Okay, first let me get this one straight, I like fast food burgers – a lot. But, that day finally came (and it comes to us all) when I thought “Hey these jeans are too tight, I suppose I should put on my fat pants instead” Only to realize “OMG! These ARE my fat pants! aaargh”.

That was it, the moment had finally arrived when in-between sorrowful sniffs the road forked in two directions. My lovely wife asks what’s wrong and all I could say was “nothing, sniff, sniff” and when she asked if I’d like to go out to dinner to cheer up I heard the voices on my shoulder talking to me. I had to make a choice. Did I?

A) Embrace the devil on my left shoulder and go for it whilst casually mentioning that all my clothes were so last season and we should go shopping together tonight too!
B) Listen to that long forgotten voice on my right shoulder saying “HAR, HAR, You just got reality checked! Now do something about it.”
Well, after another 5 minutes of futilely looking in the closet for clothes that fit, then seriously considering if the credit card could take the beating of a of new wardrobe of clothes I let the top button on my jeans stay open and finally decided that enough was enough, it’s time to take the second choice…but I was damned if I was going to give up burgers while doing it.

So, here’s what I did. After a year of eating out too much, and a new baby in the house I knew it would have to be cheap, so I cast aside thoughts of Subway and went to my old Favorite – McDonalds! The very next day I started myself on what I came to call “The McDonalds Dollar Menu Diet”.
I posted it to my Facebook page and at first my friends thought I was kidding until they saw the weight continue to come off, week after week.

For lunch 4-5 days a week (and a couple of dinners a week) I would have a McDouble, a Side Salad with Paul Newman’s low fat Balsamic Vinaigrette or low fat Italian salad dressing and either water or a large Diet Coke or large unsweetened Ice Tea. It cost me just $3.27 per meal including tax! I was filled up, had energy and a balanced diet. If I skipped the drink it was only $2.18 per meal.

This diet I chose and stuck to has put me from borderline obese back to the lean healthy figure I last had 10 years ago. Thanks McDonalds!

30 lbs later I swear that I never want to go back to what I was, but I still eat my “McDonalds Dollar Menu Diet” at least twice a week because it tastes so good. (Actually, I just finished another one for lunch…)

So, instead of blaming McDonalds for supersizing America I now happily say thanks for the healthy choices!

Gavin Fielding is former WWF wrestler and world sticky bun eating Champion. Gavin comes from a long line of thoroughbread mongrols and illegitimate bastards. His formative years were spent living in Hong Kong and the UK, where he developed his culinary sensibilities and learned to make some killer white rice.

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Hold the Gluten on my Cheesesteak Pleasssse!

by Jessica Fielding on August 10, 2010

There are a lot of foods that I’ve been able to live without since going gluten free because I’ve been able to find a passable substitute for them. Things like pizza, beer, french toast, muffins, etc…but I haven’t had much luck in the sandwich department honestly. They’ve all either been on super dense gluten free bread, lacking in flavor, or just totally underwhelming. I finally took my lazy self over to the Gluten Free Creations Cafe the other day and, and boy, do I need to tell you about their Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich!

I haven’t had one in nearly nine years, so this was a real treat for me. The gluten free french-style bread that it was on has fantastic texture and taste. The steak was tender and perfectly seasoned and had just enough sauce and cheese on it to make the bread oh-so-ooey-gooey and melt in your mouth. My co-worker Gary, who is not gluten free, came with me and gave it a thumbs up too, and he knows Good Greasy Eats when he sees them.

While the sammy was a little on the pricey side, it did come with a side of chips and I got to sample one of the most adorable little gluten free cupcake I’ve ever seen so it was well worth the cash. And, I didn’t have to ask a million questions about “what was on it, how is cooked, can you change your gloves, can you prepare it in a different area”, etc…that kind of piece of mind and sense of normalcy is worth a few extra bucks in my book!

Jessica Fielding, a Self-Proclaimed cheap ass and #1 picky eater has been following a gluten free diet for nearly 9 years and is the author of Gluten Free AZ.  Her new book, How to Score lots of Free Schwaag is due out this Christmas. 




Gluten Free Creations
7607 E McDowell Road #108
Scottsdale, AZ 85257
(480) 990-2253

http://www.glutenfreecreations.com/

Gluten Free Creations Bakery on Urbanspoon

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TessarosLast week I had a quick in and out trip to Pittsburgh and during my visit I was invited to lunch at Tessaro’s in Pittsburgh’s Little Italy section of Bloomfield. Tessaro’s is exactly the type of joint I like to patron; inside the old red-bricked building lies a place that just oozes old school Pittsburgh at its finest. When I walked in, I immediately noticed a mixed crowd of hungry businessmen and firefighters sitting at the counter. Upon entry the sweet aroma of Tessaro’s grill hit my nostrils and I knew that this was wise dining selection for a quick visit to the ‘Burgh. The ambiance is great too – classic checker flooring, wooden booths, and denim table cloths. Clearly a timeless classic restaurant stemming from an era before the chain restaurants took over. One note – please excuse the quality of the photos… I didn’t have my camera with me the day I dined at Tessaro’s.

My dining companion told me that this is one of the best burgers in Pittsburgh. I thought to myself that he made a pretty bold statement but I was up for giving it the Pepsi challenge. As I looked over the menu, my suspicion was confirmed that I would not find any small plates of bruschetta or rabbit food in this place. It’s all typical pub selections on the menu, and they also include some Ribs and Kabob entrees as well. All the burgers are 1/2 pounders, and include a choice of sides – potato salad, cole slaw, home fries, white rice steamed broccoli/cauliflower, boiled red skin potatoes or chips. While I was eager to order, I couldn’t decide if I wanted the Bacon Bleu Cheeseburger or the Gourmet Burger – I decided on the latter: Gourmet Burger, medium, red skin potatoes. ($9.25)

tessaros gourmet burgerThe food arrived about 20 minutes later – the sweet smokey aroma of the burger, the bacon, and the grilled onions hit my olfactory senses like a crashing wave. My mouth began to water. Then like a blitzkrieg I dove into the burger faster than Lindsay Lohan going into the slammer. It was truly sublime. The burger itself seemed bigger than a 1/2 pounder – It was cooked exactly the way I ordered it and maintained its natural juices inside the meat, thus the bottom section of the bun was not a soggy mess. The meat was juicy, lightly seasoned, and the ratio of lean beef to fat was balanced very well. Now, the beef is the star of the show but I would like to give props to the bun. I don’t know where it came from, but it was delicious and the texture was nice and spongy. I suspect Tessaro’s uses a fresh baked bun judging by it’s unique shape and size.

Tessaros burger bloomfield

Red skin potatoes fared well – they provide fresh melted butter with them, which is a nice touch. So in the end the verdict on Tessaro’s a positive one. I would classify this place as a burger destination joint if one were visiting Pittsburgh. One piece of advice – come hungry. Tessaro’s burgers are one of the finest burgers I have had anywhere. Period Final.






Tessaro’s
4601 Liberty Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
(412) 682-6809
Tessaro's on Urbanspoon

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Chino Bandido, the Brady Bunch of Cuisine

by Gary Weinberg on May 9, 2010

Here’s the story, of some Chinese chicken… served with different styles of rice… all of them had different sauces, the lightest one not very Spicy.

Here’s the story, of beans and burritos… some black beans, others refried. Both of them were very tasty, but also guaranteed to keep you on the pot all night.

So, this one day when the chicken met the beans and burritos… they knew that it was much more than a hunch… that this group should somehow join together, and that’s the way they all became my greasy lunch.

While I was developing this article I tried to categorize Chino Bandido. I went back and forth between Mexican and Chinese over ten times before I just put it under both categories. However, Chino really isn’t Chinese, Mexican, or Chinese-Mexican Fusion; it’s really its own type of food. Speaking of Fusion, what the hell is that? The only Fusion that comes out of Chino Bandido is the mix of ethnic food in your stomach that will prohibit you from any sort of activity while it’s digesting. Anyway, let’s get into it.

Chino is nothing fancy. It’s discreetly hidden behind a Walgreens off the main road. When you walk in you will notice that it is furnished with Costco folding tables and chairs, exposed duct work, concrete floor, and very little decoration on the walls except for an autographed Guy Fieri poster in the back. It’s pretty simple. Gentleman, a word to the wise: don’t expect to get laid if you bring a lady here on a first date.

As usual, I checked out Chino’s menu on their website before I left the house. I’m no rocket scientist, but you need a quantum physics degree to figure out their ordering system. However, Chino has attempted to make ordering a bit easier by implementing ordering instructions and a simulator on their website. The staff at Chino’s is awesome and will guide you through the ordering process and let you sample everything on the menu first anyway. If you read my previous post on Costco samples, you know that Chino giving samples wins hearts and minds in my book.

My first time at Chino I tried the Jade Red Chicken, the BBQ pork in a burrito, refried beans, and Jerk Fried Rice. The Jade red chicken was decent. It was like a General Tso’s Chicken on steroids. A fried texture; super spicy and super sweet. The BBQ pork was alright but a little bland. While reading Yelp I remember running across someone’s Yelp review that stated he loved the Jade Red Chicken so much that he was pissed off that the BBQ pork had to share the plate with it. Uh yeah, it didn’t bother me that much. The Jerk fried rice was pretty good as well… it included jerk chicken and green onions. Chino’s gets props for originality, giving you a lot of food, and making it easy to take home the leftovers. Once you slap on the cardboard lid you are all set to take it home and have it for breakfast the next day.

The best part about Chino Bandido (and best value) is the bonus they give you; the Snickerdoodle or Chocolate Volcano cookie (baked during weekends).

I opted for the Chocolate Volcano cookie and let me just say that thing was damn good. I will admit that the food was probably not enough to bring me back to Chino Bandido that often, but that cookie just might make it happen. And as for fusion, maybe next week I will try some Korean-Ethiopian-Chilean mix. You just never know.

Chino Bandido
1825 W Chandler Blvd
Chandler, AZ 85224
(480) 889-5990
www.chinobandido.com
Chino Bandido (Chandler) on Urbanspoon

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Imagine this scenario: it’s the Thursday before pay day. You’re at work, it’s lunchtime, and you’re starving. On top of it all, you’re flat broke and you forgot to grab that box of instant Kraft mac & cheese from your counter on the way out the door this morning. Sound familiar? We have all been in this situation at one time or another. However — if you’ve got a Costco nearby (and a membership), it might just be what saves you.

For those of you who don’t have a Costco membership or frequent their behemoth warehouse locations very often, let me describe how Costco samples work. It’s rather simple. During business hours, Costco staggers tables of freshly grilled, baked, or microwaved samples throughout their warehouse floor. Costco employs very nice

A Sample Droid at work

people called sample droids to man these tables. They are responsible for the preparation and replenishing of the samples throughout the day. When a tray of samples runs out, they prepare more, cut them up, and place them in little paper cups. Make no mistake, while they look human they are only droids, and being such they don’t say much else other than “Try [sample name]… Pick one up in the [location] aisle/section..” Some of them are programmed to tell you a little bit more about the product; like if it’s all natural or has vitamins, etc. Other than that, you won’t get much more information from the sample droids. Talk is cheap anyway.

Costco sample grazing is more of an art than a science. However, over the years I have developed some surefire techniques to make the whole experience a little bit easier:

#1 Scope out the situation – Any successful mission depends on good reconnaissance and a good plan of attack. First of all, know this above all else — Costco is hell on weekends. It could be comparable to the battlefield at Normandy. The parking lot alone is a clusterfuck. You will have more success scoring a free meal during the week. Once you enter Costco, you will want to complete a walkthrough of the entire warehouse, that way you know what samples are being offered, where they are located, and possibly to plan your meal in the appropriate order of dining etiquette (i.e. appetizers, entrees, desserts). For example, you may notice that there are samples of cheese conveniently located near the wine section. You obviously want to hit this area before the rotisserie chicken samples. If you have flair for Asian Cuisine, you may or may not want to hit the Sushi samples before the pot stickers, or vice versa. And of course, you will want to hit the warm, gooey cinnamon roll samples last. You get the idea.

#2 If you stop back, they will come - Don’t be discouraged if you come to an empty sample table and the samples are being replenished by the sample droid. Simply move on and come back at a later time. I know this may be discouraging if you have already put your plan of attack in motion, but think of it from a Vegas perspective. If a table is not a “heater” you don’t want to be there anyway.

#3 Assume attack position and move in for the kill
– Your first time approaching a sample table with a mob of drooling customers may feel something like entering a mosh pit at a death metal concert for the first time. Yes, it’s a bit intimidating and you worry about getting elbowed in the teeth but you will get the hang of it. Just remember to be assertive, but not too aggressive — nobody wants you knocking them out of their wheelchairs or running over little old ladies just to get a little cup of peanut butter filled pretzels. Remember, sample grazing is a contact sport, so recognize the rules and make sure you watch your elbows, shins, and toes.

#4 Wash, Rinse, Repeat – I’ve always noticed that Costco doesn’t provide drink samples too often, so you may have to work your way up front where they keep the vending machines and splurge fifty cents for a water or a soft drink. But this is part of the cycle; the key to your free meal at Costco is hitting each sample table more than once. Wait a minute. Doesn’t this violate some sort of sample taking etiquette? Probably; so you will want to be discreet about it. It’s unlikely the sample droids will notice your return since they are too busy preparing the next batch of samples as they are rapidly removed and eaten. I recommend attacking from the rear or the side on the second round. Just swoop in from the aisle, grab the sample, and eat it while en route to the next station. Be inconspicuous about it though.

#5 Use a disguise if necessary – It may be a little less obvious if you look like you’re shopping while grazing samples. You may want to grab a cart, load it up with a couple 50 lb bags of dog food, and use this as your cover while you complete your mission. This way the Costco attendants won’t give you the evil eye. Trust me, it works.

#6 Leave no man behind (or hungry) - The last phase is crucial — do not, I repeat do not retaliate from Costco if you still have the slightest feeling of hunger lingering in your stomach. This would constitute a failed mission. A failed mission results in spending money at Subway, or some other nauseating fast food joint to finish the job.

Remember, you’re out to score a free meal from Costco and you must maintain focus at all times. Once you have these steps memorized, you can consider your training complete and you are ready for the Costco grazing battlefield. Good luck soldier!

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No BBQ For You! – 1st Annual Chandler BBQ Throwdown

by Gary Weinberg on March 20, 2010

One of my favorite Seinfeld episodes is the Soup Nazi Episode. Let me give you a brief synopsis: the gang becomes obsessed with a new soup restaurant. However, this delicious soup doesn’t come without a price; customers stand in line and must follow the strict rules set by the draconian owner known as The Soup Nazi. If they do not comply with his rules, they are told “No soup for you!”

I was reminded of this episode today as I attempted to attend the 1st annual Chandler BBQ Throwdown in Downtown Chandler, AZ. When I arrived there were at least 100 people in line waiting to get tickets. The event was scheduled to run 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. However, the ticket booth closed around 1:30 p.m. (coincidentally, the same time I arrived ), and by 2 p.m. many of the competing teams had run out of meat, and subsequently closed their tents. To my dismay, as I gradually inched my way forward towards the ticket booth, a young lady came out with a megaphone and harshly announced, “NO BBQ for YOU!”.

According to Jess Harter with the East Valley Tribune, the competing teams were told to only bring 60 lbs of food, and blew threw it pretty quickly. I was disappointed that this event wasn’t organized better, but I was happy that Joe’s Real BBQ in Gilbert, AZ was able to accommodate all of the hungry, rejected (sigh), wandering, BBQ seeking nomads. Two thumbs up for Joe’s Real BBQ for being on their game, two thumbs down for the Chandler BBQ Throwdown for lack of preparedness.

Saved by Joe's!

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