Globeater - Grubbing around the Globe

Dish of the Week: Washita Valley Lobster Sandwich at Bob’s Pig Shop, Pauls Valley, OK

“What lobster is to the New England States, Chicken Fried Steak is to this part of Oklahoma.” So claims the menu at Bob’s Pig Shop, 1 of the happiest places on god’s greenish planet. Not only is it home to the Okie Noodling Tournament (see here, here & here); not only is it run by the one-of-a-kind Phil Henderson, a wildly yarn-spinning sage with a soul of gold; not only is it a treasure trove of hard-won Americana—but it’s a genuine roadside BBQ j-o-i-n-t with an 80-year-old smoke pit.

Now, as both a childhood Okie & a Bostonian in much of adulthood & spirit, I have to admit I’ve never gone gaga over either lobster or chicken-fried steak. In its natural richness & sweetness, just a little of the former seems to me to go a long way—doing its best work as part of an ensemble rather than as a solo performer. As for the latter, 1 too many limp, gray gristle disks on my grade-school cafeteria tray led me to take personal offense at chicken-fried steak as an abomination of the red-state dinner plate on the order of pigs in a blanket & anything in white gravy. I’ve snubbed it ever since.

But when I saw it on the menu at Bob’s, I knew this was our chance to reconcile, chicken-fried steak & me. And kiss & make up we did.

Served on toasted housemade sourdough with lettuce & tomato, the cube steak was coated just thickly enough in a zesty seasoned breading & deep-fried. It was also supposed to boast a little housemade buttermilk ranch; mine didn’t, for some reason, but it didn’t need any after a few squirts of the tangy signature table sauce (whose recipe, I’d guess, is fairly close to this one).

Speaking of seasoning, I couldn’t resist a side order of the seasoned fries.

Thick-cut & tossed in salt, black & red pepper &, if I recall correctly from my last visit, a little cornmeal, they’re so lip-smacking they don’t even need ketchup.

In retrospect, my only regret is that I didn’t take home a few orders of homemade tamales & cobbler. But then, as they say, regret is just another word for an excuse to return.

Dish of the Week: Chiles Rellenos at Cecilia’s Cafe, ABQ

For better or worse, in episode 510 of Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives, Guy Fieri featured a crumbling little corner joint in downtown Albuquerque called Cecilia’s Cafe,

which, even if it weren’t just the sort of fiercely local, downhome fave gastrobsessive-compulsives like me & the author of Gil’s Thrilling Web Site (whose trusty blog I consult regularly before trips down south)—&, of course, Food Network bloodhounds on the scent of “authenticity”—gravitate toward, could obviously play one on TV.

Gil’s abovelinked blogpost provides plenty of background insight; the most useful tidbit I can offer you is as follows: #4.

That’s the chiles rellenos plate with beans, rice & your choice of red or green chile; both are among the purest forms of the stuff I’ve ever encountered, containing little more, so far as I could tell, than roasted hot peppers distilled down to their very essence. (More on the green variety in a later post.)

The beauty of the stuffed chiles themselves was likewise their purity. So often they’re battered beyond recognition, amounting to giant jalapeño poppers. Hell, amounting to giant blobs of fried cheese. If Cecilia’s coating contained any flour at all, it was negligible; if my life depended on guessing by sight & taste exactly how these were made, I’d guess they were dipped in egg, fried, then rolled in cheese, topped with sauce, & broiled. Is that even doable? I don’t know, but these made me believe it is.

They’re filled, of course, with more cheese, but not too much; the chile, in short, isn’t just a vehicle for fat but the ingredient in its own right it should be. Fine  frijoles too, cooked simply & with respect for the integrity of the pinto per se.


Read more about Cecilia’s here.

Dish of the Week: Brats & Wurst at the Bombay Club, Salina, KS

If, after all the bubbly, & all the eggnog, all the turkey, & the green beans, & the pumpkin pie à la mode, the leftovers, the bickering, & the leftovers, & the Tums, you can’t fathom why an 8-buck dinner of brats & kraut with peppers & a baked potato (plus salad)

at a roadside joint in Salina that seems to be advertising really bad tandoori

would be the biggest & loudest of gut bombs, you don’t know Globeater.