Breakfast Sandwich Review: McDonald’s Egg McMuffin

I’m a huge breakfast sandwich guy.  I suppose this is for a couple reasons.  First, there is the convenience.  During the week, I am always running late in the morning and so whatever breakfast can be had in a portable manner or offered from the window of a drive-thru is usually the go-to option.  Second, is the construction itself.  I simply love sandwiches and the layering of flavor that occurs when various meats, cheeses and vegetables are stacked upon one another.  This is why even if I have more time, say like on a Saturday, I whip up in my own kitchen some of the finest breakfast sandwiches this side of the Mississippi.

So, due to the fact that I am always in a rush, somewhat lazy, and a self-proclaimed sandwich fan, I naturally eat a lot of breakfast sandwiches.  What’s even better is the fact that there are now far more places offering breakfast sandwiches than there used to be.  Naturally, in my mind then, this plethora of breakfast sandwich offerings has necessitated the addition of a Breakfast Sandwich Review section to my blog.  Just when you thought I couldn’t get any pettier.  I have.

The logical starting point for a breakfast sandwich review is with the currently undisputed champion of “breakfast sandwiches that can be had via a drive-thru”, the McDonald’s Egg McMuffin.  The reason we must qualify this is because certainly a better breakfast sandwich can be found in a diner or sit-down restaurant but those will be dealt with at another time.  When it comes to “grabbing a sandwich on your way to the office” the Egg McMuffin started this whole thing.  In “Forgot About Dre” Dr. Dre reminds all the “savage cats that he was strapped with gats when they were still cuddling the cabbage patch.”  Translation: he’s been at this thing a while.  The Egg McMuffin is thinking the same thing.  The iconic breakfast sandwich.

So let’s quickly review what makes this thing so great.  First, there’s the accessibility.  You could drive your car blindfolded Ricky Bobby style and chances are you’ll eventually crash into a McDonald’s – they’re simply everywhere.  Secondly, there is the price.  As of late it seems the Egg McMuffin is a little pricier than it used to be but it also seems that pretty frequently McDonald’s does the whole Buy 1, Get 1 thing or 2 for $2 which evens it out.  Thirdly, there is the quantity attribute.  You can easily eat 2 Egg McMuffin’s in one sitting which I somehow find endearing.  Makes you feel like you accomplished something.  At the very least, you accomplished raising your cholesterol.

What sets the Egg McMuffin apart though from almost every other fast-food breakfast sandwich is this little diddy: that’s a real poached egg in there!  A toasted english muffin, a perfectly round slice of canadian bacon, a slice of that classic McDonald’s american cheese which is yellower than any other american cheese you’ve ever seen (and the corners always perfectly melt over the edge) and…a real poached egg!  None of that folded yellow sheet egg that is in every other McDonald’s breakfast sandwich and in almost every other company’s sandwich as well.  The genuine poached egg with the genuine hard-cooked yolk is truly something to write home about (or in this case, blog) and is worth the price of admission.  Again, the iconic breakfast sandwich.  More to come…

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Breakfast Sandwich Review: Subway Egg Muffin Melt

After kicking off the breakfast sandwich review section of my blog with the godfather of drive-thru morning sandwiches – McDonald’s Egg McMuffin, I thought it was only appropriate to then go to the other end of the spectrum and review one of the newcomers – namely, the breakfast sandwich now being offered at lunch specialist, Subway.

Subway is the fast-food version of the submarine sandwich.  Just as what places like McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s call burgers really aren’t a full-fledged, I-would-be-proud-if-this-came-off-my-grill-at-home burgers, so Subway really isn’t your bonafide sub.  For a bonafide sub, one needs to go to a Laspada’s or at the very least, a middle ground like Publix.  However, with all that being said there is still a valuable void being filled by Subway just as the Big 3 fill the void in the burger world.  I have always found Subway to be an all-around, consistent, affordable lunch option that doesn’t make you feel disgusting or regretful and can even, if played right qualify as “healthy.”  Throw in the fact that for $5 you can actually get pretty full (again, without feeling disgusting.  $5 at Taco Bell will get you painfully full, but the key word there is painful) and you have a quality establishment.

Thus, when I recently realized that Subway is now promoting breakfast, I thought it deserved a try.  All in all, I was correct.  I found myself very pleased with the product, especially for the price.  $2.50 for the whole shebang – breakfast sandwich and 16oz coffee.  On to the details:

Every good breakfast sandwich has a distinguishing characteristic.  For the McD’s Egg McMuffin it is the simple yet sensational fact that it features a genuine poached egg.  None of that folded yellow egg patty found at most places.  The Subway sandwich too has a sensational, defining characteristic: you can add fixings to it from the regular sandwich line.  Throw in the fact that they also have an egg white option (which I went for) and you have yourself an outstanding sandwich option: english muffin with egg whites, your choice of cheese, and then I opted to add green peppers, onion and tomato.  There are several other options which include bacon, ham and other ingredients as well, but for a relatively healthy option I found my selection very satisfying.

All in all, a solid breakfast sandwich option to put into your rotation.  The price is awesome ($2.49) seeing that it includes a 16oz cup of coffee (Seattle’s Best – not the greatest, but hey), the accessibility is right up there with McDonald’s since Subway’s are virtually as ubiquitous and with the fact that it is truly a customizable, constructed-right-before-your-eyes deal, it’s hard to beat.

Genius at Work: The Chick-fil-A Chicken Biscuit

In football it was the forward pass.

In basketball it was the jump shot.

In the realm of breakfast sandwiches it was the commitment to poultry.

I’m talking about the southern-fried, stick-to-your-guns, trailblazer we affectionately call the Chick-fil-A Chicken Biscuit.

A golden-fried filet of chicken (breaded and fried on the premises, by the way) in the warm embrace of a fluffy buttermilk biscuit.  Simple yet revolutionary: in a world that insisted upon breakfast meat only being derived from swine, Mr. Cathy and his highest of quality quick-serve (not fast food) stronghold stuck with what they knew, stuck with what got them there, stuck with the namesake…chicken.

And the world is the better for it.

To really unleash the full fury (Mitch) of this trailblazing sandwich though, you must do yourself a favor and add egg and cheese.  The insiders officially refer to this as the “Beginning and End Biscuit” since you have the chicken both in its embryonic form (egg) and fully developed form (the filet).

Kinda weird when thought of that way.  But kinda awesome too.

While there are other breakfast sandwich options that are easier on the wallet or more accessible (Chick-fil-a’s are few and far between in many areas) you will be hard pressed to find a more delicious option, especially when you throw in the hashbrown medallions or Chick-fil-a’s healthier side option – fruit.  The fruit by the way is far and away the freshest fruit you will ever find in a fast-food or quick-serve establishment.  It’s always ripe, and it’s not just 90% honeydew (the fruit salad cop-out).

Once again, hats off to the establishment that continues to be the undisputed leader of quality and service in it’s field.

K-Cup Review: Donut Shop

I’m a big fan, frequent patron, and advocate of diners, especially local non-franchised ones.  There’s a transcendent quality about them that seemingly connects people to one another and connects us 21st century dwellers to a spirit of Americana that has all but become extinct – a time and place where neighbors knew each others names, where local business flourished, where time seemed to move a little slower, where a spirit of community was fostered in real life and not through social networking sites under the auspices of an avatar.

There’s that elusive yet unmistakable something about a good diner.

The way you can get a hot plate of slightly over-greased, yet made with love fare at the crack of dawn or in the dark of night – assuming of course your diner of choice is a 24-hour one, which in my opinion is a necessary quality to be considered legendary, to become a part of the fabric of local lore.

The way you can crumble into a corner booth and people-watch the demographic kaleidoscope; the way you can saddle up at the counter and take in the dance of waitresses scurrying to and fro – one with that side of ketchup, the other coming with biscuits and gravy, the other with the check – and tune your ear ever so slightly to notes of neighborhood gossip that come sailing along the air-conditioned breeze.

The way the menu is interspersed with pictures of the entrees and maybe a local ad or two – the diner menu is the high school year book of menus.

And of course, there’s the coffee.  Diner coffee is never the highlight of the meal, never the main attraction, but then again…this stuff’s not built to win any awards, not made to be sipped…this stuff’s built for mass consumption.  Multiple cups.  The kind of consumption that brings with it an inherent waitress code – as soon as that off-white, non-descript mug of yours approaches the 1/2 way mark you better be ready to raise that thing in your hand and receive another pour.  Carefully crafted cream and sugar ratios be damned, those pots are on a holster and you’re gettin’ a refill whether you like it or not.  As for me?  I love it.  As a black coffee drinker, there are no ratio’s to be considered.  Keep it comin’.

Which of course brings us to Donut Shop by Coffee People.
If diners have the ability to awaken a sense of nostalgia and remind you of years gone by, this brew has the ability to awaken that same sense and remind you of the coffee you’ve chugged at those diners with one crucial exception:
it tastes a heck of a lot better.

Yet even as it taste’s better, it still has that intrinsic quality about it.  It’s consistently mellow; it’s a smidge thin yet appropriately so; it’s just a fraction sweet but again that seems right, it’s by no means sweet like a flavored coffee and the fraction of sweetness seems to be what provides its mellow, this-was-made-for-mass-consumption, no-coffee-snobs-here drinkability.  In my previous review I mentioned that Black Tiger by Coffee People is the robust, rich brew you want to clear the fog in the morning but not necessarily to drink throughout the day.  Donut Shop is the counterpart; if you’re looking for cup-after-cup drinkability this is a great option.  It’s no Daybreak by Caribou Coffee but alas, I’ve said too much.  We’ll get there soon enough.

K-Cup Review: Sumatran Reserve

I’m often teased by friends and family who insist that I’m like a 70-year old in a 27-year old’s body.  If anyone reading my blog is a septuagenerian you’ll have to forgive the following, sweeping generalization.  I’m teased in this manner for the simple fact that what makes my heart content is pretty simple and ridiculously tame: good coffee, good book, good classical station and I’m…(wait for it)…good to go.  So while it is true that I prefer to “take things easy” as April always likes to say, when it comes to said cup of good coffee “taking it easy” is not what I look for.  I wanna ramp things up.  The darker the roast, the bolder the flavor, the stronger the brew…the better in my opinion.

So with that being said, I continue to hunt for the creme-of-the-crop Keurig coffee that delivers on those three levels: dark roast, bold flavor, strong brew.  My search has only just begun but three varieties have quickly surfaced and are all making strong pushes to become the Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels of my coffee rotation.  Black Tiger by Coffee People which you can read about here, Dark Magic by Green Mountain, and Sumatran Reserve also by Green Mountain.  It’s this Indonesian varietal that I currently sip and to which we now turn:

Indonesia is the world’s fourth largest coffee producer and so they do it quite well.  Heck, the word java which has become synonymously slang for coffee to many people is the name of one of Indonesia’s coffee producing islands.  Sumatra is another and they’ve really worked up a gem in Keurig’s Sumatran Reserve which is seemingly the boldest Green Mountain roast I’ve tried so far, edging out it’s counterpart, Dark Magic at least in the brewed strength category.  Yet for all it’s richness, it is wonderfully smooth and finishes with strong, pure coffee flavor and not that characteristic bite that some darker roasts possess.  Often times I drink a robust dark roast and enjoy it but then look for my second cup to be something mellower.  With the Sumatran Reserve, the first cup is blissfully robust and yet I also find myself wanting to return to it’s stout, smoky aroma and clean finish for my second and third cup.  Sumatran is a great blend of boldness yet also floral notes similar to what you may encounter in a Kona or Blue Mountain blend.

The only negative I’ve found with this roast is in the packaging.  I appreciate the tiger face staring me down every time I brew Black Tiger or the donut caricature waiting for me with Donut Shop.  With Sumatran Reserve you have a delightful graphic on the box that looks like The Polynesian resort at Disney but only text on the K-cup itself.  A little extra effort in this department would make an already great roast even better and give me a little more fodder with which to write an overly-analytical, remarkably trivial blog post.

 

Justification and Sanctification Belong to God

“The moment sanctification is ejected from the temple of faith, and hence from justification, that moment justification by faith has become an initial stage on the pilgrim’s journey, a supply-station which later becomes a pleasant memory.  Successive stages would follow, that of sanctification for instance, and in this stage it would be up to man to act.  Understood in this fashion, the distinction between justification and sanctification would amount to assigning the one act wholly to God and the other wholly to man.  Sanctification would then be described as a series of devout acts and works performed by the previously justified man.  The distinction between justification and sanctification could then be traced to the subject of each act: God or man.  So an obvious division would have taken place; man – this would be our conclusion – is not called to upon to justify but to purify himself.  It is not hard to see that the Scriptures are intolerant of this division…”

– G.C. Berkouwer, Faith and Sanctification

K-Cup Review: Caribou Coffee

As I continue my foray through the world of Keurig designed coffee and write my self-indulgent, pseudo-reviews (if you’ve noticed I only review coffees I like, so they are really recommendations if we wanna get all semantical up in here)  I figured it was time to finally give a tip of the ol’ cap to the company which produces the most roasts that I drink on a regular basis.  (Most that is, outside of Green Mountain which seems to have a Settlers of Catan-type stronghold grip ala Klaus Teuber on the Keurig coffee roasting and distribution world.  If I knew anything about stocks or had anything resembling disposable income, I may consider investing).

Caribou Coffee is a Minneapolis based company that I’d been told is mostly centered in the Midwest, but according to their website has a presence in 4o states and have ventured as far south as Alabama (keep coming south guys!).  I don’t think any of my four readers are from the Midwest but perhaps someone can verify this geographical speculation on my part.  I first partook of a Caribou brew the one and only time I was in Minneapolis (last year) and have been hooked ever since – it’s great coffee with creative varieties in corner shops that are much cozier and warmer than a Starbucks.  Again, Caribou if you’re listening – come to Florida!

While I’ve tried about half of their total coffee offerings in traditional bean/ground form, the Caribou brands currently found in K-cups that I’ve run across are: Caribou Blend, Caribou Daybreak, Caribou Decaf, and Caribou Obsidian.  It’s to the latter, dark roast known as Obsidian that I now sip and to which we now turn:

According to Wikipedia obsidian as it is found in nature, occurs when “felsic lava is extruded from a volcano and cools rapidly with minimum crystal growth…obsidian is mineral-like, but not a true mineral because as a glass it is not crystalline; in addition, its composition is too complex to comprise a single mineral.”

This is important why?  For the following:

1. When selecting a coffee for your rotation, the name is crucial.  There needs to be something of an aura to the brew you will hold in your hands and sip as you ponder the deep truths of mortal existence.  There is little not to like about the name, Obsidian.  Has a great ring to it; sounds like it could be an X-Men character.

2. Part of deciding if the name is great is knowing how it connects to the roast itself.  Obsidian is Caribou’s dark roast.  Aptly named.  Well played.

3.  I’m a big advocate of pairing beverages with their appropriate atmosphere or scenario.  So, for example, in the beer world if you’re in a Mexican restaurant enjoying some salsa verde, it’s nice to stick with a Dos Equis, Corona, etc.  If you’re at a German locale enjoying some bratwurst it’s nice to opt for the Warsteiner.  You get the idea.  The same thing is true for coffee.  Thus while this roast pairs nicely with many things, the ideal setting to sip this dark roast is while watching the Austin Powers franchise; whenever Dr. Evil makes reference to “liquid hot magma” enjoy this gem of a brew.