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.

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.

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.




Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

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.

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.

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.

Orange Juice

Totally Made Up Corporate Sponsor is OJ.



Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.


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. graffiti

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.


Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

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. 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



Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,

BLT Restaurant Atlanta, GA

BLT… Not the sandwich, a pissy French Chef’s American Steakhouse.

Atlanta’s Bistro Laurent Tourendel passed away on December 31st 2016 surrounded by well-wishers and the W hotel. Born on May 1st, 2009 BLT was a mere 7 years young. BLT was cultured and enjoyed serving American style steakhouse food with French technique and more than a little panache.

BLT Crabcakes Atlanta, GA

Feeling crabby? Celebrate with cake & remoulade.

Always welcoming, BLT will be remembered for free amuse bouches and popovers for every visitor. No one left BLT hungry, in fact most found themselves full before the entrees were even received. Always the kind benefactor every visitor was given a copy of BLT’s popover recipe to take home and enjoy in the comfort of their own home.

BLT Popover Recipe

Hey BLT, Popover sometime.

BLT will be remembered fondly for their steaks, short ribs and take on classic steakhouse sides such as creamed spinach and au gratin potatoes.

BLT Beef Chart

BLT’s got beef.

BLT is survived by the W hotel, their popover recipe and the trendy form meets functionless art Nuevo restaurant. Occupied by hipster, DJ driven, mixologists slanging new world cocktails with the requisite tattoos and facial hair, sculptured chairs and a revolving menu of Con-fusion cuisine. Their new menu possibly even contains the always diabolical and every bit the opposite of refreshing rhubarb jus. The horror.

BLT Au Gratin Potatoes

If your potatoes aren’t a dairy product… You don’t know what you’re doing. Ask BLT.

BLT Au Gratin Streeetch

Au gratins pass the important stretch test.

We will always remember and appreciate how BLT would hide their delicious, creamy burrata cheese beneath a pile of healthy greens. We learned to appreciate a healthy looking garnish, so you could call your delicious, creamy and juicy cheese a healthy salad. For this BLT among other reasons, you will be missed. RIP BLT Steak, Atlanta.

Burrata Cheese Salad, BLT Atlanta, GA

See? It’s a salad, eating healthy bitches.

BLT Burrata Cheese, Atlanta, GA

Yum… the creamy, juicy center of BLT’s burrata.

BLT’s Popover recipe

-Makes 12

You will need:

4 cups warmed milk

8 eggs

4 cups

1 ½ heaping Tablespoon of salt

2 ½ cups grated gruyere

Popover pan

You will do:

Place the popover pan in the oven and heat both to 350 degrees.

Gently warm milk over low heat and set aside.

Whisk the eggs until frothy and slowly whisk in the milk (have patience young Jedi, do this slowly a technique called tempering ensures the eggs won’t begin to cook).

Set mixture aside.

Sift the flour with the salt.

Slowly add dry mixture to the wet until mostly smooth. (Don’t be afraid of a couple lumps.)

Once mixtures are combined, remove popover pan from oven and spray with non-stick spray, (we don’t keep that shit around, we just grease with butter.)

Now, make sure your batter is still warm at least room temp, fill each popover cup ¾ full.

Garnish each popover with an approximate 2 ½ Tablespoon of grated cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes; make sure to rotate the pan half a turn after 15 minutes of baking.

Remove from oven eat, and repeat.

Do try this at home.

BLT Popovers

Popovers… You don’t need a fancy BLT butter, but it can’t hurt.

Coming soon; we try to escape Ted Turner’s whim of Atlanta, without Wolf Blitzer howling about Russian intervention. Then, our travels take us to Beantown, where we find delectable steak in the suburbs. We also found the worst Michelada ever and were privy to award winning chowdah and an exquisite bowl of chili, in a very unlikely place. Until then dear readers, may the odds be ever in your flavor.

View of Atlanta from the W hotel

There’s always bitchin’ cars in this parking lot.

CNN Atlanta, GA

Awoooooooo Russian influence, awoooooo.

Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

Dora Charles' Cheesy Meatloaf with mushroom sauce.

Cheesy Meatloaf, it is easy being cheesy.

Welcome back, disoriented readers to the Pot and Pan Handler’s deviant blog, where this week we are cooking the books. Cheesy Meatloaf from Dora Charles’ book A Real Southern Cook in Her Savannah Kitchen, to be exact, however to get to the meat of this story we’ve got to start where most stories do, at the beginning…

We are biscuit sluts. This is born of the fact that we were both born and raised in the Northern half of the United States. Totally made up fact; there are no edible biscuits north of the Mason Dixon Line, just kidding, the north has biscuit technology, but rarely utilizes it. Thus our fascination.

One day we were watching Food TV’s the Best Thing I Ever Ate. If you’ve never seen it, it is probably the most vapid thing on TV. Essentially Chefs, Celebrities and Celebrity “Chefs” all talk about something they’ve had to eat that was, in their minds, the best thing they’ve eaten of a certain category or subcategory. This episode was the best of free. Tyler Florence mentioned Hoe Cakes & cheddar biscuits at Paula Deen’s restaurant Lady & Sons. They had us at cheddar, cheddar and free.

Lady & Sons

Eventually our travels took us to Savannah Georgia, where we put in a reservation at Lady & Sons and began to anticipate biscuits. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Lady & Sons is a strange, strange restaurant. You put in your name, there are two seatings when your seating time is imminent, they take everyone for that time slot and put you in a gift shop, like a Disney theme park or museum. There they leave you for twenty minutes. You will feel like you’re being watched. Everywhere you look, EVERYTHING in the place has Paula Deen’s face on it. EVERYTHING. From aardvark skin boots, to zeppelins and everything in between all plastered with Deen’s floating, smiling face.

Soon we were seated we got the aforementioned Hoe Cakes and biscuit. It remains the best biscuit we’ve ever had.  Buttery, flaky and distended with delicious & salty cheddar cheese, that biscuit was delectable the Hoe cakes were pretty good too. So were the patty melt and chicken pot pie, but greedy Paula Deen expected us to pay for those, bitch.  However, that’s a different post.

Cheddar Biscuits & Hoe Cakes @ Lady & Sons

Give us, us free. Lady & Son’s Cheddar biscuit.

Fast forward a couple of years and Paula Deen becomes a celebrity food pariah after settling a racism claim out of court. Throughout the case employees of Paula Deens’ were asked to give depositions. After Deens’ head cook was deposed, she was soon thereafter unceremoniously fired. Then she wrote a cook book. My head was sweating profusely as math is not my strong suit. If Miss Charles worked at Lady & Sons for the last 22 years, that would mean she was the chef when we ate there 6 years ago. After creakily working on this elaborate equation, it was decided, Miss Charles’ book could possibly contain her recipe for cheddar biscuits. YES!

Dora Charles' A Real Southern Cook in Her Savannah Kitchen.

If you can’t beat ’em, write a cookbook.


NO! Wrong. There are three biscuit recipes included in Miss Charles’ book, one made with mayo, whaaaaat? Yeah, I know right. One is made with Sprite, WTH? I know. The other uses Bisquick. Not a cheddar buttermilk biscuit recipe in the bunch.

There are a ton of good southern recipes however. Miss Charles’ is clearly a master of on hand cooking. Some of the recipes are seasonal and scratch made, others use the help of canned or boxed food, margarine or other less than ideal ingredients. Whatever she has on hand, she writes in her book: “Country people in the South had to make do with what was at hand, what they could grow or trade or preserve,” “I see this food as a tribute to those who came before me, who worked so incredibly hard for so little.”


You know the old saying, when life hands ya’ cheddah, make meatloaf? Oh, you don’t? Shut up, that’s totally a legit and oft chronicled quote. Either by Samuel Clemens, or his sexually repressed pseudonym (steam power is the lamest of all powers) or maybe Ben Franklin. It’s historic in our kitchen. So with my mind on cheddar, and cheddar in the fridge, I set out to make Dora Charles’ Cheesy Meatloaf with Mushroom Sauce. Spoiler alert the mushroom sauce is cheese too! Follow us to the kitchen & we’ll show you how to make it…

For the meatloaf you will need:

3 LBS ground beef (Miss Charles’ uses 80/20 we used 90/10 the cheese brings enough fat to the party.)

2 Cups thickly shredded cheddar cheese

1 teaspoon Lawry’s seasoned salt (we used our own house made spice blend)

Salt to taste about 1 scant teaspoon

1 teaspoon granulated garlic

½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper (we used red, because we like things that taste good.)

1 cup finely chopped yellow onion

½ cup sour cream

2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (easier to add than it is to say, woostahshire.)

3 Large Eggs

Psycho Kitchen Clown.

Psychotic Kitchen Clown Sez: use ground up lion dong to season like a deranged samurai.

You will do:

Set the oven to 350 degrees and spray a baking sheet w/ baking spray (we lined a tray with parchment paper)

Put the beef and cheese in a very large bowl and add seasoning, salt, garlic, black pepper, bell pepper and onion, set aside.

Cheese, Beef & Seasoning.

Meat & Cheese? Pass the bowl.

In a small bowl whisk Worcestershire and sour cream together, add eggs and beat all together. Thoroughly incorporate and add to meat mixture. Using your (clean) hands combine all until mixed well.

Egg Mixture for Cheesy Meatloaf

Beat me.

Break off a small chunk and fry, taste for seasoning, and add any if necessary. Place mixture on the baking tray and pat it into a long oblong loaf about a foot long, 5 inches wide and 2 ¼ inches tall. The easiest way to do this is slap that shit into place.

Cheesy Meatloaf

Slapped that shit into shape.

Bake for about an hour. When it’s finished the top will brown, and the top of the loaf will feel firm when patted.  Remove from oven and let rest for 15 min…

Baked Cheesy Meatloaf

Last time we go to a public pool.

Cheesy Meatloaf

Whenever the skull plate is out, we’re eating good.

Meanwhile… say cheese

For the Mushroom sauce you will need:

1 (14 ½) can of condensed cream of mushroom soup (we had some mushrooms lying around so we just made our own… cheesy, earthy and luxurious, but that’s a different post.)

¼ teaspoon salt or more if desired (seriously there’s salt in the cheese, this should be enough.)

¼ heaped teaspoon minced garlic

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 ¾ cup heavy cream

2 cups thinly shredded mild sharp cheddar cheese

Mushroom & Cheese Sauce

Sooo cheesy.

You will do:

Heat the mushroom soup in a large saucepan, uncovered, over medium low heat, add the salt, garlic, and black pepper, mix well. Turn down the heat to low and slowly add the cream. Add cheese in bunches, take off of the heat, whisk until smooth. Taste for salt, add some if desired. Keep in a warm oven if you can’t serve immediately.

Slice the meatloaf and spoon sauce over each slice. Eternal order of pretentious dicks tip of the week: Serve this meatloaf and sauce with roasted broccoli or cauliflower. Those veggies love to be cloaked in cheese sauce like tortilla chips at the stadium. Juicy, meaty, cheesy, like a cheeseburger, without all the pesky carbs, if you like a cheeseburger, you’ll love this meatloaf. Thanks Dora Charles.

Cheesy Meatloaf with Roasted Broccoli

Eat me. – Cheesy Meatloaf

Coming soon:

We continue to cower in the shadows of Ted Turner’s whim, Atlanta, Georgia. There, once cleverly hidden in the W hotel, is a delightfully casual, yet ambitious restaurant that shares their name with a humble sandwich, BLT. A pissy French chef’s take on an American steak house, we promise, there will be a lot at steak. Until then, may the odds be ever in your flavor.

*Editor’s note: we cut this recipe by 1/3 because, it’s a big loaf and there are only two of us. As the pics show, the results were still fabulous.

The Pot & Pan Handler are feral, food obsessed, spatula wielding, escaped restaurant nomads with stories to tell, so we tell them to you. Live and let dine. Only free range garlic and cage free peppers were used in the making of this loaf.






Tagged with: , , , , ,

Twin Smoker's BBQ Atlanta, GA

Twin Smokers, twice as cool.

Welcome back high functioning alcoholics, to the Pot & Pan Handler’s devious blog, today’s devotion is Ted Turner’s whim, Atlanta. That’s where we marched with the resolution of General Sherman, in order to devour the entire city. Of course devouring the city was figurative in our case, it was quite a bit more literal in the case of General Sherman. However, I digress. When you’re in the American South, it would be amoral to go back home without acquiring some BBQ. We found some in the form of Twin Smoker’s BBQ. You must be at least this tall to ride, keep your arms inside the car at all times, we’re going to Twin Smoker’s and this time we’re bringing you with us.

CNN, Atlanta, Georgia

Don’t watch? We’ll force ya’ to at the airport.

Smoke ‘em if ya’ got ‘em.

There we were, in the very shadow of America’s least watched network, Ted Turner’s CNN. Like blight on the landscape the very building blocks out the light of the sun on an otherwise beautifully sunny day. There, cowering in the shadow of the Mr. Turner’s evil hideout you can find Twin Smokers BBQ.

When you walk in the doors to Twin Smokers, you are immediately confronted with their call to arms… wood. Stacks of wood, labeled for particular consumption. A testament to their professionalism, they take the big picture look at Q at Twin Smokers, throwing all the regional bickering aside. The result is a hearty respect for Q in general, making various woods a necessity. Not only do they do smoked chicken and pork with hickory and white oak, they’re also smoking beef Texas style with mesquite and post oak. Smoked onsite with house made rubs and meat sourced from local farms, they’re doing it right.

Hardwoods at Twin Smoker's BBQ Atlanta, GA

Hey, psst, wanna see my wood?

What wood you do?

What wood would we do? That answer is easy, both, a half rack of hickory smoked pork ribs and a mesquite smoked beef brisket sandwich. Served in true fastidious, BBQ joint fashion with a side of overlooked and underwhelming beans with onions, Twin Smoker’s evidently spends a lot of time on their meat with less focus on the sides, or at least not on the scoop and serve beans.

Look, this isn’t a single isolated incidence; there is a severe prevalence all over the United States of BBQ joints serving amazing meats alongside substandard sides and factory buns. We the people deserve better and should rise up, grab a bottle of BBQ sauce and demand improvements. We have a dream.

Beef Brisket at Twin Smoker's BBQ, Atlanta, GA

Brisky business indeed.

Twin Smokers is not exempt from this phenomenon. Let’s examine their results. We’ll start with the post oak and mesquite smoked brisket, juicy, fatty and smoky the brisket is a revelation. The mouth feel is exceptional as it nearly dissolves on your tongue as you chew. Properly saturating the factory buns with fatty deliciousness, the sandwich properly needs to be placed upside down in-between bites. Thus to ensure the macerated bun doesn’t fall apart leaving you to eat BBQ with a fork. Like a bitch. That, excited readers is one of the litmus tests that all BBQ sandwiches should be held to.

Brisket Sandwich, Twin Smoker's BBQ, Atlanta. GA

Don’t eat Q like a bitch. Turn that crown upside down.

Twin Smoker’s further their professional bio with one revealing taste of their ribs. Anyone can make true fall off the bone ribs simply by overcooking them. The kings of Q have decreed that a superior BBQ is evidenced by the bite. A slight chewiness that pulls a bite off the bone, but leaves the rest of the succulent meat firmly adhered to the bone is the Q snob calling card. Otherwise all the meat falls off the bone, leaving you to resort to eating Q with a fork. Once again, like a bitch. Twin Smoker’s follows the decree of the eternal order of Q snobs calling card, all while maintaining the balance of an inherently juicy ass rib. Objects in mouth may be tastier than they appear. These guys are not amateurs.

Smoked Ribs at Twin Smoker's BBQ, Atlanta, GA

When I’m still on the pig, I’m near the bacon. -Ribs

Bean Counter

Side, side, slippity sides, the bane of the BBQ restaurant, look I get it, BBQ is labor intensive. With all the prep and time to turn out slow cooked in house rubbed meats the inherent labor is expensive. Whether you’re paying one single pit master overtime or a crew of poorly trained line cooks you’re going to feel it in the labor costs. This of course makes Q owners turn to easily made scoop and serve items, like coleslaw, and BBQ beans. There’s nothing wrong with that inherently as Q is picnic/reunion/celebration food as long as the sides don’t feel like an afterthought.

Beans at Twin Smoker's BBQ, Atlanta, GA

Where ya’ bean? Don’t order me.-Beans

My sister is a vegetarian, it fills me with sadness every time I see her navigate a restaurant menu and receive, eventually a plate full of vegetarian after thoughts, with no particular composure, balance or technique to the preparation of. That’s what the beans felt like at Twin Smoker’s. There, simply because it’s expected. Hey, it’s an easy fix, some chili powder a pinch of salt, or some garlic, you’re in flavor town.  Until then you’re taking the exit ramp to bland city. Don’t count beans like us, get more meats. The meat preparation at Twin Smokers is nearly above reproach.

Pork Butts prepared for smoker at Twin Smoker's, Atlanta, GA

Butt rubbing at Twin Smokers. Not as sexy as it sounds.

Eternal Order of Pretentious Dicks Travel Tip of the Week

As we are members of the Eternal Order of Pretentious Dicks it is our obligation to share with you a Pretentious Dick travel tip. If you are like us, then you might be upper white trash and if so… When you buy a can of beer at Twin Smoker’s they’ll give you a free can koozie. Nothing says white trash like a koozie. We had two, we still have one, but one got lost in a hotel parking lot in Virginia, maybe, or was it Asheville? Either way, curious readers that’s a different post, until then live and let dine and may the odds be ever in your flavor. – Pot and Pan Handler

Twin Smokers Koozie

May there always be a beer in your koozie. Made up Irish proverb

Coming soon: We’re still exploring the city of Turner’s whim Atlanta, in the heart of downtown, we find a BLT, not the sandwich, but the pissy, French chef, Laurent Tourondel. Chef Tourondel was bringing French bistro technique to an American steak house in the W hotel. Until the W closed BLT Steak in favor of a DJ booth and opened an ironically named spa resort social hangout for Atlanta’s overpaid and or most beautifully fake people. The menu is too terrifying to post here, but I’m fairly sure it includes rhubarb jus…  The horror.

The Twin Smokers' Atlanta, GA

Congratulations, you’ve had twins.

The Pot and Pan Handler are fearless food porn paparazzi and spatula waving, kitchen line cooks escaped from a restaurant near you. No Ted Turner’s were harmed in the making in the making of this post.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

Gladys Knight's Chicken & Waffles Atlanta, Georgia

Gladys Knight’s Chicken & Waffles. Signature? WTH? Mine wasn’t autographed.

Gladys Knight’s Chicken & Waffles

Welcome back to the Pot and Pan Handler’s nefarious blog edition; Gladys Knight’s Chicken & Waffles.  When we took the midnight train to Georgia, our destination was Ted Turner’s whim, Atlanta. We jumped at the chance, because who knows when Mr. Turner will send Atlanta to the future.  Or possibly will Atlanta to an alternate reality where people watch CNN willingly, instead of when forced to in airports. Does it get more Georgian than chicken & waffles? I don’t know, but I do know it doesn’t get more Georgian than Gladys Knight, so I had to go.

CNN, Atlanta, Georgia

Somebody please watch. Anybody?

Eight Mile          

According to GPS coordinates our hotel is eight miles from Gladys Knight’s Chicken & Waffles. After an urban hike I’ll get there just in time to for a lunch of fried chicken & waffles. What the GPS failed to mention is this hike would be through a part of Atlanta where tourists probably rarely find themselves.  Funny thing is I’ve walked near here before just a couple blocks away, the same walk is filled with gentrified developments containing fair trade coffee shops on every corner.

Just a few blocks from the hotel it began. First it was the friendly couple, dressed at the height of I own my own shopping cart fashion, they weave a tale of falling on hard times, can I spare some money? Of course I can. It was done. Word on the street is there is a white kid in the neighborhood and he’s got money. The next encounter was less pleasant.

I was in his sights immediately, desperately I try to avoid making eye contact, but his homeless voodoo made this impossible. Dressed in jeans and one of those jackets with patches on the elbows, like a college professor without tenure, forced to wander the streets of Atlanta, begging for money to fund his research, he begins to tell me his tale.  Long story short, he has fallen on hard luck, could I spare some money? Not this time. I’ve got no time for this, I try to continue on, and realize suddenly that I’m now handing him a dollar. I’m no match for homeless voodoo.

He looks at me with profound disappointment as if I’ve wronged him greatly and he a gentleman will not resort to pointing out my rather vast shortcomings in public. He shakes his head and amazingly I feel guilty. Maybe he’s right. Perhaps I should be spending more time in Atlanta, start a homeless shelter for disenfranchised inner city youth, hey! How the hell did he do that? Anyway back to the streets.


There is a disheveled man screaming at a section of concrete that has clearly wronged him. In a garbled guttural roar he registers his dissatisfaction “Flocking flagabbut ADAAA NOCKLESTEIN! He points an accusing finger at the guilty concrete and continues “NOOOTABOTITALL!” and stomps the offending concrete. He then fixes his gaze solidly on me, raises his finger like an accusatory 18th century judge and he yells “BILLIFY JAPALONAPAPACON!”  He clears his throat “Harrumph.” He continued, “Ah excuse me, are you the white kid with money?” I made that last part up. He never saw me or anyone else for that matter.

A couple of blocks later I see a man sitting on the sidewalk. He’s dressed like a 70’s rock star and apparently no one ever told him that dudes in head scarves that aren’t Santana look weird. Should I be the first? His rigid posture is simultaneously relaxed, like an outdoor, orange bell bottomed, yoga instructor. His gaze falls upon me he seems to have been anticipating my arrival.

With great gravitas, like a philosopher patiently elucidating the meaning of life he seems about to impart sage wisdom. “Are you looking to find the crossroads, my young friend?” Huh? I think. What does that mean? Is this a soul selling situation? I’ve never thought about it before but if I was going to sell my soul it wouldn’t be to a Keith Richards look alike doing yoga on the sidewalk. I look into the depths of my mind for a suitable response and eloquently state “No.” He loses interest in me and goes back to looking weird in a head scarf. Oops I forgot to tell him no one but Santana can do that.

A couple blocks after the male prostitute in a sheer half shirt with a very wet cough starts following me, I realize I’m out of change. But I still have one $1 bill, a small victory of sorts. I can see the sign for Gladys Knight’s Chicken & Waffles just up ahead. I cross the street, I’m almost there. The recessed doorway looms just beyond the yellowed menu withering in the window. I turn to enter the doorway and stop short, there’s someone standing there. “Do you have any money you can spare?” He says. There goes that dollar.

Gladys Knight's Chicken & Waffles Atlanta Georgia

Color me spray tanned. This place is old.

Gladys Knight’s Chicken & Waffles.

I step inside a time warp. It’s almost decrepitly old inside Gladys Knight’s. Dark, like an old steak house or supper club, wood walls, and black ceilings with track lighting cast an eerie Trumpian orange glow on the brown diner booths. A friendly if slightly indifferent hostess seats me in a dark booth. That’s where I wait until a slightly friendly if indifferent server, takes my order for an iced tea and a Midnight Train. Billed on the menu as four southern fried chicken wings and one original waffle, the Midnight Train to Georgia is exactly what I’m looking for. Y’know, fried chicken and waffles.

Gladys Knight's Chicken & Waffles Menu Atlanta, Georgia

Nothing sells like shameless self promotion.

Soon the aforementioned chicken and waffle plate is brusquely placed in front of me and I’m promptly forgotten about. The chicken looks artfully done, the waffle appears textbook served with plain whipped butter and caramel colored corn syrup, it’s time to get busy.

Gladys Knight's Chicken & Waffles, Atlanta, Georgia

Garnished w/an orange, this takes me back to… Sometime before I was born.

I start with the chicken. Golden brown, it’s exotic, crispy, juicy, salty, marinated chicken. Fast food wishes it could do chicken as good as this. The waffle is huge, but a fairly standard affair, similar to an institutional IHOP waffle with a standard whipped butter, lacking the fruit or jalapeno kick that sometimes accompany waffles in the south.

Waffle @ Gladys Knight's Chicken & Waffles, Atlanta, Georgia

Shmeared & corn syrup droned, I must be a politician because I’m waffling.









Would I go back? Look, although I appreciate the irony of paying that much for chicken and waffles in a restaurant with a homeless dude pan handling out front. Probably not, they only get away with charging that much because there’s a famous name on the sign. Although Gladys Knight’s chicken was pretty freakin’ good, $20 bucks for lunch, is kind of hefty.

I took a different route back to the hotel.

Coming soon: we continue to tour Ted Turner’s whim when we find Twin Smoker’s BBQ, it would be morally bankrupt to leave the ATL without checking out the Q. Until then, live & let dine- the Pot & Pan Handler.

Orange Juice

& for no reason, here’s… OJ.


Editor’s note: Pot & Pan Handler are escaped restaurant veterans and professional butchers of the English Language. No Ted Turners were harmed in the making of this post.





Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

Goat cheese won tons Jujube Chapel Hill, NC

Short Rib & Goat Cheese Won Tons. Jujube kidding me?

Jujube, not quite Asian

Welcome back fickle readers, to the Pot and Pan Handler’s blog edition Jujube. If you’ve ever heard of the Chapel Hill North Carolina Asian restaurant with a James Beard award, that is extremely difficult to get seats at… Fuggetaboudit, that’s the Lantern. Jujube is the other one, the food is still stellar, but it’s far, far easier to get a table. If using southern ingredients to make Asian foods sounds like a movement you can get behind, then read on, interested reader.

Strip tease

Look, first off the location is a bit underwhelming in a strip mall far away from most of the other trendy eateries in Chapel Hill. However, don’t let that fool you, Jujube is a legit joint, with legit food, just in a spot that’s… well, a little less legit. Once you get inside, Jujube is appropriately trendy with the requisite amount of clean modern lines. Other than the exceptional photography of subjects in and around Asia you’ll find none of the kitsch found in so many Asian restaurants.

Now hungry readers, let’s talk about something near and dear to our hearts… Steak. Steak with jasmine scented rice, peanut sauce and some forgettable pickled cucumber salad. We’ve eaten at Jujube probably ten times and one of us ALWAYS orders the steak, because we have a form of food Tourette’s syndrome 1.2.3… 1.2.3… 1.2.3… Just kidding we always order the steak because: it is off the freakin’ chain. 1.2.3… More on that later. 1.2.3…

Jujube's Line Chapel Hill, NC

Here’s where Jujube’s draws the line.

Sit down

When ya’ enter Jujube an appropriately overdressed and youthful hostess will seat you promptly with minimal sarcasm. May I suggest to those interested in a Chef’s table to ask for the kitchen bar seating. This bar is where you can watch in awe as the suitably Latino kitchen crew dance the line nimbly preparing tonight’s dishes in a dexterous display of culinary ballet. There you will also be witness to the testament of steak. Watch as the cooks expertly sear steak after steak like a mouthwatering factory line. If you weren’t going to order the steak before you’ll want to now as it is clearly one of the most popular dishes at Jujube. Or possibly because 1.2.3… Oops now you have it.

Short Rib and goat cheese won ton Jujube Chapel Hill, NC

Caution: ingredients may be less blurry than they appear.


Jujube’s travel tip #1: unless you enjoy a server who treats you as though you are as relevant to their life as polio, order booze or beer. Otherwise you’ll be prioritized somewhere between hand washing and scheduling a proctology exam on a servers list of priorities. Made up fact: the only thing in the world more inhabited by microbial pathogens than a server’s hand is, the whore of tourist traps, the Blarney stone in Ireland.

If you are on a diet, vegan, or have a religious objection to appetizers, Jujube’s is a good place to make a life style change. Try the short rib & goat cheese won tons. Stuffed to the verge of bursting with seasoned short rib, won tons are fried and garnished with generous dollops of goat cheese. Served on a plank of slate, Jujube’s doesn’t fuck around, like trendy restaurants all over, they know, plates and functional dining ware are for suckers. That’s right, that plate shit is soooo last century.

Pork belly dumplings, Jujube, Chapel Hill, NC

Pork belly, dough, soy sauce, dip, eat, repeat.

But as you might remember we always get the steak, so we often opt for steamed pork belly dumplings instead as an appetizer. As hot as it sounds, hot beef on beef action is not really our thing. Hey, we get it if it’s your thing, that’s super cool, no judging, we’d just rather mix it up a little bit. Besides these dumplings are heavenly pillows of seasoned and shredded pork belly lightly steamed within the tasty doughy confines of a superior dumpling. Served with a garlic soy sauce, these delicious dumplings are everything you could want in a starter at an Asian joint.

You’re so special

Okay, what if you are a vegetarian snowflake, with mad dietary constraints? Jujube’s still got ya’ covered in that regard as well. Their menu and their specials menu have some vegetarian options, like lettuce wraps, with corn and lima beans tossed in an a ginger, sesame dressing and topped with a dollop of lovable goat cheese. For the record they, taste incredible. Unlike many vegetarian dishes, these don’t come off as an afterthought, crisp lettuce, the pop off fresh corn and beans all covered in tangy Asian dressing, color me happy. They probably have some vegan, dairy and gluten free shit too. I don’t care.

Jujube Chapel Hill, NC, Lettuce Wraps

Voted dish least likely to result in heart attack.

Never made a misteak yet

Remember that steak we talked about? Of course you do, you’re the reader, it’s your job, just like it’s our job as writers to touch upon the subject earlier. It’s called foreshadowing, yeah, we’re like super pros at this writing shit. Just like you are pros at this reading shit, what a unique juxtaposition of talents. Your yin just got yanged. We should go bowling.

Lemon Grass Hangar Steak and Peanut Sauce, Jujube, Chapel Hill, NC

Perfectly cooked, but I can’t remember those green things.

Anyway as you’ve gathered Jujube’s steak is amazing. Grilled hangar steak expertly prepared by the aforementioned Latino line cook ballerinas. Order this, you will not be disappointed. Marinated Lemon Grass Hangar steak grilled to perfection, served with a forgettable cucumber salad and PEANUT SAUCE! Jujube’s peanut sauce is nearly a libation, if not a revelation. If it wasn’t so thick, I’d eat that shit with a straw, sweet peanut sauce, with a hint of soy and just a whisper of chili pepper. Even Hussein Bolt’s track shoes would taste good drizzled in a liberal amount of this peanut sauce.

Jasmine Scented Rice Jujube, Chapel Hill, NC

Rice, Rice, Baby. I’m sorry I just did that.

When the server asks: “Would you like jasmine scented rice?” Remember to say yes. I understand, rice no matter how scented is rather pedestrian. That is, until you add peanut sauce. Jujube’s peanut sauce pairs with rice like French pairs with fries. Sure they’ve got dessert but we usually get our dessert in the form of a bottle of local beer. OK you caught us, a couple bottles of local beer. Although I’ve heard they have peanut butter chocolate mousse. We heart peanut butter, maybe next time.

Victory Pilsner @ Jujube, Chapel Hill, NC

Victory can be yours.

Coming soon: we’re taking the midnight train to Georgia, where we visit Ted Turner’s whim, Atlanta. Why Atlanta? Four words dear reader, Gladys Knight’s Chicken & Waffles, will they be as good as the waffles and chicken at Lolo’s in Arizona? Same time, same channel, we’ll see ya’ there, until then may the odds be ever in your flavor.



Tagged with: , , , ,