Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Trouble with Burritos...

They are out there…and we are about to be taken over-overrun in fact. I’m not talking about aliens…I’m talking about burrito joints. Let’s take a brief break from Deli December and talk about the proliferation of burrito joints. I am puzzled why over the past 3 years these places seem to be popping up with more frequency than “Tribbles”. The burrito places are the rabbits of the food chain.

White City Plaza in Shrewsbury is a good place to start. Essentially, you can stand in the center island on Route 9 and see Chipotle, Q-Doba and Moe’s, all of which make their money from the now-ubiquitous burrito. Throw in a Boloco and Baja Fresh, and it’s the Holy Quintet of burritos…

As I have written in the past, in the Metrowest, within a quarter mile of each other, Chipotle and Boloco battle for wrapped tortilla supremacy. I now lean towards Chipotle because I think the fewer number of menu items the fewer opportunities for screw-ups. But despite my preferences, I wonder every time I pass on of these places…why? Why now, why here? Have we learned nothing from Dr. Atkins and reducing our consumption of “white” carbs? How healthy is a flour tortilla stuffed with rice and beans and some meat? Despite containing a full “recommended daily allowance” of carbohydrates, it hasn’t stopped people consuming these football-sized meals. Moe’s features the “Homewrecker” a/k/a the “Toiletwrecker”. Even with such an appetizing name, people keep coming back for more.

In the future, I’ll be reviewing these in more depth. But someone please, share with me the marketing strategy that makes the Metro-Boston area so primed for burritos.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Deli Derailed...

I know it’s been a while, but I find it hard to write while in a deli coma…

As a reminder, I am another food quest…this time for deli delights. While I continue my tour of the best, and worst, delis in the local metropolitan Boston area, I’ve been distracted by a substantial home improvement project, and as some of you have observed, at the worst possible time of year; we are “moving on up”, but waited to tear the roof off our house until the temperatures went below freezing. But, the guys are doing a great job, and we soldier on, as I plot and execute my attack. For a little teaser, let’s talk about “Noah’s Ark” in the Lower East Side of NY.

Some friends brought me some deli take-out on a recent trip to NYC. Besides the pound of hot pastrami that we’ll discuss in a future post, I want to bring your attention to perhaps the most sublime item ever sold in a deli-the “stuffed knish.” For those of you unfamiliar, a knish is puff pastry or dough stuffed with something, most often potato or meat. Some places stuff them with vegetables, as if that’s going to make it less bad for you.

I enjoy a big fatty sandwich as much as the next person, but when I discovered the “stuffed knish”, I had moved to another level. Here’s the deal on the stuffed knish-first, take a potato knish the size of a softball, then cut it in half and stuff a quarter pound of your favorite fatty deli meat inside. Assemble it like a sandwich, and serve with a defibrillator. I had the pleasure of getting a stuffed knish with potato and pastrami, and another with caramelized onions and mushrooms. These pictures don’t just say 1000 words, they say 1000 calories!!! Maybe more.

I had the pleasure of eating these two monstrosities, with help, over a period of four days. Everything about these was perfect-the dough/crust, the potato filling, the tender pastrami, and the tasty mushrooms and onions…eating these were a party in my mouth! An orgiastic feast for my palate.

I’m happy to hear from you readers with your suggestions in the Boston area. I’m trying to get too as many as I can. Join me, with Jordan Rich on “The Jordan Rich Show” on WBZ 1030 AM Saturday night, January 30, 2010 when we talk about these delis, and I assure you, more about being stuffed with a “stuffed knish.”