I stuffed cookie inside an Oreo and wrapped it in more cookie. What happened next? The results may surprise you.

I’ve made Oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookies before, but I’ve been getting so exhausted of having my stuffed cookies only be stuffed with one cookie. I took it to the next level by stuffing the Oreo with chocolate chip cookie dough before stuffing that into another chocolate chip cookie. By getting three cookies in one, I’ve finally achieved cookie Turducken status. I used Double Stuff Oreos because that’s what I had, but they’re a bit aggressive. Regular Oreos would be just fine in this situation. Here are the steps:

Step 1: Carefully separate the Oreo cookies leaving the filling intact.
Step 2: Flatten a small amount of cookie dough in your palm and put it on one side of the Oreo.
2014 02 09 20 55 19 Oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookies. .jpg

Step 3: Put Oreo back on, and wrap in cookie dough. You’ll need about 1.5 cookie’s worth of dough.
Step 4: Bake for about twelve and a half minutes depending on your altitude and cookie recipe. (So they say)
Oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookie Oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookie

Step 5: Eat that thing.
Oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookie

I would have preferred there to be more delineation between the various cookies, but they taste pretty good. Next time I’ll probably try a little more cookie in the middle.

I stuffed cookie inside an Oreo and wrapped it in more cookie. What happened next? The results may surprise you.

Historic restaurant preservation

Restaurant critic Robert Sietsema wrote in Eater recently about how historic restaurant preservation might function in a city with plenty of historic restaurants. Recently, Gray’s Papaya was forced to shut down when their rent from $30K to $50K, which is a lot of hot dogs. Sietsma has a list of suggestions for what a historic restaurant preservation system would look like, and a list of 30 restaurants who might be the first 30 protected.

Let’s say we appoint a committee of three, consisting of a chef, a city councilperson, and a real estate representative, who are tasked with the responsibility of selecting a list of irreplaceable dining institutions that deserve to be officially protected. The committee can make choices themselves, and also take suggestions from the public. Let’s start with 30 places as a pilot program.

Historic restaurant preservation

Tasty Burger vs Shake Shack taste test

Earlier last year, burgeoning Boston hamburger chain Tasty Burger opened a location in Cambridge’s Harvard Square. Tasty Burger has a pretty strong pedigree, coming from the same restaurant group as Franklin Cafe and Citizen Public House. Their burgers are tasty. Just this past weekend, NY burger titan Shake Shack continued their Northeast expansion by opening a location right across the Square from Tasty Burger. Within eyesight of each other, the two gourmet fast-food burger joints circle each other warily like two anthropomorphic cheeseburgerboxers (this doesn’t really happen, but imagine).

As soon as I heard Shake Shack was going into a space about 100 yards from Tasty Burger, I knew we’d have to do a taste test of some sort. Heavily inspired by this A Hamburger Today Shake Shack vs In-N-Out vs Five Guys bi-coastal taste test, we set up something similar pitting New York upstart Shake Shack against local favorite Tasty Burger. When I say “heavily inspired” I mean, we probably wouldn’t have done this without that post. I also mean I borrowed heavily from the format.

Please note: The “Boston vs New York” thing is always fraught with peril, ESPECIALLY the “Boston food vs New York food” debate. We are not getting into any of that here. For the sake of science, we put that aside and endeavored to decide impartially, once and for all, which was a better burger: Tasty Burger or Shake Shack.

The Judges
Imitable illustrator, Chris Piascik
Roxy’s Grilled Cheese and Burger owner, James DiSabatino
Flour baker, Keith Brooks
Super friend, Holly Hutchenson

Tasty burger vs shake shack taste test

The Method
At 12:03 PM on Tuesday, January 7th 2014, Keith entered and Tasty Burger Harvard Square to pick up 4 regular cheeseburgers, 1 cheeseburger without sauce (Chris doesn’t like white foods like mayo) (I know), and one veggie burger. James entered Shake Shack at 12:05 PM and ordered the same thing. The burgers were then brought to my house in an insulated bag and eaten at 1PM. We used Mexican Coke as a palate cleanser, as you do, even if it isn’t really better. There were 6 criteria for rating each burger: The Bun, The Cheese, The Toppings, The Sauce, The Value, and the Meat. In this instance, we didn’t weight any of the criteria higher than others. There were also two unweighted criteria: Time to Burger, and 8-month old acceptance. These criteria were recorded, but did not factor in final judgement. In a draw, taste testers were able to award points to both burgers. To be perfectly scientific, we should have eaten the burgers 5 minutes apart to account for Shake Shack’s burgers coming off the grill 5 minutes later, but this is cheeseburger science and a fast food burger shouldn’t deteriorate if left for 5 extra minutes.

Criteria Shake Shack Tasty Burger
Size: 1/4 pound patty 1/3 pound patty
How cooked: Flat top Grill
Bun: Potato Bun Sesame Bun
Cheese: American Cheddar American Blend
Toppings: Lettuce, tomato* Lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions
Sauce: Thousand Island** Ketchup, mayo
Value: $4.85 for a cheeseburger. $1.21 per ounce. $5.25 for a cheeseburger. $.98 per ounce.
Meat: “100% all-natural Angus beef, vegetarian fed, humanely raised and source verified. No hormones or antibiotics – EVER.” “All natural, Certified Humane®, and NEVER given any growth hormones or antibiotics. The steer are grass fed and finished on a 100% vegetarian grass and grain diet.”

*The AHT review above mentions onions and pickles. Our burgers did not have.
**The AHT review above mentions ketchup and mayo. Our burgers did not have.

Reminder, a draw results in a point awarded to both burgers. And sauce only has 4 votes because Chris doesn’t like sauce. (I don’t know either.)

Shake shack vs tasty burger taste test

The Bun
Score: 4-1 Tasty Burger
Comments on the Tasty Burger bun:
“Love the sesame seeds on Tasty Burger’s bun.” “It’s got a moist, springy texture.” “Very sturdy.” “Too big.” “If I was just eating the two buns on their own, I would like the Tasty Burger bun better.”

Comments on the Shake Shack bun
“Perfect burger to bun ratio. It allowed meat to really shine.” “I love potato rolls, but the Tasty bun worked better.” “I liked the Tasty Burger bun better for the first two bites, and Shake Shack better for last two bites. It soaks up the juices”

The Cheese
Score: 4-4 Tied
Comments on the Tasty Burger cheese
“Tangy. Nice tangy flavor.”

Comments on the Shake Shack cheese
“A little more subtle. Not a big American Cheese fan.” “Hard to taste anything, it’s completely melted into the burger.”

The Toppings
Score: 5-4 Shake Shack
Comments on the Tasty Burger toppings
“The way the burger is wrapped to go doesn’t give the lettuce much chance to stay strong.” “The pickles and onions were a nice touch.”

Comments on the Shake Shack toppings
“Is this supposed to have pickles and onions?”

The Sauce
Score 3-1 Tasty Burger
Comments on the Tasty Burger sauce
“Ketchup and mayo, not mixed.” “Classic.” “Reminded me of backyard burger.”

Comments on the Shake Shack sauce
“By itself it tasted good.” “Pretty good on first bite around the edges. Not as good in the middle of the burger when it’s concentrated and you get a mouthful.” “Is this supposed to have ketchup and mayo?”

The Value
Score: 5-0 Tasty Burger
Comments on the Tasty Burger value
“Pretty even. Both will satisfy. Just price per pound edge goes to Tasty Burger. Tasty Burger is 100% Certified Humane beef. Shake Shack uses 100% no antibiotics no hormones.” “More expensive meat, probably. Bigger sandwich. No contest” “Substantial.”

Comments on the Shake Shack value
“You wouldn’t feel cheated at Shake Shack, it’s just Tasty Burger is a bigger sandwich.”

The Meat
Score 4-1 Shake Shack
Comments on the Tasty Burger meat
“I like the seasoning, grill taste, and the texture.”

Comments on the Shake Shack meat
“Seasoned much better.” “A lot more flavor.” “Tons of beef flavor.” “The first bite was spongy, not in a good way.”

Unweighted criteria
Response by an 8 month old to burger meat washed of any sauce: While it appeared the Tasty Burger burger was enjoyed with the Shake Shack burger being spit out immediately, the piece of Tasty Burger burger was found on the floor some time later. This is a draw and I will have to teach my daughter to honor my food preferences.
Veggie Burger: Shake Shack’s is two portabello mushrooms fried with cheese in the middle. The Tasty Burger veggie burger is a formed patty that is pleasantly spicy. If you want something that tastes like it might be bad for you, go with Shake Shack, if you want a healthier option, go with Tasty Burger. They were both palatable. This is a draw.
Speed of Service: Tasty Burger took 8 minutes to produce the order, Shake Shack took 10 minutes. Tasty Burger is the clear winner if 2 minutes is important to you.

The Results
If we’re just counting the scores on the different criteria above, Tasty Burger won 3-2 with one draw. If you add up all the votes, it’s 21-15 Tasty Burger. And for overall burger, judges picked Tasty Burger 4-1. While it’s clear from these results Tasty Burger makes a superior burger, everyone was supremely satisfied by the Shake Shack burger. It was not my intention with this taste test to equivocate. I wanted to find a clear winner, which in Tasty Burger, we seem to have done. Before tasting the burgers, I asked all the judges to think about who they expected and/or wanted to win. 4 judges to 1 thought Shake Shack was going to win “because of all the hype.” If there was any bias, it was in their favor. Without exception, all the judges agreed Tasty Burger and Shake Shack make a terrific fast food burger.

Tasty Burger’s use of Certified Humane® is something to applaud. I advised the judges to not include this fact in their voting in either The Value category or The Meat category. Tasty Burger won The Value vote anyway based on the size to price ratio of the burger, and would have won The Meat category if this factor was considered. All the judges agreed the Certified Humane® label was a reason on its own to choose Tasty Burger.

This cheeseburger taste test was a great afternoon, and all of the judges encourage you to perform your own. In the future some changes to the method might include blind tasting, and judges who haven’t previously tried either burger, along with judges from New York.

These final comments do a good job illustrating how close the burgers were in taste and quality:
“Shake Shack isn’t just serving meat, they’re serving a complete burger, and when judging the total package, Tasty Burger is just better.” “From now on, I’m going to go to Harvard Square and get both.” “I’m still going to eat both burgers constantly and switch it up, but if somebody could only go to one place and asked me which, I’d say Tasty Burger.” “There’s a better chance of coming away fully satisfied at Tasty Burger.” “Once I found out the information of the humane beef at Tasty Burger, it would sway my decision to Tasty Burger because of how close the burger experience was between the two of them and how geographically close they are. However, where I live, Five Guys is closer, and is a superior burger to both of them.”

Tasty Burger vs Shake Shack taste test

Here’s a dumb thing about the beef industry

Cattle ranchers in the US are required to pay $1 per head to the government which then transfers the money to different trade associations intended to promote the beef industry. Most of the money goes to the National Cattleman’s Beef Association, which is mostly an insane lobbying group arguing against commonsense regulations. They’re the group that is fighting against the labeling of beef that would tell you where beef was from – something many ranchers (humane/organic/sustainable ranchers mostly) want. While the NCBA is a trade organization with membership fees, over 90% of it’s revenue comes from that $1 per cattle tax charged to ranchers. Basically, without this “marketing” tax, our food industry in general, and our beef industry specifically would be a lot better off. Washington Monthly wrote about it here. The last couple paragraphs have the most bullshit.

And in the case of the NCBA, the degree of subsidy is particularly extreme. With its membership having shrunk from 40,000 in 1994 to 26,000 today, only 7 percent of the NCBA’s revenue comes from membership dues. That means that most of the cost of its overhead, from the $434,477 it paid its chief executive in 2010 to the cost of keeping the lights on and maintaining its Web site, comes from public money. As such, the comingling of its public money with lobbying activity is inherent and of great value. If the NCBA didn’t have those checkoff funds, says rancher Steve Charter, “they would have a pretty tough time keeping going.” Put another way, without the public money it receives, the NCBA might not even exist, and certainly would not have the lobbying clout it has today.

Here’s a dumb thing about the beef industry

Here are some whiskey longreads for National Bourbon Day

Every day is another dumb national day for some food or another. June is Iced Tea Month and June 10th is Iced Tea Day. And I love iced tea, but it doesn’t need a day, let alone a month. All that said, what better reason to put together a batch of whiskey links than National Bourbon Day! (PS, I didn’t discriminate between whiskey or whisky; bourbon, rye, and scotch all get some in here.)

My two favorite whiskey quotations:
“If by whiskey…”
Drink alcohol. Quite a bit. Mostly bourbon.”

These are really good guides to get you going.
Serious Eats Guide to Rye Whiskey answers what is rye whiskey.

According to the United States government, rye whiskey sold in the United States must meet these requirements:
*Made from a grain mixture that is at least 51% rye.
*Aged in new charred-oak barrels.
*Distilled to no more than 160 proof, or 80% alcohol by volume (ABV). In practice, most rye is distilled out at a lower proof than this.
*Entered into the barrel for aging at a proof no higher than 125 (62.5% ABV).
*Bottled at no less than 80 proof (40% ABV).

Serious Eats Guide to Bourbon answers what is bourbon.

*Made from a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn.
*Aged in new charred-oak barrels.
*Distilled to no more than 160 proof, or 80% alcohol by volume (ABV). In practice, most bourbon is distilled out at a lower proof than this.
*Entered into the barrel for aging at a proof no higher than 125 (62.5% ABV).
*Bottled at no less than 80 proof (40% ABV).

Serious Eats State of the Union: American Whiskey
Serious Eats Guide to Tennessee Whiskey

If whiskey takes so long to age, how can there be so many new brands?

Less patient companies can buy “sourced” whiskey and sell it until their own product matures. The High West Distillery in Park City, Utah, which opened its doors in 2009, is up front about the fact that it is curating spirits from distilleries around the country while its home-made blends of rye whiskey age in warehouses nearby. The new Louisville-based small batch bourbon company Angel’s Envy mixes pre-aged selections from a local distillery then stores the blends for three to six more months in imported ruby port casks. (The company says the wine barrels infuse the whiskey with “caramelized fruits, chocolates and a smoky undertone.”)

PS This guy is aging whiskey in a week using pressure.

Interview with whiskey sommelier Heather Greene (heavier on the fact she’s a woman than need be).

Why are women more involved in whiskey than ever before?
HG: Like we’ve talked about, women do really well with nosing and whiskey. Then there’s Mad Men and the advent of nostalgia in pop culture, and this return to sophistication and entertaining at home. More and more women are also writing at influential publications. Women are tastemakers and influencers and they are curious about this. There’s the mixology craze. Now you have mixologists very attuned to different notes and aromas that come out of whiskey and use those notes to create beautiful cocktails. Finally, in the 1970s, women started to become included in the wine world, and now there is a huge market. You get to the point where you ask: What’s next? This is the new frontier.

Interview with Bill Sammuels Jr from Makers Mark where he foreshadows the blow up earlier this year when MM reversed their decision to release a lower proof.

10, 15, 20 years from now, where do you think Maker’s Mark will be and what will it look like?
That’s a great question. I don’t know. I think I can say without question that we’re going to spend the next two years managing a limited supply. I’m almost positive of that unless Europe blows up and we follow right behind them. But if the economy doesn’t blow, I think the next 10 years, we’re going to have significantly less product than we’ve got demand. I see us staying true to our values. I see us being honest about what we’ve got, about not shopping for supplies somewhere else and sticking it in the Maker’s Mark bottle, and all of those temptations. After 10 years, I don’t know. I think a lot of it might depend on the bourbon trend. Unlike a lot of other trends, bourbon is more rooted in authenticity and reality, and it probably ought to sustain those of us that are interested in the Kentucky economy. I certainly hope so. But it might wane. You got to remember, the last time bourbon was really popular was 1918. It never really recouped after prohibition. So it took 90 years to swing into the trough and come back up and become fashionable again, and I would suggest that what Mom and Dad did in creating the first real premium bourbon had a hell of a lot to do with the fact that all distillers are basking in the success and we’re doing it all together. Everybody has got really distinct, interesting products and nobody has to apologize for anybody and there is a great feeling in that. But Mom and Dad got it started.

The best whiskey you’ve probably never heard of.”

How Obama is saving American whiskey. Sort of.

Whiskey for Pain (from 1941)

In their experiments, Drs. Wolff, James D. Hardy and Helen Goodell tried a mixture of two ounces of 95% grain alcohol in a glass of ginger ale on themselves, found that it raises the “threshold” of pain 45% for two hours. Two ounces of 90-proof whiskey will turn the same trick. If a five-grain tablet of aspirin is added, any pain can be dulled for four hours. Dr. Wolff urged his colleagues to return to the use of whiskey for “persons suffering continuously,” especially cancer victims. Said he: “It is cheaper than morphine. … Of course alcohol is habit-forming but an alcohol habit is less difficult to deal with than a morphine habit.”

On rye’s revival, the NY Times in 2006.

It used to be the signature whiskey of the United States. George Washington distilled it. Men fought over it in the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794. Classic cocktails like the manhattan, the Sazerac and the Ward 8 were invented for it. Humphrey Bogart swigged it. But the rise of vodka, bourbon and single-malt scotch, along with the decline of the distilling industry in the Northeast, the stronghold of rye production, turned rye into a relic.

Big brands making small whiskies.

While much of what they’re making comes off the still as standard bourbon or rye, there’s also a lot of less-standard stuff: straight corn whiskey, malt whiskey, millet whiskey, sorghum whiskey, spelt whiskey, whiskey made from mixed barley, oats, and rye, all kinds of things. The problem is whiskey is an interaction of two different processes: distillation and maturation. That maturation takes a long time to do its best work, a minimum of 4 years, a sweet spot of 10 or 12, and well beyond that in exceptional cases. Almost all American microdistilleries are under ten years old, and most of them are well under that. If they want to play around with fully matured whiskey, they’ve got to either buy it or, you know, wait.

A California whiskey pilgrimage.

Top 10 bourbons. Another top 10 bourbons. Best bourbons for Father’s Day. Best new bourbons. Another top 10 bourbons. Top 5 bourbons. Ascending Order of Bourbon. Best Derby Day bourbons. Top 12 bourbons and ryes. Another top 10 bourbons. 8 quality bourbons, best value bourbons, another top 10 bourbons, another 10 top 10 bourbons.

Slideshow on the barrels.

A word on Japanese whisky.

Interested in purchasing stock in a whiskey company?

This guy was accused of stealing whiskey he found.


You’ll need a subscription to read this actual longread about a distillery in Scotland in the New Yorker.

Want to make your own whiskey?

Here are some whiskey longreads for National Bourbon Day

Hamburger Cheeseburger Hotdog: A Tribute to Backyard BBQ

The latest Super Precious Art Gallery show is up featuring 26 pieces from 20 artists. It’s an illustration heavy tribute to backyard BBQs and there are plenty of hotdogs and hamburgers to go around. Please take a look!

Here are a few samples by Josh LaFayette, TJ Kelly III, Ryan Frease, Michael Rapa, Carolyn Sewell, and Emily Chionchio.

JL SP Sriracha 650px TJKelleyIII BestWallpaper
BBQorDIE RyanFrease 14x11 webSp bbq mcdonalds finalSuperPreciousBBQ SewellFinalItalian cookout web

Hamburger Cheeseburger Hotdog: A Tribute to Backyard BBQ

Bacon and Beer Festival Wayne’s World Poster

I’m in love with this year’s Bacon and Beer Festival art. It’s by Chris Piascik who is great at art, but lousy at being friendly.

Bacon wayne 600px

Also, we have new branding for Bacon and Beer Festival by Josh LaFayette who is great at art AND great at being friendly. Go figure.

BnB Logo 600px

T Shirts and details and ticket info available in a couple weeks.

Bacon and Beer Festival Wayne’s World Poster

‘This game is rigged, man’ – 25 best food moments from The Wire

I’m not a fan of slideshows, but this one at least has enough videos that you can watch almost an entire episode’s worth of The Wire. First We Feast compiled their 25 favorite food-related scenes from The Wire, and because this blog is a repository for The Wire themed link bait, I am posting it. Here’s number 12.

Season: Four
Episode Name: “Final Grades”

After getting charges dropped on Bodie, McNulty takes him for some lunch in a park over near Pimlico. This meeting prefigures the circumstances that lead to Bodie being killed, as having close dealings with a cop eventually gets him pegged as a snitch. Still, lunch acts as a common ground, a sort of neutralizer of roles. Over sandwiches in the arboretum, McNulty is not a cop for a moment, and Bodie not a lieutenant for Marlo. They are just a couple of guys working in two separate systems that are screwing them over. This is the second time that lunch brings the two together not as cat and mouse, but as two men who respect each other.

‘This game is rigged, man’ – 25 best food moments from The Wire