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.