Thursday, August 27, 2009

Suddenly, it's all about sandwiches

It must be the economy, but suddenly it seems like every time I go out to eat, it's sandwiches. A meal for well under $10:

Royal Grinders in downtown Fremont (next to the statue of Lenin). Their grinders are like a New Haven toasted grinder (especially if you ask them to leave off their rich sauce and just sprinkle on olive oil, salt, pepper, and oregano). $7.29 for a grinder and a soda — and these are big sandwiches.

Rizzo's French Dip on 15th NW in Ballard. As you'll see when you read the Yelp reviews, this place is something out of a short story. All they serve is lots of beef on a baguette, dipped in beef bouillon. $6 gets you a plain sandwich; there's also an option to add cheese.

RoRo Barbecue on Stone Way. Beef brisket and pork, most of it on sandwich rolls. Several types of sauces, including North Carolina vinegar style. A choice of about a dozen sides, including fresh succotash (with edamame instead of limas); a (non-creamy) cole slaw; corn muffin; and baked beans. Friendly, sassy service. About $8-$9 for a sandwich with two sides.

The Monkey Bridge on Market St. in Ballard. I have been disappointed with their main dishes, but you can't miss with their rich, juicy take on the traditional Vietnamese sandwich. Choice of chicken, beef, pork, ham and egg, or tofu on a baguette with mayonnaise, onion, cucumber, cilantro, pickled carrot, and daikon. About $5.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A healthy dose of reality

The Independent has the best commentary I've seen yet on the healthcare debate. Excerpts:

The political climate around healthcare:
It has best been summarised by the comedian Bill Maher: "The Democrats have moved to the right, and the Republicans have moved to a mental hospital."

Right-wing cluelessness:
Last week, one of the Republicans sent to disrupt a healthcare town hall started a fight and was injured – and then complained he had no health insurance. I didn't laugh; I wanted to weep.

Liberal conciliation:
As Arianna Huffington put it, "It is as though, at the height of the civil rights movement, you thought you had to bring together Martin Luther King and George Wallace and make them agree. It's not how change happens."

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

And it still won't chop parsley

When I lived in Italy in the early 1980s I had a little electric Moulinex trita prezzemolo (parsley chopper). It gave out in the 1990s, and I replaced it with a Black & Decker food chopper. The Black & Decker died recently (on a batch of pine nuts), and I've been dithering about whether to get the current Black & Decker or try the mini Cuisinart or a small Kitchenaid.

After spending a half hour this afternoon making pesto with a mortar and pestle, I decided it was indeed time to get another electric chopper!

Cook's Illustrated recommends the Kitchenaid or Cuisinart, as do the rankings on However, the reviews on Amazon made me uneasy.

Cook's Illustrated rated the choppers primarily on their ability to chop herbs, nuts and cheese. But Cook's Illustrated didn't take into account a factor that kept turning up in the Amazon reviews.

While both the Kitchenaid and Cuisinart mini-choppers had plenty of top (4 or 5) ratings, they both had a significant number of "1" ratings as well. People either loved them or hated them. But reading the negative reviews, I discovered that the disgruntled purchasers had no disagreement with the choppers' ability to chop food. What they were complaining about instead was durability — or lack of it. Apparently a significant percentage of both machines break shortly after purchase. Reviewers described at length both mechanical and electronic failures.

A few of the Cuisinart nay-sayers mentioned that they'd purchased the Kitchenaid instead, so I ordered the Kitchenaid KFC3100OB. It was cheaper than flying back to Italy — though I do plan to get a trita prezzemolo next time I'm there. Because, as Cook's Illustrated noted, neither the Kitchenaid or the Cuisinart do a very good job chopping parsley.