Weird Crap I Cook: The Mercato Centrale Manwich

To start, I’d like to compare this poorly trafficked and regularly unpleasant to read food blog to one of the greatest bands of all time; Pink Floyd.  Not every attempt to create a new dish is going to be a masterpiece like The Wall or Dark Side of the Moon, there is going to be an occasional Ummagumma.  Actually, I’m not comfortable with that comparison, I’ve never cooked anything that was as god awful as that ear-ulcer of an album.  Kicking off the post with a statement then disagreeing with it, comin’ in hot!

Anyhoo, as documented in our Italy trip recap from August 2010, they make a pretty amazing tripe sandwich at the food carts by the Mercato Centrale in Florence.  Cow stomach braised until tender in a broth with lots of garlic, hot chilis and tomatoes, then served with cooked greens on an Italian roll.

I forgot how massive that sandwich was. I have hands that closely resemble an albino E.T., yet they were dwarfed by that huge organ sammie

You could tell you were eating offal, but the flavor from the braising was amazing and there were none of the funky flavors that occasionally come with stomach or intestines.  Like a hot dog in NYC or a cheesesteak in Philly, it’s the type of famous street food you have to try when in another city.

Speaking of Philly, George’s Sandwich Shop on the edge of the Philadelphia Italian Market is a famous joint that serves up what they call a traditional Italian tripe sandwich.  To put their own spin on it, they offer it mixed with braised tongue, peppers, and onions.  Obviously, I had to try it.

Visually I'm not giving this sandwich a fair shake since this is after making the mile and a half walk home from the market wrapped in foil and viciously swung about by my wildly swinging arms. On the other hand, it still might look better than it tasted

Look, there is no way that place would still be in business if my sandwich was representative of how things taste usually.  This sandwich was the opposite of the Florence version in that the stomach was chewy and there was no doubt you were eating part of the digestive tract.  To be honest, it tasted a little poopy.  Even the tongue, tomatoes, peppers and onions, which are all pretty strong in flavor, couldn’t overpower it.  Only made it through a few bites on that one.

What stuck with me after sampling George’s take on tripe was how completely illogical it seemed.  It just didn’t seem like that difficult of an item to get right.  I knew I would have to make it someday.

But what does that have to do with a Manwich?  DB superfriend Lenny Leonard was visiting Boston a couple weeks ago and requested that I take my best shot at a different take on a Manwich.  My Pink Floyd, “lets make a concept album that features an 8 minute ‘song’ with nothing but animal noises and human grunts”-decision was trying to merge the Manwich challenge with the George’s re-creation.  Oh well, lets start with the tongue.

Here's the exact order I placed with David at Snow Farm in Vermont via email, "a few pounds of the beef tongue and all of the lamb/goats tongues. I'd also take a couple pounds of the goat and lamb hearts". It's like Christmas in March for my readers!

The general plan was to boil the tongue for a few hours until it was tender and could be peeled, then boiling the stomach separately, and combining them together in a Manwich-like sauce to braise.

For those unfamiliar with tongue, that outer skin is why it needs to be peeled. Thick rubbery stuff. This and the rest of my meat order from Snow Farm was left on the roof of a car in a driveway in suburban Lexington, MA for me to pick up. Pretty awesome way to procure some meat

I despised Manwiches growing up and have never come around on them at all.  I remember the taste being way too sweet with the artificial ketchup-like sauce and way too sloppy.  So that’s what I was working with from a perspective of the flavors I was going to attempt to match.

The tongue headed into a pot of boiling salted water after cutting in half to ensure it would fit.  After about 3 hours, some of the fat had cooked out into the liquid and the meat looked fully cooked.

I should admit that I started cooking this the night before, prior to learning how long it would need to boil. Had to stop halfway through and finish the next morning. Janet makes me extremely tired but I never know my limits until I'm falling asleep standing up with a giant tongue boiling on the stove. But I won't bore you with that since you've likely heard that exact sentence from hundreds of other dads

The tongue had been fully cooked for a couple hours, but the extra time is needed so that the outer layer is easy to peel off.

The olllld "take a picture of food that grosses out most people in awful lighting to make it even more grey and unappealing" trick. I practically invented that trick

After the peeling. Remarkably easy to do, the skin was almost like leather. No idea why I positioned the pieces next to each other to look like a pair of shoes aside from probably having some subliminal recognition that it looked like a couple shoes

At this point my plan was to cube the tongue and place it into a pot to braise in the Pete’s take on the Manwich sauce for another hour or so.  I didn’t give enough thought to how to cut the tongue though, and ended up slicing it in a way that would make some very big cubes.

Terrible judgement begins about now. Tongue is best when sliced thin since the flavor is far more enjoyable than the texture. Should have cut it thinner to make smaller cubes

With the tongue ready, let’s talk tripe.  I took the stomach pieces out of the package, rinsed with water and salt then stood staring at it while shielding the offensive offal from our guests with my ample stomach.

Not that disturbing to look at, mainly because the grocery store version is boiled and bleached prior to sale. Gets rid of the stomach smell, but kinda gross that you could smell a hint of the bleach. Plus, the texture is almost furry. Please wait 'til you're finished reading to sprint to the grocer to buy yourself some

While the tripe boiled for 30 minutes, I put a few ribs of celery, a bell pepper, 5-6 cloves of garlic, and a couple baby carrots into the food processor.

Either the lighting in our kitchen is getting worse or my increasing mass is eclipsing every last bit of overhead light in these pictures. I'll go with the former, damn you high efficiency bulbs!

After loading up the processor, I heated some olive oil on the stovetop in ‘lil blue.  After blending, I dumped in a chopped medium onion and the processor contents, cooking until they became fragrant (or about 10 minutes).  Then the cubed tongue went in with salt & pepper.

Poorly chopped onions and stirring the pot with a salad utensil. I was really all over the place in the kitchen that night

After a few minutes, I used a beer to deglaze the pot.

Bud Light Platinum has been the deglazing beer of choice ever since I saw the look on my friend Nate's face when having the first one out of the six pack at the super bowl. Took five separate meals over two months to get through one six pack

Add in a can of diced tomatoes, a lengthy pour of maple syrup (for the signature Manwich sickening sweetness), and the chopped boiled tripe.  Now that’s a party!

"I love you Bleu Le CreusUT... I fill you up... let's have a party... let's have a party." Enjoy getting that one out of your head, next week will have a take on the infuriating Zou Bisou Bisou song from Mad Men

The lid went on, and the pot went into the oven at 350F for some braisin’.  I already had an inkling that this wasn’t going to come out well, so the usual slow cooked anticipation wasn’t there.  Mostly just questioning what I was thinking when I decided to combine beer, stomach, and maple syrup.

After an hour or so, I pulled the pot out of the oven and found it to be far more liquidy than I expected.

Lots of green from the bell pepper and celery. Add the color green to the previous list of elements that really have no business being in the same dish together

Since I was looking for a thicker, less-liquidy consistency like a Manwich, the lid came off and the pot went over medium heat on the stovetop to cook down.

Quick sidenote: you may call a Manwich a “Sloppy Joe”, but you would be wrong.  A Sloppy Joe is a glorious New Jersey deli sandwich consisting of rye bread, turkey, ham, Swiss cheese, Russian dressing, and coleslaw.  That ketchup and ground beef combo you were served in the cafeteria because they couldn’t use the brand name “Manwich” does not deserve the title Sloppy Joe when there is already a king on that throne.  I don’t think you’re getting it, I might need to take some pictures this weekend in NJ and drop some knowledge next week.

After fifteen minutes or so, the stomach and tongue Manwich had cooked down to the thick consistency I was hoping for.

Looks a little like Manwich, no? Either that or something similar to chili or bolognese. I wasn't intimidated by it, but I also wasn't looking forward to digging in

With the meal ready to serve, I had to assess the situation.  Here’s what I had going in my favor: Maiers potato rolls which make anything at least 50% edible, Len and Con who have previously shown a willingness to eat pretty much everything, and Buschy was willing to give it a shot.  However, I was pretty sure that the stomach could have used another hour of cook time, the sauce was too sweet (to my taste), and generally this wasn’t a very appealing meal.  But, we had to at least try it.

Didn't look too bad actually. Except that lettuce, that part looked like sh*t since it was from a week old salad in a bag that was past it's prime when I bought it. Way to dress up your awful offal, Pete!

The sandwich was not m’best work (despite Lenny having two).  As mentioned before, the sauce was very sweet from the maple syrup, however I’m not sure it was any sweeter than a traditional manwich.  Could have used more pepper flavor.

The tongue was just not the right cut or texture.  Tongue is at it’s best when sliced thin or roasted until crispy after the boiling; it would have needed many more hours of braising to get to the texture I wanted.  It wasn’t all bad, the flavor was decent and the meat was tender, but odd in the context of the sandwich.  The stomach didn’t add a whole lot of good, mostly just some annoying chewiness and a hint of organ flavor.  Just not a well thought out dish.

To make matters worse I lost track of time when cooking the carnitas (for the ladies) and also made some inferior tortillas (compared to last time) to go with it.  A poor performance by me across the board, punctuated with flu-like symptoms a couple hours later and having to go to bed while there was still a living room full of people in our apartment.  Hostess with the Mostest dudes!

Heading to NJ for some food activities and fantasy baseball.  Will document anything edible.

Weird Crap I Cook: Tacos de buche

Over Columbus Day weekend we had a taco competition at our friend Buschy’s apartment in Boston.  Conor was planning to make his whitefish tacos with garlic and cilantro aioli and Buschy was planning his traditional, but delicious, turkey meat, black bean, and corn tacos.  With Hi Lo nearby, I decided to make beef tripe tacos since I had seen them on various travel/food shows and Conor had raved about them after his visit to Mexico last year.

Don’t you hate it when you plan to cook a cow stomach on Sunday and then you go for dim sum on Saturday… and eat cow stomach?!?! LOL!!!  No?  Oh.  Well, thats what happened and I felt like I should try something new on Sunday.  So, Sunday morning I walked over to Hi Lo and bought a pig stomach, various interesting canned items and a stack of corn tortillas.  The canned items included:

I love this stuff and had no idea it was available in a can

Huitlacoche is a fungus that grows on corn and turns the corn black.  Some adventurous soul gave it a taste many years ago and realized it’s delicious potential.  It has a tough to describe taste, reminiscent of mushrooms but sweeter.  I am very likely to order any menu item that features huitlacoche, but I had a few concerns about what a canned version would taste like.  Back to the stomach…

The familiar yellow styrofoam strikes fear into the heart of Buschy every time I bring it into his kitchen

The stomach was basically a stack of rinsed pig stomachs compressed into a block and sliced into rectangles.  Once out of the package, I separated the pieces, rinsed them and started some water boiling.

Now thats looking like a stomach!

Once the water was boiling, the stomach pieces went in for about 10 minutes.  The main goal was to get any unnecessary nasty stuff to boil up to the top where it could be skimmed off.

That white foam was what I was trying to get out of there

Once the ten minutes were up, the lightly boiled pieces went into a bowl for scrubbing.

Yep, thats still stomach

White vinegar and salt were added to the bowl and I basically treated the stomach pieces like I was hand-washing laundry; each piece was scrubbed against another piece.  I did this for a bit, dumped the liquid, rinsed under water, then went through the scrubbing process with vinegar and salt again.

The color of the water was both encouraging and disgusting

Gave the pieces a final rinse under tap water and then cut the stomach into smaller squares.  The smaller pieces would be easier to tenderize during the next round of boiling that would last multiple hours.

Starting to look a little closer to food

On the stove, I brought a mixture of water, chicken stock, tomato paste, onion, garlic, and a few bay leaves to a boil and added the stomach pieces.

The combination smelled really good. Thank god, since over the course of the day the whole apartment began to smell like it

At this point the lid went on, I knocked the heat down to low, and left it to cook for five anxious hours.  Luckily, I had NFL football and Conor’s delicious halibut tacos to help pass the time.  Here’s how it looked when the lid finally came off and it was time to drain off the cooking liquid:

This actually looked great to me, kind of like canned franks and beans. Which apparently looks great to me

I took a piece out and gave it a try.  The stomach had become very tender and taken on some of the flavors from the cooking liquid.  It had a light but distinct pork flavor, almost like a very overcooked pork chop.  It was definitely ready for final prep so I drained the cooking liquid.

This pig stomach was looking ready to get into this pig's stomach. Too easy

This is where we come to a bit of a crossroads in the cooking process and, unfortunately, I once again ended up regretting the path I chose.  Originally, my plan was to brown the stomach in a pan with garlic and onions then add some worcestershire sauce and taco seasoning to finish it.  However, I ended up overthinking it by not wanting to use taco seasoning and instead keep it a little more authentic.  Enter a can of chipotle peppers that I roughly chopped and added to the onions and garlic I had simmering in the pan.

Other terrible decisions I've made in the kitchen: cutting an onion while holding it in the palm of my hand, reaching into a toaster oven with both hands to get something that fell in the back, and using my fist to force more stuffing into a turkey until it shot out the other side

I made the following mistakes when adding the peppers: 1) I should have rinsed the smokey sauce off of them, 2) I should have checked to make sure they were seeded, and 3) I should have tasted them to see how spicy they were.  I did none of these things, but only discovered the error of my ways after it was too late and the stomach had been mixed in.

It looked promising, but you could tell by the smell that it was spicy. Like really spicy

After tasting a spoonful and urgently drinking an entire beer to eliminate the inferno in my mouth, I went into crisis mode.  I did the only two things I could think of to calm down the spicyness; add a chopped bell pepper and half a beer to thin out the sauce a bit.

Went with a Pacifico. I was grasping at straws at this point

Not sure either would be considered a real way to fix the situation and neither helped much.  The final product looked like this:

At this point many of the critics in the apartment loosened their anti-stomach stance and stated their intention to try some. They were humoring me

I grabbed a freshly heated corn torilla and tried a stomach taco with just lime and cilantro and… it was actually pretty good.

I have yet to find a taco that isn't made better by cilantro and lime

The spiciness could definitely sneak up on you, and if you bit into a chipotle pepper seed you were in for some pain, but that first taco was nowhere near as spicy as the initial spoonful I had.  So I had a second, but this time I utilized the extensive toppings bar we had put together:

Bottom right are Con's roasted jalapeno salsa and vegetable salsa. Huitlacoche is at the top next to Annie's guac, and Conor's garlic and cilantro aioli is in the back row on the right

The second was the same as the first, but with a spoonful of the aioli as well.

Annnnnd I'm hungry again... from looking at pig stomach that gave me spiciness indigestion. What is wrong with me?

The meat had a chewy texture but it basically fell apart after a bite or two.  The flavor was a smoky pork and chili mixture with the freshness of the cilantro, lime and garlic making a great combination.  I ended up having a third taco that was identical to this one, but not before I tried the huitlacoche with a turkey taco.

I guess I have a thing for completely black foods that barely show up in pictures

The huitlacoche had some of the flavors I was looking for but you could tell it was from a can and was missing the stronger flavors of what you’d find in a restaurant.  I probably wouldn’t buy it again.

As far as the rest of the attendees at football Sunday, there were mixed opinions on the stomach.

That is a clearly uncomfortable smile

Annie’s sister Erin (just behind Conor) ate a taco, didn’t remark once about the spice and claimed to enjoy it.  Conor on the other hand was seen sprinting into the kitchen with tears streaming down his face and came out with a pint of milk.  To his credit, he ended up trying it a second time and eventually added smaller amounts to other tacos he made.  Buschy tried a bite, chewed with his eyes closed and then said it was “good” and didn’t eat anymore.  Pretty standard.  Oh and “tacos de buche” means pig stomach tacos in case you haven’t figured that out yet.

And that was it.  Once again, I attempt to make something challenging and end up wanting to take another crack at it sometime in the future.  We’ll see, its not tops on my list of redos at the moment.

Next week, a completely new life experience for me that led to a delicious meal.

Weird Crap I Eat: Everything Italy

A few quick notes before the post:

1) Trip was great, thanks for asking.  We flew directly to Rome and spent two nights there, then three nights outside Siena, three nights in Cinque Terre, and two nights in Florence.

2) I don’t really consider any of the food that I ate to be that weird because they were all common food items in Italy.  But they were a little different from standard U.S. fare.

3) I know nothing about music.  My taste in music is similar to my general pool of knowledge; I know a little bit about a lot of things.  Meaning that my itunes probably has 3,000 songs from 2,000 bands across all genres.  And I like those songs, but see no need to have the whole albums.

4) I am 30 and my lifelong love affair with mixes is as strong as ever.  It started with mix tapes, then mix CDs, and now we’re in the evolved world of mix “playlists”.  Instead of the dates and seasons that used to serve as titles for my old mixes, I now have playlists with titles like “bachelor party”, “Tahiti”, and, my current favorite, “Hangin”.

With those details out of the way, I decided to do something a little different with this blog post.  After two nights in Rome, we picked up our Fiat Panda rental car and spent the next 6 days driving around the Tuscan countryside and on the coast near Cinque Terre.  The radio stations were miserable, and after hearing Haddaway’s “What is Love” for the third time in 24 hours I decided to make three CDs to relieve us from the radio for the rest of the trip.  A total of 55 songs fit onto those CDs, and this post will attempt to relate individual dishes I ate on the trip to a few of the songs on those CDs.  Let’s give this a try.

Por Ti Volare – Andrea Bocelli

Our first day in the car took us to Spannocchia, an organic farm just outside Siena that we stayed at for three nights.  The next morning we hopped in the car and loaded the first CD in as we drove to San Giminano via small country roads.  The first song was this one, my favorite aria (what?).  The combination of the Italian opera and the rolling hills gave me one of those “holy sh*t, Italy is beautiful” moments that nearly brought me to tears.  Similar emotions to those caused by this:

Can’t believe I paused long enough to take this

After landing in Rome at 9AM and immediately sightseeing on foot for 8 hours, we finally paused to eat something substantial.  For me it was a simple, warm pizza rustica stuffed with prosciutto and fresh mozzarella.  Crispy outside, salty meat, buttery cheese, and a borderline emotionally-moved DB.  Definitely a pure happiness moment.

Sundown – Gordon Lighhtfoot

No matter how many times I hear this song, it always has a knack for relaxing me and never seems to get old.  Kinda like limoncello in Italy.

Seeya latah feelings!!!

A great way to end our first day and Rome and ensure that I would sleep well for the following 10 hours.  I love limoncello but it never tastes as good in the U.S. as it does in Italy so I generally only have it when I am there.  Also, Kristi hates that picture.

Touch the Sky – Kanye West

Early in our relationship, Kristi was getting used to my (awful) taste in music and I was surprised when she particularly enjoyed Kanye West.  Basically, I underestimated her and she surprised me.  Six years later I was similarly surprised when she adventurously tasted pretty much every odd food item I ordered in Italy.  Starting with fried anchovy cakes our last night in Rome.

They looked disturbingly similar to fish ladyfingers

Since each cake was a stack of 10+ fresh anchovy filets, not the salted or oil-packed version we get in the states, the flavor was very fresh and the texture was most similar to whitefish.  Really light and tasty.

Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl) – Looking Glass

When I added this song to the Italy playlist, it really seemed like a good idea.  It reminds me of bad radio on LBI, and generally makes me happy when I hear it randomly.  But every time it popped up on the CDs I had the overwhelming urge to skip it.  I would describe fried, meat-stuffed olives as the food equivalent to this song.

Rich creamery meat filling? Check.  Thank god they gave me ten of them.

I got these as we dined on the campo in Siena.  The place was a tourist trap, and this item was the most unusual sounding one on the menu so it had to be fresh, right?  Wrong.  The fried coating was rock solid, the olives were bland, and the “meat” filling was creamy and unappetizing.  Clearly came out of some sort of Italian TGIFridays frozen foods box.  The 4 I had sat like a stone in my stomach for the next few hours.

Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright – Hub Hollow

This song, as performed by my brother and friends’ bluegrass band, has to be listened to and enjoyed any time it shows up on shuffle or on a random playlist.  Its that good and it always puts me in a happy mood.  When traveling in Tuscany, the same rule applies for any time cinghiale pasta shows up on a menu as it did at a restaurant in Sovicille.

After 3 days of fresh made pasta like this in Tuscany, I threw miniature tantrums any time I recognized that I was eating dried pasta.

Cinghiale is wild boar, and it’s flavor and texture are like pork crossed with beef in the best possible way.  Kristi and I ordered it a combined three times in 36 hours while we were staying at Spannocchia.  I will likely attempt to mimic the flavor and texture of the dish with pork shoulder some time in the next few months.

The Man Comes Around – Johnny Cash

When I hear this song I am always impressed by what a badass Johnny Cash could sound like when he was in the final year of his life.  He consistently made you believe he was planning to drink a fifth of scotch, smoke a pack of cigarettes, and beat the crap out of someone as soon as he finished singing.  Then wash it all down with some rare steak smothered in cheese.  Me, I’m only man enough to handle that last part.

The San Giminiano version of a philly cheesesteak.

Beef carpaccio smothered with a warm gorgonzola cream, sage, and black pepper.  So freaking good.  Thanks again for the restaurant recommendation Anne-Marie, I am glad I quietly obeyed your instructions without debate for the first time in my life.

Sweet Virginia – Rolling Stones

Though not my favorite Rolling Stones song, I love how simple and amateur this song sounds; just a few DBish 20-something brits playing around in a basement studio somewhere. It’s a little dirty and uniquely enjoyable.  Very similar to the first squid ink pasta I had on the trip at the same restaurant in Sovicille as the night before.

No contrast adjustment will make this any easier to see. It was completely black.

Tagliatale made with squid ink then dressed in a sauce of chopped squid braised in its own ink.  It tasted the way a pot full of steaming clams or mussels smells when you take the lid off.  I thoroughly enjoyed every single mouth blackening and grimey bite.  Probably my favorite pasta dish of the trip.

Arms of a Woman – Hub Hollow

Tim Ryan and the Hub Hollow gang learned this song for Kristi and my wedding and have dedicated it to us at a few additional performances as well.  I dedicate my performance on the following pile of food (my last before heading to Cinque Terre) to Tim Ryan. Fried sardines:

It kinda looks like they’re all playing and having a good time and stuff. But they’re dead and lightly battered.

Sardines are a staple of the Ryan family diet along with liverwurst, butter, and Jesus Christ Superstar song lyrics.  In related news, none of us are good at sports.  Back to the sardines, they were very good but way too many of them.  The heads had a nice fatty crunch, the body was light, and the tails were like fish potato chips.  I could have made it through the whole plate with a dipping sauce of some sort, but I was outmatched with only lemon to work with.

Georgia On My Mind – Ray Charles (live)

In complete contrast to Sweet Virginia, this is the aging musician who has done the song a million times and made it better with each performance.  You got an orchestra, an applauding Radio City crowd, and the raspy, aged voice of Ray Charles.  The second squid ink pasta I had on the trip (in Cinque Terre) was equally different from the first one.

This one is even viewable in pictures.

The simple tomato sauce let the rich seafood flavor of the pasta be the primary flavor.  None of the strong shellfishy flavor of the first squid ink pasta.  Although I liked the first one more, I could eat this one every night for dinner because it was delicious without being overwhelming.  I ended up having it twice in three days.

Bad Romance – Lady Gaga

At this point my love of this song is indefensible, and every time I hear it I enjoy it more than I should.  When it comes on, Kristi looks at me the same way that she looked at me when I marched out of the Mercato Centrale in Florence with a tub of chicken liver pate from one vendor and a fresh hunk of focaccia from a different vendor.

Will spare you the close-up of the pate

Rich and greasy with a fluffy and heavily salted focaccia for dipping.  I love this stuff.

Sleeping With a Broken Heart – Alicia Keys

This song was first presented to me by my friend Marshall on the camping trip that featured a buried hogs head.  He has a knack for playing a song 4-5 times an hour when he thinks it is important for it to be stuck in everyone’s head.  When I told him I was heading to Florence where he had studied abroad with his wife 10 years ago, he used a similar approach to pushing the tripe sandwiches by the mercato.

I made Kristi walk around looking at crappy stuff available from street vendors for two hours to rebuild my appetite from the chicken liver enough to eat this. If you get a souvenir from us, its from those two hours.

Looks chewy, but its as tender as great barbeque.

Boiled tripe sitting in a liquid heavy with chili oil before it is chopped and stuffed in a bun with chili sauce, parsley salsa verde and salt.  Thank you for making it the only requirement I set for myself on the trip, Mooman.

Whatever You Like – Anya Marina

I know that the entire musical movement of quirky covers to pop, hip-hop, and classic rock songs is quickly becoming really, really stupid.  But I can’t help myself, and this sweet female voice singing nasty T.I. lyrics is very enjoyable even if its bad for me.  Like lardo and head cheese at Giostra.

Lardo closest to the camera then head cheese.

Lardo is basically just the cured fat of a prosciutto ham.  It spreads like butter once it hits room temperature.  Butter that tastes like great ham or bacon.  I am appalled at how much I ate of that pile.  The head cheese was one of the best I’ve had in my life.  The flavor and texture had none of the unappetizing notes that you usually associate with head cheese.

November Rain – Guns & Roses

When I was in middle school we requested this song at dances so that we would have a solid 8+ minutes to work up the nerve to smooch with the braces-heavy gal you were dancing with.  That hyphen could have easily been replaced by a comma for me.  Anyway, while I still love the song it does run a little long.  Too much of a good thing, like white truffle carbonara.

Those cornflakes? Truffle shavings.

I love the flavor of truffles but the raw almond texture is not that enjoyable when its mixed with rich, creamy pasta.  Plus, I ate this at around 11PM and then woke up to fly back to the U.S. at 4AM the next morning.  Not a pleasant morning belch, for me or Kristi.

And with that the trip was over.  Thank god this post is over.  It was the type of idea that sounds great because you have 2-3 songs/dishes in mind and then you realize how awful its going to be after you’ve spent too much time to give up on it.

My apologies to anyone who put in the time to read this whole thing, I will steer clear of music moving forward.  Will also try to get back on a 1-2 posts a week schedule.