Fried chicken is one of those dishes I have more or less mastered at home (thanks Alton Brown!) but feel like it isn’t really worth the time or massive amount of oil, so I’m glad the General Store is so close and fries chicken so well. They probably wish people would order more diversely, but it’s their own fault for excelling at chicken, by far the best thing on the menu (besides pie and in addition to the collard greens). Everyone there was superfriendly on our very recent visit, dunno if they’re trying extra hard lately given recent publicity, but they have always been gracious hosts in our experience. Apparently all the publicity was at least break-even publicity, if not good publicity, because they were doing pretty brisk business on the later side of a school night.
I also ate an entire slice of lemon chess pie, and I have no regrets.
In less-local fried chicken news, this recent NYT article on Kennedy Fried Chicken is fascinating, and I wish a Kennedy franchise would open in Wheaton to compete with our KFC, not to mention El Pollo Rico and the like. Afghan chicken versus Peruvian chicken, to the death! Kennedy is to KFC as chicken is to the other white meat. Um…completely unrelated. Anyway, the last line of the article is the best:
Hunched over a plate of lamb chops at his favorite Afghan restaurant in Queens, he shook his head and sighed: “You know, Afghans don’t even like eating fried chicken.”
The Twisted Tarpon (678 75th Ave.), until late 2010 called Philthy Phil’s, across the street from the Sloppy Pelican…you get the idea. Beach shack dive with fried stuff (though surprisingly few seafood options), a mix of locals (but not those who complain about the noise) and tourists (only some of whom are fried), and surprisingly good food and service. $3 margaritas: winners, despite plenty of sour mix. Crab nachos are a good spin on the traditional, with lots of crab (real, not surimi), green onions, gloopy white American cheese, fresh-ish chips, it all sort of works. Asian salad with grilled tuna was good, and while the “fish bucket” wasn’t the best fried fish I’ve ever had, it was decent, and at $7.95 was the best deal we ate all week.
Also during the blogging hiatus, Mrs. Me and friends (and I) infiltrated DC’s Brasserie Beck (1101 K Street) before a Lewis Black show at the Warner. Beck gets generally great reviews and I had been looking forward to trying it, and it lived up to the hype, for us anyway. Lots of great Belgian beer, of course; I enjoyed the Antigoon, a not-too-hoppy double blond on draft and available only at Beck, I think. Several people ordered the mussels — all good, I’m told — and I got tastes of a couple of salads, one spinach (with bacon!) and one tomato (no bacon, one of the few dishes available that did not involve bacon as far as I could tell). Mrs. Me liked her croque monsieur, I liked my lamb sandwich. The food was very good, but was nevertheless surpassed by the service, which was as good as any I’ve ever had at any restaurant and better than most, and I think by far the best at this price point. Beck staff are incredibly well-trained, knowledgable, friendly, efficient.
Also you may have heard something about Belgians liking their french fries. Beck’s are, of course, excellent — and as a mayo-on-fries fan I appreciated the dip trifecta — but I’m starting to think that great fries really aren’t that hard to come by. Cork and Relic (beware Flash) both make fries just as good as Beck’s, IMO, and in the same style (thin and fairly crisp on the outside), and that’s not to mention other good Belgian spots like Saint-Ex, and also not to mention places like Blue Duck Tavern where I haven’t been but where the fries are reportedly to die for. Then there is Five Guys, whose fries are a different style but also fantastic. McDonalds continues to make a good fry (if little else worth eating). Those are just off the top of my head. This is not to say great fries should no longer be appreciated, just that great fries are not as hard to find as they were even just a few years ago. Happily so!
Ta-Nehesi Coates and Matt Yglesias ask when frying chicken at home got so complicated. I’m closer to MY than to TNC in terms of my chicken-frying background, but I do make it from time to time, and it is of course only as complicated as you want it to be. I’m a Cooks Illustrated guy, but I don’t always take the time to go through their laborious buttermilk-bathing-brining-spice-juggling-tummy-rubbing-head-patting-gum-chewing routine. I should own a heavy Lodge pan, but I find my Le Creuset dutch oven works great for frying. The big hassle for me is what to do with all the leftover peanut oil (any ideas?). The obvious answer is: fry more stuff! But even I can only take so much fried food, and you still have to get rid of the oil somehow, eventually.
As with many things, the best fried chicken is often the batch someone else makes for you. Today I brought home some Korean bbq-fried chicken parts from H-Mart ($3.99/pound) and they were plump, meaty, delicious, with just a slight spice kick from the thick sticky sauce. You know it’s good when you find yourself involuntarily gnawing on bare bones.
We will not even speak of Popeye’s or KFC, and especially not of the Double Down, the Voldemort of fast food items in this house.
H-Mart limes today were six for $1.00 but small and not juicy, solidifying Hung Phat’s emergence as our go-to lime purveyor.