Johnny Roast Beef Stops by the ATrainSports Office to Give His Take on Donte DiVincenzo.

Johnny Roast Beef stopped by the A-Train Sports HQ to deliver some capicola and other fine deli meat from his deli/pizza place back east. Johhny don’t know a lot, but the man know’s his meats. He also loves to watch College Basketball and since he would not shut up about Donte DiVincenzo’s performance last night, I told him to say it into the camera maybe I get a little bit of content out of it capisce?

Johnny gets a little excited when he talks Italians, his brother Paulie is worse. Paulie Capicola we call him on account that he always smells like sliced capicola. I don’t know why we call Johnny Roast Beef. I think it’s because his brother already had a meat-related nickname. I always joke those two together on some nice Italian bread with a little hot giardiniera would make for a helluva sandwich.

 

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You eat one of these and it’s like pass the Briosci!

 

Johnny Roast Beef had to head back east but he’ll be out here again sometime to deliver the meats. Let me tell you if you think that fucking Arby’s guy has the meats, you are dead-wrong buddy, Johnny and Paulie got the meats for real. Try their capicola, marone! is it good.

A-Train Eats Out: Shiro’s (Phrasing) or Celebrating Chinese New Year with Japanese Food.

It was the first day of the Chinese New Year, a Friday, and my best friend P-Dog had just got a promotion from Amazon. Congrats bud. P-Dog also happened to owe me a meal for taking care of his cats for 8 days, so it seemed like a perfect day for a Shiro’s run.

What’s Shiro’s you ask? Well, it’s the best place to get sushi in Seattle, a town known for its seafood. That’s the short answer.

Before some food-nerd chirps me about how Shiro’s is no longer owned by Shiro Kashiba, and how Shiro has a new place called Sushi Kashiba, I know all that. I have been to Sushi Kashiba on multiple occasions. I have had Shiro as my chef at both restaurants. Even with the namesake Shiro out of the picture, Shiro’s is still the top dog in the sushi game.

Sushi Kashiba looks swankier on the inside, the wait staff is whiter, and the bill will be higher, the line to get into the bar might even be a little longer. The Omakase experience, which is all I care about, is not better. The Shiro’s Omakase takes the cake.

How we do our Shiro’s. Things to expect.

  • Get in line early for the bar. Sometimes an hour early if you need to get seated at the first seating. P-Dog and I want to be first in line because we want very specific seats at the bar. There are about 13 seats at an L-shaped sushi bar. Think 3 seats and 10 seats make up the L. We want to be on the 3 seat part of the L because those seats give you a peek behind the scenes and you a certain to be served by the Head Chef. Monday-Friday the Head Chef is a white guy from Hawaii named Aaron. Do not be worried about a white sushi chef, Aaron knows what he’s about. He spent many years in Japan honing his craft.
  • He is a culinary all-star.If they try to deny you your rightful seat by the Head Chef because it’s a new host who doesn’t recognize you, insist until you get your way. It didn’t take much insisting, I took one look at Aaron and he made sure we were in our proper place.Omakase is what you order at the bar. It means chef’s choice and they feed you until you are full, while minding any allergies or things you know you dislike. If you want to look like a jerk sit at the bar and don’t order Omakase. Sushi snobs like P-Dog and I will silently mock you. Usually, we say no abalone because it’s not great, and I don’t like cuttlefish but it’s rarely on the menu.
  • Sitting at the bar, unless you are in a big group, you interact a lot with the people around you. This is the wildcard of sushi culture because you get all kinds of people. You get the people who know nothing about sushi…these people can be bad or really awesome because you get to witness someone’s eye’s being opened to something amazing. Then you get the sushi know-it-all-know-nothing. This is the fucking idiot who tries to impress with his order at the bar, not realizing you sit at the bar not to order. If this guy does order Omakase he’s still trying to order shit during the meal. “Like do you guys have Uni, let me get some Uni” Dude just shut the fuck up and the chef will give you Uni when he decides it’s time. They serve these fish in an order for a reason! You get lots of cool normal people, people on business, on dates, lots of special occasions. Then you get weirdos.
  • We had a weirdo in earshot last night. Youngish looking, extremely softspoken, would not shut up. He had a tendency to say the most obvious thing ever or just relate anything back to something he once did. Worse He was the most beta of beta males I’ve ever seen.
  • I barely ate all day, and I feel like I could eat the entire ocean by the time we sit down. A-Train recommends bring your appetite or you will bow out of the meal before you meet all the sea creatures.

Final Tip: If you do become a Omakase regular, make sure to visit at different times of the year, fish are seasonal, my personal favorite time of year for Shiro’s is the fall.

Let the feast begin!

 

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Left: Snapper. (I forget which kind.) Right: Triggerfish topped with steamed triggerfish liver.

Usually, I never take pictures of my sushi unless it’s something crazy I’ve never had, but Friday night I wanted to make a close friend jealous so I pretty much live-tweeted him the entire meal.

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Seared Goldeneye Snapper.
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Yellow-Tail family fish flight.
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Left: Salmon Belly. Right: Copper River Sockeye.
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Don’t be scared, Mrs. Shrimp. It will all be over soon. 

 

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Hello Mrs. Shrimp. It appears as if you’ve lost your head.

It’s somewhere around here that I text P-Dog my hypothesis, soft-spoken weirdo has a micro-penis.

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Scallop with Plum Sauce.

The shrimp is sweet and delicious, scallop doesn’t disappoint either.

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Mr. Shrimp wants to know what’s in the box. John Doe has the upper hand!

Pat yourself on the back if you get the reference to Se7en.

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Left to Right: Uni (Maine, Salmon Roe, Uni (Japan).

A polarizing piece of Nigiri, Uni is always a highlight for P-Dog and me.

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Albacore and Albacore Belly.

At this point, P-Dog and I are texting back and forth what we can’t say out loud regularly. I can’t stop making fun of the weirdo. It’s like Dustin Hoffman from the Rainman is a little less autistic and a lot more into sushi. He won’t stop talking. It’s getting out of hand.

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Left: Seared Barracuda Right: Japanese Perch (prized whitefish of Japan according to Chef) 

The weirdo now exclaims how he “smelled some marijuana” when the front door opened, so not only does he have a micropeen, he’s also a narc. P-Dog almost spit-takes at the text.

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A special treat: live octopus. 
This was a first a Shiro’s, best Octopus I’ve had there.

 

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Native Only to the Pacific Northwest: Geoduck.

Weido informs us that the Manatee is also called a Sea-Cow. I honestly want to know what else I learned by the 4th grade he wants to teach us.

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A little bit of precum gathers when I see Chef getting out the tuna.

The Weirdo’s friend is mercifully forming a bit of a buffer zone, but to be honest he’s making the meal more fun now, not less.

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Tuna (Maguro) Flight. All from one fish, a Spanish caught bluefin tuna. Left to Right: Akami (lean), chutoro (medium-fatty), marinated chutoro, Otoro (ultra-fatty).

These pieces melt in your mouth, even the lean. The Otoro is straight up butter.

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Jack Mackeral.
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Flounder topped with pickled radish.

This meal is starting to have that epic feel to it.

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Monkfish Liver the fois gras of the sea.

Weirdo has had fois gras, but not of the sea. He’s been telling us a lot of things he’s had before. Thing’s he’s never had? A moment of silence.

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King Crab.
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Smoked King Mackeral.

You can’t bow out of an omakase meal until AFTER you get this piece.

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Shad.
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Kushi Oyster.

The weird-guy has never had an oyster. He also doen’t like them?

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Needlefish.
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Seared Pickled Herring. A second (not pictured) was immediately ordered and devoured. 

At this point, the only fish we have left to try is the Eel which is served at the end, so this is the “revisit” section where you go back to pieces you need again.

 

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Chutoro was A+ gotta get more.
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This was my favorite from the yellowtail family. I think i
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Seared Barracuda and Seared Goldeneye Snapper. As a rule, almost all pieces that get a taste of the torch are worth a revisit.

 

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Flounder was worth a second look.

 

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When Chef Aaron ask if you want anything special, we tell him chef’s choice handroll. He delivered in spades with this Tuna Handrolled with chopped radish and sesame.

They call it a hand roll because you want to eat it the second it’s handed to you. (Before the seaweed paper had a chance to lose its crunch.) I had to snap this picture as quickly as possible. Also if you see premade handrolls you now know to avoid them.

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Double Order Unagi. (Freshwater Eel)

For the first time in the almost 10 years of coming to this place, I had the forethought to order double eel for P-Dog and myself. The Eel course is always after the revisit section but is worth a revisit of its own.

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Double Order Anago. (Saltwater Eel)

 

Final Piece Not Pictured: Tamago – Sweet Egg. 

I forgot to take a pic of the sweet egg but if you can picture a yellowish rectangle, you are pretty much looking at tamago.

  • I did a google image search and all the picture of tamago were basically what you would see at a lower tier restaurant, this is not the professional stuff. Then I googled “Tamago Jiro” in reference to the movie Jiro Dreams of SushiScreen Shot 2018-02-17 at 6.52.02 PM I was lucky to find this, an almost carbon copy of the same dish at Shiro’s. Shiro Kashiba was an apprentice for Jiro back in Japan.

That’s All Folks! If you come to Seattle and like sushi, hit up Shiro’s in Belltown. I give it my stamp of ultimate approval. Someday I’d like to make enough money to eat here all the time, not three times a year if I’m lucky.

-A-Train Out.

I leave you with this little video, it gives you an idea of the L shaped bar I was talking about and you can see Chef Aaron doing his thing.

 

 

A-Train Eats: Sister’s Stew, A Christmas Tradition is Born.

Today we have a very special edition of my favorite segment: A-Train Eats. I plan to make a recipe directly out of the text of A Dance with Dragons the 5th novel of George R.R. Martin’s epic A Song of Ice and Fire. 

Throughout A Song of Ice and Fire Martin gives his reader’s detailed descriptions of the various dishes on which his characters dine. I am an ardent reader when it comes to A Game of Thrones and the books that followed, but it wasn’t until the 5th novel that a dish truly caught my attention. That dish is sister’s stew.

Background:

Ser Davos Seaworth is on a mission from Stannis to treat with Wyman Manderly, the Lord of White Harbor. The pirate Sallador Saan is supposed to be the one escorting him, but Saan has a change of Heart and chooses to abandon Stannis. Davos is put off the boat near the islands of the Three Sister’s and ends up on the Isle of Sweetsister. On Sweetsister he gets captured and brought before the Lord of the Isle, a man named Godric Borrell.

He shouted, and a woman entered the hall. “We have a guest to feed. Bring beer and bread and sister’s stew.”

The beer was brown, the bread black, the stew a creamy white. She served it in a trencher hollowed out of a stale loaf. It was thick with leeks, carrots, barley, and turnips white and yellow, along with clams and chunks of cod and crabmeat, swimming in a stock of heavy cream and butter. It was the sort of stew that warmed a man right down to his bones, just the thing for a wet, cold night. Davos spooned it up gratefully.

The first time that I read this passage I knew the stew would one day be in my belly, and it has. I’ve made sister’s stew multiple times before, but now by making it on Christmas Eve, I solidify it as a Christmas dish in my mind. It’s basically the Die Hard of food for me now.

Ok so how do you make it? First, let me give you the base recipe I used this time. This is a different recipe than ones I used in past attempts and I think it came out the best.

Notes/Alters to this recipe.

1. I didn’t bother with the barley. I might bother with it in the future but I have a hard time imagining it improving the stew.

2. Saffron, in the book, sister’s stew contains the rare spice saffron, this is because Lord Godric happened to have ship carrying spices wreck on his shores. In the wreckage, was a pound of saffron.  Now I used Saffron in this recipe before and I didn’t think it added to the overall dish other than to make it yellow in color. Still, I think the dish deserves a rare spice for authenticity. So instead of saffron, I used truffle salt over regular salt when salting the stew. This was a fantastic idea and the truffle flavor paired perfectly with the flavors of the stew. (Shoutout to Market Spice for the Truffle Salt.)

3. I live near the Pike Place fish markets and I have great access to fresh seafood. Fresh Seafood is key in good sister’s stew. I don’t advise using canned clams or imitation crab meat. It’s disrespectful to the recipe, the people in the town of Sisterton don’t use canned or imitation meat. If you want true sister’s stew you must use the real McCoy. I got 1/3 of a lb of Dungeness crab meat, 2 lbs of fresh clams, and a lb of lingcod. The total at the fish monger’s was about 50 dollars. A bit pricey but that’s why you make it a Christmas tradition, the splurge becomes acceptable. (2 lbs of clams is not a lot once you get them out of the shells)

 

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This isn’t the spot where they throw the fish, but Pure Food Fish Market is where I usually go for fish at Pike Place. 
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Shoutout to Frank’s Produce my go-to spot in the market for fruits and vegetables.

 

4. I used more wine and more butter than this recipe calls for. I also added a shallot.

5. Use good bread. This stew is deserving of a quality loaf. Give each person a bread bowl and people will be happy.

 

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I went with hollowed out sourdough from Marcrina but would like to try a darker bread in the future. Still, no complaints with this bread it was perfect.

 

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Veggies, thyme, fish stock.
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Now the cream, evaporated milk, and seafood is added.
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The Finished product, served with a dark beer.

I have cooked a great many dishes in my day, but this one might be my favorite. It was fun to make and a joy to eat. I went back for seconds and then thirds. If you choose to make this for Christmas then your guests will be doing the same. It is an incredible winter recipe. I will be making it every Christmas Eve/Christmas from here on out. I don’t need ham or goose, give me the sister’s stew.

A-Train Eats: Taste of STL with P.B.M.

I spent last week in St. Louis with my fellow blogger PBM. We decided to hit up the foods unique to St. Louis. Gooey Butter Cake, Toasted Ravoli, St. Paul Sandwich, and St. Louis Style Pizza.

Not Featured in the Video: St. Louis Style Pizza. Pretty much we were so hungry by the time we got the pizza that we didn’t bother to video tape it. We tore into it like a pack of feral dogs on a fresh kill.

St. Louis Style Pizza is ultra thin crust with provel cheese. Imo’s is the dominant STL style pizza place but thin crust provel pizza can be found all over. I had Imo’s twice in St. Louis and both times it hit the spot. It’s all about the provel cheese, a cheese extremely hard to find outside of STL. Provel is a lot saltier than Mozz and it melts at a lower temperature.

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Sausage and Bacon from Imo’s

You need to let a fresh Imo’s pizza cool a bit unless you want the cheese to be soup, for this reason it’s an excellent delivery pizza. Imo’s is almost not pizza, its kinda cheese and crackers with a thin bit of sauce.  I wouldn’t take it over the pizza you get in Chicago, but it’s a nice change of pace. The crust is so thin that a stoned individual can finish an entire large by themselves and not even remember it. If you know your STL pizza then you know Bacon is the preferred topping on a STL pizza. It’s worth a try if you find yourself in the gateway to the west.

Old Coke Zero vs New Coke Zero : Blind Taste Test.

Out with the old, in with the new. Coke has scrapped Coke Zero for well….Coke Zero. Fun fact about A-Train, I’m a HUGE diet soda guy. If I get cancer it will be because I consumed daily enough Phenylalanine to kill laboratory mice. I’ve dabbled in Coke Zero but I’m a Diet Coke guy. I went through a big Cherry Coke Zero phase in the early 2010’s but I’m back to the Original. Still if the good folks over at Coke Decide that Coke Zero needs to be reformulated, you better believe I’m gonna put it to the taste test.  Screen Shot 2017-08-23 at 1.41.13 AM

My assistant poured while my back was turned and the taste test began. The first glass gave me a strong Coke taste almost no after taste, pretty good. I really wasn’t sure if that was the old or the new. The second glass had less Coke taste and more of an after taste. It was not as good as the first glass. My suspicion that the new formula was in the first glass was confirmed by my assistant. Overall the new Coke Zero (Pictured Left) Far out performed the Old Coke Zero in the A-Train taste test.

Now the question is will I buy this new Coke Zero over regular Diet Coke and the answer is only as a change of pace. Diet Coke will remain king. While I love that they replicated the Coke flavor in new Zero, it’s not the familiar taste that comes in the silver can. Kids coming up on diet soft drinks will love new Zero. If I had been weened on it the way I was with the classic Diet Coke, my views might be wildly different, but I’m a crusty old man now, and set in my Diet Coke ways.