Thursday, October 29, 2009

Friscos - Sandwiches, Salads, Potatoes - Oh My!

AKA Frisco’s

Wedgewood Blvd (off of English Muffin Way)

301 698-0014

I like this place. Even though every single person working there is:

Younger than I am

Cooler than I am

Now that I’ve gotten that ego basher out of the way….let’s talk. As I said, I like Frisco’s. They don’t have the best sandwiches in town (Juliet's Italian Market in downtown Frederick and The Buzz in Monrovia do), but they do have decent sandwiches, huge salads, fair prices, cool ambience, good cookies, and lots of avocado. Oh, and of course, Exploded Potatoes.

Let’s start with the exploded potatoes because, let’s face it, almost everybody does. Usually, you can expect every bite to be a hot, tasty combination of potato, cheese, onion and bacon. You will want to take that little plastic spoon and get into every nook and cranny to get the last bite out. But, sometimes - the kitchen has a bad day. Greasy potatoes, dry potatoes, over-dressed potatoes. I’m sure there’s a recipe back there – but given that a potato’s natural sugars and moisture content can vary – the cook needs to adapt to changing produce conditions.

Sandwiches – just a huge variety. From the all-veggie Mission with melted brie, to the S.F. Fatboy – a carnivores dream with ham, salami, bologna, provolone, Cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, Bermuda onion. The fillings are always generous and the choice of toppings vast.

Alas, I’m not a fan of the breads they use. Many are just soft, insipid, filling holders - they add nothing to the sandwich. A really fantastic sandwich is good inside and out. They need some real bakery breads (hello, Stone Hearth!). It might add a few cents to the sandwich, but it would be worth it for the added savory value.

Salads- trust me on this – even if you are a gezunde eater, you should order the small. (If you have no idea what gezunde means, then you obviously haven’t been to enough Bar Mitzvahs. I will help you. An example. You are at a reception. The “Harringtons” have enjoyed the cocktail hour and have consumed 2 chicken satay sticks and a mini-quiche. They are full and cannot eat dinner. Uncle Izzy scarfs down 12 satay sticks, 3 deviled eggs, a mountain of meatballs, a pile of pickled herring and has a roll tucked under his arm – just in case. He then polishes off the 4 course Cornish hen dinner with optional (yes I will, thank you) dessert. Uncle Izzy is, my friends, a gezunde eater).

So – unless you are Uncle Izzy, or are sharing, order the small. The aluminum pans they are served in are piled high with crispy lettuce and smothered in the toppings of your choice. The Santa Fe is especially good. Romaine lettuce topped with Southwest chicken and surrounded by veggies, pasta, sour cream, tomato salsa, & shredded cheese. Cobb Salad fan? Theirs starts with Romaine lettuce topped with diced turkey, natural pasta, crunchy fresh cut veggies, bacon, ripe California avocado, and shredded cheddar cheese.

Sounds SO GOOD. But alas, they ruin it. Why? Bottled dressings. Why oh why oh why would you take a deliciously fresh salad and pour nasty bottled dressing on it? Especially when it’s so easy to make dressing from scratch. You know, it’s one thing to have bottled dressing at Subway – but a restaurant that prides itself on serving fresh salads should go the extra step and serve fresh dressing as well. (A question for all you good people out there: Would it be rude to bring my own dressing with me? Lord knows I often have to ask for guidance when determining the rude-factor of something I am considering. Tact is not my strong suit. So – feel free to comment. If I love their salads and hate their dressings…would it be ok to bring my own? I await your response)

Soups – others seem to like them, but they have never made one that I was crazy about. They aren’t bad, they just don’t hit the right flavor notes with me. I can’t pinpoint what it is that I find lacking in them. They taste, and I hope like heck that I’m wrong, like they are made with canned goods. Maybe pre-made salsas and canned tomatoes? Too much cumin? It’s kind of like art – I can’t define why it’s not good, I just know that I don’t like it.

Wine – go on Friday to their wine retail store. All wines are just $1 over cost. Now’s the time to sample that luscious pinot that you have salivated for ever since Sideways.

All in all, I like Friscos. And with enough of that well-priced Pinot Noir – I can start to believe that I’m as cool and young as the cool, young people that work there...

AKA Friscos on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 23, 2009

Erring on the Side of Kindness - A Tale of Woe

Every now and then, I need a little motivation to get myself in front of the computer and update the old blog. Sometimes, it’s a particularly delicious meal that provides the necessary push. Sometimes, it’s that doggone Frederick News Post that gets me going.

Oh, why oh why do I continually let the FNP push my buttons? Why can’t I just take a deep cleansing breath, let it all go and get back to my happy place? I’ll tell you why.

3 years ago, when I turned 50 (ouch), I embarked on a mission. I decided that henceforth, I would abandon my judgmental ways, and embrace the philosophy of “erring on the side of kindness”. Given that I was innately biased toward “erring on the side of sarcasm”, this was a pretty monumental undertaking.

For (what seemed like) months, I actually paused and gave some consideration to what I was about to say before actually saying it. I offered to help others without being asked, and did so non-begrudgingly.

What a positive move, a righteous path of personal growth, spiritual awareness and all that other new-agey stuff the yoga people seem to like so much. A new me. A better me. Enlightened and enriched.

2 very bad things happened.

The first, and really quite irritating phenomenon, was that NOBODY NOTICED! When my so-called friends were asked how they were enjoying the new, “kindness erring” me, they were nonplussed. Really??? How was that possible? How could they not have noticed how I purposely did NOT simulate the gag reflex when they suggested eating at Olive Garden? How did they miss my NOT rolling my eyes when they ordered their steak well done? Seriously folks, I was erring like crazy!!!!

Oh, and the second bad thing that happened? Well, all those times that I was kindness-erring when my natural instinct was to judge, caused my body to rebel. All the bottled up hostility and sarcasm had nowhere to go, so it just kind of coalesced into one giant tumor in my neck which the expert doctors at Hopkins had to remove.

So, in the interest of saving my life, I have had to abandon the whole kindness boat and re-embrace my natural philosophical style of judge and opine. Which is why I just CANNOT take that flippin’ deep breath and get back to my happy place when the FNP annoys me.

And why am I annoyed today? Well, obviously it’s got to be something food related. And naturally, it’s once again the infamous FNP “unannounced dining experience ” article . Today, writer Bill Cauley (whom I thought was a sports reporter), wrote all about his recent lunch trip to El Sloppy Taco in Brunswick.

As it turns out, there wasn’t that much to tell. For, you see, Bill shares with us that he’s “ not a big lunch eater”. Great. So why exactly did he go to the restaurant for lunch? Trooper that he is, he ordered anyway. ONE taco. ONE! Not a taco combo platter, not a taco plus some side dishes. Nope. Just one single taco. Didn’t even add much of the hot sauces because, at least for Bill, “hot, spicy stuff tends to revisit a person at inopportune times”. Wow. Good to know. .

Lucky for us, his dining companion was there to fill in the gastronomic gap. Psyche. Dining companion wasn’t hungry and only ordered chips & salsa!

Wow. One taco and some salsa . Oh, the information overload! Stop! I can’t absorb any more!

Bill – why bother writing this at all??? And, Frederick News Post – why bother printing it? How does this even remotely serve the reader? I see how it might serve your advertisers – but it’s not going to do them a lot of good without readers.

Anyway – I feel much better now. I am taking nice big, deep breaths and getting back to my happy place.