Allow me to let you NachoWatchers in on a little “behind the scenes” secret. Usually, I attack this bloglet in a pretty goal-oriented manner. I think to myself “Dr. Cheddarsauce, it’s been quite some time since you imparted your snackly wisdom to the masses. What say you hit the town and find some nachos to review?” I then do a little bit of research, which typically entails lurking around the prominent nacho-oriented chat rooms on AOL, find an appropriate nacho purveyor, and then, you know, eat nachos and write about them. Simple enough, I know. But the point is, any other time I’ve put on my nacho blogging hat, I’ve done it on purpose.
But this time was different. This time I literally* stumbled into one of the finest examples of the nacho genre that I have ever encountered. And like most of the happier moments in my life, this one happened while I was hanging out with my wife.
We had just paid a rare visit to the local cinema emporium to see Oz, The Great and Powerful,which much to my confusion and dismay was not a biopic about the life of San Diego Padres Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith.** After the picture show***, we decided to try a new place, the Mussel and Burger Bar.
Located just off the intersection of Taylorsville Road and Hurstbourne Lane in Louisville, the M&BB has only been open a few weeks, but it’s already gotten quite a reputation among Louisville foodies. And while our foodie community can be awfully insufferable, they do usually have some pretty good intel. And M&BB has a great pedigree, since it’s run by the same folks who opened Havana Rumba, Mojito’s, and Guaca Mole.
So as I said above, I didn’t go into M&BB trolling for nachos. But as the great poet and snack enthusiast Emily Dickinson so memorably wrote, “Because I would not stop for nachos/They kindly stopped for me”. There, plain as day on the Starters portion of the menu, was an item humbly but elegantly described as “Short Rib Nachos”.
Now, every other time I’ve spewed out one of these NachoWatch! entries, I’ve consumed the nachos solo, as an entree. But because we both wanted to try them, and because Katy’s input is always valuable to me****, we decided to split the Short Rib Nachos and further decided that I would incorporate Katy’s comments into this post.*****
(It occurs to me that since this is kind of a collaborative post with my wife, and because we ate “short rib nachos”, I should make some kind of “Adam’s rib” reference, but I’m really not nearly clever enough to pull that off. Forget I mentioned it. Carry on.)
Anywho, as everyone who knows me personally can attest, I’m kind of a “lone wolf” type when it comes to writing, so opening this post up as a collaborative effort with Katy (who’s a loads better writer than I am anyway) was a little intimidating. Intimidating, that is, until I came up with a Grand Theme.
So the Grand Theme of this post is Fusion. One, because the Short Rib Nachos themselves are a fusion of two different ethnic culinary styles, and two, because the post itself represents a fusion of Katy and my thoughts, hopes, and beliefs about Mussel and Burger Bar’s Short Rib Nachos.
“Fusion” is an interesting, if occasionally problematic, concept. The fusion of different ethnic cooking styles and ingredients has produced results both triumphant****** and tragic*******. Likewise, the fusion of two personalities has often produced disastrous results. However, in teaming up with Katy to share these nachos I was hoping for an outcome less like Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin in “The Man With Two Brains”, and more like the heroic bond shared by Professor Stein and Ronnie Raymond when they merged to form Firestorm, the Nuclear Man.********
Mussel and Burger Bar serves its nachos in a large-ish cast iron skillet, in keeping with the Southern origins of braised short ribs. The nachos start with a bed of house-made potato chips, the beyond-tender short ribs, guacamole, pico de gallo, sour cream, monterey jack cheese, and pickled jalapenos.
I should note at this point that Katy has a ton of experience working in and around the restaurant business, and she happily informed me that, presumably due to the breakneck pace at which restaurants operate, most of the above ingredients are better known in “The Biz” by abbreviations. For example, “pico de gallo” is better known as “PDG” and only a rube would say “Monterey Jack Cheese”, rather than the zippier “MJC”. Consider yourselves all educated. Lord knows I was.
At this point I need to address the elephant in the room. Yes, you read correctly. M&BB used no tortilla chips in the making of its Short Rib Nachos, but instead relied on potato chips. “Que?”, you might be asking yourself, and rightfully so. First of all, these were damned good potato chips. Secondly, as Katy thoughtfully pointed out, the potato chips very nicely complemented the taste and texture of the short ribs. Tortilla chips might have overshadowed the flavor of the ribs, and would definitely have boosted the dish’s salt profile into the Red Zone.
Moving on from the chip base of the dish upward, it was obvious that someone spent a lot of time on the short ribs. I often shy away from ribs and other less-than-lean portions of beef, owing to a Jack Sprat-esque childhood fear of fat. However, as we all know, fat is where the flavor is, and the barbecued flavor of these short ribs transcended the very concept of “fatty beef”. Truly succulent, and I don’t use that word lightly (although I am proud that I didn’t have to look up how to spell it.)
The “guac”********* and sour cream were guac and sour cream. What do you want, a novel? This thing’s getting wordy enough as it is. The “MJC” was very tasteful and layered on in just the proper amount. Not too much revolutionary to say on that subject either. If I didn’t like cheese, I wouldn’t be spending valuable billable hours blogging about nachos, and if you didn’t like cheese you wouldn’t be reading this, either.
That brings me to the pickled jalapenos. Katy and I have been on a real pickled condiment kick lately, having only recently gained a deep appreciation of pickled onions while dining at the aforementioned Guaca Mole. The pickled jalapenos lost none of the heat in the pickling process, and that process also somehow imparted a depth of flavor that I’ve never before encountered in a sliced jalapeno.
The pico was unusually rich, also, and somehow incorporated capers, which I rarely enjoy. But like the one small flaw in a marble bust which somehow only enhances the sculpture’s overall beauty, the presence of capers did not detract from our rapturous enjoyment of the Short Rib Nachos.
On to the metrics:
1) Spiciness/Heat: 4 out of 5. Those pickled jalapenos were seriously hot. Not so hot that I had to reach for the spray can of whipped cream that I, like any serious consumer of spicy foods, keeps handy to defuse a serious case of Volcano Mouth, but spicy nonetheless.
2) Presentation: 4 out of 5. As I mentioned, the skillet was a really nice touch. The sour cream and guac were artfully arrayed across the skillet with Nazca Line-like stark beauty. Mussel and Burger Bar is a fairly dimly lit space in the evening, and in the low light the Spare Rib Nachos stood out even more.
3) Practicality: 1.5 out of 5. Sadly, every Rose has its Thorn, as they say. I was only able to eat one bite of the nachos with my hands before having to let my fork do the work for me. A small price to pay for sure, but please bear in mind that these nachos are not for the utensil-phobic.
4) Thesis: 4.5 out of 5. I have to fall back on the “Fusion” Grand Theme I developed above. When discussing the amalgamation of the cuisines of Mexico and the Deep South, I suppose I could try to make some really insightful comments about said fusion being the inevitable result of the influx of Hispanic migrant workers into the southeastern United States to do agricultural work, but that all sounds a little pretentious and frankly I haven’t done the research to support that assertion. So instead I’ll guess that the thesis behind the Short Rib Nachos is “Salty Comfort Food Tastes Delicious No Matter Which Hemisphere It Comes From”.
5) Zazz: 5 out of 5. I mean, come on. These things were awesome. In fact, our whole meal at Mussel and Burger Bar came pretty close to our Platonic ideal of a great dinner. And we didn’t even get to try the Maple Glazed Bacon Beignet.
Total: 19 out of 25. A new record high score? I don’t know. Four days later, I’m still stuffed and too lazy to research through old posts.
Until next time, Good Night and Good Nachos!
**Although it does have a cameo appearance by Whitey Herzog as a flying monkey.
***Special thanks to my grandmother for the use of the phrase “picture show”.
****Look, I know she reads this blog. I’m no dummy. (She doesn’t read the footnotes, though.)
*****At first I thought about putting all Katy’s thoughts in red type, like Jesus in some editions of the Bible, but then I realized that was beyond my technical know how.
******Like spam musubi.
*******Like the fusion of toasted subs and seafood that resulted in Quizno’s so-called “Lobster Sub”. Read the fine print. It’s only 51% lobster. What’s the other 49%? My guess is hamsters and styrofoam packing peanuts.
********With less poofy sleeves, of course.
*********Another restaurant professional abbreviation, or “probreviation”.
Breakfast at 8am.
Filipino food for lunch.
11 games total played between 8 people.
It was a badass, and tiring, day.
Game Pubbers (that a word?), share your stories in the comments section below.
Here are the league results. Please confirm the points are correct. Full rules for Machinations league, including the point chart, can be found here.
And here is a gallery of our fun, our tables and whatnot.
And some more pics were just sent to me from Nate:
Going to start what is hopefully a recurring post type here: Hobby Progress! Will try to do it monthly, but since I’m a bit late, we’re dipping into February.
I assembled my Menoth box set, and am working on a foam inlay for the box so I don’t inadvertantly disassemble them when I transport them.
I also sacrificed three orphans and a snapping turtle to Nachocuatl, Mayan god of maize and queso.
I am about a quarter of a way through assembling my Dwarf army for The Hobbit, with one lonely painted and another about halfway done. Progress for that has been put on hold in the short term in order to work on February’s project: Searforge. My goal is to have a handful of ‘jacks and my Forge Guard painted before the month is out.
My Black Angels have been restored to me, and I’ll push forward on them as time allows. Two units of Assault Marines to paint up next.
Finally started on my Bloodtrackers last night – they’re mostly assembled – bases are ready.Attended 3 MtG Gatecrash sealed events, performed well.
Well, I painted 6 Terminators for the challenge I’ve mentioned previously. I also started back on my Cryx army for Warmachine. I finished painting Deneghra, a Defiler and my converted Ripjaw. I should have a post with pics up next week after I seal them with DullCote.
I also started painting Asphyxious the Hellbringer’s model, which I’ll use as both Lich Lord Asphyxious (Gaspy2) and the Hellbringer (Gaspy3).
At assembly night I mostly frustrated myself trying to assemble a Stalker. What a stupid model. Ugh.
Something bizarre is occurring across western Immoren. A new and unseen threat is on the rise—someone or something that will alter the wars of the Iron Kingdoms forever. The effects are being felt all across the land, whether it be the sudden disappearance of an entire village’s population, unnatural seismic catastrophes, or any number of other unexplainable phenomena.
Who or what is behind this? Gather your army and face your foes at the sites of these strange anomalies. The truth must be discovered.
The Game Pub embarks on its first annual Warmachine and Hordes adventure with Privateer Press’ official league for 2013: Machinations. Players will have the opportunity to play fun, casual games and interact with the official stories and setting, while earning league points and competing for the league champion coin.
Players can earn league points by playing games, painting miniatures and by completing unique challenges called Schematics. By completing Schematics, players have the opportunity to unlock the Device, a mysterious machine of unknown origin. Additionally, players have access to special Season Models during each league season.
Each player will also have have an opportunity to contribute to the Star Chart and the Vault. The Star Chart is this season’s league map. It indicates the areas players are battling over as they investigate strange occurrences and experience the game-changing effects of that region. Additionally, as players unlock Schematics and complete the Device, the Vault will begin to unlock and reveal the secrets within.
At the start of the league, players are added to the scoreboard poster, listing their name and faction. Players earn league points by playing games, painting models, or meeting specific requirements based on the chart below, and any charts that may be included in each season’s specific rules.
At the end of the league, the player who has the most league points is declared champion.
Many Schematics cannot be completed in a single game and will require the player to track his progress. Each season’s rules document will include a score sheet to help players keep track of how close they are to completing any given Schematic.
Schematics are unique challenges for players to attempt during the course of the league. Whenever a player completes a Schematic, he earns league points as described in the season rules. The first player to complete any given Schematic will then have that player’s name written into the appropriate space on the Device, signifying that the given Schematic is complete for the purposes of unlocking the season’s Vault. Other players can still earn league points for completing Schematic challenges even after the Schematic is recorded as complete on the Device.
Schematics for this season are as follows:
• Schematic 1: Alignment
Earn 30 or more league points. Bonus: 0 league points
• Schematic 2: Assembly
Earn 15 or more league points by painting models. Bonus: 5
• Schematic 3: Disassembly
Destroy five different enemy warcasters and/or warlocks
during the league. Bonus: 5 league points
• Schematic 4: Orientation
Play, and win, all three season-specific scenarios during the
league. Bonus: 3 league points
• Schematic 5: Combustion
Win five games in a row during the league. Bonus: 5 league
• Schematic 6: Annihilation
Deal 20 or more points of damage to a single enemy model in
one attack. This applies even if the enemy model has fewer
than 20 damage boxes or even no damage boxes at all. Bonus: 3
The Device is part of the league scoreboard and is the key to unlocking the mysteries of Machinations. Each Device will have several incomplete sections that the players must complete by finishing the season’s Schematics. Once all of the Schematic sections are completed, we will take a photo of the Device poster and submit it to Privateer Press. This contribution will assist in the worldwide effort to unlock that season’s Vault.
Each league season features new stories from Privateer Press. During the Machinations league season, players have the opportunity to play some of the warjacks, warbeasts, and battle engines found within these stories. During a league season, the original models on which these season models are based cannot be used. Moreover, these models count as if they are the models on which they are based for bonuses, such as those granted by the Elite Cadre ability, the Leadership ability, or Theme Force benefits. If you don’t know what those rules mean, don’t worry. Bouv or I will be able to help.
Printable cards for the season models are here: Machinations Cards:: Umbra (Season 1)
Though legal for all league games throughout their season, season models are not officially legal models for use outside of the Machinations league.
The Star Chart is the league map for Machinations and is an important element of the league system. This online map will be maintained to show the progress of each faction over the course of the league. Links to the league map will be available when the league officially opens.
Before each game, the players should determine which map region they are fighting over. The player with the lowest league score chooses the region. In the case of a tie, roll a d6 to determine who chooses. Players will also choose a Scenario, unless the region that they are fighting over dictates a league-specific scenario. When games are completed, in addition to scoring league points, players should also inform Mozart when they win a game and which region they were fighting over. Mozart will report this information using the online league map.
Two types of scenarios will be available during each Machinations season: core scenarios and season-specific scenarios. Core scenarios can be found inside the Steamroller 2013 rules document and are for use throughout the duration of Machinations. Season-specific scenarios are linked to below in the Regions section.
Players can randomly select a scenario before each game by rolling 2d6 and then picking the corresponding scenario from the Scenario Table. Alternatively, players can both agree on which scenario they wish to play. Sometimes the Star Chart will also dictate which scenario to use for specific regions.
Core scenarios can be found here: Steamroller 2013 Rules
I will also try to provide a condensed packet of the core and season-specific scenarios.
Each region has a different effect on the battles that take place there. These effects are static and will not change during the course of the league. When fighting in a region, you should check to determine what additional rules are in effect.
• Region 1 – Abandoned Town
The entire population of this small village has disappeared
overnight! All games played here must use Umbra Scenario 1:
• Region 2 – Haunted Mine
The local population has become terrified of the nearby coal
mine, claiming that vengeful spirits infest the tunnels. Soldiers
passing through this territory are becoming increasingly
cautious and paranoid. All models in this region suffer –1 CMD.
• Region 3 – Unstable Grounds
The ground is pocketed with man-sized sinkholes that appear
without warning! In this region, whenever a non-warcaster/
non-warlock, small-based warrior model ends its activation on
a hill or within a forest, roll a d6. On a roll of a 1, remove that
model from play.
• Region 4 – Ultraviolent Aura
Something is causing all warjacks or warbeasts that pass
through this area to become highly aggressive and sometimes
uncontrollable. Warjacks and warbeasts gain Aggressive and
Berserk. (A model affected by Aggressive can run or charge
without spending focus or being forced. When a model with
Berserk destroys one or more models with a melee attack
during its combat action, immediately after the attack is
resolved it must make one additional melee attack against
another model in its melee range.)
• Region 5 – Vicious Weather
Unusual and destructive weather has been plaguing this
specific region for weeks. Surrounding areas seem to be
completely unaffected. All games played here must use Umbra
Scenario 2: The Perfect Storm.
• Region 6 – Cranial Distortion
Residents of this area have begun to suffer terrible headaches
and hallucinations, sometimes blacking out without warning.
At the beginning of each warrior unit’s activation the unit must
pass a command check or all models within that unit suffer
–2 MAT and RAT. 3
• Region 7 – Whispers in the Wind
Strange, faint sounds can constantly be heard in this area. They
almost sound like someone speaking . . . or is it screaming?
Whenever a warcaster or warlock activates in this region, roll a
d6. On a roll of a 6, the whispers reveal secrets about the enemy
plans, and this model can immediately advance 3˝.
• Region 8 – Leftovers
There is evidence a battle occurred here recently, but no bodies
remain. A strange artifact of unknown origins was left behind,
yet no one has had the strength to claim it. All games played
here must use Umbra Scenario 3: Evisceration via Enigma.
• Region 9 – Illusionary Haze
The air here shimmers and twists as if affected by extreme
heat, and visibility is severely reduced. All models in this
region gain Stealth. In this region, models with Eyeless Sight
do not ignore Stealth.
• Region 10 – Kinetic Conundrum
An unseen force is pushing, pulling, and tossing objects
around. Whatever this is, it’s strong enough to lift a warjack! At
the beginning of each player’s turn, that player can choose any
large- or smaller-based enemy model and place it completely
within 3˝ of its current location but cannot change its facing.
• Region 11 – Dumb Hole
If there are any insects or wildlife here, they aren’t making a
sound. Everything is dead silent. There is no game effect for
playing in this region.
• Region 12 – Celestial Conflux
The night skies are filled with strange lights that contort and
blur. There is no game effect for playing in this region.
Rules for the Umbra Scenarios can be found at the end of this document: Machinations League Rules :: Umbra
The Vault is where the truth will be uncovered. Each season a new website displaying the Vault will become available, and each Vault will begin fully locked. As league organizers around the world send in photos of their completed Devices, the locks on the Vault will begin to open. Each lock will require a set amount of completed Devices to open. As the locks break off, sections of the Vault will slowly open to show bits and pieces of what lies behind it.
Where, When and How:
Season 1: Umbra begins February 25th and runs until March 25th. However, we will kick-off during Game Day on February 23rd! League games can be played during that time. Please report results of each game to Mozart.
There is no minimum amount of games to play. Points can be earned for up to 5 games per week. You can certainly play more than that, but the results of any games beyond those 5 will not count toward your league total.
Where? We obviously don’t have our own space anymore, so the answer to that is: anywhere.
So what’s in it for you?
Well, it doesn’t cost anything to sign up for this season. So you get to participate in an official organized play event for no moneys. Also, each participant will get a sweet participation patch that you can stick on whatever you choose. Each season has it’s own patch that form a unique design when combined with the other 3 season patches. Also, the winner of the league gets a champion coin which is attached to a cool leather necklace (necklace not shown in pic).
Here’s a picture of the league kit:
Questions? Ask me! I’ll be happy to explain anything that is confusing. Or anything that is not confusing for that matter!
Right on the heels of feeling like I had over-commited, I was able to pull off my required January submission to The Independent Characters’ Hobby Progress Challenge.
I needed to paint 6 Terminators for my Chaos Space Marine army for Warhammer 40k and here they are below. Note one is missing a gun because, well, it is missing. And there are 7 pics below because Mr. No Gun is getting replaced.
And final group shot cause they look so good together:
I’m in over my head with a painting challenge on The Independent Characters’ forums. To paint 1850 points of Warhammer 40k by November, and each month making a commitment to some part of that (single model, tank, unit, something). In January I chose to paint up my Nurgle Terminators. Thankfully each one was already fully converted, so I didn’t have to spend my January time on that.
However, of course, I distracted myself with other projects before starting to paint these guys and left myself just two weeks to finish.
And, even more “of course”, even when I started painting the Terminators, I also started painting up my Cryx again for Warmachine. Genius.
I am making progress on both, but I have till the 31st, just a mere 2 day window from now, to complete these guys. No one is going to come knock down my door for not finishing, but I really REALLY want to finish these for my own personal goal being met. It’ll feel good to finally do it — I love my conversions and I feel these guys deserve a paint job. Now, whether it ends up being a good paint job or not I don’t know, but I’m giving it my best shot.
Then back to Cryx before I start on my February commitment .. oh shit, a shorter month!
Hola, Chipaholics! Happy New Year, Fanaticos de Quesos! I know it’s been quite some time since I posted a new chapter in my Nachodyssey, but with the holidays over and the threat of the Mayan Apocalypse safely behind us*, Lucky ’13 is totally poised to be the Year of the Nacho. And what better way to start the year than with a NachoWatch! installment tied to Early January’s greatest event**, the climax of the college football season, the BCS Championship?
I don’t need to tell you folks that snacks in general, and nachos in particular, are intimately (some might say intrinsically) linked to sports fandom. Tostitos, of course, is a major sponsor of the massive lame duck that is the BCS system, and Nachologists speculate that the nacho itself, in its modern American form, erupted fully formed during the third quarter of the 1979 Florida-Georgia game like Athena from the head of Zeus.***
So it’s only fitting that I spent the 2013 BCS Championship not actually at the game in Miami like some kind of rich maniac, but at home, on the couch, eating nachos. I’m a huge college football fan, so any BCS Championship is special to me, but the 2013 edition was particularly meaningful. I was more than a little conflicted about it, because I’m a big believer in SEC superiority and dominance, but I’ve also been a Notre Dame fan since I was a preteen. Specifically, and coincidentally, the first Notre Dame football game I ever saw in person was the last time Notre Dame and Alabama played: November 14, 1987. I was 12 years old, doughy and impressionable. I watched the game from the sidelines with a bunch of high school recruits thanks to a police officer’s pass of dubious authenticity. I threw up pumpkin pie all over a waitress at a Frisch’s in Kokomo, Indiana on the way home from the game.**** It was magical.
So like I was saying, I was pretty pumped for this game. By now we know how the whole thing turned out, with Nick Saban doing more to humiliate and obliterate Irish pride and well being than Oliver Cromwell and the Potato Famine combined. Simply put, that game served as a giant turd in the punch bowl of my post-New Year’s bliss.
But luckily, there was a consolation prize, ultimately tastier and more fulfilling than any number of goofy crystal footballs: my wife’s homemade nachos. Katy was kind enough to conceptualize and assemble an amazingly complex and succulent platter of the finest shrimp nachos this side of Guadalajara and serve them up***** just as the second quarter was about to begin. Check out this starting lineup of championship quality gustatory awesomeness:
1) the aforementioned shrimp – cooked up with lemon and a bit of Mediterranean seafood seasoning;
2) Tortilla strips, courtesy of a three pound bag purchased from Costco;
3) Frontera tomatillo salsa;
4) pickled onions, prepared “in house” (literally) by Katy;
5) a pico de gallo of avocado and kumatoes;
6) fire roasted tomatoes;
7) black olives;
8) black beans cooked with jalapeno slices;
9) a can of the hilariously named “white queso blanco”******
I don’t know about you, but I got full just reading over that list. Katy told me that she set out to make a complex, layered dish, and she succeeded in spades. Even the canned ingredients tasted fresh, and I don’t know the last time I’ve tasted a dish with that many ingredients in which each component contributed to the overall character of the dish while still maintaining its individual identity. Let me address a few of the highlights:
First, I have to admit I was skeptical of Katy’s decision to use tortilla “strips”, mostly because I misunderstood what they were. I envisioned the teeny little strips that some restaurants put in soups or Mexican-themed chopped salads. These strips, however, were massive, sturdy planks worthy of supporting a whole salad bar’s worth of toppings. Consider me a tortilla strip convert.
Next, I don’t know if you know what a “kumato” is (and I’m not even sure I know what a “kumato” is), but we’ve gotten to be big fans of them at our house. They are apparently all natural, not irradiated mutations as I initially suspected, but they have a great tomato flavor, are naturally brown in color when they’re ripe, and will only talk back and call you names if you treat them really badly. They only show up at our market in winter, and judging by the name I’ve always assumed they’ve got something to do with kumquats, but thus far I’ve been too lazy to investigate further. Oh, well! If I wake up in 20 years with some weird kumato-shaped lump growing out of my neck, I’ll just file a class action suit and we’ll sort it all out then. It’s the American way!
The pickled onions: Man, these were tasty. Ever since Katy and I went to Guaca Mole for my birthday dinner, we’ve had pickled onions on our minds, and Katy really knocked these out of the park on what I believe was her first ever attempt at preparing them herself.
Finally, say what you will about the English and/or Spanish-impaired makers of “White Queso Blanco”, but their product was yummers. Much like the Force binds the universe together, so did the “White Queso Blanco” unite and unify these nachos.
I gave Katy fair warning that I would be telling the world that this dish’s one flaw was a bit of a lack of sufficient chippage. Specifically, all the chips were on the bottom, making the dish somewhat impractical. I had to call in auxiliary chips straight from the bag to prevent premature fork usage.
All in all though, Katy’s shrimp nachos were so expertly seasoned that even the salt from my tears as the Crimson Tide slowly ground my gridiron dreams to dust didn’t distort the dish’s flavor profile.
On to the metrics:
1) Spiciness/Heat: 3 out of 5. The jalapeno slices, the tartness of the pickled onions, and the tomatillo salsa all combined to give off a satisfying heat.
2) Presentation: 5 out of 5. The platter was a thing of beauty, as the photograph above demonstrates. Almost too pretty to eat. Almost.
3) Practicality: 2 out of 5. See above. A very minor quibble at most, but I have to at least maintain some appearance of propriety and professional objectivity, lest the International Society of Snackfood Journalists (ISSJ) revoke my hard-earned credentials.
4) Thesis: 4.5 out of 5. The thesis (or rather, theses) of these nachos was two-fold: A) Let’s eat something fancy for the big game and B) Let’s distract ourselves from the on-field carnage by stuffing ourselves silly with some satisfying comfort food.
5) Zazz: 5 out of 5. Home field advantage still counts for something on this blog. After all, I’m dumb, but I’m not that dumb. Plus, all favoritism aside, these nachos were really quite incredible. Almost too good to even be called nachos, really. Could they be the next jump in nachovolution? Are we witnessing the Dawn of the Ultranacho?
Total: 19.5 out of 25. Best nachos of 2013 so far!
Until next time, Good Night and Good Nachos!
*Although I think we can all agree that the Mayan Nachopacalypse did not occur on December 21st as predicted, that shouldn’t stop us from going next December 21st to our favorite Nacho Patch to await the coming of Nachocoatl, the Mayan god of queso and maize. Don’t stop believin’!
**Unless you count January 17th, Katy’s birthday. Which you should.
***Soon to be renamed “The World’s Largest Outdoor Nacho Party, Also Featuring Some Cocktails”.
****That all really happened, although the Frisch’s incident may have occurred a few years earlier on the way home from a Cincinnati Moeller high school football game. Nevertheless, despite my mortification at the whole incident I’ve bravely continued to both eat at Frisch’s and consume pumpkin pie, though never at the same time.
*****I did do the dishes afterward. I’m no Neanderthal, you know.
******”White Queso Blanco”, brought to you by the Department of Redundancy Department, makers of “Roast Beef Au Jus With Sauce”.
- Specifically: I’m going to paint an entire 40k army and finish my Cryx boxset.
- Generically: I’m going to play more wargames (WM, 40k, etc).
- Additionally: Let’s start thinking about a big gaming day in Jan/Feb. All day, food, gaming, beer. Pub is closed, but I’ll gladly host. WM/H, Magic, miscellany.
- Play more Warmachine. I miss my Khador stuff.
- Get my 40K models assembled (Dark Angels and Chaos).
- Continue to fall further down the rabbit hole with The Hobbit miniatures game. Nobody will play with me. I don’t care. I desire them anyway.
- Get the new Flames of War starter box and play that.
- I’m not going to buy anything else that isn’t Menoth, Khador or Skorne. (And focus on Skorne)
- I’m going to finish stripping, assembling, priming and painting my Menoth army, developing some patience as a painter so my figures look less sloppy.
- I’m going to learn to play Hordes.
- I’m going to downsize my Malifaux collection to one or two crews.
- Downsize my comics collection, particularly the statues and whatnot. I have too many things.
- I’m not going to learn to play The Hobbit game, because I have too many hobbies as it is. (Hmmm, I wonder what the models look like…)
- I’d like to run a draft / sealed Magic event for us for each new set release (4 times / year)
- Enter a larger sanctioned Magic event like a Pro Tour Qualifier or a Grand Prix.
- Add to my Circle Orboros collection – buy a model / unit, paint, rinse and repeat
- Have a better plan (and a weekend pass) for GenCon
- Get Rex BACK to playing WM.
- Get Jason to play WM. Or Magic. Or both. Or something.
“Two headed dog
Two headed dog
I’ve been working in the Kremlin
With a Two headed dog”
- Roky Erickson, “Two Headed Dog”*
Anyone who knows me knows that, despite my worldly, cosmopolitan demeanor, I am above all else a true Son of the South. I’ve lived my whole life below the Mason-Dixon Line, I’m a direct descendant of a Confederate officer**, and nothing’s funnier to me than the way people from Michigan pronounce the word “dollar”.
My affinity for all things Southern probably expresses itself most profoundly in my love for Southern food. I mean, it’s not like I’ve ever turned down a Chicago style hot dog or a Philly cheesesteak just because they come from “Up North”, but there’s just something about Southern food in all its many and varied forms that just makes my mouth water like a hound dog eatin’ boiled goobers.***
One of my favorite genres of Southern cooking comes from the swamps and bayous of Louisiana, a.k.a. “Cajun Country”. When I was younger, I had cousins who lived in Oppelousas, so I was lucky enough to be exposed to cajun cookery at a young age. Those years happened to coincide with the heyday of the late, great Justin Wilson, who taught America both the wonders of the cayenne pepper and that a dude is never too old or too beer-bellied to look good in suspenders.
So while I love cajun food, I don’t get to eat it very often, since my wife isn’t crazy about it or the killer breath said cuisine tends to engender. Luckily, though, Louisville-based mini-chain J. Gumbo’s has a new location less than a block from my office. Now I get to indulge my craving for Acadian delicacies while torturing my coworkers, rather than my wife, with brutal Etoufee Breath.
Even better, those diabolical geniuses at J. Gumbo’s have found a way to combine the French-influenced joys of cajun cuisine with everyone’s favorite tortilla-based cheese delivery system, the nacho. J. Gumbo’s has two nacho dishes on its menu, the “Voodoo Nachos” and the “NOLA Nachos”. Because I had to be awake enough to at least feign working for the afternoon, I had to pick just one of the two to sample first. And since I’m a bit of a fraidy cat when it comes to Delving Into the Dark Arts, I needed more time to work up the courage to eat anything with the word “voodoo” in the title. Thusly did I plunk my money down and take my chances with the aforementioned “NOLA Nachos”.
And when I say “plunk my money down”, I mean that literally. Due to a computer malfunction, J. Gumbo’s wasn’t accepting credit or debit card payments on the day of my visit. Luckily, I had enough cash to cover the nachos, which came to $6.50. Normally I don’t mind paying cash, but if I can’t produce a receipt, I’m going to have an awfully hard time getting reimbursed by the Game Pub’s accountants.****
The NOLA Nachos, which I ordered “to go” because I Have Important Things To Do, came packed in a styrofoam clamshell with a thoughtfully placed small “bullet” of sour cream packed on top. The nachos themselves consisted of the following:
1) circular yellow corn tortilla chips;
2) shredded (and melted) cheddar cheese;
3) thickly cut jalapeno slices;
4) white chili; and
5) Drunken Chicken, one of J. Gumbo’s signature entrees, which itself consists of olive oil, garlic, spices, beer, and stewed tomatoes.
The whole melange came together surprisingly well, definitely better than this weird Cajun-Tex-Mex mutant concoction looks on paper. The white chili was loaded with hearty beans, and the Drunken Chicken is a beast unto itself. J. Gumbo’s marinates the chicken in the garlic and beer for an undisclosed amount of time (my educated guess: somewhere between 2 hours and 15 years) and typically serves it all up on a bed of white rice. I’ve eaten Drunken Chicken in that configuration a number of times and always found it delectable, if a little on the piquant side.
But it turns out that the bed of rice provides more than just a solid base of delicious carbs. It also apparently acts as a potent spice nullifier. Take the Drunken Chicken off the rice and place it over a bed of tortilla chips, and FEEL THE POWER OF THIS FULLY OPERATIONAL BATTLE STATION. Man, was this stuff hot. I started eating these nachos with a fairly mild head cold and by the time I was done I felt like one of those reformed cocaine addict motivational speakers. You know the ones, the guys who come to your high school assembly and push a handkerchief all the way from one nostril to the other because doing all that blow totally demolished all the cartilage in their nose?*****
Sorry, where was I? At any rate, while the NOLA Nachos****** were quite spicy, there was a lot more to this dish than just pure heat. That magical, unmistakable roux flavor inherent in most cajun dishes soaked right into the tortilla chips for a really unique savory thrill.******* I know the ingredients that make up a standard roux, but somehow, when they’re all simmered together, the resulting taste is much more than the sum of its parts. It’s kind of the South’s own version of the hard-to-define flavor the Japanese call umami.
As to portion size, J. Gumbo’s menu claims that the NOLA Nachos can feed “four hungry Cajuns” which might sound pretty big to the lay person, but all the Cajuns I’ve known have been incredibly short people, sort of like Hobbits with French accents and air boats. However, I’ve got to hand it to J. Gumbo’s, $6.50 there buys a dude a whole hell of a lot of nachos. I totally believe that, when eaten as an appetizer, these nachos could in fact feed four hungry cajuns. I ate them as an entree, of course, in the name of Science, and they made for one of the heaviest lunches I’ve eaten on a work day in quite some time.
On to the metrics:
1) Spiciness/Heat: 5 out of 5. The NOLA Nachos knocked it out of the ballpark when it came to spice. Not only did they deliver on pure heat, but it was a complex, multicultural kind of heat, generated in part through the Cajun spices in the Drunken Chicken and in part through the more Latin heat delivered by the jalapeno slices.
2) Presentation: 3 out of 5. Not bad for a to-go dish. And as a I said above, all the ingredients sort of blended together, not in a weird-kid-at-your-elementary-school-who-liked-to-mash-his-food-together-to-make-gross-stuff way, but in a complex and dare I say sophisticated way that made for an interesting challenge to determine which ingredients came from where.
3) Practicality: 2.5 out of 5. Unfortunately, the (literal) base of each great plate of nachos is the quality of chip upon which the entire dish rests. And while the quality of the chips themselves was good, too many of them were broken or reduced to splinters by the time I got to them, which means I had to pull out the ol’ fork about halfway through the dish. A minor black mark on an overall sublime nacho experience, but a black mark nonetheless.
4) Thesis: 4 out of 5. I can only imagine that the thesis of these nachos was “Laissez les bon temps roulez”, although it may very well have been “We need to come up with a dish to make sure nobody wants to come within 50 feet of Scott Miller for at least 5 hours after he eats it.” Either way, mission accomplished, J. Gumbo’s.
5) Zazz: 3 out of 5. Sorry, J. Gumbo’s, but as I mentioned, no credit card = no receipt = no reimbursement = I have to pay for my own food, which is a big no-no for us professional journalist types.
Total: 17.5 out of 25.
As another distinguished Southerner once said, “Get me out of here, Percy”. Until next time, Good Night and Good Nachos!
*This song actually has nothing to do with this post. But it’s been stuck in my head, and that lyric is one of the most absurdly hilarious things I’ve ever heard. I’m halfway tempted to buy the rights to develop a sitcom based on it. Three cheers for Roky Erickson and his tragic history of untreated mental illness!
**Major T.G. Miller of the 41st Tennessee Infantry, who lost his leg in the battle of Atlanta, if you must know. His opinions regarding nachos are lost to history, although legend does speak of a dish he invented using heated buttermilk poured over hardtack.
***Or words to that effect.
****Picture, if you will, the goblin bankers from the Harry Potter series.
*****Surely I’m not the only person with this memory etched into his/her psyche.
******As distinguished from “NuLu Nachos”, which come with their own hipster waxed mustache.
*******Note to self: Write jazz song entitled “Unmistakable Roux”. Sell it to David Simon for use in Treme’s final season for the bargain price of $40 million.