Food Review – 9/16/17, Everest Area Optimist Cheese Curds

Hello there!

This week we are going a little local on this blog.  This will be my one last hurrah, Summer blog before we start heading in the fall.

This blog is all about Wisconsin Cheese Curds.  We have a local stand in the Wausau area called the “Everest Area Optimist Club” who serves cheese curds, brats, hamburgers and hot dogs about a half of dozen times a Summer.  They’re always parked at Ace Hardware in Weston, WI (Wausau suburb), across from Target.  I found out they were serving food on Friday and Saturday.  The heart was racing with excitement.

I made plans, on Saturday, to visit the Everest Area Optimist Club one last time before the cooler weather hits, and as I expected, I was not disappointed by any means.  That golden beer battered curd was melting in my mouth immediately, cooked to perfection.  This is the curd to get guys.  This is the curd of the Summer!  A great beer battered cheese curd cannot be too greasy, which means they were not cooked long enough, and you should not be able to crunch the curd like a potato chip; that means they were cooked too long.

I experienced the perfect cheese curd, and Wisconsin folks know what I am talking about.  The only thing I am going to gripe about is, they could have been hotter, temperature wise.  They were definitely under a hot light, but they were still perfectly cooked.  9/10

 

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Food Review – Opening Sunday NFL 9/10/2017

Hello Everyone!

Welcome to another edition of my food blog.  This week I will be discussing my annual opening Sunday NFL Feedbag Extravaganza!  This is my 9th year doing this, and I want to do this another 9 years at least.  It really should be a holiday.  That’s how popular the National Football League (NFL) is.  The NFL makes me forget about any other sport.  The Professional Golf Association (PGA) Tour is even contemplating moving their Fed Ex Cup Playoffs to August, so it does not interfere with the NFL.

Anyway, let’s get to the food.  On the menu this year was:

  • Screwdrivers with Ocean Spray orange juice and Svedka vodka
  • Scrambled eggs with cheese and bacon
  • Pizza dip with italian herb flatbread crackers
  • Mini brownies with Kemps vanilla custard ice cream
  • Buffalo chicken dip
  • Meatballs with barbecue sauce

Here is what I had to say about each item:

A screwdriver is not a fancy cocktail, but it is a great way to start your NFL Sunday Morning.  Three of these, and I am good to go!  Wink, wink… 7/10

The scrambled eggs with cheese and a side of bacon was a great start to the feedbag, but again, it was nothing out of the ordinary.  6/10

The pizza dip, on the other hand, is unique, and I eat it twice a year (the other time being the Super Bowl).  The dish was discovered by my mother in 2015, and it is on the menu every year.  The ingredients consist of cream cheese, pizza sauce, pepperoni, green peppers, onions and mozzarella cheese.  The presentation and quality is just to die for.  Every ingredient in this dish as a combination works to absolute perfection.  10/10

Mini Brownies with vanilla custard ice cream was our dessert this year.  We did not want to fancy this up.  Simple, a lot of times, is good.  This dish worked.  Add a little bit of caramel topping, and it works even better.  7/10

The buffalo chicken dip is the best I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a few at various restaurants.  What makes it great is the hot buffalo sauce.  If I don’t get a little red in the face, after a bite, it is not true buffalo chicken dip.  This recipe does the job extremely well.  The main ingredients are sharp cheddar cheese, diced chicken, ranch sauce and Frank’s Buffalo Wing sauce.  The buffalo chicken dip is the favorite every year we for 8 years, but not this year.  I feel terrible saying this, and I apologize to the buffalo chicken dip, but the pizza dip tasted better this year.  I still am giving this amazing dip a 9/10!

Last is the meatballs.  There’s no sugarcoating here; these are bought from the frozen section at the grocery store.  But you still have to put the right amount of sauce (in this case we used Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce), and you have to master the correct Crock Pot setting.  These meatballs are fantastic, and the beauty is, they are not from scratch.  Who would have thought a frozen meatball could taste this amazing?  I am a believer now.  8/10

This is the end to another blog from Matthew D. Kring.  A new blog to arrive on the internet soon.  Take it easy!

Food Review – Taste of Madison Food Festival – Madison, Wisconsin Part 2

Hello again!

Here is part 2 of my blog from the Taste of Madison food festival in Madison, Wisconsin.  This is where you will get to see my feedback on each item I tried this past weekend.  Let’s get down to it…

Burnt Ends from Blowin’ Smoke BBQ – This was a very small portion, but it was definitely enough to get a good taste.  The flavor was a very smoky and juicy piece of barbeque.   Very, very top notch!  9/10

Bacon Chicken Ranch Slider from Blowin’ Smoke BBQ – This had great value, with very tender chicken.  I am a huge fan of crispy bacon.  It could have used more ranch on the slider.  7/10

Grat 3 Cheese Balls from Bonefish Grill – This was the best dish I had at the festival.  The breading was cooked to perfection.  The shredded potatoes inside and the shredded cheese were cooked to perfection too.  Temperature wise, they couldn’t have been more perfect.  Hands down 10/10!

Bulgogi Korean Tacos from Bulgogi Korean Taco – I never had one of these, so I did not know what to expect.  The pork was juicy.  The veggies mixed in well with the pork and taco shell.  Overall, a solid item! 7/10

Fried Wisconsin Cheese Curds from Curd Girl – I’m a Wisco boy, born and raised.  As long as it is not a preformed curd, it has a great chance of being good.  They were cooked a little too long because they were sticking together.  Maybe a little too much batter too, but the flavor I cannot complain.  I’m a little harsher on cheese curds than most dishes.  6/10

Deep Fried Cookie Dough from Leia’s Lunchbox – How can you go wrong with this?  As long as it is not cooked too long, it will not be dry.  They did a great job with these.  8/10

Cajun Shrimp from Melting Pot – This dish would have been the closest to being better than the Grat 3 Cheese Balls.  I always start the festival with these shrimp.  I know what I want, and I know what like.  Another solid performance from Melting Pot!  10/10

Triple Mac n Cheese w/Bacon from The Rodeo Wagon – I tried this twice.  The flavor was solid, and the bacon was crispy, but they unfortunately did not cook it long enough or the crock pot/whatever they use to store the mac n cheese was not hot enough.  A great potential dish but just average this time.  4/10

WI Beer Battered Cheese Curds w/paprika sauce from The Old Fashioned – These are the best curds at Taste of Madison!  Non pre-formed curds dunked in fresh homemade paprika sauce.  There wasn’t very much grease on the curds, which means they were cooked well.  Great job Old Fashioned!  8/10

Parmesan Garlic Flavored Tator Tots from Pots n Tots – Pretty simple analysis is that they were well cooked, and they were sprinkled with parmesan garlic.  The garlic was not over-powering the tots, so overall, a good dish, but nothing fancy.  6/10

Buff Chick Slider from Slide Food Cart & Catering – I was recommended this slider by another individual in my party; he said it was buffalo chicken dip in a slider bun.  How can one go wrong with that?  My guy was correct!  They had the right combination of buffalo sauce and tender chicken.  Plus there was some bleu cheese crumbles, carrots and celery in the slider.  The presentation and appearance of the slider was the best of the weekend.  Very very good item!  9/10

Mini Deep Fried Apple Fritters from Ugly Apple – I did not know what to expect with this dish.  Unfortunately these were very disappointing.  There was hardly any apple flavoring and seasoning.  It was a pretty dry item.  1/10

Macaroni & Cheese with WI Ring Bologna from The Old Fashioned – Just like the cheese curds, “The Old Fashioned” dominated again.  This was more of a white cheddar cheese sauce.  Plus you could get a ring bologna for $1, and it was a very big piece.  Great flavor, great cooking temperature, a solid “melt in your mouth” dish.  9/10

Blueberry Vanilla Cheesecake from Grace’s Cheesecakes – Blueberry, vanilla, cheesecake, enough said.  As long as the egg does not dominate the rest of the ingredients, it is going to be fantastic!  10/10

Chicken Kabob from Gyros Express – The chicken must be cooked right, and it has to have solid flavor.  Well, this place nailed both!  If you over cook chicken, it will be dry.  If you do not flavor chicken enough, it will be dry.  “Gyros Express” did both to a T.  Great pieces of chicken!  9/10

There you have it.  Have a great week!

Matt

Food Review – Garlic Beef Enchiladas

For this review, like the last one, it is not something I ate at a restaurant.  In fact, I’ve been dining on these for 15 years.  My mother found the recipe in a “Taste of Home” magazine in 2002.  Then she made them, and little I knew that it would be in my top 5 favorite dishes to eat.  My mom makes them only 2-3 times a year, and let me tell you that is enough.  If I would eat them more often, the legacy of the Garlic Beef Enchiladas would deteriorate, and they would not be as special to eat.

What makes them special is the type of ingredients that are in the enchiladas.  First of all, you cannot go wrong with garlic. Second, you cannot go wrong with sharp cheddar cheese, especially when you add more than the recipe asks for.  That’s what we do in the Kring household, we add extra cheese; we’re from Wisconsin!  To make any recipe great, is the ability to follow a recipe.  Face it, as a society, we are almost always in a hurry, and yours truly is guilty of it.  When it comes to cooking, take your time, relax, and do it right the first time.

I had the pleasure of dining on the amazing dish last night.  I am battling a minor head cold, but I could not pass up on eating these.  Let me tell you, as long as you have your taste buds, you will be able to severely enjoy these with a head cold or not.  They’re very easy to eat.  You can take a small bite and easily enjoy the combination of cheese, garlic, ground beef, onions and tomatoes.

I included the recipe in this blog, and I won’t always do this, but I want you guys to have the opportunity to enjoy these like I do.  Like I said, I’ve been eating these for 15 years, and they might as well have been from a restaurant.  They’re that damn good, and I could not imagine ordering an enchilada anywhere else than my own home.  The taste of the enchiladas triumphs any atmosphere and attitude.  10/10

 

Food Review – Good Ole Fashioned Grill Out Good Mood Food

Hello Everyone,

I am back for another edition of food reviews.  This time, I am reviewing some food that we ate at home.  I’m talking some classic Summer grill out food!

On the menu was some hot dogs stuffed with colby cheese, that we purchased at a meet market in Wausau, WI, called “Country Fresh Meats”.  Second was corn on the cob drizzled with butter.  Last was a classic Summer favorite, watermelon!

The trick with grilling these cheese dogs, is you cannot get them charred, otherwise you will lose most of the cheese.  Once you have this down pat, then you are golden!  Then get your butter put on the corn, as soon as you can, while the temperature on the corn is hot, so you can get that maximum amazing flavor.  For the watermelon, no trick, just indulge, and enjoy the heck out of it.

Now, let’s rate!  Atmosphere – very decent, nice hot Summer day eating outside in my backyard.  Attitude – very good, no complaints.  Food – very good, comforting.  Overall, it won’t top an experience like Kroll’s West, but it does the job well.  8/10

 

 

 

 

 

Food Review – Kroll’s West 8/12/17

Hello Everyone,

Today’s restaurant I am reviewing is an oldie but a goodie, and it is one of my favorite restaurants.  Yesterday I took a day trip to Green Bay, Wisconsin to visit a shoe in, when it comes to restaurants.  Kroll’s have two locations in Green Bay, one on the west side and one on the east side.  I almost always go to the west side, so I can get a great up and close view of Lambeau Field.

Kroll’s is very famous in Green Bay for their hamburgers and their reputation of being an iconic local establishment.  What makes them above other local burger restaurants is what they put on their burger and their customer service.  The key to an iconic Kroll’s hamburger is the real authentic butter they supply on them.  The more ingredients you put on your burger, and you will see the butter come oozing out of the patty, which is making my mouth water big time.  They also toast their hamburger buns just perfectly where you have that crunch and that authentic hamburger taste, at the same time.  I’ve been dining at Kroll’s for over 20 years, and I am never disappointed.  It truly is an awesome experience, like I am visiting them for the first time.  Plus, their speed of service is unbelievable.  Within 10 minutes of ordering my food, there it arrives, on my table, ready for me to devour, and they are not a fast food restaurant!  I am always astonished by how fast they prepare their food and get it to you, and the greatest part is, the food is fresh!

If you order a Kroll’s hamburger, without specifying any ingredients, they automatically put ketchup, butter, onions and pickles on them (they call it “with everything”).  So I ordered my usual entree, two cheeseburgers with no pickles.  I had family with on my adventure, and we ordered a pan of nachos (typical nacho cheese sauce and tortilla chips).

My rating system is a simple; 1-10; 1 being the worst and 10 being the best, with the option of rating by the halves.  I base my reviews on food, my attitude and the overall atmosphere.  The chips could have been fresher, but the cheeseburgers overrule the review, and the chips hardly play a role.  The burgers are that good.  My attitude was at my peak, because I wasn’t at my job, and I was out of town at an awesome restaurant.  The atmosphere, freaking fantastic.  We were in Green Bay, home of my favorite sports team in all of the major sports.  Enough said – 9/10

 

 

 

Academy Awards – 2016 Best Pictures Review, Matt Kring Style

Where do I begin?  I was absolutely not planning on watching all the best picture nominations, but an impromptu weekend getaway to Chicago (thanks to working in Rockford this past Wed-Fri and only being an hour away from Chicago) allowed me the opportunity to get it done.  I took last year off, and back at again this year.  So my brother came up with a plan to knock off all the best picture noms, so I said lets do it.

I only saw La La Land, Hidden Figures and Manchester By The Sea prior to Friday, SO I saw 6 films this weekend, a major, major, major binge fest.  It was a blast man!

So here are my rankings for this year:

Moonlight – I did not know what this movie was about, all I knew was that it was a best picture nominee, and Ali was up for best supporting actor.  I really liked the transformation and growth of the main character once I saw the entire movie.  At first I was getting a little irritated with how much he was getting picked on, until the scene in the classroom, where he had enough, went APESHIT, and unloaded on the bully!  Great scene changer, and I pumped my right fist after it happened.  I did not expect Ali to be in the film for a brief period.  Janelle Monae  gave another solid performance as Ali’s girlfriend.

Arrival – This is a movie that you need to be locked into, a movie that you to bring your watching movie “A” game to.  This is a well made film that brings together the brilliant mind of Dr. Louise Parks (Amy Adams) and her ability to see the future.  This film does bring the stereotypical hard ass military leader (Forest Whitaker) and the building love story between Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner.  Still, well made film, and I liked it.

Hell or High Water – This is the adventure of two brothers from Texas doing what it takes to fight for their Mom’s ranch.  So let’s rob a few small town banks.  Chris Pine’s character is definitely underrated.  He beats the system, gets away with crime, and the sheriff (Jeff Bridges) knows it, but there is nothing he can do about it.  I definitely did not think this should have been a best picture nominee, but I liked the film.

Hacksaw Ridge – I knew that there were going to be some war battles, but they dragged on for more than they should have.  What a great story about Desmond Doss; he proved that one can make a difference without using a firearm, in a WAR.  Even though the battles dragged on for a little bit, the makers of this film did a great job showing the transformation of the respect the other soldiers had for Doss.  Good movie.

Fences – I will not deny the great acting, but I felt like I have seen a movie or two with a similar plot.  Do we feel sorry for Denzel, or don’t we?  Again, I commend the acting of Denzel and Viola Davis; both I would be fine if they won best actor and best supporting actress.

Manchester by the Sea – Casey Affleck warned us on Saturday Night Live (SNL) that this movie would be depressing, and it was, but that is what the story is about.  The everyday life of a man doing his best with what he has, to make it in today’s society.  He does his best to hold it together, but the struggle to make ends meet is what is the strength of this film.  It makes it more real and the possibility of it happening in the real world.  Great story.

Hidden Figures – This is the most feel good best picture nominee of all of them.  Great combination of humor, drama and overall plot.  I wasn’t sure about this film being a January release, but I forget a lot of distinguished films come out in January (The Revenant).  High Rotten Tomatoes score and a best picture nominee; it’s gotta be good, right?  I’m kind of a math geek, but I’m trying not to be biased on my opinions.  Three African-American mathematicians in the 60’s staying strong, not letting the color of their skin stop them from following their dreams.  Plus I didn’t know Janelle Monae was an actress.  If you haven’t seen this film, and you want a feel good historic story, go see Hidden Figures.

La La Land – I’ll start off by saying I’m not the greatest fan of musicals, but the team behind this film pulled it off.  What better way to start off introducing LA by showing us a typical trafffic day on the interstate- by the way the opening song was well done, and it introduced us to Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling.  The struggles of Stone’s and Gosling’s character lead them to being an item.  Everything is going well; both of them  are heading in the right direction towards success.  Their communication and chemistry gets stronger and stronger.  So I asked myself, will this be a Scooby Doo ending where they fall in love forever and forever and have made their dreams come true?  NO SIR!  And I liked it, something different.  In a different twist, the ending was Scooby Doo, that is all I will say.  I enjoyed this film a lot.

Lion – This was the last best picture I saw.  Now I’ve seen them all.  This is a very good movie to see for my last.  A young 5 year old boy named Saroo just wanted to be like his older brother, Guddu; he wanted to do everything like him, but Saroo’s life changed when he went with Guddu to find work.  That is when the purpose of the film kicked into high gear.  You began to see Saroo develop into the person he is (when Dev Patel takes over the character), especially when he gets involved with a woman he met at school (played by Rooney Mara).  You want a feel good, warm hearted story, go see this, on my request.

My rankings from worst to first:

9.  Hacksaw Ridge

8.  Hell or High Water

7.  Fences

6.  Arrival

5.  Manchester By The Sea

4.  Moonlight

3.  Lion

2.  La La Land

and #1…

HIDDEN FIGURES!