The Sidetrack burger is #19!

According to this list of “The 20 Hamburgers You Must Eat Before You Die,” the “famous burger” at Ypsilanti’s very own Sidetrack Bar and Grill.

The Sidetrack does indeed have a very good burger; I mean, I don’t know if it’s a must eat before you die (that’s a mighty high standard), but it is what I often get when I go there.

I think such a memorable hamburger is really based on atmosphere and place and such, so for my money, the “best burger” is actually at the Hamburg Inn #2 in Iowa City. But back in those days, I didn’t think a whole lot about calories, fat levels, cholesterol, etc. Like I said, it’s a lot about time and place.

Damn you, Borders parking validation…

We went out to dinner tonight and followed it up with a stop at American Spoon for the excellent gelato. Dinner was at Palio, which was the first time we had been there, actually. Pretty good stuff.

Anyway, while the family was finishing up the gelato at American Spoon, I ran across the street to Borders to get my parking validated. I am accustomed to doing this when I am in this part of dowtown and I have to park in the deck there. If you buy something in the store, they will validate you for two hours. If you don’t buy anything, they will validate you for one.

Or, more accurately, they used to do this.

I went up to the register and the young person started into a well-rehearsed speech. “I’m sorry, but we no long validate parking without a purchase. If….” When he got to this part of his speech, I picked up a piece of chocolate at the register. “Oh, well thanks for doing that,” he said.

“When did you guys started to do this? And where is this posted?” I asked.

“Yeah, it sucks, doesn’t it? It’s posted here,” he said, pointing to a completely unreadable piece of paper posted far behind the register. “They’ve posted it for us but not for anyone else.”

“So, can I still get two hours if I buy anything?”

“No, just an hour now,” the kid said. “They told us it had something to do with competition from other places giving validation.”

“No one around here validates parking.”

“Really?!” said the kid, realizing that once again the corporate line from the Borders managers lied to him. At least I think they lied to them; to the best of my knowledge, there is no other restaurant or store or anything that validates parking in town. Someone correct me if I’m wrong, please.

Anyway, this will make me think twice about the need to go into Borders the next time I have to park in the deck. What’s the point?

For your Iowa City food needs

I came across the web site for John’s Grocery in Iowa City, IA today because a friend of mine (actually, the same friend who sent me the bit about the Monty Hall puzzle) sent me a link to an article about a guy who used to be a roommate to this friend, a guy who is now the wine guy for John’s.

Funny how things change. Now, John’s Grocery describes itself as “Iowa’s Epicurean Oasis,” a claim I suspect is reasonably accurate. When I was in college, John’s was a good place to get beer and that was about it. I guess they had some gourmet items, but since my cooking skills back then were limited to tuna cassarole made with Kraft macaronni and cheese, I didn’t notice. And back then, everybody referred to it as “Dirty John’s” because it was one of the first places in Iowa to sell Playboy magazine.

“May the farm be with you”

I don’t know if this is worth the download time or not, but it’s kind of cute:

(Grocery) Store Wars

Personally, I like to buy organic whenever I can and whenver it is practical, and I’m willing to spend at least a little more money on organic foods. But sometimes, it’s just way too expensive and/or impractical. I guess we all do what we can, right?

Will’s food rating system

We had lovely family dinner at Gratzi last night; it had been a long time since we had gone out to dinner, so we decided to go to someplace nice. A good meal was had by one and all.

Will’s dish of choice at Gratzi is penne pasta with an alfredo sauce (or is that alfrado sauce? I’ve seen both spellings), and he thought it was great. “How would you rate that on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best thing ever?â€? Annette asked.

“I’d say… 9 and four-fifths,â€? Will said. And he then proceeded to give ratings to several other foods. Here’s a selection:

Asparagus: 0

Regular Milk: 2

Licorice flavored jelly beans: 2

Broccoli with ranch dressing: 4

Hot dog with bun: 5

Strawberries: 6

Chocolate milk: 7

Hot dog without bun: 7.5

Gratzi pasta: 9.5 (or 9 and four-fifths, though this morning, he said that was a 10 too)

Vanilla-flavored milk: 10

Most kinds of candy: 10

“Waiter, I think there’s a drag queen in my pasta”

So, I’m killing a little time while eating this morning while watching this episode of Molto Mario on the Food Network. Mario’s show features three “guest” diners who ask Mario (what I presumed are usually scripted) questions about the food he’s cooking. Normally, the guests look like very well-heeled and well-goomed New Yorker yuppies, the sort that probably frequent his restaurants.

But this morning, one of the guests was a woman who looked kind of like Linda Richman, the Mike Myers character from Saturday Night Live way back when. Then she started talking, and she sounded like Mike Myers doing Linda. Okay….

Long story short: it became clear as the show went on that she was probably a he. Mario seemed unusually uneasy during the show, and at one point, he referred to his guests as “the fellas.” One of the other two men tried to gently correct him. “Ah, Mario,” he said, “you mean you two fellas.”

Mario’s response? “Well, let’s say two and a half fellas.”

As Jerry Seinfeld famously said “not that there’s anything wrong with that,” but not the sort of thing you’re expecting from a cooking show.

Check out “Pound”(y), and don’t miss the Weight Watchers cards

In the course of surfing around yesterday while I should have been working on my textbook, I visited this post by John “A Writing Teacher” Lovas about blog writers who got book deals. I’m mostly interested in this for “official” (aka, English professor job) reasons, but I thought I’d post here because it was that post that took me to Wendy McClure’s web site “Pound,” which actually is http://www.poundy.com. Apparently, “www.pound.com” was taken. Anyway, on John’s web site, there’s a link to a San Francisco Chronicle article about how it was McClure’s blogging that lead to a book deal.

McClure has a memoir coming out called I’m Not the New Me, which I know nothing about other than it is a pretty good title. But personally, the part of her site that will keep me coming back is this collection of bizarre Weight Watcher recipe cards from the 70s. What ugly food they used to eat.