fare. On the contrary. They are quintessential hash-house hamburgers, good and greasy and cooked through and through. Other than burgers, the menu includes Frito chili pie and corn dog on a stick as well as onion rings and French fries, malts and a special made-here chocolate-covered peanut butter bon bon.

You can get a single, a double, a triple, a "Big Okie" (four patties), or a Hank's Special, which is a single half-pound patty. Each normal patty is a quarter pound, and while I enjoyed the avoirdupois of a Hank's Special, I like the multiple-patty configurations better. The layers of meat and cheese provide a textural adventure that a large single patty cannot.

Even the largest creation is presented as a tidy package, but I found that by the time I was halfway through, onions and tomatoes were slithering out and patties had gone out of alignment, creating an extremely delicious mess.
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Posted on Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Flo Burger

Not your usual bacon cheeseburger!
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Posted by Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle on Saturday, August 30, 2014 4:48 AM

Have you had New Jersey-style crumb cake? If you're not from the Northeast it's likely you haven't, but once you do you may find that the standard issue crumb cake you've always enjoyed just doesn't do it for you anymore. What makes the Jersey edition unique is how the crumb cake concept is turned on its head. It's all about the crumbs. Oh, there's cake, but the half-inch of pastry supports four times its height in sweet crumbs!

Many northern New Jerseyans look to the B & W Bakery to satisfy their crumb cake cravings. While some Jersey cakes use a pound cake-like base, B & W's "heavy crumb cake" (their words) is built upon a lightly sweet yeasted pastry, like a Danish. The waist-deep pile of large crumbs, some crunchy and others soft, that sits atop the cake are not cloyingly sweet, though plenty sweet enough. This is a crumb cake that just cries out for a pot of coffee and a lazy morning.

Crumb cake is not all. Doughnuts are modest in variety but not in quality. The old-fashioned cruller is actually a plain doughnut, not what we think of as a cruller. The faintly crisp shell contains barely sweet pastry with a gentle flavor that never pales, and has none of the astringency of poorly-made chain doughnuts. The Boston cream is a tour de force yeasted doughnut filled with cool pastry cream and blanketed with dark, thick chocolate, while the iced crullers are true crullers, like sweetened eggy popovers twisted into a circle, topped with sweet chocolate or vanilla icing.

B & W is usually busy any time of day, but service is quick, and the women who work the counter are patient and friendly. Show any indecision and other customers are sure to cheerfully chime in with their recommendations. While crumb cake is the star attraction, many folks swear by the variety of Danish and pecan rings. And there's a tray of what looks like sticky buns that keeps whispering our names. We've not yet answered their call, but suspect that resistance is futile.
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Posted on Saturday, August 30, 2014

Ackee And Cod, Full Platter

Regular size platter of ackee and cod. That's the ackee (the scrambled-egg looking stuff) and cod on the right, rice and peas (beans) at the bottom, fried plantain near the top/left, and cabbage at the extreme top/left of the dish. This container measures 7" diameter and 2" deep.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Friday, August 29, 2014 4:56 AM

Known among celebrity-chef devotees as the place a young Emeril Lagasse started his culinary career as dishwasher, Carreiros Barcelos offers a full inventory of Portuguese baked goods, including sweet breads, miniature custard pies, cod fritters, and savory-sweet pasteis de feijao, aka bean cakes. It is not easy to explain a bean cake; there's nothing like it in the mainstream American diet. It is made from a batter of pureed red kidney beans, egg yolks, sugar, and ground almonds. I think of it as a cross between a cupcake and a chewy cookie that is just sweet enough to be a coffee companion, but also protein-rich and buttery.

The best reason to come to Carreiros Barcelos is its malasada, the Portuguese fried bread that is such a good snack any time of day. The style here is to stretch the sweet dough fairly flat (as opposed to spherical), fry it until golden brown, then liberally dust it with granulated sugar.

While most business is take-out from the bakery shelves, tables are available to enjoy bean cakes, malasadas, et. al. with good, strong espresso.
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Roadfood of the Day: Manago Hotel - Captain Cook, HI
Posted on Friday, August 29, 2014

Signature Pork Chop Plate

Golden brown chops, slightly crispy on the outside, moist and tender on the inside.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Thursday, August 28, 2014 4:35 AM

I cannot say for sure which of the Music City's hot chicken outfits is my favorite for the simple reason that any time I eat at Bolton's, Prince's, Pepperfire, or 400 Degrees, I become so deliriously happy that all sense of measured judgment is long gone. But I guarantee that if you like hot chicken, you will love Hot Stuff.

The chicken is presented too hot to handle. At first squeeze of the crisp, vivid red crust, juices will start oozing out. The crust is crisp and thin, at once comforting and exhilarating. I ate my pieces down to the bone, then consumed all the white bread on which the chicken had sat, seeking every bit of flavor.

As for the other half of the name, fish here is served the traditional Nashville way – as a nominal sandwich on white bread, the fillets crisp-fried and festooned with pickles and onions and bright yellow mustard. It is salty and big-flavored, hot enough to take your breath away. Co-owner Kiki Montgomery suggested house-made sweet tea to deal with the heat. But it does little to actually palliate on-fire taste buds. A thick piece of mocha layer cake, made by local baker Spencer D. Middlebrooks and available by the slice at Hot Stuff's counter, was more effective (and really delicious) relief.
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Posted on Thursday, August 28, 2014

Corn Doughnuts

These hot corn doughnuts were as good as any doughnuts we've ever had.
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Roadfood of the Day: Swiftwater Cafe - Whittier, AK
Posted on Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Half And Half

A basket of locally caught shrimp and halibut in a delicate panko crust, served crispy and hot.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Tuesday, August 26, 2014 5:07 AM

South of Audubon on a country road across from a row of feed silos, the Red Barn is a Roadfood gem that serves breakfast, lunch, and supper and is a gathering place where locals come to chat over coffee between meals. It's a tiny place, about the size of a house trailer with a third of its interior occupied by the kitchen. There are four tables, two with seats for six, so it is common, especially at lunch, for different parties to share space with one another. Nearly everyone who eats at the Red Barn knows everyone else. But as strangers, we felt completely welcome and at ease.

We found this place while on the tenderloin trail, and sure enough, the breaded pork tenderloin here is ravishing. It is wider than its bun, but not ridiculously so, and it is thick enough to be really juicy inside its snug, savory crust. When we visited, it was mid-August, so the standard battery of pickles and onions was supplemented by a couple of lovely slices of fresh garden tomato. The larder also was well-stocked with rhubarb, and the rhubarb crisp we had for dessert, topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, was a dessert to remember.
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