Saturday, July 30, 2011


It’s really an amazing world we live in these days. You can meet people from all parts. Often times these friends that you “meet” you don’t actually meet. Ever. With modern social networking people from all over the globe have become friends because they share a common interest yet never breathe the same air. I myself have made several friends this way and as some of you know, even met my wife. Yes, Mrs. Sippi is so named because she lived in, you guessed it, Mississippi. We met one afternoon in a hockey chat room. We became friends, a spark was lit, we met, fell in love and the rest as they say is history.
Some people take these online relationships to the extreme and others such as myself find that a nice balance can be met between the real world and the cyber world friends. On occasion, I like to meet some of these online friends. To put a face and a voice to the words I see on my computer screen. I had such an occasion recently. Being near DC and a cyber friend I though actually meeting face to face would be a nice thing to do. Honestly, it’s not that scary. Most of the time the people you meet are just nice people such as yourself. They aren’t murderers or cling-ons. They’re not out to invade or ruin your life. They’re just people you’d befriend if your proximity was closer.
When Alk suggested we meet at an Arlington institution known as the Quarterdeck for some steamed Maryland crabs I jumped at the idea. Mrs. Sippi and I are huge fans of all meats that swim. (Or crawl in the water as is the case here.) She made us a reservation on the patio where we and our significant others gobbled up crabs and drank beer until way past my bedtime. We had a great time and can’t wait to do it again.
The Quarterdeck is a bit of a ramshackle place about two blocks away from the impressive Arlington National Cemetery. The interior isn’t much to look at although I did like the bar area we retired to after dinner. The patio was absolutely the place to be. Even with the temperature in the mid 90’s when we arrived, sitting on the deck with piles of crabs in front of you and the beer flowing was just an incredible way to spend a hot summer (Saturday) night. Jammed in elbow to elbow there’s just enough room to maneuver but catching some shrapnel from another table is a definite possibility (not to mention your own). So dress accordingly.
This is pretty much an eat with your hands place. I’m not even sure if they had cutlery. Wings, nachos and of course crabs dominate the menu. Even our sampler platter had tooth picks not forks.

But enough of this, let’s get crabby.

We started off with a sampler platter that was more or less forgettable. Fried oysters, shrimp, scallops and crab balls. The best part was the scallops. Pass.
The house battered onion rings were fantastic though. They hit the mark across the board for me. Thicker sliced onions and beer batter that passed the pinch and pull tests. (Hold a ring at polar ends and pinch together. The breading should still stick. Pull apart and the onion should not slide out.) I like to dip mine in ketchup.
The piece de resistance. The crabs. 2 dozen (best thing to do is stagger them a dozen at a time) large Maryland steamed crabs liberally seasoned with Old Bay. We got a quick lesson from the guys at a neighbouring table and more or less it’s as follows.
Rip off the claws and set aside.
Rip off the legs and discard. (Don’t bother with them there precious little meat.)
Remove the apron (the pointy part on the bottom of the crab.)
Hold shell side down and separate the shell and body. (There’s goodies in the shell. Mostly juice and fat that I’m told it’s not for the squeamish but I loved it.)
Break the two sides in half and pick out the meat.
Break open the claws and eat the meat.
We got drawn butter with it. The meat was great with it. It was great without it. It was absolutely phenomenal any way you ate it.
Wash it all down with a pitcher or two of Yuengling lager on tap.
You can find the Quarterdeck at 1200 Fort Meyer Dr. in Arlington, Va.

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You can also find them on the web here or like them on facebook here.
 Quarterdeck Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Well that’s all from the food court patio for today folk. Time to wash up.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Good Food Ain’t Cheap…..

…..Cheap food ain’t good.

That’s the motto of Chubby’s BBQ owner Tom “Dr. Smoke” Caufield. Tom believes in providing top notch food and will toss out inferior product before serving it. It’s this dedication to quality that customers have come to expect. It’s what pushes Tom to continually improve.
Blessed with an ability to cook and absolutely no restaurant experience Tom dove headlong into the business at the age of 50. He admits to having a few ups and downs at first but as time has gone along, he’s built a reputation for serving some great chow. Tom has also been carving out a reputation as a shameless self promoter. Being awarded the “Tom Caufield excellence in BBQ” title several months running. He also promotes himself as a “Great friend to rich, lonely women especially if they own a liquor store.” Yes, Tom is a bit of a card. He’s always laughing, joking or just plain smiling. When he’s not out roaming the dining room, mingling with customers he’s in the kitchen playing, sampling, testing, inventing. Owning a restaurant gives him plenty of time to tinker with recipes and combinations. Always searching for that next menu or specials board item. Something any cook loves to do.

Born and raised in DC Tom went out to California seeking his fortune. The lure of home was too great though. In the late 80’s he returned to the house that had been in his family since the 1800’s. Tom bought out his siblings and has lived there ever since. He of course needed to keep busy so he founded Chubby’s BBQ and hasn’t looked back (or west) since.

Tom’s place sits about 15 minutes south of Gettysburg  and just over of the Mason Dixon Line.
The smell of pig fat and smoke lingers in the air. The spacious dining room has the requisite smiling faces of the various celebrities to have enjoyed his food and a story or two.
We had a discussion on woods we use to smoke. I like a heavier smoke on my BBQ and use hickory and apple wood mostly to achieve this. For Tom is hickory mixed with white oak for a more mild smoke flavour. I will state up front that the smoke level in the food is less than I prefer but that’s simply a personal preference and not indicative of the food quality. One other thing, Tom loves garlic. A personal preference I fully support.

But enough of all this, forward, eat.

The majority of Tom’s menu revolves around southern BBQ and other such pig related items. He does offer things like burgers, dogs and some pretty terrific looking soups.

Mrs. Sippi and I had a nice array of goodies which are as follows.
I had the sample platter: Brisket, pulled pork and back ribs. The pork was very tender with a good rich, piggy taste to it. He scores big marks for not “Saucing it.” A simple top dress was perfect. The ribs were quite good. I’m more of a side rib guy for BBQ but these were some of the better BBQ baby back’s I’ve had. Again, Tom takes it easy with the sauce which is nice. You can always add more. The brisket was the real surprise though. Tender, juicy and what really made it for me, garlicky.
Mrs. Sippi went with the pork belly platter. A half pound of uncured, thick cut, smoked bacon that’s then crisped up, seasoned and served. It was fantastic. It tasted of bacon but not as salty and was nice and crunchy on the outside but still tender on the inside. Just as we finished another gentleman came buy and told Tom how much he enjoyed his pork belly dinner.
Among our 4 sides 2 really stood out. The greens were very tasty and had a surprising (or maybe not) garlic hint to them. Not to be out done the smoked baked beans were some of the best beans I’ve had. 

As Tom and I talked he’d have one of the girls run back to the kitchen and come out with a little sample for us.
The sausage was fantastic. Known as the “Alamo Dog” it’s a garlic and jalapeno sausage with “Special sauce” which was like a rosemary Alfredo with a surprise, surprise garlic hit that complimented it all very well.
He also offered up his version of pit beef since we were on the topic. This Baltimore area specialty is the local equivalent to Buffalo’s beef on weck or Chicago’s Italian beef. It was beefy, tender and juicy. (As you can see we only sampled the meat.)
Tom makes 5 different sauces and all were very good. I ended up using a bit of the hot. His hot wasn’t all that hot nor was his volcano over the top. I’m not big on spicy BBQ sauce anyway so the little bit of zing was fine with me.
So if you’re ever in Gettysburg or the surrounding area and looking for some great food and cold beer served in a mason jar, Chubby’s may just be the place for you.
You can visit Chubby’s BBQ at 16430 Old Frederick Rd. in Emmitsburg, Md.

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You can also visit their website here.
 Chubby's Barbeque on Urbanspoon

Well that’s all for now food fans. About, face…..


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Toronto Style Burritos

As you may recall I decided to start voicing my opinion on the state of the burrito scene in my native Toronto. Often slogged for not having good burritos I was particularly miffed with a piece Iby a San Francisco writer (which I can no longer find). He cut a pretty wide swath of things he didn’t like which just makes me wonder what, if anything, he likes that isn’t from San Fran. The simple fact is, we must be doing something right if people regularly line up at 4am in February in Canada for a burrito.
No, we don’t make Mission style burritos. No, we don’t make California style burritos. We don’t even make traditional Mexican burritos either. Nope, we make Toronto style burritos. 
The grilled burritos we make here really took off in the middle of the last decade. That’s when Burrito Boyz opened its original location in the basement of a Vicotrian home on Peter St. in the heart of Toronto’s Entertainment (club) district. When the bars let out people want to eat. BB stayed open ‘til the wee hours of the morning on weekends serving what co founder Joe Vassallo calls “Drunk Food.”
A second store around the corner in the tiny basement unit on Adelaide St would follow.  The new location, still in the entertainment district is close to the financial district and all it’s offices. The Rogers Center and it’s events and a growing number of condos. Location, location, location.
Co founder Ian Angus has since sold his stake in the business and the original Peter St. location was closed.
While larger than it’s original digs the Adelaide shop is still small. Most times the line up extends out the door and onto the street. 20 or so seats inside are constantly in use and the waiting area is full. The kitchen and prep staff work feverishly to keep up and do a fine job at it. They take pick up orders and even have premade chicken or beef burritos with everything (hot sauce on the side) for those in a rush.
Your choices are beef, chicken, bean and cheese, veggie soy, halibut, haddock and shrimp. The usual cast of characters are offered up as condiments (toppings, fillings, whatever you want to call them) and white or whole wheat tortillas in two different sizes wrap the whole thing up. All items are available as quesadillas as well.
So on to the food we go. I had steak and Mrs. Sippi had shrimp. Both burritos held together right up until the very last bite which is a sign of a good burrito. You can have medium or hot sauce if you choose. I sampled the hot and didn’t find it particularly spicy. It does however creep up on you so beware.

My steak burrito with everything (except green pepper) and hot sauce was excellent. The fruity hot sauce was right at the top end of the heat scale for what I’d like to see. Its heat didn’t overpower the other flavours but did pack a bit of a wallop. The steak had a good beef flavour and was very tender and plentiful.
Mrs. Sippi’s shrimp burrito was even better. She didn’t have hot sauce on her’s and it was equally good without it. The shrimp were very tasty, perfectly cooked and they didn’t cheap out on them either.
So all in all, Burrito Boyz is as good a burrito as you’ll get in Toronto. So popular they’ve now reached 9 locations in southern Ontario. Vassallo has been careful to keep as much control as possible. As is usually the case though, the (new) original location is still the best.

You can find Burrito Boyz entertainment district location at 218 Adelaide St. W. or one of their other locations here.

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You can also find them on facebook as well.
 Burrito Boyz - Entertainment District on Urbanspoon

That’s it for today people. Take care and happy eating.