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Deep in the heart of Dallas-Fort Worth

After my last experience with airport dining, I’m not expecting much. But the smell of BBQ as I left the plane overwhelmed my trepidations. Enter Cousin’s BBQ, a counter establishment in Dallas Fort Worth Terminal D. Again I’m surprised at the reasonable pricing. $11 gets you a dinner plate with two sides and Texas toast.

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The pulled pork has a perfect tender texture, but is lacking in bark. There’s great smokey flavor and color all the way through the meat. It’s slathered with a generous amount of a rather bland sauce. Skip the mac and cheese; way overcooked noodles and blue-box cheese is worthless. The potatoes are also a miss. They taste like the boxed stuff with a little bit of fresh spuds mixed in for color and texture. Lastly, the Texas toast: nothing worth saying, but then again, what do you expect for double-thick Wonderbread.

Long story short, if you’re going to hit up Texas, at least have the decency to exit the airport before seeking out BBQ.

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What’s growing in your greenhouse?

Posted from Cleveland, Ohio, United States.

I quizzed the local coworkers on the best dining options in downtown Cleveland, and second after Lola was The Greenhouse, a modern-eclectic gastropub. It has two floors of drinking, generous patio seating for nice warm summer nights, and a dark interior decked out with reclaimed wood and stacks of HVS tapes, and a fleet of hipster bicycles hanging from the ceiling.

After an extravagant culinary orgy of bacon two weeks ago, I’m still wary of pork, but I’m glad I ventured into the territory. I started with “Devils on Horseback”: Soft bacon-wrapped dates are lusciously stuffed with bittersweet chocolate. Salty and sweet and rich all at the same time. As if it could get more interesting, it’s served with a rich light onion sauce and a smokey red pepper paste. Overall it paired amazingly well with my single-malt.
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For the main course, a small, but thick cut ribeye steak. Perfectly brined and cooked, it has a rich pan-drippings sauce am served on a bed of the most amazing creamy smooth mash potatoes that taste exactly like pirogues, which are a polish potato dumpling commonly found in the area. This being the land of meat and potatoes, there’s also a generous helping of fries and a tangy house-made mayo. With a mayo like this, I can actually enjoy it on frites without feeling disgusted, which I don’t think I have ever enjoyed before.

20140731-201520-72920812.jpgFor desert, a luxurious corn-flavored custard, topped with a light fresh caramel and just a sprinkle of sea salt to enhance the flavors.

20140731-201521-72921314.jpgSo if you ever find yourself in Cleveland, check out The Greenhouse for a popular bar scene and great food.

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Pass on PizzaVino

Posted from Grapevine, Texas, United States.

Ok, this is going to be my shortest review ever. Airport food is usually very overpriced and poor quality, but I’ve been surprised recently. Not this time though. I ordered the calzone at PizzaVino at Dallas Fort Worth and am very disappointed. Almost no cheese, and the crust is bready like focaccia and flavorless. It,s just a folded over pizza, not even sealed well.

At least the wine was ok.

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SLO down for a quick bite

Posted from San Luis Obispo, California, United States.

Last time I visited Firestone Grill was the night of the farmers market, and so it was overcrowded and rushed. Tonight, a Monday night after the spring semester is over leaves San Luis Obispo quieter and more relaxed. A cool summer evening for a perfect outdoor setting.

As well as they can handle crowds, Firestone is even better on a quiet night. Tender, juicy tri-tip piled on a buttered flame-toasted roll and a sweet BBQ sauce has just the right balance of soft savory glaciers that make for an excellent example of this Central Coast specialty. With a side of huge hot onion rings, this is a great stop for a quick casual dinner, or am afternoon of watching sports. Either way a win.20140609-191657-69417921.jpg

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Chicago Deep Dish Round 2

Posted from Chicago, Illinois, United States.

Let’s try this again. After a cold walk around Chicago’s South Side and the Robie House, we decide to give deep dish another try. This time we go off the recommendations of some Chicgo ex-pat friends and stop into Giordono’s. The menu claims a history of Italian immigrants bringing over a recipe from Turin in the 70’s, so can this really be considered authentic Chicago deep dish?

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This one was better. The crust was piping hot and crispy. The filling was a little cooler than I’d like and the mushrooms and peppers would have benefitted from sautéing first. But the cheese had great flavor and you could taste the pork, fennel and spices in the sausage.

This is a much better pie than we had at Lou Malnati’s, but I think there’s still some room for improvement to make a truly great pie.