Thursday, July 30, 2015

Breakfast Sandwich #31 & #32 - Pinkus McBride vs. MacTaggart's aka Sandwich Smackdown!

Sandwich: Bacon, Cheddar, Egg with Boar's Head Jalapeño Pepper Sauce on English Muffin
Location: MacTaggart's Market
Date: July 26, 2015
Cost: $4.39

Sandwich: Bacon, Pepper Jack, Egg on English Muffin
Location: Pinkus McBride
Date: July 26, 2015
Cost: $3.99

Neither of these places were on my radar for sandwiches until very recently. They are both convenience-type stores aimed at the people who live and work in the area and can walk there. There isn't a lot of parking near either unless you luck out and find a spot on the street. That explains my ignorance towards their sandwich options and also the reason that I decided to pit them against each other in a Sandwich Smackdown.

Pinkus McBride and MacTaggart's Market are fairly close to each other and since it was a beautiful July morning I decided to bike to both so I could double down on a sandwich review. MacTaggart's is just off Langdon Street, tucked in among the fraternities and sororities of the UW. It would probably be a great place for a part time job while you're working on getting your pledge pin. Pinkus is a little more accessible, it's on East Johnson Street near James Madison Park. It is not known if James Madison or his Vice President, the not-very-funky-looking George Clinton, ever shopped there. It's entirely possible that the funky George Clinton has shopped there.

It probably isn't fair to call this comparison a Smackdown since the participants didn't know they were going into the ring. Still, it makes for a better story. Really, it's all about the story here, which is why I'd like to get Donald Trump to do a ride along sandwich review. I'm not sure how he feels about breakfast sandwiches but apparently meatloaf sandwiches are his favorite.

I was going to try to get the exact same sandwich at each location but I didn't know what options would be available and then decided it didn't matter. In the end, the two I ended up getting were very similar.

Lots of options on the MacTaggart's menu. I almost went for the Fiery Chipotle Gourmaise.

The Pinkus menu.

I call this piece Still Life With Sandwiches.

Pinkus on the left, MacTaggart's on the right.

Pinkus, still on the left. MacTaggart's, still on the right.
The Sandwich (#31, MacTaggart's) - Bacon, Cheddar, Egg with Boar's Head Jalapeño Pepper Sauce on English Muffin. The menu to custom build your own sandwich is impressive. I wanted to keep it basic/classic style so I would be able to match it at Pinkus, but I had to get the Jalapeño Sauce. I like a little hot sauce on my breakfast sandwich and it's rarely an option.

The Sandwich (#32, Pinkus McBride) - Bacon, Pepper Jack, Egg on English Muffin. The whiteboard menu at Pinkus isn't as impressive as the MacTaggart's checklist, but they do offer more than your standard options, such as "veggies". They seem like a relaxed operation, they'll probably put anything on there as long as they have it on hand. Go ahead and order a breakfast sandwich with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups on it and see how it goes. I'm guessing you'll get it. 

If this were a blog on ESPN I would break down each of the sandwiches strengths and weaknesses, component by component, to arrive at my final ranking. I'm going to do that in a pathetic attempt to launch a career at ESPN, but, I will only work there if I never have to meet any of the on air talent. Whatever path my ESPN career takes, I will not attend the Holiday Party. I imagine that all of the television and radio hosts congregate in a corner and shout at each other for 3 hours while their spouses get hammered at the open bar. 

English Muffin - They were similar, and both very good, but the MacTaggart's was toasted a little bit more and had a nice light crunch to it. Slight edge to MacTaggart's.

Bacon - I think they were both Boar's Head brand. MacTaggart's definitely was. The deli case at Pinkus was heavy on Boar's Head products so I'm going to assume it was. The bacon on both sandwiches was nicely crisped and distributed adequately, but the MacTaggart's was just a bit crispier and looked leaner. Slight edge to MacTaggart's. 

Cheese - I went with cheddar at MacTaggart's for that extra little bit of cheese bite. At Pinkus I ordered pepper jack to give the sandwich a little heat. Both were melted properly but the Pinkus sandwich had just a bit more more on it. Slight edge to Pinkus.

Egg - Here is the biggest difference. Pinkus egg was fried, MacTaggart's was hard scrambled. I'm not sure that's the right term. It doesn't matter. By now everybody knows I like the chicken egg to be runny, but places that do grab and go sandwiches tend to not make them that way. It's either to save you the mess, or something about eating undercooked eggs. Both eggs were cooked well but neither were my ideal sandwich egg. Push. 

Intangibles - MacTaggart's was empty at 8:30 on Sunday morning and my sandwich was given extra attention - she even put a little sprinkle of black pepper on the egg after placing it on the muffin! The sandwich held up well although it was swung around in a bag while I biked to Pinkus. It was a thing of beauty when I unwrapped it at the park, I wish I had taken a better photo. The Pinkus sandwich was also made fresh although they had a few in the case ready to grab. It was a nice looking sandwich but didn't have the same eyeball appeal that the MacTaggart's did. Edge to MacTaggart's.

The Result (#31, MacTaggart's) - 4.18 pledge pins out of 5 pledge pins. This was a damn fine breakfast sandwich. The jalapeño sauce put it over the top though. It was a perfect complement of heat and flavor. I would have never guessed that you could get something like this out of a basement convenience store. I recommend getting there before the students return. 

The Result (#32, Pinkus McBride) - 3.95 not-funky-Vice-Presidents out of 5 not-funky-Vice-Presidents. This was also a fine sandwich but on this day it didn't measure up to the competition. Pinkus has the advantage of being near James Madison Park, which is an ideal place to eat a sandwich. 

MacTaggart's is the winner of Sandwich Bowl I. This is not a best of 7 series, it's winner take all. There is no trophy.

As soon as I'm done with this post I'm going to apply at ESPN to put together Power Rankings of sausages available at all the Major League ballparks. (They've probably already on that).

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Saturday, July 18, 2015

Breakfast Sandwich #30 - Burger King aka You're Livin' In The Past, Man

Sandwich: Bacon, Sausage, Egg & Cheese
Location: Burger King (East Washington Ave.)
Date: July 17, 2015
Cost: $3.79

What is there to say about Burger King? After "Have It Your Way" it's all downhill. To be fair, that commercial set the bar pretty damn high. Right out of the gate it's a gem - a short drum fill to kick it off with a walk-up bass line. For two seconds it sounds like it could be a Carpenters song, and that shirt that Dad is wearing looks like something Richard Carpenter might have worn. The song goes right to the hook and opens with the chorus.

Dad orders "Two Whopper Juniors" and the super pleasant and helpful cashier/backup singer is too nice to correct his grammar. Hell no, she is going to sing! She grabs that mic like a pro and you can tell this isn't the first time she has sung of brined vegetables and leafy greens! Who you calling a backup singer? This girl is frontin' the band, or at least the front counter.

Caught up in the excitement, Mom gets on board the customized burger train and goes a little crazy with a request for extra ketchup. Her face lights up like a Christmas tree when the backup singer tells her she can have it. I'm really happy for her at this point.

The Singer (I wish I knew her name, I'm pretty sure it isn't Darius) busts into the 2nd verse with slightly less enthusiasm than the 1st verse and I think she gets tripped up on the lyrics. It sounds like she sings "We can serve your bro-beef  Whopper..." but I think its supposed to be "whole beef Whopper", or maybe "browned beef  Whopper"? That doesn't make sense to me. It does look like she makes "B" sound with her mouth. Maybe its just the degradation of the recording but I can't really tell what it's supposed to be. Perhaps at the last minute somebody from the BK Legal Department burst onto the set and informed the Director that they couldn't legally say "whole beef Whopper" so he told The Singer (let's call her Chrissy, she looks like a Chrissy) to just mumble her way through it. Of course Chrissy nailed it - with a smile and pop of the eyebrows! Before she is even done with the verse she is handing the family their bags of food. Chrissy's got a good stage crew.

The commercial closes with the actual backup singers hitting the chorus and a fanfare of trumpets. We see each member of the family enjoying their Whoppers. It leaves me feeling pretty good and I'll bet that family had a really nice day too. We are left to chart our own path for Chrissy and her hat and all the great adventures they had together. It seems like there is a good opportunity there for fan fiction or perhaps a graphic novel.

I don't know if you can see that logo on the phone. They changed the "E" in Whopper to be layered sandwich ingredients. Some corporations change E's to sandwich fixings, some change them to American flags.

The menu case is broken and the top portion is flopped down, partially covering Meals #1 and #8. I should have taken it as a sign that things weren't going to end well. 

You can't spell "Sandwich" without S-A-D.

Drier than it looks.
The Sandwich - Bacon, Sausage, Egg & Cheese on a biscuit. Right off the bat I didn't have to make a choice between bacon and sausage, I could have both! I could have it my way! The singer on the other end of the speaker box wasn't actually a singer, she sounded more like an average fast food worker. She was pleasant, but not Chrissy pleasant (who could be, really?). I ordered it on a croissant at first but then changed it to a biscuit. There I go again, having it my way! This is fun. This sandwich isn't listed on the Nutritional Information chart and that's probably a good thing. Take this info and add bacon and watch the sodium levels soar. Nobody thought this would be healthy anyway. You can see in the photo that the sausage is kind of burnt. It was as dry as it looks. The biscuit was dry and kind of crumbly too. With those two items this sandwich didn't stand a chance. The egg was actually kind of fluffy and not dry but the cheese could have been a little more melted and the amount was scarce. The bacon was non-committal. This was a bad sandwich. If I had had access to a goat I would have given half of this to the animal as a form of research, but instead I ate it. You think this is all fun and games here? It is not.

The Result - 1.974 vintage commercials out of 5 vintage commercials. That awesome Burger King commercial came out in 1974 so that's the rating this sandwich gets, which actually is too high. I couldn't find any BK commercials from 1631 on YouTube so 1.974 will have to do. Something positive I can say about this sandwich is that it didn't taste nearly as salty as I thought it would. You might have noticed on the menu board the "meal" comes with hash browns. It's hard to see but they look like Potato Olés. Don't be fooled, I ordered some and they weren't the same. Mine were just slightly overdone but even if they hadn't been burnt I don't think they would have been very good.

I wonder if Chrissy is still out there singing about vegetables and she has that commercial listed on her resume. I hope so. I really do.

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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Breakfast Sandwich #29 - Marigold Kitchen aka This Is Not The Pinckney Street Hideaway

Sandwich: Marigold Breakfast Sandwich
Location: Marigold Kitchen
Date: July 3, 2015
Cost: $8

I used to work near Marigold Kitchen and it was a regular stop for lunch and an occasional place for breakfast. It's been awhile since I've worked in the area and I couldn't remember the last time I had been there, but I knew they had a breakfast sandwich that beckoned for a review.

Marigold sits in the spot where the Pinckney Street Hideaway used to be. There must be some kind of good mojo in that location although if I had my choice I think I'd take the Hideaway, nothing against Marigold.

This is sandwich review #29 and frankly I'm shocked that I've made it this far. Now that we're in the peak of summer I'm finding it hard to sit down to write these, which take far longer than you might think although that is clearly the result of my, ummm, skills. A friend of mine had a baby the other day in less time than it takes me to crank out one of these missives. Side note - Meriter Hospital, where the baby was born, has a build your own breakfast sandwich option, at least for those that are in the birthin' area. I received a photo of the menu, the sandwich and a short review. The sandwich was rated 3.5 placentas out of 5 placentas, with the turkey sausage as the major reason for the low score. I have just under 6 months left of this but I seriously doubt I will be able to top the placenta rating system put forth for that sandwich. It almost makes the rest of this research seem futile.

But, I will continue to chew my way towards the truth. I recently mentioned getting some blood work done and my cholesterol levels check out so I have no excuse to quit now.  Well, other than laziness, and the fact that my boat (The USS Over Easy) doesn't have Wi-Fi. I could be writing these while flitting about in the harbor but I would have to jot it down in a notebook with a pencil. That's just stupid.

I forgot to take a photo of the menu, luckily the info is listed online:

Marigold Breakfast Sandwich - fried egg, cheddar-spiked boursin, bacon, tomato and green onion on toasted ciabatta

That's a mighty fine way to start a holiday weekend.


Get that sandwich some sunscreen. 
The Sandwich - Marigold Breakfast Sandwich. One choice. I'm coming to really appreciate the single offering although places with multiple sandwiches could potentially get a second visit. Marigold makes great food and this sandwich was no exception. Bacon was nicely crisped, the chicken egg was fried perfectly and in this case a runny egg may have been too messy. There is a lot of the cheddar-spiked boursin and it makes for a borderline sloppy sandwich, but the ciabatta holds it in place. The tomato wasn't sad but it wasn't like the tomatoes we'll be eating soon.

The Result - 4.03 no-we're-not-talking-about-placentas out of 5 no-we're-not-talking-about-placentas. This is a top level sandwich but perhaps just isn't aimed exactly at my tastes. If I were going to tailor this sandwich for my mouth I'd make the egg runny, crank up the amount of cheddar for a extra "bite", use less boursin (which I gather is cream cheese) and perhaps put a dash of hot sauce on it. It's still a damn good sandwich.

I may have a guest reviewer lined up for a ride along soon. An actual writer-person. A wordsmith. These things are hard to coordinate so it may take awhile.

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