Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Walking in Ottawa: The Glebe and Landsdowne Park

A spring afternoon walk in Ottawa down Bank Street and through Landsdowne Park, including a look into TD Place Stadium, and then up O'Connor Street.

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Thursday, April 01, 2021

Walking in Ottawa: Eating in Hintonburg at Meat Press & SuzyQ Donughts + Ottawa LRT

 I walk from Centretown from Hintonburg for lunch at Meat Press and a sweet desert from SuzyQ Donughts. Then it's transit back home via the Ottawa LRT and a short bus ride. Come along for the walk and ride, and a bonus stop for a tale of local Cold War history.

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Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Reviewing the Weber Q 2400 Electric Grill from my condo balcony

 I share my experience as a condo dweller barbequing with Weber's Q 2400 electric grill.

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Friday, January 29, 2021

Eating in lockdown: Hanley's Nashville Hot Chicken

We've lived through the chicken wing era, the fancy burger era, and the Ramen era. Right now, I believe we're in the Nashville Hot Chicken era. And like all food trends they take their time to come to Ottawa but come during this lockdown it has and this week I tried one of the new local entrants: Hanley's Nashville Hot Chicken.

It seems to be a pop-up that moves around the city, most recently landing downtown at Queen Street Fare. I ordered it from Uber Eats though for my weekly Wednesday purchased meal. The chicken tendie combo comes with three tendies (I added one for a fee), crinkle fries which I upgraded to cheesy, corn bread and pickles. There was also a small cup of dipping sauce and a slightly larger but still small cup of pickled slaw. I also added a mac & cheese side, because I'm all about that mac and cheese. You can also choose from a scale of hotness for your tendies -- I went with medium.

Supposedly the origin story behind Nashville Hot Chicken is that a wife was very unhappy with her husband, I'm sure for very good reasons. Wanting to bring the pain, she made him fried chicken but unknown to him tried to make it scorching painfully hot. The result though was not what she hoped for -- he loved it. Not sure if they stayed together, but it made the leap to a local Nashville restaurant and spread from there.

Anyway, the dish arrived in a box that got rather jumbled together on the drive across Centretown. I'll dispense with the cornbread - I don't care for cornbread. I also don't like pickles. I don't really care for thicker fries like the crinkle cut (I'm a thin fry boy) but the cheese sauce, which had a mild kick, made them tasty. The less cheesy fried did not get eaten -- could have been crispier also.

The chicken was the star attraction though. They were big and fairly juicy, and as any portable chicken aficionado knows it's chicken tender>chicken strip>chicken finger. They're breaded but not saucy, the powdered heat comes from the coating. And it's a slow heat that took some time to hit me. Still, I didn't find it that hot and should have gone with the hot instead of the medium. It was tasty, but the breading didn't adhere to well and began to come off with minor handling. Still, was a good lunch. Would like to try it in sandwich form next time.

The mac and cheese was just OK. It had cheese, but it lacked any creamy saucy element. Need the cheese saucy for good mac and cheese. At least they used macaroni though, points for that.

I believe there are one or two other Nashville Hot Chicken offerings in town, so more exploration still to do.

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Thursday, November 26, 2020

Eating in lockdown: The saga of the Popeye's Sandwich

 I've long liked that chicken from Popeye's. So much better than KFC. A spicy option, quality fries, biscuits, mac and cheese, corn on the cob -- so good. 

There really weren't any convenient locations for me for awhile though. Living in Toronto, I would hike to the one downtown on Yonge from time to time. When the 2015 campaign was underway there was one just down the street from the campaign office, and as this one offered Halal chicken it became a frequent fixture on the campaign office buffet. When I moved to Ottawa, the nearest one was a two-trip bus away in Alta Vista, so it remained a rare treat.

Then one opened in the Glebe, inside the former KFC turned Rogers Wireless store. There was the expected murmur of discontent from the Glebians, though tempered by past fights lost over Boston Pizza and McDonald's -- though they seem fine with Whole Foods and Starbucks.

Anyways, it was good to have a Popeye's close to home and they did busy business, and I made a few off hours visits due to their limited seating to get my chicken fix. But since pandemic times we've had to turn to Uber Eats, and it has not been a good experience. They do a lot of food delivery business at Popeye's, and they don't do it well.

Nearly every time I've ordered, they've gotten something wrong. They forget an item. They run out of something, so they just make a substitution with no consultation. So many times I'm given the wrong order entirely. If you're there in person, you can make sure you get the right thing, so they're less likely to screw you over. Less so with delivery. Still, many times I've had to complain to Uber Eats for refunds and they're usually good with it, but still, I wanted what I ordered.

Which brings me to the long-awaited flagship Popeye's Chicken Sandwich. I had long since given up on Popeye's via Uber Eats -- fool me four times, shame on you, fool me five times, you can't get fooled again -- but I wasn't going to go down there with dining closed and photograph a chicken sandwich in the parking lot.

Anyway, long store short, on the second order attempt I actually received the chicken sandwich I ordered for a work lunch, standing on Wellington Street to retrieve it and taking in inside passed the undoubtedly jealous Parliamentary security. Opening the bag and my desk and breathing a sigh of relief to find the long-awaited spicy chicken sammy inside.

I plated, photographed, dug in and it was ... OK. After all that, it was OK. It was good. It was a perfectly serviceable chicken sandwich. Probably the best of the fast food chicken sandwiches I've had. But the years of hype, the lines and fights over this sandwich in the US, the chicken sandwich showdowns, the long wait for it to come to Canada, with all that build-up it just underwhelmed.

I think we live in an era where we have been conditioned to lower our expectations. A decade or two ago, this sandwich would have been what you would reliably expect from a fast food chicken sammy. As I think I wrote about before, I still remember the big, juicy KFC Big Crunch of my junior high years. This Popeye's sammy reminded me of that. And it only shines because of the decline in quality over the years we have experienced in fast food.

 Anyway, some 600 words later. The brioche bun was good, the breading was well-seasoned, the patty of good size and the chicken juicy, and the spicy mayo did its job.

I haven’t had it since. When we can dine in safely again, I’ll be back. It’s as quality a fast food chicken Sammy as you’ll find. But it’s not worth the hype, or the Uber Eats Roulette with Popeye’s Glebe.

Other chicken sammies

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