Friday, June 23, 2017

Breakfast Sandwich #95 - McDonald's aka McQuartet

Sandwich: Sausage Egg McMuffin
Location: McDonald's, Little Chute, WI
Date: June 18, 2017
Cost: $3.09

Nobody wants to read about another McMuffin. I know this. It still counts as research.  It's research I can totally phone in though, so I got that going for me, which is nice.

This sandwich came into my life as part of the same road trip that brought you Sandwich #94. There I was at a Mobil/McDonald's in Little Chute, Wisconsin on Sunday morning and I was facing down the digital menu boards. I knew I had reviewed the McGriddle as Sandwich #83 (in what I think is one of my finest reviews. It's a fucking masterpiece, OK?) and there was a sausage sandwich of some sort (Sandwich #66) and there was the another McMuffin way back in the early days (Sandwich #17) but I wasn't sure which one it was. I knew I wasn't going to get the Steak, Egg & Cheese Biscuit. This may be a safe space for unencumbered research but in my head there is a venn diagram that consists of "Steak" and "Things To Order at McDonald's" and you could sail an aircraft carrier between those circles (I think that means it isn't really a Venn diagram but we don't get into math here). It did not occur to me until just now that this would be my fourth review of a McDonald's product. This is embarrassing.

I didn't want to think about it anymore so I ordered the Sausage, Egg McMuffin knowing it was likely that I had already reviewed it.
The color of this is all weird from the tint of the car windows. It was on my lap and I didn't grab a plastic knife and wouldn't have been able to cut it half very well anyway. You know what a McMuffin looks like, right?
The Sandwich - Sausage, Egg McMuffin. I could have/should have ordered the classic Egg McMuffin with Canadian Bacon. It turns out I have not reviewed that, which is a major oversight on my part. Crap. The McMuffin isn't a bad sandwich. It's set the bar for grab and go breakfast sandwiches in the psyche of America simply due to it's longevity and ubiquity.

The muffin could have used a bit more toasting but the cheese was melty and the sausage had more flavor than my sandwich the day before. The egg was a perfect egg puck and was cooked through as is the practice at these types of places. 

The Result - 3.09 Accidental Quartet of Reviews out of 5 Accidental Quartet of Reviews. This sandwich hit the spot on this day but I was hungry and in a car. It wasn't great but I enjoyed it. It cost $3.09 so that's the rating I'm giving it even if that seems a little high. Chances are you've had one of these and you already know what they taste like. I don't have anything else to say about it. 

Epilogue - Now That I've completed this review let's compare past ratings of McDonald's items. This will be a lot of fun.

#17. March 29, 2015. Sausage, Egg McMuffin. 2.29
#66. September 16, 2016. Sausage, Egg Biscuit. 3.50
#83. February 2, 2017. Sausage, Egg McGriddle. 2.60
#95. June 18, 2017. Sausage, Egg McMuffin. 3.09

I don't know what it is that causes me to order sausage at McDonald's, I'm normally more of a bacon guy. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Breakfast Sandwich #94 - Kwik Trip aka You Be Trippin'

Sandwich: Sausage, Egg & Cheese Croissant
Location: Kwik Trip, somewhere in the Fox River Valley
Date: June 17, 2017
Cost: $2.69

I'm not a fan of Kwik Trip for reasons unrelated to breakfast sandwiches and I wasn't even aware they had them. I probably could have surmised as much but I never go there and simply never consider them for anything. That's not entirely true, I used the free air hose at a location a few months ago.

As a passenger on a road trip we stopped for gas and whatnot at a Kwik Trip somewhere in the Fox River Valley and there I learned they have a plethora of breakfast sandwich options. I probably should have taken a photo of the entire hot case, which was teeming with sandwiches and possibly breakfast burritos, since the Kwik Trip web site sucks and doesn't list the menu options in a convenient manner.

The hot case has informative signs with all the info you need to make your sandwich decision. Their web site may be shit but their POP signage game is strong. 

You may be accustomed to my crappy photos but you'll have to accept a further drop off in quality here. This was taken standing outside the store near the propane tanks which is why there is not the normal "cross section" photo showing the sandwich innards. 
The Sandwich - Sausage, Egg & Cheese Croissant. Of the many variations of sandwich offered I went with a classic with a twist. I've been on a sausage kick lately but you may recall I have lamented the use of croissants for sandwiches in past reviews. I don't think they make for a proper vessel and they often are too squishy to maintain integrity. For a grab & go style sandwich a croissant is a risky choice as it may not prove to be road worthy. We're all about risks here, clearly, so I went with this one. The real choice I made, the actual hardest decision, was to only buy one sandwich. I was fully aware that I may not ever come back and I thought I might try two varieties so as to conduct maximum research. Ultimately I made the selfish decision to stick to a single sandwich as I had a full day ahead of me and didn't want to feel like a rat trapped in a grease trap.

So, anyway. The croissant was shaped almost in a square which makes for a better sandwich than a normal, elongated croissant. I suspect they bio-engineer them this way for sandwich purposes and I have to give them credit for that. The sausage was more bland than I expected. For any fast food restaurant or gas station I assume the sausage will be salty and grisly but this was on the bland side, which I guess is better than grisly. The cheese was American and was melty from being in the hot case. The egg was the typical non-yolky-we-dont-take-any-chances variety you get from all these kinds of places that don't like to have any fun and make their employees wear stupid polo shirts

The Result - 2.69 I Probably Wasn't Going To Come Back Regardlesses out of 5 I Probably Wasn't Going To Come Back Regardlesses. This sandwich cost $2.69 and was worth every penny, exactly. My overall impressions of the sandwich were "bland" and "squishy". I kind of enjoyed the squishiness. I think it helped the whole thing sorta melt in my mouth and slide down my gullet, which may not sound good to you but it worked on this morning while standing in the parking lot. The blandness was less impressive as blandness is in any type of food or endeavor. It was an OK sandwich, and for the price, perfectly acceptable if you're in a hurry and have low expectations. A guy like me, I have higher expectations.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Breakfast Sandwich #93 - Panera aka Fool Me Twice, Won't Get Fooled Again

Sandwich: Sausage, Egg & Cheese
Location: Panera Bread
Date: June 10, 2017
Cost: $4.29

I had an early appointment on the east side with plans to go out for breakfast immediately after. When I learned that my destination of choice would not open for another hour I had to come up with a new angle. The only place on the far east side that I could think of that I haven't reviewed is IHOP, and that didn't strike me as a particularly good option. Still, I pulled up their menu on my phone to see what their breakfast sandwich offerings are. Things weren't looking so good. The only breakfast sandwich listed is the Ham & Egg Melt and that gave me flashbacks to the awful Moons Over My Hammy sandwich from Denny's. That was enough to steer me away from IHOP.

Potbelly's has recently relocated and I know that they offer breakfast sandwiches at some of their locations, but this one was closed. It turns out none of the Madison locations offer breakfast. Then I saw Panera. I had already reviewed Panera in 2016 but figured I would order something different and there could still be sandwich enlightenment.

Sometimes if the top part is a little crooked it looks jaunty and cheeky but this time it just looks like somebody doesn't give a fuck about their work.

<sad trombone sound>
The Sandwich - Sausage, Egg and Cheese. Generally I will order the bacon sandwich if a menu has options. I didn't look up my previous Panera review and assumed I would have ordered bacon, so I went with sausage this time. As I write this I am learning that I ordered sausage on my previous trip as well, so we have consistent data here for comparison. Or, we're just wasting our time. I have pulled up the link to the previous review but have not read it so as not to color my opinions today.

They don't offer choice of cheese or bread, which is odd considering "bread" is part of their name. They also don't offer additional toppings although they have them on hand. When you order a Sausage, Egg and Cheese sandwich that's exactly what you get. According to my receipt the cheese is a white cheddar. The bread is ciabatta.

The bread was nicely toasted and had an outer crunch I liked but things went downhill fast after that. The cheese was melted and gooey and was the overwhelming flavor here. The sausage may be the blandest sausage I've ever had. If you had told me later than it was a vegan-tempeh-fauxsage I would have believed you. There isn't much to say about the egg. Like all chain restaurants, it was cooked so as to reduce the risk of foodborne illness, which is to say there was no runny yolk. 

The Result - 2 Mistaken Repeat Reviews out of 5 Mistaken Repeat Reviews. I'm giving a point for the bread and a point for the cheese. This wasn't a terrible sandwich but it didn't have much going for it, it was mostly just bland. Everything about this visit was bland. The idea to go there was bland. All the people eating there were bland (SHIT! I was one of those people!) Next time I'll look at my old reviews so I don't wander down the same bland path. It's my own damn fault, hell, my previous review was named "I Think I'm Done With Chain Restaurants". If I had looked that up I might have just gone home instead of getting fooled again. Shame on me

Epilogue - Now that I have finished this review I went back to read about my first Panera experience. In both cases I used the word "sad" in a photo caption. Although this sandwich was assembled better I gave it a much lower rating. Reading the previous review the score of 3.5 seems way too generous. In the previous review I said the sausage wasn't too salty or grisly but didn't complain of the absence of flavor. In both cases I grumbled about the egg being overcooked for my tastes - nothing new about that, is there?

Monday, May 29, 2017

Breakfast Sandwich #92 - La Taguara aka Oh, The Passion

Sandwich: Breakfast Arepa
Location: La Taguara
Date: May 28, 2017
Cost: $5.99

My love for La Taguara is deep and true but I had not yet been there for the brunch menu. It was only a matter of time.

They have two breakfast arepas, a vegetarian version and a normal version.

Breakfast Arepa

Our specialty hot bun made of ground white corn filled with scramble eggs, ham and your choice of white or cheddar cheese

I also had never tried their juices but it seemed like a nice paring with a breakfast sandwichpita pocket, arepa.

I ordered the papelon con limon (sugar cane with lime juice) but she warned me it was very sweet and gave me a taste. It was a bit too sweet for me so she suggested the jugo de parchita (passion fruit) and gave me a taste of that. Zoinks! That's the stuff. 

I only have one photo but it's a good one. I should have taken a photo of the juice. It was downright radiant. 
The Sandwich - Breakfast Arepa. The only option offered is white or cheddar cheese. White cheese seemed more traditional so I ordered that, but I have no idea if that is correct. I suspect cheddar would be excellent on this as well. It might even be better with the cheddar. The arepa arrives wrapped snugly in paper so all your tasty morsels don't fall out. It really is a beautiful sandwich - look at it! The bun is lightly grilled/toasted so it has a tiny bit of crunch, but remains a slightly chewy, in a good way. The ham is crisped and mixed in with the scrambled eggs with the cheese sprinkled on top. It's served with a creamy sauce on the side. I should have asked what it was but it's perfect for drizzling along the exposed edge. I think it's a thin sour cream.

The Result - 4.70 Passionate Pita Pockets out of 5 Passionate Pita Pockets. I loved this sandwich, which is not really a pita pocket cause it's not in a pita, but I couldn't resist the alliteration. Who cares? The salty ham mixed with the eggs and cheese is just about perfect. It is a little on the salty side, which was fine with me, and the sweet passion fruit juice was a nice balance to that. The arepa is a hearty offering for $5.99 and while the juice might seem a bit pricey at $2.49 it's served in a large glass without ice and is worth every penny.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Breakfast Sandwich #91 - Farm Fresh Double-Decker Homemade Jobber

Sandwich #91: Bacon, American cheese, farm fresh chicken eggs, red pepper spread, Bay's multi-grain English Muffin
Location: The Laboratory
Date: May 9, 2017


I had no intention of reporting on any research from the lab but the invisible forces that control the sandwich universe had other ideas. In other words, somebody gave me some eggs. This came hot on the heels of Sandwiches #89 and #90 which were developed based on hot tips given to me by various lovers of sandwiches. Together, we are advancing the sandwich arts and for this we should all be proud.

A longtime reader, and provider of Sandwich #6, has moved to the country and is the keeper of a brood of hens. He contacted me the other day to see if I wanted some eggs for an upcoming sandwich review. (This somewhat answers a question that has been bothering me - what do those chicken people do with all those fucking eggs?) I accepted those eggs, naturally, and here we are.
Fresh from the farm. I knew right away I was going to cook up that green martian egg.
I felt that if I was going to go back into the lab and poop out another review of a homemade sandwich I needed an angle besides "farm fresh eggs". All I came up with was making a double-decker which would use up two eggs and two slices of American cheese. Admittedly, this is a rather weak excuse for denying you people a review of a real sandwich from a real restaurant. Controller of the Sandwich Universe don't care about your feelings right now. So here we are. 

The Sandwich - Usinger's bacon, American cheese, farm fresh chicken eggs, red pepper spread, Bay's multi-grain English Muffin. First, I want to point out that these eggs came from actual farm chickens, not some of those punk-ass city chickens that live on Jennifer Street and have a Bernie 2016 sticker on their coop. I was sure this would affect the flavor. (It did not.) I succeeded in cooking the eggs over medium so there would be plenty of yolky ooze. I did not use the Mason jar lid cooking method. The blueprint for this sandwich was simple: toasted muffin base, egg, slice of cheese, bacon, egg, slice of cheese, toasted muffin top with red pepper spread. I thought the eggs were just right and when I cut it in half on the cutting board I had my proof. Luckily I was able to easily transfer all that yolk over to my plate.

Fear not - the cheese did melt some more.

Double your eggs, double your yolk.

The Result - It was delicious but maybe just a little too much. American cheese is tasty and it melts beautifully but two slices paired with the eggs was a little thick on the tongue. The red pepper spread was added in the hope that it would help combat this but it wasn't enough. This sandwich could have used something vinegary to help break it down - pickle slices or giardiniera would have been good. I had plenty of yolk to mop up with the muffin and that was wonderful. I only went with a single layer of bacon so this whole thing wouldn't get entirely out of control. I think that was a wise choice. 

And that is that. I would like to promise you a review of a sandwich from a local establishment but I'm afraid it is out of my hands. I have resigned myself to play whatever cards the Sandwich Gods deal me. If you want to read a review of a sandwich from a restaurant I suggest you pray that the winds guide me there. Pray hard. Pray like a motherfucker. If you want to read reviews of homemade sandwiches (you don't), suggest a fresh angle or come over to my house and slaughter a hog and we'll make some fresh pork belly breakfast sandwiches. The neighbors won't like that but maybe we can make them a sandwich. They're nice people. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Breakfast Sandwiches #89 & #90 - Hot Tips aka I Swear This Isn't A Cooking Blog

Sandwich #89: Nueske's ham, smoked gouda, chicken egg, Cholula original hot sauce, Bay's multi-grain English Muffin
Location: The Laboratory
Date: April 24, 2017

Sandwich #90: Nueske's ham, American cheese, chicken egg, Cholula green pepper hot sauce, Bay's multi-grain English Muffin
Location: The Laboratory
Date: April 25, 2017

I've been getting a lot of hot tips lately on the sandwich front and I appreciate all of them. The first was regarding Bay's Multi-Grain English Muffins. I'm already a fan of Bay's but I hadn't tried the multi-grain so I knew I had to get on that. Then I heard that my local neighborhood market had Nueske's ham on sale for about half of the normal cost. (If you aren't familiar with Nueske's ham and bacon I'm not sure what you're doing here and it makes me feel a little bit like I've failed you). After that I stumbled across info on cooking an egg in a Mason jar lid to give it that fast food puck-like appearance. I knew I had to try that. Finally, I learned of the newest addition to the Cholula hot sauce family (and they are like family to me), the green pepper variety. Specifically, it was mentioned that the green pepper sauce is great on eggs.

On top of all that I cleaned my toaster oven on Sunday. After a trip to the grocery store(s), some time in the lab was clearly in order.

Although this is most definitely not a cooking blog the majority of the info that follows pertains more to cooking than simply enjoying delicious sandwiches. If that idea enrages you (which would be understandable) then it's best that you leave now or just skip ahead to the photos.

Let's talk about cooking those eggs. The larger, wide mouth jar lids are about the same diameter as an English Muffin and are clearly the right choice for this. The first time I tried it I didn't use enough cooking spray and I overcooked the egg a bit. This resulted in egg bits getting stuck to the edges of the lid. You can see these egg edge bits in the photo of #89 below, I peeled some off and plopped them on the ham. They look a little sad. I also waited too long before flipping the egg - I was waiting for the egg whites to set up before I flipped it and as a result the bottom was overcooked a bit. You can also see this in photos of #89 below. The egg is somewhat covered with Cholula original hot sauce but it's apparent that it is a touch overdone, at least for my tastes. I cooked the other side only for a minute or so but the yolk was mostly cooked through. Not bad, but not my intention.

When cooking the egg for #90 I used a lot more cooking spray, focusing on the edges of the jar lid. I flipped it when the whites were mostly set up. I used tongs on the edges of the jar lid and had a spatula ready to try to contain the egg should it try to escape. It held in the lid well but I flipped it a little aggressively and the yolk took a beating. You can see in photos of #90 below that I had broken the yolk as soon as I cracked the egg. They don't call me The Incompetent Chef (TM) for nothing. As with the last egg, I only cooked it on this side for a minute or so.

Aside from the broken yolk, egg #90 turned out much better than #89. You can see there is still some runny yolk. Overall I'm in favor of the jar lid cooking method. I'm not sure how often I'll do it but it makes for a beautifully stacked sandwich. Just look at those photos of #90 and tell me this research wasn't worth it. Even #89 looked good with the top on.

#89 Egg. My first attempt at cooking an egg in a jar lid. I have to admit I was a little bit excited about this.

#89. Egg bits that stuck to the jar lid evident in upper right.

#89. The top hides my egg flaws. That gouda melted nicely.

#89. The egg wasn't totally cooked through, but almost. 

#90 Egg. I broke the yolk right out of the gate.

#90. That turned out much better.

#90. Just look at it. LOOK! AT! IT!

#90. You can't beat Kraft American Singles for that gooey cheese effect. 
The Sandwich - Breakfast Sandwich #89. Nueske's ham, smoked gouda, chicken egg, Cholula original hot sauce, Bay's multi-grain English Muffin. I was worried that the smoked gouda would be too much with that delicious smokey Nueske's ham flavor. My concerns were unfounded, it blended nicely and had a good melt to it. As noted the egg was a bit overcooked. I like the multi-grain English Muffins, they have a slight nutty flavor to them and give the impression that perhaps this sandwich might be somewhat healthy.

The Sandwich - Breakfast Sandwich #90. Nueske's ham, American cheese, chicken egg, Cholula green pepper hot sauce, Bay's multi-grain English Muffin. The real goal here was to do a better job of cooking the egg. Mission Accomplished. However, I didn't want to make the same sandwich again, so I picked up some Kraft Singles and a bottle of the green Cholula. Those slices of American cheese melt so well and add a wonderful viscosity to a sandwich. They may not exactly be cheese but you can't beat the functionality and that salty flavor. They taste like a happy childhood. The green Cholula is also a winner - it has a bit more of a tangy, raw bite than the Original. I'll probably keep both on hand from here on out.

Results - These were damn fine sandwiches. That's all I have to say. This was an unprecedented amount of work in the lab for a Monday and Tuesday morning but the results speak for themselves.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Breakfast Sandwich #88 - Field Table aka I'm Flying Blind Here

Sandwich: Breakfast Sandwich
Location: Field Table
Date: April 15, 2017
Cost: $8

I received a hot tip that the facebook page for Field Table mentioned the first outdoor Farmers Market of the season and that they would have grab-and-go breakfast sandwiches. As luck would have it I had to drive through the downtown area in the morning and I had been wanting to get to Field Table for several months. I'm the kind of person that will only go to the Dane County Farmers' Market if I can be out the door by 8:00 am at the latest. Any later than that and I can't deal with the slack-jawed hordes of shuffling gapers. Having my progress impeded by puzzled people staring in wonderment at a pile of arugula sends me into fits of rage. I have accepted this and therefore my trips to the market are limited. It's better for everyone this way.

The written menu above the counter listed breakfast sandwich, but no details. They may have had a printed menu with more info but I didn't see it and I didn't ask for it. I'm not much of a journalist but I'm pretty good at eating.

At the counter they said they had to check with the kitchen to see if they had breakfast sandwiches as they sometimes only have them for brunch. Not surprisingly, at least for me, the news from the kitchen was that they were offering breakfast sandwiches and I ordered one to go.
I don't even know why I ordered it to go and then it came in a plastic container and I felt like a terrible person for having wasted petroleum products to make a container and I knew I was going to eat it right then and there. 

I was quite taken by those black and white sesame seeds.  

I didn't have a proper plate, or knife, so instead of the standard cross section shot you get a "first bite" shot.

The Sandwich - Breakfast Sandwich. As I said above, there was no description in sight so I didn't know what I was getting. What I got was bacon, a perfectly cooked egg and romaine lettuce on that sesame seed bun. The bun was fantastic, light but able to keep everything together. I swear I thought the black sesame seeds added a touch of earthy flavor but I looked it up just now and it seems that most people think the flavor difference is subtle at best. So, I'm probably full of shit about being able to taste the black sesame seeds, but the sesame seed flavor overall was a great addition to this sandwich. There was no cheese on this as far as I could tell. I thought there was some extra viscosity, besides the runny yolk of the egg, but I don't think it was cheese. Perhaps an aioli? If there was cheese it was sparse and light and melted right into the egg. The bacon was a little overly crisped for my tastes, it got a bit crumbly. I mentioned the chicken egg, which was perfect for me, leaving a bit of yolk in the container that I mopped up with the last of the bun. Romaine lettuce was a nice, healthy addition. 

The Result - 3.85 Mystery Sandwiches out of 5 Mystery Sandwiches. This was a good sandwich but the bacon was a bit overdone and I would have liked a bit of cheese (or more cheese). I think a sharp white cheddar would have really been something on this. I haven't been complaining about sandwich costs much lately but I think $8 is a little steep for this. I get it though, rent on the Capitol Square is not cheap. Also, I don't know kind of coffee they serve but it was excellent. 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Breakfast Sandwich #87 - Back In The Lab With Bacon & Pimento Cheese

Sandwich: Bacon, Pimento Cheese, Avocado, Chicken Egg, Red Pepper Spread, English Muffin
Location: The Lab
Date: April 11, 2017

At the risk of appearing as though I'm padding my stats, I'm reviewing another creation from the lab. Let it be known that I have made and eaten several breakfast sandwiches in the past weeks that I did NOT include here. Those were fine sandwiches but this particular sandwich merits inclusion due to the pimento cheese.

If you follow golf at all you know that The Masters Golf Tournament took place this past weekend. You probably don't care about golf but you may care to know that The Masters is famous for the pimento cheese sandwich they sell at the tournament. A few years ago I found a recipe and have been making it ever since. I searched for the recipe today and there are several versions online, all of which are probably tasty. Southern Living, some Chef Guy, and a weird Golf Unfiltered web site are just a few of the places that can tell you how to make pimento cheese. Take your pick. They are all a little different and likely not the real Augusta National recipe.

Anyway, I made pimento cheese and rather than put it on crappy white bread I picked up a nice baguette from Batch Bakehouse and took it to a party. As I was mixing the cheese I thought that it would probably be good on a breakfast sandwich and I knew there would be some leftover, so, here we are.

There is a lot to like here.

Ohhhhhhhhh BABY!

OK, so I overcooked the egg a little bit.
The Sandwich - Bacon, Pimento Cheese, Avocado, Chicken Egg, Red Pepper Spread, English Muffin. Specifically, Usinger's bacon, Roland Red Pepper Spread and Thomas' Light Multi-Grain English Muffin. The real bonus of using pimento cheese is that it melts so nicely and gets into every nook and cranny of your sandwich, and thus, your tastebuds. The recipe I use has pepper jack cheese in it so it has a slight kick. What else can I say about this sandwich? Look at it. It was beautiful. It was tasty. It should have been put in a museum but instead it went into my belly and I have no regrets. Wait, I do regret overcooking the egg a bit, there was scant yolk-ooze. 

The Result - Delicious. Just go make some pimento cheese. 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Guest Review - Ugly Apple Cafe aka A Former Colleague Ate A Sandwich

At the beginning of 2016 one of the goals I set is to have more guest reviewers. I've done little to foment this idea but still like the concept of other voices and taste buds offering their opinions. 

My initial concept of the guest review was to have sandwich eaters join me in breakfast excursions so we could volley witty and insightful comments about bacon and such and then distill them into cohesive reviews on this page. 

That isn't what happened here. 

This review arrived unsolicited and is for a food cart that I had not heard of. The author is a friend and former colleague so while I did not join him on this sandwich mission, I do have some knowledge of his tastes and expectations. 

It would seem that my occasional remarks about guest reviews do not fall on deaf ears (eyeballs?).

Colin said he wrote this as a way to dip his toes into the exciting and mystical world of a food blogger but I think he really just wanted to escape the drudgery of the day to day office life. 

The use of the word "ugly" as a way of branding your merchandise or services always seems like a dubious ploy, at best. Certainly there are exceptions to this premise. For every Coyote Ugly Saloon or Bumping Uglies, there is an Ugly Kid Joe [Did you know they are still an active band? - Ed.] or Ugly Christmas Sweater, which is an entire industry that caters to the twee concept that "ugly" sweaters are hilarious and ironic. They are neither. 

This raises an interesting point, though: Who is it that determines what constitutes ugly? It was Shakespeare who said "Beauty is bought by judgement of the eye, Not utter'd by base sale of chapmen's tongues" which seems like a fancy way of saying one man's trash is another man's treasure. On the whole, however, I think we can all agree that consumers tend to avoid products or services which evoke unpleasantness. One such place you, dear reader, need not avoid entirely, despite the name, is the Ugly Apple Cafe, though you might want to sample something other than the breakfast sandwich.

Curiously, the Ugly Apple Cafe is neither ugly nor a cafe.  In fact, the Ugly Apple Cafe is a peripatetic cart which serves aesthetically pleasing food. 

The Ugly Apple Food Cart (if I may) aims "To serve a fast and fresh breakfast to Madison, work with local farmers, minimize waste by using their overstock produce, and help Madison's less fortunate get fed." So, instead of one man's trash being another man's treasure, it would appear that one man's overstock produce is another man's breakfast. Here is what is on offer:

Photo stolen from someplace.

You can add (overstocked) meat to your (overstocked) sandwich served on an (overstocked) biscuit for a mere $1.25, which beats the hell out of buying an Ugly Kid Joe cd.  My sandwich looked like this upon arrival back to my office:

Hello. I am a sandwich.

The reviewer did their homework and provided the proper cross section shot. 

The Sandwich -- Chicken egg, sausage, and cheese on a biscuit. I do not share the opinion of the proprietor of this sando-zine that all eggs must be runny to be enjoyed; instead, I think fluffy and fixed-in-place are just lovely. [Ahem. - Ed.] Such was the case with this chicken egg which was bouncy and flavorful and buoyed on the biscuit (for a time, anyway). The cheese (of unknown variety) was melty but offered little in the way of flavor. So, too, with the sausage which did not have anything to recommend it.  Usually you like some sort of pepper or sage or general porkiness in your sausage, but none was on offer with this little puck. I can overlook flavorless cheese or even unremarkable sausage if what holds it together is stupendous but unfortunately this was yet another missed beat. The biscuit was doughy, not flaky, and disintegrated a few bites into each hemisphere. 

The Result -- 1.75 dregs out of 5 dregs. I appreciate the effort that went into buying castoff ingredients and recycling them into a re-purposed breakfast, but this sandwich needed more. Adding some salty cheese and increasing the butter in the biscuit making process would go a long way in improving this sandwich. Otherwise, one man's trash is just that.
Editors notes. I'd really like to try this sandwich as a way to gauge that rating. On my own scale a 1.75 is reserved for the truly awful, which this doesn't quite sound like.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Breakfast Sandwich #86 - Bagels Forever Redux

Sandwich: Salami, Egg & Cheese
Location: Bagels Forever
Date: March 11, 2017
Cost: $2.46

I first reviewed Bagels Forever 39 sandwiches ago. (Oh, a "sandwich" is not an accepted unit of time?) That visit was on Christmas Eve Day as I was waging a last minute War On Christmas and unlike many of these reviews was an unplanned visit.

This visit was also a last minute decision as I was in the neighborhood and needed a quick snack. It essentially happened just like the first time - I was driving down University Avenue contemplating a quick bite and realized I could take another swing at Bagels Forever.
It's not really jumping off the page at you, is it?

I don't know if this is poor photo composition or artsy.

The cross section photo does not reveal what we hoped it would. 
The Sandwich - Salami, Egg and Cheese on Salt Bagel. I was fairly certain my previous review had been of a bacon sandwich so I was debating between salami and Canadian bacon. I nearly chose an "Everything" bagel but those always look like a damp bagel had been dropped into a bag of bird seed and I just couldn't go for it. The bagel and meat are your only choices, they don't offer choice of cheese but they have several options on hand for sandwiches and would likely switch it up if you asked politely.

The chicken egg is not runny so that's a little disappointing, but understandable. The salami was a touch on the dry dry - they must toast it and I think it was in longer than it should have been. The cheese was a bit sparse. The bagel was not toasted enough and was feisty and doughy when I tried to cut it in half. It tasted great, and I would recommend a salt bagel for a breakfast sandwich without reservation, but this needed to be toasted more. 

The Result - 2.75 Sandwich Audibles out of 5 Sandwich Audibles. This sandwich was somewhat underwhelming. The flavor was fine, mostly I think I liked the salt bagel, but the texture was a bit chewy and it was on the dry side overall. The price is right (I think it was $2.75 but I'm not 100% positive) so that's the rating I gave it. Not bad but I wouldn't go out of my way to get one. I think the takeaway here is that if you had these same ingredients at home you could make a superior version of this sandwich.
Update 3/18/17 - I found the receipt for this sandwich and it was $2.46. Price has been updated.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Breakfast Sandwich #85 - Special K Flatbread Breakfast Sandwich aka All Lost In The Supermarket

Sandwich: Bacon, Egg & Cheese Flatbread Breakfast Sandwich
Location: Freezer Section At Your Local Supermarket
Date: February 19, 2017
Cost: $1.22 (4 for $4.89)

I was doing my normal grocery shopping and had no thoughts of breakfast sandwiches. Honest. I had one more item on my list before I was going to be on my way, and then I looked up and there was a sign, literally and figuratively, "breakfast entrees". 

Did you know Special K makes frozen breakfast sandwiches? I did not. I accepted this opportunity which had presented itself and chose the Bacon, Egg & Cheese Flatbread variety, although there were several choices available.

That photo isn't really selling me. This is clearly 100% pure research. 
In its protective sheath.

Post microwave. Mint for scale.
It didn't really cut in half so much as just smoosh apart. 

The Sandwich - I chose the Bacon, Egg & Cheese but was close to going with the sausage. I'll be honest, I don't think it would have mattered. It's hard to go into eating this with an open mind but I did try, although my expectations were low. So low. I think when they are creating these things in their labs they probably spend as much time on the smell as the the flavor. This thing smelled OK when it came out of the microwave but everything went downhill from there

I'm getting ahead of myself. You, the astute reader, are probably thinking "of course a sandwich made in the microwave will suck". You are not wrong to think that, but, these did not offer an alternative cooking process. The directions listed "in the microwave (recommended method)" and nothing else. So that's what I did. I guess I could have tried the toaster oven.

The pasteurized processed gouda cheese melted nicely. I can say that. Other than that this was more or less a squishy salt bomb. Looking at the ingredients we've got sodium phosphate, sodium erythorbate and sodium nitrate as well as good old fashioned salt. Given the flavor I was surprised to see that one of these is only 24% of your daily sodium intake. It tasted a lot higher. The spongy texture didn't help.

The Result - 1.22 Frozen Foods Misadventures out of 5 Frozen Foods Misadventures. The cost of this sandwich was $1.22 and that seems as good a rating as anything.

I don't think it's worth writing much else about this. Even for somebody who wants a quick and cheap option to eat before work, I can't envision them enjoying this. Who knows, though? Maybe I'm just a breakfast sandwich snob. (I am).

There are still three left that I'm going to put in the freezer at work with a note on them and they'll be gone within 48 hours, I'll bet. Maybe I can get somebody at work to offer a second, third or fourth opinion. That would be swell.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Breakfast Sandwich #84 - Porter aka Hey, Porter

Sandwich: Breakfast Sandwich
Location: Porter
Date: February 11, 2017
Cost: $9

Hey, Porter Hey Porter...ok, now that's out of the way. I'll take the low hanging fruit every time when it comes to writing these reviews.

I don't do a very good job of keeping up with restaurant developments in this city. It seems like there is an awful lot of flux and I'm just a sandwich-face-guy with a day job. This is to say that I appreciate it when people let me know of new restaurants, or sandwiches specifically, which was the case here when Lindsay Christians let me know about Porter.

Breakfast Sandwich | $9 Heritage farms smoked ham, sharp cheddar, red onion, stone ground mustard and an over medium egg* on a brioche roll (mixed veggies available in place of ham on request).

*eating runny eggs or rare beef might make you sick, but probably not.

I really like that runny egg/rare beef disclaimer. I want to have a t-shirt made with that phrase on it.

Pop that in your pocket and get along little doggy.

You look nice today. That bun really accentuates your ham. 
The Sandwich - Breakfast Sandwich. I briefly considered getting the Porter Pocket in addition to the Breakfast Sandwich. It sounds delicious but that seemed like too much for one day so I'll just have to go back another time.

Right out of the gate I like that this sandwich is described as having an over medium egg, so you know it will be a bit runny, which could make you sick, but probably not. (It didn't.) If you're going to offer a ham based breakfast sandwich it had better be some damn fine ham, and that is the case here. Nobody wants regular-old-sweaty-deli-ham on their breakfast sandwich. Sharp cheddar cheese always pairs well with ham and I'm a big fan of mustard, stone ground or not. In my review of Breakfast Sandwich #74 I extolled the scant use of red onion to perk up a sandwich and they have that going on here, which plays well with the flavor of the mustard. 

As a whole the sandwich has a just-too-salty-enough flavor that was perfect for me. The egg and cheese give it the viscosity it needs and the ham, mustard and onion combo is a welcome change from standard breakfast sandwich offerings. Oh, the bun. The bun did it's job. I don't want to take it for granted but that's all I have to say about it. It was admirable in its ability to allow me to cram bite after bite into my face. 

Note - I usually cut the sandwiches in half so you can see a cross section of the goods. This sandwiches height is almost the same as its diameter and I knew that if I cut it in half everything would fall apart. I couldn't have that. 

The Result - 4.8 Runny Egg Disclaimers out of 5 Runny Egg Disclaimers. A strong contender for Sandwich Of The Year, this one came at me with a bit of hype but it lived up to it. I will try the Porter Pocket one day but it will tough to pass over ordering this again. I can't say what would give this sandwich a score of 5. Maybe a touch of hot sauce, which they may have had there, I didn't look. 

Aside - I'm hoping I can get to Sandwich #100 this year. It shouldn't be very hard and it's important to have goals. I was recently talking with one of the executives at my company and he asked me where I saw myself in five years. I said I hoped to have over 200 Breakfast Sandwiches under my belt, literally, and then I laughed but I was the only one laughing. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Breakfast Sandwich #83 - McDonald's McGriddle aka McKu Review

Saturday morning taste test

sausage, egg and cheese
breakfast sandwich cornerstones
served on griddle cakes

three seventy nine
standard fast food sandwich cost
tax not included

stamped with golden arch
is there a branding iron?

maple syrup smell
olfactory sensation

by design, clearly
a trick to fool the taste buds
not this reporter

more smell than flavor
this sausage patty lacks verve
the cheese so melty

folded chicken egg
predictable like spring rain
yet I yearn for yolk

griddle cake breakdown
a proper sandwich vessel?
my sticky digits

now introspective
did this sandwich touch my soul
or give reach around?

an empty feeling
pervasive and incomplete
not a happy meal

two point six arch tats
out of five golden arch tats
I'm not loving it

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Breakfast Sandwich #82 - You Gotta Think Outside The Bun To Really Get Inside The Bun

Sandwich: Steak, Blue Cheese, Arugula, Chicken Egg, Sriracha Mayo on a Kaiser Bun
Location: The Lab
Date: January 19, 2017

I was entering the grocery store with my usual list of junk and just as I approached the produce I heard the calling of the breakfast sandwich. It was very faint but grew louder and gained clarity quickly. It soon coalesced around the thought that nobody offers a steak-based breakfast sandwich. (I'm sure somebody does, but I haven't seen in on a menu.) Why is that? This is a question that can be explored in the lab.

With that in mind I started grabbing items that I thought would make for a good sandwich.

At the time I didn't notice that little piece of blue cheese in the upper left but it looks so cute up there. 

I would eat that. Twice. And so it was done.  
The Sandwich - Top round steak, arugula, blue cheese, chicken egg, Sriracha mayo on a whole wheat kaiser bun. I knew the blue cheese wouldn't get melty and gooey like some cheeses so I added the Sriracha mayo for viscosity. I never buy thin steaks for pan frying and I was worried it would be a bit tough for a sandwich, but my fear was unwarranted. When I went to cook the steak I realized I was out of butter, I had dropped the last stick on the floor a couple of days prior, so I fried this in olive oil. Always remember - this is not a cooking blog. The egg had runny yolk and the blue cheese behaved as expected - it didn't melt but softened a bit. The kaiser bun was lightly toasted and barely kept everything in check, but in a good way. It squished and wrapped itself around the goods but didn't fall apart. I think this sandwich would have been OK without the Sriracha mayo but ultimately it was a proper addition. This was a perfectly sloppy sandwich which might be obvious from the second photo above.

The Result - 4.43 Positive Results out of 5 Positive Results. This would be a fine sandwich on any restaurant menu but I'm not sure the demand is there. I don't know if people would order it which is damn shame because I wolfed this thing down and went right back into the lab and made another one the exact same way. They say an experiment cannot be considered a success unless it can be duplicated, or something like that. Also, all the stuff was still sitting on the counter. I didn't take photos of the second sandwich, that would have been ridiculous.