Monday, September 27, 2010

Buitoni Shrimp and Lobster Ravioli with Garlic Butter Sauce

 This Shrimp and Lobster Ravioli is part of Buitoni's new Riserva line of frozen entrees.  Some of the other entrees in this line include Chicken and Mushroom Ravioli in a Marsala Wine Sauce, and Five Cheese Canneloni.

Garlic Butter Sauce Packet
  The best part about this dish is how easy it is to make. All you need to do is get a pot of boiling water. The ravioli comes in one bag, and the garlic butter sauce comes in another.  Just empty the bag of ravioli into the boiling water, throw in the packet with the garlic butter sauce, and in about 5 minutes your meal is ready to be served.

Boiling the Raviolis
     The flavor of the entire entree I found to be underwhelming. The Garlic butter sauce was bland with only slight hints of garlic. The raviolis were also quite bland, with the filling being quite flavorless. It's taste seemed very much like a combination of ricotta cheese and fish.
Finished Entree

 While this entree is convenient to make, I found the flavor to be lacking. That combined with the high price tag of $9.00, and I really cant recommend this entree from Buitoni. If you happen to find it on sale for under $6.00, it would make an ok option as a quick dinner for two. Just make sure to add some needed spices and some grated Italian cheese to the sauce.

Buitoni Shrimp and Lobster Ravioli:

Monday, September 20, 2010

Dollar Store Eats: Prem

 Being that we here in the United States are in one of the worst recessions in history, I thought it would be a good idea to review some Dollar Store grub for all you thrifty consumers out there.
Today's review is Prem, the dollar stores answer to Hormels SPAM, or Armors Treet. For just a buck you get 7ozs of mechanically separated chicken and pork goodness.

 Somehow they manage to pack a mountain of salt and fat into the little 7oz can. If you ate all 7ozs you would get 3115mgs of sodium or 130% of your entire daily value. As far as fat goes, there is 28 grams in the can, a truly impressive amount for such a little portion. Needless to say all health nuts, and well pretty much anyone should stay away from this.

When you open up the can you see this.

 Being a giving person, I decided to let my coworkers participate in the Prem sampling. There eyes lit up like children on Christmas morning. Or it might have been some other look in there eyes, im not sure. The prem was sliced into 4 pieces.

 Taste wise, it really tasted like Armor's Treet. Very Salty and fatty. We used to carry cans of Treet on my tank when I was in the Army. The main reason being you didn't know when your next meal would be, and the Treet would not spoil sitting in the storage areas of the tank. Being that I am no longer in the Army, I have no idea why anyone would eat this. You might as well go with Spam which is of a  much higher quality, and comes in a low sodium version so that your arteries dont burst immediately after eating it.
 My dog wasn't even that impressed with the Prem, and she is not the pickiest eater in the world.
Should I ?
I dont think so

  So if you are in the market for some shelf stable, fatty, salty, bologna, in a can. Then Prem just might be for you. Others might want to pass.

Prem: 2/10  
As a survival food: 3/10 (You might want to trap a rat first)

Bought at the Dollar Store on Camp Horn Rd
Price $1.00  

Monday, September 13, 2010


The original Pizza King
 Sir Pizza has been a family operated franchise in the North Hills of Pittsburgh since 1975. In just the past 3 years, Sir Pizza has expanded from its sole location in Ross Township, to two other locations in Franklin Park, and Cranberry. Sir Pizza is a franchise based in Muncie Indiana. The original pizza shop in Muncie is known as Pizza King and Sir Pizza incorporated was created when they decided to franchise out their business model in 1965.
Sir Pizza International now boasts over 200 pizza shops, with most being located in Indiana, Michigan, and Tennessee. 
14 Inch Sausage and Pepperoni
 There are quite a few things that make Sir Pizza unique in the over saturated pizza market here in Pittsburgh. The number one thing you will notice is that the pizza is cut into small squares instead of large triangular slices. Sir Pizza also uses smoked provolone instead of the traditional mozzarella . The toppings are all ground very fine and are placed to the very edge of the pizza. Finally the crust is very thin and crisp, not at all doughy and floppy like most pizza places.
The Fuzz Loves Sir Pizza
 The pizza being reviewed was a 14 inch sausage and pepperoni pizza that cost $14.40. A whole Crusader Hoagie was also purchased at $7.25. Never have I ever seen any specials or coupons in the weekly circulars for Sir Pizza. This however might be different for the new locations in Franklin Park and Cranberry. The order was called in and I was told it would be ready in 15 minutes. When I arrived at the Ross location 20 minutes later to pick up the food, it was ready to go and I was rang up quickly. A few notes about the Ross Township location is that they sell 6 packs of beer to go, with a nice variety of microbrews to choose from. If you decide to eat in the dining area which has about 20 tables, they also have beer on draft. It amazes me that the same people that have been making the pizza for the past 15 years, that I have been going to Sir Pizza in Ross, are still there. One of the benefits to going to a family run restaurant I guess.
Unique Small Square Pieces
 Anyways, on to the review.  As mentioned before, Sir Pizza is pretty unique. The outside pieces of the pizza are just as tasty as the inside areas, as there is no traditional crust. The toppings are evenly distributed to the very edge of the pizza. The sauce is very good, tasting natural, and perfectly spiced, it is not overly sweet and is applied lightly. The cheese is flavorful in that they are using smoked provolone instead of mozzarella. I'm surprised more pizza shops don't use different cheeses on their pizzas, as mozzarella itself is a pretty flavorless cheese unless your making your own, or you are using a real Italian buffalo mozzarella. The sausage is the biggest disappointment of the toppings being pretty tasteless. It is not at all spicy and Im not sure what the difference between it, and just plain ground pork would be. The pepperoni is very flavorful, and slightly spicy, and is finely diced and distributed all over the pizza. The crust is very thin and crispy. My eating companion and I agreed that the pizza is very unique and excellent. Do yourself a favor though and dont order the sausage, while not making the pizza any worse, it just does not add anything to it either. The small square slices are great as well. It makes for less sloppy eating, and kids will love them as well. 
Crusader Hoagie
Top of Crusader
Side profile of the Crusader
 While the pizza was excellent and unique, the Crusader Hoagie was plain and uninspired. The Crusader Hoagie is Sir Pizzas take on a traditional Italian hoagie. The Crusader is served on a 12 inch Vienna roll, which is an odd choice. It might be the only hoagie you ever get that has sesame seeds on the bread. In my opinion they should use a good quality Italian bread from one of the many excellent local bakeries in the area, or maybe they have to use the vienna roll, due to franchise restrictions. There is Ham, salami, and capicolla, on the sandwich and the amount is not at all generous. Cheese, onions, lettuce , tomatoes, oil and vinegar finish it off. The sandwich is baked and sliced into 4 pieces. While the hoagie is not bad, it is not really good either. The lack of meat makes it almost like eating a lettuce, cheese and tomato sandwich.  There are quite a few other places I would recommend buying an Italian Hogie from (including the earlier reviewed Jersey Mikes Subs) before I would recommend Sir Pizza.

 Sir Pizza is a great place to get a unique style of pizza not found anywhere else in Pittsburgh. It is a North Hills institution that has been around since 1975. They are obviously doing something right to have stayed open so long when pizza places have about a 6 month average lifespan here in Pittsburgh. While the Crusader Hoagie I found to be mediocre, the pizza was excellent ,and will continue to be one of my top 5 pizza places in the Pittsburgh area.


 PIZZA :   8/10

  HOAGIE :    6/10

Ross Township
320 Sewickley-Oakmont Rd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15237
(412) 367-1333

Sir Pizza on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 6, 2010

Trader Vics Original Mai Tai Recipe (Labor Day Special)

Trader Vic's is an American/Polynesian restaurant started by Victor Bergeron in 1934 in Oakland California. In 1940 the first franchised Tradre Vic's was started in Seattle, and new Trader Vic's started to pop up in major cities during the tiki and exotica culture fad of the 1950 and 60s. During the 70s and 80s Trader Vics suffered as people were to busy listening to Abba and doing lines of cocaine to realize how cool tiki culture is. But everything is new again, and tiki bars are once again becoming the cool places to hang out and drink.
Typical Trader Vic's Decor
Les Baxter one of originators of exotica/tiki music
   Some of my favorite memories are from visiting Trader Vic's in Toronto as a teenager. The South Pacific decor was something I had never seen before, and whenever you walked into Trader Vics it was like you were being transported to  some exotic place in the Pacific. The great memories of Trader Vics last with me to this day in that I collect anything Tiki I can get my hands on . Im also big into 1950-60s retro culture and exotica music from that time period but that is another story.

Vic Bergeron
 The Mai Tai was created by Vic Bergeron at Trader Vic's in 1944. Now there has been some debate whether a fellow tiki bar owner known as Don The Beachcomber actually came up with the Mai Tai first, but research shows that Dons drink was much more complex and tasted entirely different then what Victor Bergeron came up with. Its possible that while trying to copy Don's drink, Victor just happened to stumble on the greatness of the Trader Vic's Mai Tai. Well enough with the history, lets get to making the Trader Vics Mai Tai shall we.

  Trader Vics Mai Tai Recipe
5 Ice Cubes crushed 
Juice from 1 whole lime
1oz Orange Curacao
3/4 oz Orgeat Syrup
1/2 oz Simple Cane Sugar Syrup
 1 Dash of Angostura Bitters
1 oz Aged Jamaican Rum
1oz amber Marinique Rum
 Or substitute 2oz of  a good quality amber aged rum such as Appleton Estate, or Cruzan aged rum which is a real bargain for its quality.
  So we start with the crushed ice in the cocktail shaker.

Add the juice from 1 lime. For the love of god do not use lime juice from concentrate, or even worse Roses lime juice which has its uses, but not one of them is replacing fresh lime juice. 

Next add your Rum

Then add the Orgeat Syrup and Simple Sugar Syrup. In case your wondering Orgeat is an almond flavored syrup that you can find in places where flavored coffee syrups are found.

Finally add a dash of Angostura Bitters.  

 Shake for 10 seconds.
There you have it, a Mai Tai, a truly classic American Cocktail.

  Garnish your Mai Tai with a Maraschino Cherry, a wedge of lime, drink umbrella, etc.

  You can buy your authentic Trader Vic's Mai Tai glasses at there company store.

Dont you dare
  Warning to Pittsburghers, Orange Curacao is not available through Pennsylvania's archaic liquor distribution system. Blue Curacao is available and has the same flavor as the orange, but it makes for a green Mai Tai, and who the hell wants a green Mai Tai. My Orange Curacao was picked up in Ohio.