Camila’s Restaurante Brasileiro

Camila's Miami, Florida

Camila’s Got Portuguese?

Camila’s

Welcome back deficient readers (sound it out little buddy, you’re doing great) to a Camila’s edition of the Pot & Pan Handler’s illiterate blog. Today we explore the ravenous nature of the restaurant scene in the city that cocaine built, meet a dude who is qualified to run with scissors, discover a hot sauce so indelible I want to buy it by the quart. Lastly we’ll see that my tenuous grasp on Portuguese has no grasp indeed. Join us on our foray into frivolity, edition; Camila’s.

American Dream… cancelled

The unforgiving yellow orb shimmers in the piercing blue sky of Miami. The putrid heat is palpable radiating uncomfortably from all the pavement downtown has to offer. The dining options are not as static here as one might hope. The little Cuban restaurant that could, the Havana Coffee & Tea Company, turns out they couldn’t. Despite their delicious Cuban sandwiches, house made bread & wickedly strong Cuban coffees they are now closed. http://potandpanhandler.com/havana-coffee-tea-company-a-perfect-sandwich/

The French joint where I’ve had a salad before, Downtown Bistro is closed on the weekends. By all popular media channels, I’ve garnered that it’s Saturday thank God for smart phones. http://potandpanhandler.com/blue-shoes-a-french-horn-in-a-cuban-band-miamis-downtown-bistro-2-10-16/

Walking around glancing in the windows of closed restaurants is overrated. I’m fluid. I walk into the next restaurant I see and immediately wished that I hadn’t. Camila’s, once inside I see this is a buffet situation. Glaringly red & white a linear product of mass marketing, antiseptic, Camila’s inside reminds me of a Target. Or like Target & a Brazilian Golden Corral had a love child they named Purell.

Camila's Chicken Rotisserie Miami, Florida

Camila’s Rotisserie, what are ya’ chicken?

Once inside, I’m powerless to avoid the cattle like trance one encounters when herded so efficiently. An unforeseen consequence of the nationwide prevalence of the TSA, suddenly it’s time to order. The electric hum of a chicken rotisserie breaks my trance and I order a ¼ chicken, side salad, black beans and a coffee. I hope the coffee is the same wicked strong Cuban coffee one can’t find outside of Miami, but this place is clearly Brazilian. Where else, outside of Brazilian joints do you see the cut of steak called picanha?

Camila's Water, Miami, Florida

Styrofoam. Camila’s didn’t get the PC memo.

Portuguese… the new Spanish?

The server’s grasp on English is tenuous. My grasp on Portuguese is nonexistent. These facts have made this harder than expected. A bonus point, the coffee is the aforementioned wicked strong and bitterly delicious Cuban coffee not found outside of Miami and presumably Cuba. I order a bottle of water (suck it hippies) the whole point is to have some agua I can take with me back out into the Miami heat. However, bottle of water seems to mean dilapidated Styrofoam cup (suck it again hippies) in Portuguese. Who would’ve thunk?  The server is curt. She deftly drops a utilitarian tray of food in front of me & promptly disappears.

Camila's Cuban coffee, Miami, Florida

Camila’s deliciously bitter, Cuban coffee. YES!

Left to my own devices my attention is now on three sauce bottles on the table. Let us refer to my meticulously curated Comey-esque journal notes concerning these sauces.

#1 Aioli, lemony.

#2 acidic, lemony, avocado aioli.

#3 Red, spicy, elixir of the Gods.

After a sample of all three I judiciously covered my entire platter with the red hot sauce. Chicken, black beans & even the salad get doused in this delightfully spicy concoction. I can only imagine the decades spent perfecting this sauce. I personally want to thank the Brazilian Grandma in the back for allowing me into the family and sharing this obvious family secret recipe sauce with me.

Camila's Chicken Miami, Florida

Chicken, salad, bean there, done that.

The chicken is juicy with the requisite crispy rotisserie chicken skin. Seasoned well and then liberally doused in the tangy & spicy family recipe hot sauce. Camila’s black beans are typical, perhaps under seasoned, but that’s what Granny’s hot sauce is for. A liberal mix in and these beans are textbook. The salad was fresh & crispy and showered in the garlicy, tangy hot sauce.

Camila's Chicken, Miami, Florida

Like a Michael Bay flick, we’ll confuse you with multiple angles.

Runnin’ with scissors

My coffee is gone and I’m in awe. As a restaurant refugee, I’m no stranger to breaking down a chicken. But I’ve never seen it done like this. The chicken rotisserie at Camila’s is open and the line cook is breaking down chickens at a breakneck factory pace, chicken after chicken is deftly and efficiently separated into quarters. No knife in sight he’s doing it all with a pair of tongs and a scissors!?? Like a boss.

Camila's Salad, Miami, Florida

Camila’s well dressed.

I profess my awe to the nimble handed line cook. He turns out to be far more benevolent with his time than the absentee server whom I have yet to have seen again. I have to ask, what’s in the sauce? He doesn’t know it must be a secret only known to Grandma. He asks the manager, the manager says he doesn’t know either. This is becoming intriguing. The line cook takes a break from punctuating our conversation by quartering chickens and goes in back. In a couple of minutes he’s back with a sticker. It reads;

Hot Sauce

Products & More, Inc.

6522 W. Atlantic Blvd.

Margate FL 33063…

So it turns out that Grandma’s family recipe sauce is a premade in the factory, prepackaged and delivered food service jug of hot sauce. The mystery thickens, so do my arteries if I keep eating this sauce. I can’t stop. I squirt some more onto the beans.

Camila's Black Beans, Miami, Florida

We already told you, bean there, done that.

Camila's running with scissors, Miami, Florida

Camila’s scissoring, it’s getting hot in here.

You can’t stop chang

The empty coffee cup mocks me. Suddenly I hear, you neat chang? The question jerks me out of my hot sauce induced reverie. What does that mean? Oh, do I need change, I get it. Yes I will. Purell aesthetics aside, this meal was less than $20 a rare find in the city that cocaine built. I only have a $50 dollar bill. I reply yes please I’ll need some change and for good measure I also add si, por favor.

Suddenly the permanent scowl is replaced with elation. Tank you, she smiles a beaming smile that creeps up into her eyes. I wonder what is going on. She immediately went about deliberately ignoring my imploring body language. Quickly running around she’s completing side work, I’m starting to think I’ll never get more coffee. Even more I’m starting to think she’s not going to bring back any change. Where did she go anyway?

Eventually I stop the manager, I enjoyed the meal, but it was not worth a $35 dollar tip for a $15 dollar lunch. The manager eventually finds and questions the server. In Portuguese, she explains that I’m a shrill, pale tourist and as such I don’t deserve my own money. The manager empathizes, but eventually recovers and hands me the change, emphatically stating that a mistake had been made, and it’s most likely my fault. A mistake? Do you need change? Yes please. No change for you… How is that a mistake? I toss a few $1 bills on the table and give the benevolent line cook a $5. That might’ve been a mistake. I’m not sure, I don’t speak Portuguese.

Camila’s is a bargain. If you are in the neighborhood and just need a cheap, utilitarian lunch, this is one of the few places to go downtown. Do yourself a favor, learn Portuguese and try Grandma Factory’s hot sauce.  http://camilasrestaurant.com/  here’s a Camila’s link for your ignoring pleasure.

Coming soon; a 3 foot waxed mustache stirs excrement into the Miami dining scene in an English Pub. We’ll also provide a glimpse into the brutally fickle nature of Miami food trends. Then a predictably climactic tropical storm chases us into the romantic and comforting arms of charcuterie. Cured pork is there nothing you can’t do? Same Bat time, same Bat channel, malevolent readers, until then may the odds be ever in your flavor. – Pot & Pan Handler

The Pot and Pan Handler are maniacal escaped restaurant refugees and food porn fluffers. We travel the nation wielding a rusty spatula in search of a burger that needs flipping.  While we travel we’re bringing you with us, because who doesn’t enjoy the story of a burger that needs flipping for some reason.

Homer, we’re out of vodka. – Ron Howard

Chef Mario Batali

Totally made up corporate sponsor… Mario Batali: I’m an asshat.

 

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Quality Meats, Menage A Trois

Quality Meats, Miami, Florida.

Quality Meats, steakhouse or male prostitution?

Quality Meats, Menage A Trois

Welcome back enthusiastic readers to the Quality Meats regurgitation that is our blog. In today’s edition we swim the streets of superficiality wearing nothing but a fake tan in South Beach, Miami. Until, that is, we found Quality Meats inside the Bancroft Hotel. When in Rome? Exactly. Another quintessentially overpriced steak house in the city that cocaine built, how could we say no? We read the grill menu outside and liked what we saw so inside we went, join us stalwart readers, for our foray into the place where Quality Meats, South Beach. http://www.qualitymeatsmiami.com/home.cfm

Quality Meats @ the Bancroft, Miami, Florida.

If the cars in the parking lot are an indicator, we can’t afford it.

If the menu is good enough to grill, it’s good enough for me.

We stepped inside the fairly brightly lit interior at least, brightly lit for a steakhouse. Modern & linear, the kind of place where people with fake breasts sit comfortably in their own mock tanned skin and judge you. Moments later we’re seated at the bar where polite societal norms demand we acquire beer. Mission accomplished. Having adhered to polite societal convention we began to peruse the menu. We can’t help but notice that this menu differs from the menu board outside. Whatever, surf & turf bitches, scallops and steak 3 ways, shut up & take my money.

Quality Eats Amuse Bouche, Miami, Florida.

Quality Meats amuses us, they’re salty.

Amusement

Before we even order an amuse bouche is presented to us in proper modern restaurant fashion on a slab of wood. Plates are soooo last century. Bright pink water melon cubes accompanied by smoked sea salt. Slightly sweet, slightly salty and a refreshing treat on a hot Miami evening. Quality meats are off to a great start. It’s nice to meat them.

While we’re still contemplating the amuse, we’re offered garlic butter dinner rolls. Quality meats nail this one too, this is the singlehanded best bread course, we’ve ever had anywhere, ever. So buttery, and garlicy, sweet and pillow soft, we’re taking the leftovers with us.

Quality Meats bread rolls, Miami, Florida.

Buns like these don’t require squats.

A couple sidles up to the bar and are handed “the grill” menu as the bartender adds, this menu will save you a little money. We recognize this Quality Eats menu as the one we saw outside. I don’t know what there was about us that made us look like we didn’t want to save money, but here we were. I suppose we looked like we wanted to eat at an overpriced Miami steakhouse and he was understandingly optimizing the experience. We should send him a fruit basket and thank him.

Quality Meats, seared scallops, Miami, Florida.

Bacon, seafood, corn, did I mention bacon?

Seafood? Eat it

The amuse bouche and the bread course have done their job magnificently.  Slightly whetting our appetite, we’re ready for more. Seafood came scalloping to the rescue. Artfully prepared, the scallop has the traditional hint of crispy exterior, barely containing the buttery texture of the seafood insides. Served on a sweet creamed corn, with ramps and bacon, because duh, pass the bacon I’m trying to eat seafood over here.  Buttery, savory, sweet & bacon, all tastes are presented in this stellar dish.

Quality Meats now has me speaking in tongues. As I aim the camera, to take a barely legible, out of focus picture of these scallops, the bartender scowls. I feel like I’ve been caught doing something wrong. His voice drips with disdain, “It makes me nervous, when people take pictures of their food.” Before I can explain that we’re not yelpers and as such are perfectly sane and of sound mind, he disappears with one last scowl in our direction. This does not bode well.

Cholester-Y’all

I once read that scallops contain a great deal of cholesterol. If we ordered a Farmer’s salad that would offset any cholesterol snafus set for ourselves from that last course wouldn’t it? But hold on. I’ve also read that drinking alcohol on a plane is bad for you. That obvious quackery has to be denounced as a malicious lie immediately and fundamentally. Thus proving not everything one reads is a proven fact, but some things are. It’s exhausting trying to decipher truths from untruths, better get the salad.

Quality Meats brings a Farmer’s salad, to help us with our general health. I don’t know which farmer’s salad they brought but at $13, we should cut out the middleman and go straight to the source. Crispy, green iceberg lettuce, crunchy carrot strips, a hint of pickled onion and garlicy crouton, dressed lightly in tangy vinaigrette. Nicely done this salad will certainly add years to our lives after side kicking the neck of cholesterol. A farmer somewhere nearby tents his fingers and laughs evilly as he lines his pockets with hard earned tourist cash.

Quality Meats, Farmer's Salad, Miami, Florida.

Bwah ha ha ha hahaha.

Menage A Trois

Finally that part of the report you’ve been looking for patient readers, the meat of it. One look at the description of this dish and I thought two things. 1. I bet the line cook’s hate making that. 2. I am totally ordering that. The menu simply read: Seared three filets Oscar, Au Poivre, and Wellington. Yes, you read that right. One steak with crab, one pepper crusted & one topped with mushroom & puff pastry… all on the same plate. Why don’t you try and stop me Quality Meats. They didn’t try and stop me.

Quality Meats, Steak 3 Ways, Miami, Florida.

There’s a lot at steak with this dish.

Where has three steaks on one plate been all my life?  The steak Oscar sits atop buttery crab and green beans a perfect medium rare; it is cloaked in a tangy béarnaise sauce. The crab is suitably soft and buttery, the blanched green bean are just shy of crispy. The steak’s sear is exceptional, crusty seared steak goodness on the outside, a perfectly soft, red interior, it tastes like all steaks should taste + seafood= color us happy.

Steak Au Poivre is lightly pepper crusted with the same textbook sear as Oscar. Drizzled with lightly spicy pepper gravy, that brings a light kick to the taste equation. Garnished with onion strings the steak Au Poivre is a slightly peppery, artfully prepared, Miami interpretation of the French classic.

Wellington, the very name evokes the desire to celebrate every Englishman’s dream of decimating the French navy while belittling a short Italian guy in funny French pants. This savory expertly cooked filet from Quality Meats is topped with a flavorful and aromatic mushroom duxelle. Resting atop the mushroom is a glorious ode to Lincoln a proud, stovepipe hat of puff pastry. When you bite all three together it’s a worthy symphony of flavor. The salty crispy exterior of the steak is welcome alongside the buttery, chewy, interior. This contrasting texture dances nicely with the earthy, pungent, mushrooms.  And who could forget the tawdry & promiscuous light breadiness of the puff pastry? Exceptional.

Jean Valjean

While we’re contemplating the steak and the absurdity of capital gains taxes, the bartender makes his move, and stealthily snatches the leftover garlic, butter, bread rolls & walks off. Did that lil’ Jean Valjean just steal the remainder of our bread? Yes, he had. Soon he came back from wherever shifty eyed, camera shy, bread thieves go when they’re not tending the bar. We mentioned the misbegotten bread at which point the light bulb went off in his head… I got you his facial expression said. By accident, we had just confirmed his suspicions. We are not rich. His bartender calculator did the math. White trash + Free Bread= Bigger tip. Consumer Math 101. We’re not above bread bribery, especially for this bread.

Quality Meats bread rolls, Miami, Florida.

Remember me? Please take me home with you.

You know the old saying all steak & no sides make Homer go crazy? That shit makes me crazy too. Creamed Spinach, because we’re in a steak house and spinach is wicked good for you. Especially, when it’s poached lightly in gobs of cream & cheese, then it is especially healthy. It’s totally true, I asked someone who’s in Cross Fit. Creamy, a hint of salt, and what is that, possibly nutmeg? Served in a deliciously eggy Yorkshire pudding bowl, by the second bite any doubt that this is the least healthy thing you’ve eaten all week will be removed. But all the fucks you give will also dissipate after eating two bites of this creamy, salty, delicious, spinachy goodness.

Quality Meats, Yorkshire creamed spinach, Miami, Florida.

Creamed health food.

The End

Would we go back? Yeah, we’d go back, the bartender was a little snarky, but the food was great, we still tipped well. It’s not his fault, Miami is just one of those cities, like DC, Atlanta or anywhere Italians are where our finest clothing pale in comparison to the shimmering fabrics found on the locals. Quality Meats is, at least for us, a special occasion joint as the prices are quite steep even for Miami.

Coming soon, I watch a dude who is clearly qualified for running with a scissors and I find myself in a comprising position. Not only that, but putting my Portuguese to the test ends in failure at Camila’s, we hope to see you there. Until then may the odds be ever in your flavor. – Pot & Pan Handler.

The Pot and Pan Handler are 100% organic, free range, all natural, nomadic restaurant émigrés with an inexplicable food obsession and frequent contributors to the delinquency of diners.

Chef Wolfgang Puck

Made up corporate sponsor Wolfgang Puck: “I endorze zis produkt & or zervice.”

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Second Annual Fan Poll for the Hardest Working Entity in Food Porn

Chef Michael Symon

Don’t look at me.

Second Annual Fan Poll for the Hardest Working Entity in Food Porn

A Poll only a stripper would love

Welcome back funky readers, to the Pot & Pan Handler’s hedonistic blog. Today you’ll be privy to our fan poll we asked, you voted, for the Second Annual Fan Poll for the Hardest Working Entity in Food Porn. Seriously we didn’t make any of this up, except of course we did. There were some pretty big upsets this year, read on to see if your favorite food porn entity made it back. There’s a reason listicle rhymes with testicle, but here’s one worthy of reading; our Second Annual Fan Poll for the Hardest Working Entity in Food Porn.

Ree Drummond & her mumu

My other shirt’s a curtain.

#10 Ree Drummond’s Mumu

Anybody who has watched Ree Drummond’s Pioneer Woman knows Mrs. Drummond has a different mumu for every day of the week, possibly she’s prepared for several mumu changes a day. Although the mumu dropped from #1 last year to the 10 spot this year there is no denying that those mumus work hard. From masking, to cloaking, draping and hiding, that’s a lot of responsibility for one article of clothing and viewers appreciate the effort.

Alton Brown

Fresh Ground Pecker?

#9 Alton Brown’s Social Media Avoidance

Last year Alton Brown’s Post-It Notes and Sharpie markers, made the #2 spot. This year the writing implements fell off the list entirely. Fear not Alton Brown fans because his willful avoidance of you has been duly noted. Whether he’s attacking Delta Airlines, or hawking an upcoming bullshit reality show on Food TV or even imploring you to buy a book, he won’t acknowledge you. Facebook or Twitter, Reddit, or Instagram, Mr. Brown would rather paper cut himself to death on his own Post-It Notes in a suicidal act of avoidance than acknowledge your internet existence. No matter how many books you’ve bought. Alton Brown is better than you and he knows it. Congratulations Mr. Brown, you once again avoid obscurity in the Second Annual Fan Poll for the Hardest Working Entity in Food Porn.

Chef Aaron Sanchez

It totally inks in here.

#8 Aaron Sanchez’s Tattoo Artist

Whether he’s a guest on Masterchef or trying to sell you queso fresco, fans all know, Mr. Sanchez has more ink than an ink jet. In an effort to separate himself from the inkless generation X’ers like Bobby Flay, Aaron Sanchez is inked like a millennial bartender in a restaurant with no signage. Mr. Sanchez has cast off the old guard chefs and flew a flag to millennials that states; I get you millennials. Soon the old shouting chefs of the past will be replaced with the new generation. We’re looking at you, Mr. Ramsey. However Mr. Sanchez will still be there, dressed in lumberjack chic, stroking a newly sprouted hipster beard and flexing flabby tattooed chef muscles. Millennials the world over appreciate the nod and have voted accordingly. Thanks to you tattoo artist, Mr. Sanchez will be around for another generation.

Chef Wolfgang Puck

I haf many panz to zell.

#7 Wolfgang Puck’s Accent

Ziz iz amazink, Volfgang Puck moved to ze united ztatez een 1973 and quickly became one of ze firzt zelebrity chefz een America. Alongzide Alize Vaterz, Volfgang put American cuizine on ze culinary map. Yet, ze fanz know, it wouldn’t have been pozzible wizout zat adorable Auztrian accent. It vould zeem that lozing your ackzent, eez az hard as gettink a table at Zpago, For zis, Volfy, ve zank you.

Giada DeLaurentiis

I will eat your freakin’ face homie.

#6 Giada De Laurentiis’ Neck

Like bobble head night at the minor league ball park, Giada’s head bobs and weaves to the beat of an unseen conductor. Not only does that petite neck hold up her gigantic head and a city’s abundance of hair, it also supports her shark like mouth. Modern science has been unable to count them, but made up scientists have stated that Ms. De Laurentiis, like a tiger shark has between 5 and 15 rows of teeth on each jaw. Keep up the hard work Ms. De Laurentiis’ neck, because we’d all miss the hypnotic yaw and pitch of that colossal face.

Guy Fieri

DDD Watch my health department violations.

#5 Guy Fieri’s Hair Gel

Once again in our Second Annual Fan Poll for the Hardest Working Entity in Food Porn, Guy Fieri’s hair gel made the cut. Like a pride parade, Mr. Fieri’s hair stands tall and proud, it’s here, it’s queer and we’re used to it. Not only does his gargantuan head of hair stand tall, it stands tall with a purpose. Much like his recently shuttered 0 star rated restaurant in NYC, we all know it’s there, but no one understands it. When asked how it does it, Mr. Fieri’s hair gel replied, “Piss off, I’m busy.” We appreciate the effort hair gel.

Chef Tom Collichio

Kojak was an amateur.

#4 Tom Collichio’s Razor

As bald as a baby’s bottom, Mr. Collichio’s head remains as clean as a sufferer of Alopecia areata. Suck it Mr. Clean, you have a full head of dirty hippy hair compared to Chef Collichio’s clean shaven dome. A stunning upset, as Mr. Collichio’s Razor, has replaced Sunny Anderson’s desire to kill her audience with recipes like Beefy, Cheesy, Slider Casserole in the #4 spot. We all appreciate the consistency chef, especially the shower drain.

Chef Vivian Howard Deep Run Roots

Don’t make me kale you.

#3 Chef Vivian Howard’s Titanic Book

Not only did Chef Howard beat the odds by opening an uber successful destination restaurant in a destination no one ever heard of, she also wrote an award winning book.  Deep Run Roots; is a massive tome full of terrifying regional southern ingredients, like butterbeans. This volume comes in at 1/3 as long as War & Peace. That means Deep Run Roots is easily large enough to use as a battering ram to break out of a Turkish Prison (much to the relief of imprisoned Turks). But Tolstoy never included a recipe for Corn and Snap Bean Succotash.

Chef Mario Batali

Her ass was this big, smell my finger.

#2 Mario Batali’s Gross Sexual Improprieties

Work for Mario Batali? You’re going to get touched. Like sex with Kevin Spacey, kicking and screaming, like it, or not, it is going to happen. http://www.foxnews.com/food-drink/2017/12/14/mario-batali-cut-from-abcs-chew.html   A stunning comeback as Mr. Batali’s Gross Sexual Improprieties didn’t even make the list in the First Annual Fan Poll for the Hardest Working Entity in Food Porn. Who would’ve thunk that a millionaire chef with a literal food empire, who steals his tipped employee’s wages would have a questionable moral compass. https://ny.eater.com/2017/11/29/16716398/mario-batali-wage-lawsuit-babbo-nyc

Chef Michael Symon

Masculinity can be toxic, ask Mario B.

#1 Michael Symon’s Waning Masculinity

Finally your patience will be rewarded, enduring readers. The #1 spot in our Second Annual Fan Poll for the Hardest Working Entity in Food Porn goes to… Michael Symon’s waning masculinity, as one of the co-hosts of ABC’s estrogen fueled The Chew his testosterone levels have nowhere to go but down. The Chew is an estrogen driven orgy of recipes, crafts and tablescapes, not intended for the masculine. Now thanks to co-host Mario Batali’s gross sexual improprieties, Mr. Batali has been asked to exit stage right. This exit has left a testosterone vacuum in his place. This has resulted in the removal of the last vestiges of masculinity that Michael Symon might have once had. Congratulations Mr. Symon, you’ve earned the #1 spot in our Second Annual Fan Poll for the Hardest Working Entity in Food Porn.

Coming soon: we swim a sea of superficiality in the beach town of Miami, where we eat meats of quality, until then you be you & we’ll be we. May the odds be ever in your flavor. – Pot & Pan Handler

potandpanhandler.com graffiti

We used to live in a subway.

The Pot & Pan Handler are spatula wielding, escaped restaurant émigrés, food porn fluffers and professional stirrers of excrement. We’re scouring the States, for edible food, so you don’t have to. You can find us online or in a restaurant bar somewhere near you.

Orange Juice

Obligatory OJ Endorsement.

 

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Rural, urban Saxapahaw the Eddy Pub

Ramen at the Eddy Pub, Saxapahaw, NC

Eddy Pub Rockin’ Ramen.

Welcome back indifferent readers to the Pot & Pan Handlers deviant blog edition Eddy Pub. A stone’s throw from Chapel Hill NC you’ll find Saxapahaw, NC. Oops did you blink? Then you missed it. Take the u-turn and you’ll see it… Saxapahaw, NC. The entirety of Saxapahaw is almost entirely located in one central building. A trendy revamped giant warehouse, that probably at one point housed & dried tobacco or something equally outdated. Now it’s a dream of successful marketing, reclaimed woods & metals, a clean linear ultramodern hipster utopia.

Eddy Pub, Saxapahaw, NC

Here thar be hipsters.

Repurposing repurposed

Contained within this Northern exposure is a General Store, serving farm to table foods, a butcher that receives their meats from neighboring farms. Not to be outdone, of course there is also a hipster coffee shop; your beard must be this long to apply. Live music venue? Duh. Obviously there is a brewery. Also located within the confines of this hipster utopia is our personal favorite the prerequisite Pub. Eloquently named the Eddy Pub, they have a seasonally changing menu. Fittingly this offers you the opportunity to adhere to the seventh rule of travel which states; never eat at a restaurant with a laminated menu. http://theeddypub.com/

Eddy Pub Menu, Saxapahaw, NC

Tapa the day to ya.

This ambitious seasonality lends itself to an eclectic array of changing good eats. We’ve never had the same thing twice. Even if we wanted to it would be difficult as the Eddy Pub menu changes frequently. Parking is somewhat iffy as every hipster in the otherwise rural county literally has nowhere else to go. Once parking’s found, go up the stairs they probably manufactured from a larger set of stairs. Once inside, take in the Eddy Pub ultra-hipster ambience, including repurposed beer bottles as light shades. Go green bitches, reduce, reuse, and recycle. They probably recycle used grease to use as biofuel to power a converted VW hippy bus with the unrealistic expectation of one day walking across the Bering Strait. #Goals

Eddy Pub, Recycles, Saxapahaw, NC

Ol’ four eye Eddy has glasses.

Don’t forget your beard

On one occasion, predictably in my tightest hipster jeans, I’ve ordered a Black bean, chipotle soup. Of course containing bacon it’s garnished with a dollop of sour cream and fried tortilla strips. Smooth and slightly spicy, the drab chipotle brown soup is relieved to be topped with a splash of white sour cream. The sour cream brings a bright fermented acidity to the earthy soup and the tortilla strips bring a textural counterpoint to keep it interesting. Oh yeah and the bacon tastes like, well… um, bacon. How superlative do you need it? Isn’t bacon good enough?

Eddy Pub Chipotle Soup, Saxapahaw, NC

Black beans matter.

As I was still comfortable in my tightest pants, we followed that up with Pig Head Fritters. The Eddy Pub nails this one. The golden brown fried nuggets of porky goodness taste like the very essence of fried pig and contain everything but the oink. The Eddy Pub serves these with a healthy portion of Lusty Monk Mustard that brings an acidic counter punch to the unctuous fritters. And the obligatory North Carolina coleslaw that sings soprano with a crisp cabbage crunch swimming in restaurant grade mayonnaise.  All together Pig Head Fritters are a composed and thoughtful dish that pleases the palate and the plate. With two pints of beer in the form of desert, it’s time to change my pants.

Eddy Pub pigs head fritters, Saxapahaw, NC

Can you pig it?

Rocking ramen

With Ramen dishes finally shedding the stereotype of college dorm food and Ramen joints popping up all over the landscape, the Eddy Pub got on board. Ramen noodles, pickled cabbage, pig belly, and soft a soft boiled egg all floating in a rich, velvety bone broth. Perfect. The bone broth is elegantly soft, almost buttery with just a pinch of salt and could that be ginger?

Eddy Pub, ramen, Saxapahaw, NC

Still rockin’ ramen, eggcellently.

The noodles are pleasantly done, softened in the broth and soaking up the concentrate of bone broth. Meanwhile the crispy pickled cabbage brings the necessary acid component. Thin strips of carrot offers crunch. And the perfectly unctuous pork belly brings the fat and porky texture of artfully prepared belly. Textbook, the belly is seared and crispy on the outside, a pillow of silky meat inside. Once the egg yolk is cracked the broth, thickens and everything becomes married in a gastronomic orgy of flavors and textures that binds the entire dish into one entity.

Cod, are you there? It’s me, Pot Handler

As a recent transplant from the Northeast, we’re suckers for a fried fish. Haddock or cod preferably and the Eddy Pub does cod right. Properly old English style with a beer batter, the carbonation in the beer leads to the patented crispy English preparation. Crispy buoyant batter on the outside, but inside the flaky and fork tender cod disintegrates into tasty bits with the slightest threat of a fork.

Beer Battered Cod, Eddy Pub, Saxapahaw, NC

We swear to cod. It’s tasty.

Once upon a time the stupidest person in the world stated “It’s a great idea to serve fries underneath a pile of fried fish.” Thus ensuring the once crispy fries would steam underneath a dome of fried fish and become squishy sticks of gummy potato. But it’s tradition blah, blah, blah. So was serving them in a newspaper, a tradition that the health department would never allow now. It’s time to move on.

Liberate those crispy fries to a side plate to ensure a life of maximum crunchy exterior. I implore you Eddy Pub to forgo your delusional serving of exploited French fries. Of course the American requisite side of coleslaw to round out your fried foods with a hit of sweet, acidic crunch is well achieved with a purple Eddy Pub slaw. This American tradition has a foundation in culinary technique rather than the baffling English accompaniment of green peas. What the fuck, England?

Again a desert of fermented barley served in a pint glass was exceptionally received. For that and all the reasons above… we thank you Eddy Pub.

Coming soon: we hit up a Durham (Durm, say it like you’re from there) area brewery with tasty results. Spoiler alert; bacon jam. Until then, may the odds be ever in your flavor. –The Pot & Pan Handler

potandpanhandler.com

Pot & Pan Handling since 2015.

The Pot & Pan Handler are escaped restaurant scum, armed with nothing but a torn apron and wielding a battered spatula, we bare the cross of mediocre food like a badge of honor. So you don’t have to. Same bat time & same bat channel eccentric readers, we’re sharing our tips, tricks & travels we’ll see you soon in a restaurant or bar somewhere near you.

Orange Juice

Who got the stupid juice, homie?

A special shout out to the OJ endorsed face melter @burrobot who guest hosted as the Pan Handler for a portion of this post. No affluent suburbanite WASPS were harmed in the crafting of this compelling blog post.

 

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Queen Street Deli… I did it all for the Cookie.

Banksy Art precedes the opulent cookie, Kinston, NC

University of Phoenix online.

Welcome back insatiable readers to the Pot & Pan Handler’s frivolous blog edition: cookie. Come, hither astute readers while your humble narrator weaves a tale of a Franken Cookie. A cookie so opulent it could only spew forth from the insanely deviant mind of a culinary genius or gastronomic mad man. Our narration begins in a city the size of a needle eye; Kinston, North Carolina. While there we had a Saveur worthy dinner at the now famous destination restaurant the Chef & the Farmer. Before we left to poke new notches in our belts we asked the cheerful server if she knew a good spot for lunch the next day. http://potandpanhandler.com/north-carolinas-the-chef-the-farmer-9-6-2017/

Olvera Street Taqueria, Kinston, NC

Nothing says EU like a Scooter, except maybe bankrupt.

She replied with a word that is near & dear to our hearts… Tacos, try Olvera St. Tacos. Banging chicken tacos accompanied by the requisite hipster art supplied by Banksy. The pork tacos on the other hand were bland; I don’t know how you go about making tasteless pork. This faux pas is especially heinous in Eastern NC where you could be tarred & feathered for such a blasphemy. Accompanied by a weird tasting chili, that seemed more like stew, this place was only ½ successful. Others must agree, because they’re no longer open. Back to the streets homie.

Before cookie there was taco, Olvera St Taqueria, Kinston, NC

Yes, we’re that old, shut up.

Banksy Art, Olvera Street Taqueria, Kinston, NC

Nothing says Urban Hipster like Banksy Art.

Chicken Soft Taco Olvera St. Taqueria Kinston, NC

These tacos were banging. What are ya’ chicken?

Pork Soft Taco Olvera St. Taqueria, Kinston, NC

A super villain removed the flavor with a ray gun.

Chili Olvera St. Taqueria, Kinston, NC

Objects in photo may appear tastier than reality.

One last stop before we left, Chef Vivian Howard’s sister’s restaurant, Queen St. Deli. As she is the perennial winner of Kinston’s southern side’s potato salad contest, we wanted to give this spot a shot. A typical southern diner serving up southern foods, breakfast, casseroles, sandwiches and salads, much like the Midwest, the south has a formula for making salad… Take food, add mayo, now it’s a salad. We got potato salad, it’s award winning and tastes like it. Also the requisite southern classic pimento cheese, it’s even better than the potato salad, for one reason & one reason only, cheese. Lots of cheddar cheese. But of course, we tried the cranberry chicken salad. It was good. Yes we cran. http://www.queenstreetdeli.com/

Home of cookie opulence Queen St. Deli, Kinston, NC

Queen Street Deli, not a queen in sight. WTH?

Home of Franken Cookie, Queen St. Deli, Kinston, NC

Here thar be Franken Cookie. “It’s Alive!” “ALIIIIIVE!”

When we were about to pay for our salads I saw it. Hulking over the baked goods like an angry German Furor sizing up Poland, there it lay. It was a peanut butter, chocolate chip, oatmeal cookie. Are you fucking kidding me? That’s gotta be overkill right? That sounds a lot like a Reuben, pizza, spring roll right? All tasty by themselves but mashed together it sounds disgusting. Would this cookie be like that? I considered that a personal challenge and got one peanut butter, chocolate chip, oatmeal cookie.

Opulent Franken Cookie courtesy of Queen St. Deli, Kinston, NC

Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Cookie. Suck it raisins.

BOOM! That was the sound of our brains collectively exploding. One bite turned us into ravenous, cookie monsters. The peanut butter, chocolate chip, oatmeal cookie was delicious. All the best things from everyone’s fave cookies combined into a culinary juggernaut. Yet, the gastronomic genius continues in the form of restraint, the always controversial raisins are left out of this Franken Cookie. Much to the pleasure of raisin haters, all over Kinston, as the old saying goes; haters gonna hate.

This cookie brings the power of a power coupling to the equation. Julius Caesar & Cleopatra, Beyonce & Jay Z, Scully & Mulder, Peanut Butter & Chocolate, are the strongest power couples in history. Who doesn’t like velvety chocolate combined with silky peanut butter? Add oatmeal, now it is health food. Et tu cookie? Our only regret, once again, is it will be a long, long, time until we get to eat another. Next time we’ll get a dozen.

That cookie was so tasty I might just rethink my earlier statement… Maybe a Reuben, pizza, spring roll would taste pretty fucking good.  But not really.

Coming soon: we go back in time, to an old timey diner, called Johnson’s, that’s where we find Claxton Johnson. At Johnson’s they’ve been slanging PRIME beef burgers since way back, before it was cool. So freakin’ good they sell out every day and it’s no surprise as their prices haven’t changed since about 1976. Bicentennial bitches.

The Pot & Pan Handler are food obsessed, restaurant industry escapees, with no tattoos & no hipster beards in sight, it’s hard to believe but true. Simultaneously wielding a weird pub divining rod & a stained spatula, we scour the earth for worthy eats & even more worthy drinks. No raisins were harmed in the posting of this blog. Until next time we’re raisin hell, we’ll see ya there.

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North Carolina’s the Chef & the Farmer

Kinston North Carolina's Chef & the Farmer

the Chef & the Farmer, they promise, what they deliver.

Part Five: the Chef & the Farmer

Welcome back exasperated readers to the continuing chronicles of the Pot and Pan Handler’s devious blog. Part five the Chef & the Farmer, of the five part series: The Wife Beater, a Producer, Chef & the Farmer. A series of events led us to the tiny town of Kinston, NC and a name dropping worthy meal in a celebrity chef’s destination restaurant. We attacked that meal with the surgical precision of Meal Team 6. Our gluttony so remarkable it still floats over the town of Kinston in the form of a gaseous, belching cloud, to this day. Read on, sweet readers, if there’s a better meal in NC we’ve never had it. http://potandpanhandler.com/the-wife-beater-a-producer-the-chef-the-farmer-8-29-2017/

The Town Tobacco Built

Unless you are particularly pork obsessed eastern North Carolina is a dreary drive. Only the pork related billboards remind you that there is anything out here besides failed tobacco farms. Fortunately we are pork obsessed. Eventually we get to the tiny town of Kinston, check in and get to the restaurant just in time for our reservations. http://www.vivianhoward.com/chef-the-farmer/

Kinston, North Carolina's the Chef & the Farmer

the Chef & the Farmer’s marketing states; you’ll be casually comfortable.

The Chef & the Farmer

It’s always weird to go somewhere that you’ve first seen on TV. Like you are appearing in your own episode only you know that your life is filled with mundane societal rituals. Things you don’t see on TV, like teeth brushing, dish washing and looking both ways before cross the streeting.  We step inside and we’re not in North Carolina anymore. Inside, this place is urban hipster. The Chef & the Farmer would be just as comfortable in Miami, Atlanta or London. The requisite amount of reclaimed wood, streamlined stainless steel and ubiquitous open kitchen are all represented.  We were greeted a little bit quicker than immediately, taken to our table and left with menus, our Eastern NC journey was about to begin.

We start with Kinston’s own Mother Earth brewery’s Oatmeal Porter and the house made bread. Dark, moderately heavy and a very approachable porter, it’s a pleasant start. The house bread; sweet potato sourdough, tastes pleasantly yeasty and doesn’t come across as too starchy. The texture is pleasant, part biscuit, part corn bread, slightly sweet and all tasty. Served with a fresh, sweet, rich whipped butter, we’re happy.

the Chef & the Farmer Sweet Potato Sourdough Bread

“Only suckers give away bread for free.” – the Chef & the Farmer

Surfing & Turfing Play That Beet

We followed that with a perennial favorite Beef Carpaccio. Thinly sliced, the well marbled cured beef rests atop a slightly acidic pillow of Lemon Crème Fraiche that helps cut through the unctuous beef. Garnished with sweet seasonal apple cubes and the southern favorite salty boiled peanuts and finished with the nutty punch of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Chef & the Farmer’s take on carpaccio is a perfectly balanced yin-yang. This dish is simultaneously unctuous, acidic, salty, sweet, soft, toothsome and crunchy perfection.  Our only regret is we’ll probably never have it again.

the Chef & the Farmer's Beef Carpaccio, Kinston, NC

We put the car in carpaccio. It’s a long drive.

Alongside the elemental carpaccio’s turf we opted for the predictable surf. Newport Oysters, lovingly smoke kissed with a wood roast. Served on a bed of salt Chef & the Farmer’s oysters are topped with luscious, slightly spicy and nutty tabasco, brown butter sauce. Heroically a slice of bacon rests atop the oyster, a promise of the salty, buttery, briny, spicy, slightly smoky goodness soon to come.

the Chef & the Farmer Oysters, Kinston, North Carolina

In NC even oysters get bacon.

Time to dial it back; unless we want to be rolled out of here, it’s an opportunity to eat our vegetables, which is sure to make our grandmas proud.  On the small plates menu there’s a Chef & the Farmer’s Apple’s, Beets, & Carrots. The sweet beets, tart apples, and earthy carrots are artful. Balanced in taste and to the eye they make a beautiful counterpoint to the pungent blue cheese and crunchy pecans. Garnished with an herbaceous punch of mint, this dish makes absolute sense both to the eye and to the tongue.

the Chef & the Farmer's Beet Salad, Kinston, North Carolina

Carrots and apples, we’ll play that beet.

Entrée at your own risk

Chef & the Farmer give a nod to the Sicilian tradition of serving grilled fish with capers. Vermillion Red Snapper served with smoky roasted cauliflower, crunchy smoked pecan and velvety caper butter. Orange and raisin bring a sweet and acidic, citrus element, served all together once again culinary balance is artfully achieved. The smoky, slightly spicy fish, with pungent capers in buttery sauce with citrus notes and crunchy, salty pecans is perfectly fucking balanced.

the Chef & the Farmer Snapper, Kinston, North Carolina

Oh snap-per! The brown butter caper.

When pressed as to what she would order if posed to choose between two items: short rib or pork chop? Short Rib, the efficient server replied with the comforting certainty of someone who knows she has chosen correctly. We’ll take it.

the Chef & the Farmer Short Ribs, Kinston, North Carolina

“I might be short, but eat me.”- Short Ribs

The short rib is a mountain of delightfully fatty beefiness. The beef is served with an herbaceous, kick, carrot top chimichurri, sweet and earthy roasted carrots and garlicy, cheesy, and crunchy Gruyere soldiers.  (Chef speak for garlic, herb & cheese toast of sourdough.) The bread is a much welcome and useful accompaniment as it helps soak up the swimming pool of unctuous beef juices the dish relaxes in. Savory, fatty, well-seasoned, salty with an herby kick and a juxtaposition of textures with toothy roasted carrots and crispy toast this dish is another win. Chef & the Farmer keep bringing it.

The Trinity

Ingenious, Vivian Howard and Chef and the Farmer have a special on three desserts. Order two desserts, you pay full price. Order three on the other hand and you get a discount. It’s a no brainer, what kind of stupid sucker would pay full price? Stuffed bitches? Not us. We’re primed to eat three desserts. Or kill ourselves in a gluttonous display of shrewd fiscal policies.

the Chef & the Farmer Chocolate Cake, Kinston, North Carolina

Ten Layers of chocoholic.

Dessert number one: Ten Layer Chocolate cake. Because, duh, everyone knows the optimal number of layers on a cake are officially ten. Nine layers would be frugal, sorry and inadequate. Eleven layers would be entitled gluttony. Not excessively sweet, this cake is what all chocolate cakes should aspire to be. The slightly bitter chocolate is sweetened with a caramel icing. Fudge brings a depth of texture and taste with a toffee crunch playing the role of textural dance partner. This cake is a clever and tasty modern take on the dessert classic.

the Chef & the Farmer, Panna Cotta, Kinston, North Carolina

Panna Cotta be kidding me? Ridiculously good.

Dessert number two: Buttermilk Panna Cotta. Light, airy and creamy, slightly acidic, citrusy with grapefruit. Not overpoweringly sweet yet the textural pop of pomegranate seeds add a sweet textural element with just a bit of sour buttermilk tang to remind your mouth to enjoy the sugar. Served with sweet lemon biscotti, the texture of which is softer and much more cake like than any biscotti we’ve had before. These biscotti are lightly sweet with a pleasant hint of citrusy lemon. It’s always refreshing to try homemade versions of factory made, plastic encased, “pastries” found in “coffee shops” throughout the nation.

the Chef & the Farmer Bread Pudding, Kinston, North Carolina

Bread pudding tastes better when not named spotted dick.

Dessert number three: Roasted White Chocolate Bread Pudding. The Chef& the Farmer’s take on bread pudding, is not overly sweet, almost savory. Served with a cranberry coulis that brings a bright sour note that counteracts the sugar while cinnamon pecans bring texture, this bread pudding has balance. Topped with a savory sage ice cream, there’s also a beautifully creamy herbaceous component to this dessert. If all places did desserts as superlative as the Chef & the Farmer’s we’d eat far more of them and there would be a lot more of us to feed. We still look forward to one day going back.

the Chef & the Farmer Birthday Panna Cotta, Kinston, North Carolina

Attention to detail: a birthday candle to remind me of my own mortality.

Let the name Hhhhhmmmmmmmmmmmm Drrrrop.

We’ve had a lot of legit meals in restaurants staffed by celebrity chefs and or owners including Tom Colicchio, Anthony Bourdain, Brian Malarkey, Paula Deen, Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich and Richard Blais. The meal we had at the Chef & the Farmer was as good as, or better than many of these, one of the better meals of our lives. The next morning we dropped some money at Chef Vivian Howard’s sister’s restaurant. Keep it in the family indeed. There we were privy to a southern salad trilogy plus a cookie that defies reason and could only be conceived by a deviant culinary mind. However dear readers, that is a different post.

We’ll see you there omniscient readers, until then may the odds be ever in your flavor. – The Pot & Pan Handler

The Pot & Pan Handler are all organic, cage free, sinister, spatula wielding, nomadic, restaurant immigrants. Though fans of beef we appreciate the irony of eating a meal sourced entirely in North Carolina that included almost no pork.  Maybe next time. No celebrity chefs were harmed in the making of this post.

 

 

 

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The Wife Beater, a Producer, the Chef & the Farmer

the Chef & the Farmer Kinston, NC

the Chef & the Farmer. There’s servers too.

Welcome back infrequent readers to the Pot & Pan Handler’s infamous blog edition; Chef & the Farmer. Today’s story is a reflection on the social ramifications of European Class system on transgendered, squirrel catchers. Just kidding it’s more interesting than that and we only argue with one squirrel.*The cast of characters in order of appearance: Wife Beater & Wife, the Cameraman, the Assistant, the Producer, the Chef & the Farmer.* Sit back and enjoy a tale of a transgendered squirrel catcher disenfranchised by a class system that fails to accept him. Still, just kidding, it’s really just a bunch of stuff that happened. Welcome to our tale of the Wife Beater, a Producer, the Chef & the Farmer.

This house led us to the Chef & the Farmer

Featured in a Sundance film, this place is famous. Or is it infamous?

Part One: The Wife Beater & Wife

There we stood in front of our new home, the sunshine, unrelenting.  I’m dressed at the height of southern summer fashion; a white wife beater and shorts. Since moving south of the Mason Dixon Line, I’m stripped down to a wife beater June 1 until late September, sometimes October. The Pan Handler is dressed similarly in a tank top and shorts. To wear more in the tropical North Carolina heat is unthinkable.

We live on a private road, but we haven’t lived here long enough to be familiar with all the neighbors or their cars. A nondescript cream yellow car approaches our driveway coming from the interior of the neighborhood. We paste goofy neighborino grins on our dorky faces and wave obsessively to the car we assume contains our neighbors. The yellow car has gotten close enough to see into. There are three people in the car and the occupier of the back seat is pointing a, what is that (?) at us. A bazooka?

Our dorky grins have morphed into grimaces and our wave stops in midair. We look like particularly horrified Saguaro cacti. Oh, I realize it isn’t a bazooka. Even more alarmingly it’s a GIANT fucking TV camera. I almost prefer the thought of the bazooka, even if I admit it’s just on the assumption something interesting was about to happen.

The road to neighborinos

The road less traveled?

Part Two: The Cameraman, the Assistant and the Producer

The occupants of the car are like Hollywood, white. They drive by very slowly filming the horrified Saguaro cacti that have miraculously appeared in blacktop, in this climate. As they drive by, I admit to myself that being filmed was admittedly preferable to getting exploded.  Ask any one from Boston. It’s cool to be Boston strong, especially if you still have all your limbs.

The yellow car reaches the neighbor’s driveway and they turn around. Wait, what, they’re coming back?! To finish the job? Maybe I was right the first time and it was a bazooka. Or worse maybe it’s Wolf Blitzer and he wants a soundbite, either way we were about to find out. They pulled in our driveway. “Hi!” the occupant of the passenger seat quips. The cameraman has put the bazooka down, for now. The passenger continues “We came back to tell you what we’re doing, as that probably looked weird.”

We didn’t react as this was the first time we’ve been filmed by a moving car while pretending to be cacti. Therefore we had no idea if it looked weird or not. “We’re making a film.” She pointed at the driver and said “This is Cynthia Hill.” “She’s a producer, she’s directing this film we’re making about how spousal abuse, isn’t confined to ghettos and trailer parks.” “You find spousal abuse in more affluent neighborhoods too, it’s everywhere.” “I’ve had two cases that took place in this house.” This news is weird to digest and I can’t help but think what else did the realtor leave out about this neighborhood when she showed us this house? We would’ve never moved here if we knew it was affluent. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_Violence

Orange Juice

O.J. on spousal abuse in affluent neighborhoods.

I hurriedly explain that we’ve just moved in, so I haven’t even had time to beat my wife yet, but would she like a phone call when I get around to it? I made that part up. We explain that we’ve just moved in and assured them that we, though the current owners, assuredly are not the people involved in the aforementioned domestic disputes. Did that come off as defensive? Probably.

They’re most likely trying to distract me with small talk while they wait for the cops to come. It’s working. “Where did you move here from?” “Massachusetts.” I replied, which is easier to say than spell. Followed by the ritual, “What do you do?” “I write for the food section of a regional paper.” “Oh, really!” she exclaimed, “Cynthia is the producer of a TV show about a Chef, what’s it called Cynthia?” “A Chef’s Life.” Cynthia said with the kind of scowl you give a suspected wife beater while you wait for the cops to take him away. “Well anyway, check it out, it was nice to meet you, we’ll see you later!” the assistant yelled. Cynthia put the car in reverse and they drove away.

Part Four: A Chef’s Life

We went about the daily routine of a Southern couple, filled with the obligatory domestic disputes. They usually end up in us pairing a Malbec and a Shiraz with the pot roast. One particularly lazy evening, I came across the show a Chef’s Life in the TV guide, grabbed a beer and tuned in. http://achefslifeseries.com/

If you’re anything like us, there’s no way you clicked that link, so I’ll tell you about it anyway. It’s a documentary style cooking show. They follow Chef Vivian Howard’s pursuit of opening and maintaining what started as a destination restaurant in a rural eastern North Carolina town. To what is now a small empire including two restaurants, a TV show, numerous awards and appearances. Plus a cookbook so heavy you can use it to break out of prison. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vivian_Howard

Each episode focuses on a specific southern ingredient. As a recent transplant from the North I found this an entertaining approach to learn how to prepare terrifying southern ingredients like Kale and butterbeans. All while tuning into Chef Howard’s trials and tribulations as co-owner of the Chef & the Farmer. Chef Howard’s positive outlook on sinister, NC foods is contagious, and soon I found myself wanting to try them, no matter how terrifying. The opportunity came in the form of a birthday present. I never thought that the little rural town of Kinston, NC would be a desirable destination, but here we are. We got reservations; we were going to the Chef & the Farmer! http://www.vivianhoward.com/chef-the-farmer/

the Chef & the Farmer Kinston, NC

We came, we saw, we liquored.

Our apologies as this ran a little long so we divided into two posts… Coming next: the Chef & the Farmer spoiler alert, we went in hot, with surgical precision, like Meal Team 6. Our gluttony so remarkable it still floats over the town of Kinston in the form of a gaseous, belching cloud, to this day. We’ll see ya’ then, until then, may the odds be ever in your flavor. – Pot & Pan Handler

The Pot and Pan Handler are travel obsessed, escaped restaurant immigrants, eating good food, in weird places. We craft our blog from 100% organic, cage free, local, diverse, far ranging, all natural, very big, small internet. We’re probably elbow deep and having a pint in a peculiar bar near you.

*Characters are played by in order of appearance: Pot and Pan Handler, Some Guy, Um… and, um… I don’t know, I’ll say Angie, and Cynthia Hill.

*Did you really have to read this to know we don’t really argue with squirrels? Or do we? Hmmmm.

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Burlington: Chopps a Steak House and they mean it.

Chopps Burlington Skirt Steak

Chopps there’s a lot at steak.

Welcome back readers to a Chopps centric collection of food half witticisms from your lovable narrators, the Pot and Pan Handler. Chop, chop dear readers we’re going to Burlington in the People’s Republic of Massachusetts. More than just a review, this is a how to guide for eaters of restaurant food, how to restaurant. Pile in quirky readers, you’ll be restauranting like a pro in no time, 100% mi-steak free.

Chapter one Burlington Marriot has Chopps.

So a visit to Burlington was scheduled, it’s a Boston suburb just far enough away from Boston to make ya’ not want to go there, we were to spend two nights there. Followed by a few nights in Boston, but that, fickle readers, is another post. We got to the hotel late on our first night, too late to consider finding a different local eatery in this suburb of strip mall insanity. So off to the hotel restaurant we went. http://www.choppsamericanbarandgrill.com/

Chopps Burlington Kitchen

The kitchen is as open as a field.

Chopps, is the stereotypical hotel steakhouse, dark wood softened with years. The open kitchen is a sea of stainless steel. The sullen eyes of a lone business man betray his desperation, the stink of which has permeated the air. He takes periodic breaks from sexually harassing the bartender to nurse furtive gulps of his red wine. There are two bartenders; one male and one female, both seem to have a vested interest in pretending we are not there. The desperate wine drinker takes another furtive gulp. Then Sullen Businessman announces to the female bartender now that he’s been fired from his job he will dearly miss the opportunity to sexually harass her at work.

Her pandering reply trails off as the discomforting statement has her panicked and her distracted glance falls upon us… The perfect distraction, she takes our beer order.  Once we acquired beer, we looked to acquiring food. There are three Massachusetts staples dancing through our mind. As former residents who now live south of the Mason-Dixon Line these three staples are in short supply in our central location in this state, pizza, seafood & clam freakin’ chowdah.

Chopps Burlington Massachusetts Fried shrimp & scallops

Crunch. Mmmm sandy. At least we couldn’t eat them.

Mi-steak house

Mistake #1 presents itself in a moment of dyslexia that occurs as we order flash fired shrimp & scallops. When they arrive not grilled but breaded in a light cornmeal batter we realize the descriptor on the menu; flash fired was actually flash fried. Oops. The lightly battered shrimp jump eagerly into our mouths. They’re delightful and bring back memories of Eastern fried seafood shacks prevalent throughout the Northeast.  The scallops on the other hand are sandy. Few things are as unappetizing as sandy scallops. The light, briny bites of scallop are just out of our reach as each bite crunches with bits of beach sand. Never order seafood in a steakhouse each bite states.

Chopps Burlington, Massachusetts Clam Chowder

Was soup dawg?

Mistake #2 We order clam chowdah, we rarely see clam chowdah in the South and are anxiously awaiting the familiar taste of a dish that says home to us. The Chopps take on clam chowdah arrives. It’s soupy. A hot soupy mess, the light broth is not the thick creamy texture one expects when ordering a chowdah. It tastes alright, but reminds us much more of the South Carolina staple of she crab soup or worse… Manhattan clam chowder, eew, that’s not even chowdah. Each bite is another reminder don’t order seafood in a steak restaurant.

Chopps Burlington, Massachusetts, Pizza

Wanna pizza me? No… no I don’t.

Mistake #3 pizza. As former residents of New England where you can get a decent pizza just about anywhere, who now live in a pizza dessert, we were looking forward to a good pizza. We ordered a margarita pizza, the disappointing disc is undercooked and doughy in the middle. The only redeeming factor is the cheese we end up ripping the molten, cloud of mozzarella and eat it by itself. Mmmm cheese, as delightful, as the stringy cloud of cheese is each crustless bite is a reminder, don’t order pizza in a steakhouse.

Chopps Tator Tots Burlington, Massachusetts

Croquettes w/ ketchup. Somewhere a French Chef just died.

Chopps take on tater tots are THE positive factor in this meal. These potatoes are slightly crispy on the outside, soft, tastily seasoned potato clouds on the inside. The tots are served with ketchup because we’re 8 year old girls. Most restaurants would call these croquettes. It makes sense that the potatoes are good, as what steak restaurant doesn’t make good spuds? This prophetic potato thought would do us well to remember in the future.

As well as the lone sullen businessman there are two other suit clad businessmen with their ties loosened in three martini dinner fashion. They are passionately discussing a meal they had at someplace called Hacienda. The descriptors uttered by these men about their meal border on obsessive as if their meal had been borderline orgasmic. I can’t help but wonder if the sublime food in the Mexican restaurant helped them reach food nirvana, what were they doing here at Chopps? I wish we would’ve eaten there too. Soon we’d realize we had no one to blame but ourselves.

Bad sports bar chili Burlington, Massachusetts

“If it is as spicy as buttermilk, it’s too hot.” – New England

Chapter Two Chopps; How to restaurant

The next day in an effort to avoid Chopps, I walk a mile to a sports bar. As the Pan Handler has a prior engagement this evening, I’m scouting this joint out. I order a beer and the chili as the bartender highly recommended it. The chili is bland and forgettable. The bar is loud and filled with people ordering neon colored corn syrupy drinks. In between obsessively checking their phones while periodically talking loudly about Jake from HR. I can’t wait to leave.

Corn syrupy Sports Bar Drink Burlington, MA

Rose colored glasses indeed. Isn’t Jake from HR such a dick.

There’s an Italian restaurant about a mile away from the hotel in the other direction. I take a ride in the hotel shuttle to scope it out. It’s still closed. I could wait for it to open but… This joint is a white tablecloth, cloth napkin, take out your spouse and spend waaAAY too much on wine restaurant. You know the type, earmarked for prom or Pre Theater. Candle lit, romantic, with servers dressed as penguins constantly hovering, refilling your water glass. Get out your wallet because you’ll have to tip four people before you even get to your table type restaurant. In no way do I want to subject myself to the derisive stares of the floor staff one is subject to when walking into and eating in a place like this alone. So back to Chopps I go.

Belichick’s a hero

I seat myself at the familiar granite bar, the ambience is different the second time. No sullen businessman. A lot less date rapey and a lot more typical New England bar for off putting Massholes. There are two men dressed casually bellowing the prerequisite conversation for every patron in every bar throughout Massachusetts.

Masshole one says “Er, ah, that dahm Belichick is ah gahd dahm hero.” Masshole two replies “Er, ah aihn’t that the truth.” “But that gahd dahm, Goodell is a fuhk tahd.” Not to be outdone Masshole one expands the scope to include the sports media. “Those chowdah heads aht ESPN ah such dichs, cahling Brady a cheater, ah fahk thehm.” This statement is always followed by the obligatory positive almost endearing compliment to Tom Brady: “That Brady looks goohd this yeahr, strawng, I’d go down on hihm in a secohnd.” I made that last one up.

Skirt Steak with Au Poivre sauce Chopps Burlington, Massachusetts

What are looking at me for? I’m not Belichick.

There’s a lot at steak

It’s a different bartender today, expedient; he has a beer in my hand, almost quicker than I can order it. Menu distribution occurs. This time around I wasn’t messing around; I’m at a steak house, might as well get steak. Skirt steak served with au poivre sauce, asparagus and a surprise maître de butter made with herbs and a beef demi-glace.

Skirt Steak with maitre de butter and au poivre sauce burlington, massachusetts

Bone. Skirt steak. Ha, see where I’m going here?

The steak is well seasoned, expertly grilled to a perfect medium rare. The sear is artful and the interior is juicy and savory. The au poivre sauce is unctuous, slightly spicy with a black pepper kick, but it is rendered unnecessary. Served in a bone the maître de butter is delightfully salty, herbaceous and the demi-glace gives it a creamy, acidic kick that outshines the au poivre sauce. The sautéed asparagus is well seasoned cooked through with just a hint of snap left.  It’s a completely different experience. Everything is delicious, when you don’t make a rookie mistake and order something other than steak in a steak house. We’ll never make that mi-steak again. That, dear readers, is how you restaurant.

Chef and the Farmer Kinston, NC

Caution: Actual restaurant may be less blurry than it appears.

Coming soon: we introduce you to the Chef & the Farmer, the Producer & the Wife Beater. When we eat at A Chef’s Life’s celebrity chef Vivian Howard’s restaurant, Located in a tiny Eastern NC town called Pork, oops, I mean … Kinston. Until then may the odds be ever in your flavor.

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We Pot a Handle on this.

The Pot & Pan Handler are 100% illiterate, spatula wielding, food obsessed, escaped industry tools, wandering the United States, like shopping carts, never put back in the corral. You’ll find us nomadically stuffing our faces with some local delicacy in a city near you.  ;aldfh;aert ccan’t talk, nom, eat, nom, ing.

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Boston’s Cantina Italiana, damn you’re old.

Boston's Cantina Italiana

Cantina Italiana; like a beacon in the night. Fuggedaboudit.

Boston’s Cantina Italiana

Welcome back captive readers to the Pot & Pan Handler’s scurrilous blog. Today we put on cologne soaked gold chains and head to Cantina Italiana in Boston’s little Italy, mundanely called the North End. That’s where we defied reason and somehow found seats at Cantina Italiana’s bar with no reservations on a Friday night. Two hours later we left full of passable wine, good beer and great food, it was a good night.  Come along culinary ninjas we’re going back and bringing you with us. http://cantinaitaliana.com/

Harbor day

Our day started on the waterfront, a nightmare flurry of travel related snafu’s that eventually led to us walking to the South Station where we found much needed respite in the form of alcohol. http://potandpanhandler.com/how-and-where-to-chowdahead-5-9-2017/

Tavita's Michelada

Mmmicheladaaa. Bloody Mary w/a Mexican accent.

One of the better michelada’s we’ve ever had and an always satiating beer in the restaurant Tavitas. After imbibing in a heightened state of contentment we took a liquored up stroll along the harbor walk. Eventually our meanderings took us to Boston’s north end. The exceptional weather had turned the entirety of little Italy into a bottleneck of tourists and locals alike. The distinct New English accents make massholes hard to hide especially when they are in earshot.

Boston's harbor walk

This sculpture captures the essence of the Big Book of British Smiles.

Lines are everywhere it’s like Scarface’s desk. We’ve been to Strega before, but unless we wanted to get seated at about 5 pm the next day, we had to look elsewhere. We walked, if meandering around throngs of people at the speed of slugs in a theme park, is your idea of walking. As we walk by the unassuming Cocina Italiana a small miracle happened. Two people finished up their dinner and left the bar, leaving just enough room for us to sit down and procure menus. So that’s what we did.

Boston's Harbor Walk

Harbor your boat? No thanks, I’ll stick to harboring grudges.

 Yelp I think I need somebody

One look at Cantina Italiana’s yelp page and you’ll find hordes of people complaining that Cantina Italiana isn’t a trendy hipster, ultra-modern product of marketing to yuppie millennials. Or you’ll find people grumpily grouching that Cantina Italiana isn’t an authentic Italian restaurant, using only imported ingredients from Milan or procured from the inner depths of Mt. Vesuvius.  These bitchy fucks don’t even deserve yelp accounts. Take it from us, we’ve got a food blog and they don’t just give those away. https://www.yelp.com/biz/cantina-italiana-boston?osq=CantinaItaliano

The fact of the matter is Cantina Italiana has been there since 1931, serving up classic Italian American eats to grateful massholes with flourish. And they’re still flourishing despite hypocritical locavores and douchenozzles bitching about authenticity. Cantina Italiana do it right, 1931 was a different era when to sell food in America it had to be suited to American tastes. So, that’s what they did. And they did it pretty fuckin’ well. Cantina Italiana is still serving up Italian American red sauce eats that remind Italians of home. Yet they also serve eats familiar enough to American palates so they can sell to Italian Immigrants and tourists alike. Classic New England.

Peroni on tap @ Cantina Italiana

My Peroni has a first name, it’s B-E-E & R.

Getting sauced

We sat at the bar; the expedient bartender took our drink order immediately. Congratulations are in order, they have Peroni on tap. Italy’s answer to lite beer, light and crispy carbonated. Peroni on tap is a rare treat in this country. We took advantage. We perused the menu, the bartender dropped off a loaf of light & airy Italian bread and a dish of olive oil for dipping. Crusty, exterior with heavenly, hollows. The pillowy pits greedily suck up the olive oil, seductively enticing, I dare you not to eat it. The art of free bread is increasingly rare.

Cantina Italiana's Italian Loaf & Olive Oil

“Give us, us free”. -Bread

First up, an appetizer of Bresaola con Arugola e Parmigiano. Thinly sliced, similar to prosciutto, dry aged cured beef with arugula, dressed lightly in extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice with a healthy garnish of Parmigiano. Delicious, the beef is tender, salty and tasty with a hint of the olive oil, it tastes like prosciutto and steak tartare had a love child. Served along the palate cleansing lightly dressed arugula, and nutty parmigiana this was a perfect first course. Like an amuse bouche it left us wanting more. So more we had.

Cantina Italiana's Bresola

The Cure. This course is charcuterie, than yours.

Pastafarian

We typically avoid pastas in American Italian joints. Why? Because most restaurants serve the same dried pasta from a factory production line in Bannockburn Illinois you’d buy in the store. Only they slap on a 100% markup for taking the trouble to boil it for you. This fact has Old Italian grandmas rolling over in their graves at the thought. Resto Facile Nonna, at Cantina Italiano, they make their own house made pasta. Who doesn’t like the thought of that? Add meat sauce to that equation, now you’re in Italian American heaven, also known as Bolognese.

Cantina Italiana's Bolognese

Made up fact; Bolognese is Italian, roughly translated it means: Where’s the defibrillator?

Bolognese that was, slightly spicy but a delicate sweetness balanced the acidity of tomatoes. Unctuous with the classic Italian meat mixture, 1/3 ground veal, 1/3 ground beef and 1/3 ground pork. Cantina Italiano’s served this Bolognese in classic American-Italian style resting atop the deliciously light and house made tagliatelle pasta in a 1:1 ratio. I don’t know how long it will be until we have another bowl of Bolognese & pasta this delectable, but I trust it won’t be soon enough.

Wine sauce, what are ya’ chicken?

Milanese… You won’t find this on the menu, but it was on special that fateful night. They had me at chicken. That was a lie, they had me at wine. Like everything else, this dish was exceptional. The olive oil, wine sauce tastes velvety like a butter sauce. The juicy chicken artfully seared and a city of mushrooms all cloaked in the delicious, velvety sauce, tastes so light, almost deceptively so. Juicy, earthy, sweet, buttery chicken and mushrooms in wine sauce is a revelation here.

Cantina Italiana's Chicken Milanese

Chicken Milanese, has nothing to do with Alyssa Milano. What a ripoff.

Dessert?

We eschewed the typical dessert like millennials and gender norms and opted for another Peroni and a glass of wine. We celebrated the fact that we were able to get dinner in the North End without reservations on a Friday night. Then we took the harbor walk back to the hotel… But that dear readers is another post.

Coming soon: A tale of two restaurants, one bad, one good all in the same building. Whaaaaa???? Exactly.

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That’s us B.

The Pot and Pan Handler are 100% all natural, free range, hormone fueled, crate free, local, organic, escaped restaurant veterans  and red blooded American food porn fluffers. No massholes were harmed in the making of this post.

 

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How and where to chowdah

MJ O'Connor's Boston Massachusetts

Ugly, but Hall of Fame Chowdah is found here.

How to chowdah head

Welcome back OCD addled chowdah* head readers, to the Pot and Pan Handler’s mischievous blog, where politics as usual means; politically incorrect is the correct course of action. Suck ass. See? Today we’re talking petty annoyances that end in a cup o’ chowdah, so good it almost changed our political outlook. Suck ass. Like I said, almost, changed our political outlook.

It’s not personal, it’s just business. LORD BUSINESS.

It started where most chowdah stories do, in the soviet people’s republic of Boston, Massachusetts. It is morning, we’re in a hotel and we just realized that the “convenient” service that booked our flight back home, booked it for exactly one year later to the day when we needed to fly back. How convenient and to make matters even more convenient, there’s no free wifi. This fact leaves us with the option of using the hotel “business center” to contact the booking service. Rectifying this problem takes close to 1 ½ hours and guess what? It only costs $50 freaking bucks a half hour. Great, the booking agency also booked this hotel, for business millionaires, too. They’re not good at this… suck ass.

It is now afternoon and our wallet is $170 dollars lighter than when we arrived. Fortunately there’s a concierge selling bus tours of the city. Why not? We purchase two tickets and are told, the tour bus swings by the hotel every twenty minutes. An hour and forty five minutes later, the first tour bus we’ve seen pulls up. The door swings open and we bustle forth to get on. In true masshole fashion, the driver snottily remarks “The buhs is fuhl.” While glaring at us like this should’ve been painfully obvious. “Okay, we’ve been waiting for almost two hours will another one be by soon?” We reply. He reaches for his phone and says, “I’ll cahl mah bahs.” Slams the door shut and leaves. Fuckin’ masshole, suck ass.

Plan C: Chowdah

We wait another forty minutes and nothing… We give up. Fortunately the doorman has been witness to us waiting all afternoon and is willing to vouch for us when we demand our money back from the concierge. We’re informed she has already left for the day. Which is weird because five minutes later she happily refunds the money after the doorman vouches for us. This of course costs us another ten bucks, they work for tips after all. Suck, ass.

It is now nearing evening and we haven’t eaten. Plan A and B are broken… on to plan C. What is plan C? We don’t have a freakin’ plan C. Who makes a plan C? Not freakin’ us, that’s who. Hunger is the only language we understand, because no one can understand what massholes say. The deep seeded language of hunger drives us to do the unthinkable, go to the restaurant in the lobby. Besides, we need a beer, assuming of course that we can afford one at a lobby bar in the hotel for business millionaires. Suck, ass.

MJ O'Connors Boston, Massachusetts from inside the hotel.

Inside MJ O’Connor’s; less blurry than it appears.

GOOOOOoooooooaaaaaaallll! MJ O’Connor’s

We head into the faux Irish bar in the hotel lobby. Inside it is properly dark with the requisite wood paneling, like most Irish bars in the United States and filled with retro pub furniture and antique signage. Unlike actual Dublin bars filled with clean modern Scandinavian sculptured tables and weird chairs. We find a spot at the bar, where of course they have TV’s tuned into ESPN and soccer is on. In accordance to the ESPN/Irish Bar United States charter that states; it is our mission to convince Americans in pubs across the United States that soccer is something they really enjoy. Suck, ass. It hasn’t worked yet.

We acquire two moderately priced beers and peruse the menu while enjoying the art of ignoring soccer. A glance at the menu and I’m ready to order… Hall of fame winning Chowdah! I didn’t know there was a chowdah hall of fame, mustard hall of fame, yes, Spam museum, yes, chowdah hall of fame, who’dvethunk? Relishing redemption from the soupy, insipid broth, presented to us as chowdah from a steak house in the suburbs a few nights previous, I’m putting my chowdahead hat on and I am going to get busy. Hellz, yass.

MJ O'Connor's Menu contains a hall of fame chowder.

Hall of Fame Chowdah, they had us at Hall.

Is it me or is it chili in here?

When the expedient bar tender glides over to take our order she mentions that the special that day was something near and dear to our hearts; Chili. Whatever else we had thought about ordering has now fled our minds like Americans from the threat of a soccer game. Chowdah & Chili the alliteration was more than enough reason to order this combination. Yet, we looked forward to eating them too. Things are looking up since we came in here. Hellz, yass.

We barely had time to appreciate the much needed beers before the bartender with great flourish placed the chili & chowdah in front of us. We were in awe of the alliteration. Otherwise they looked like a cup of chili and a cup of chowdah… Exactly, like a cup of chili and a cup of chowdah. Which was nice, because that’s what we ordered, but there wasn’t anything exceptional looking about either one. I suppose with the possible exception of the chili had been shoved in a broiler and the cheese was melted across the top, similar to a French onion soup. Effective garnish, I suppose. Hellz yass.

MJ O'Connor's Hall of Fame Chowdah.

Looks typical, but this chowdah is on point.

Chowdah  ya’ think it tasted?

Good, great, exceptional, superlative, the list goes on. Creamy, unctuous, clammy and savory, not overly heavily creamed, it tastes light. Like a light, flaky, pastry that can fool you into thinking it’s good for you, despite the part of you responsible for reason that knows that shear butter and sugar are not good for you. It’s like that. Deceptively light and absolutely stunningly tasty and we’re no strangers to chowdah. This is the best we’ve had. Hellz, yass!

The chili on the other hand, spicy, meaty and complex, this chili has layers of flavor like the proverbial onion. It has balls. This is typically hard to find in New England where buttermilk is considered too spicy to consider consuming in anything more than a thimble worth. At MJ O’Connor’s they’re clearly not sensitive about offending some poor massholes sense of spicy sensibilities and they serve their chili aggressively seasoned and for this we thank them. Hellz yass…

Boston, Massachusetts MJ O'Connor's Chili.

Not chowdah, because it’s chili in here.

We would go back for either of these any freakin’ time. http://mjoconnors.com/menus#lunch-dinner We never did try anything else but will go back for a hearty bowl of alliteration, chili & chowder at MJ O’Connor’s  as soon as we’re back in the soviet people’s republic of Boston, Massachusetts. Probably as soon as we escape the wheezing and coughing hellhole they call an airport at Boston, Logan. And you probably should too.

*Chowdah, to pronounce or spell it otherwise would end up in the revocation of our New English card.

Coming soon: Fuggetaboudit we get lucky and score seats at Cantina Italiana without reservations on a Friday night in the soviet people’s republic of Boston, Massachusetts’ Little Italy, the North End. Hellz, yass. We’ll see you then, until then may the odds be ever in your flavor. – The Pot & Pan Handler

The Pot & Pan Handler are free range, escaped restaurant robots who travelled back in time with our best friend for some reason. Did I mention our best friend is a blueberry pie? These happy days are yours and mine, these happy days are yours, and, mine, hap-py, days.

Homer, we’re all out of vodka! – Ron Howard

 

 

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