Small Bite: IT’S-IT

” Essentially San Francisco’s version of a Klondike Bar “

Every part of the US has a food item that they are famous for. Maryland has crabcakes, Chicago has deep dish pizza, and San Francisco has IT’S-ITs. If you’ve spent a reasonable amount of time in the San Francisco Bay Area, there’s a good chance you’ve already heard of these delicious little ice cream pucks; if you are a native, you probably grew up on them.

This one is mine, you can't have it.

This one’s mine, you can’t have it.

What is an IT’S-IT? It’s two oatmeal cookies made into an ice cream sandwich and dipped in chocolate. That’s it. This tasty treat is extremely simple, but it’s an all-time classic. It’s essentially San Francisco’s version of a Klondike Bar.

For a lot of people, myself included, biting into an IT’S-IT is like taking a time machine back to the good ol’ days. It makes me think of sitting in the bleachers on a hot day for an A’s game, or maybe hanging out with friends after school and absolutely positively NOT causing trouble of any kind. Well, not getting caught anyway. Even if you haven’t grown up with melted IT’S-ITs running through your veins, there’s still something very comforting, even wholesome, about them.

Stop licking the screen. That's disgusting.

Stop licking the screen. That’s disgusting.

It’s not quite worth your while to buy a plane ticket to SFO just to try an IT’S-IT, but if you’re not from the San Francisco Bay Area and you happen to find yourself in the general vicinity, stop by a convenience store, pick one up, and savor the inevitable ice cream headache. Oh, and absolutely do not eat it in your car. These things are messy.

Nonstandard Disclaimer of Randomness
The author does not apologize in any way for waxing nostalgic or making you hungry for an IT’S-IT. The author also recommends that you do not read the calorie count on the packaging for the aforementioned delectable treat, because it will make you sad and guild you into running on the treadmill for three days straight. The author is also not responsible for any traffic accidents caused by ice cream headaches or melty chocolate bits dropped into your lap. I told you not to eat it in your car.

Small Bite: Real chili does NOT have beans

Everybody thinks they know how to make chili. Some people do, some people don’t. Both types of people are fine, but what many of them fail to understand is that real chili is not supposed to have beans.

” Serve the beans on the side. Please? “

Now before you go all bean-militant on me and accuse me of being a bean hater, let me be perfectly clear: I love beans. I love beans in chili. But beans are not supposed to be cooked in chili. The correct way to do things is to the cook beans separately and then add them to the chili on a per-serving basis… just like pasta. You don’t boil raw pasta in sauce, do you? No. You prepare pasta separately in its own pot of salted water so that it comes out just so, and then you add your pasta sauce to it. And that’s how chili is supposed to be handled as well.


Confused? Outraged? Mind blown? Well don’t take my word on it. The International Chili Society is the single, official authority on what chili is and what it isn’t. As clearly stated in the chili cookoff event rules:

Chili is defined by the International Chili Society as any kind of meat or combination of meats, cooked with red chili peppers, various spices and other ingredients, with the exception of BEANS and PASTA which are strictly forbidden.

I already know what you’re going to say: “But… but…. I make famous and awesome chili and it has beans in it!” No, I’m sorry, you make famous and awesome chili-style beans. That’s ok though, it’s totally fine. There’s nothing wrong with what you make, you’ve just been calling it the wrong name.

Before you get all huffy about it, I’m not here to tell you what you can and can’t do. You can make chili with toothpaste and pine needles if you feel like, and you can call it whatever you want. Just know that true, legitimate chili consists of exactly two things: meat and flavor. That means “vegetarian chili”, by definition, isn’t.

At this point you might be wondering if you’ve ever really had true, legitimate chili in your entire life, and the truth is there’s a good chance you haven’t. Not to worry! The winning recipes from every World Chili Champion from 1967 to today are posted right here for you to replicate and enjoy. If you can’t decide which one to try first, Tarantula Jack’s recipe is both delicious and easy, and it’s a perfect example of what true chili is supposed to be.

And for the sake of all that is good and wholesome in this world, serve the beans on the side. Please?

This graphic pretty much says it all.

This graphic pretty much says it all.

Nonstandard Disclaimer of Randomness
The views and opinions of the author are strictly correct and expressed as fact. If you find yourself in disagreement with any statements made in this post, stop smoking crack. Please also do not get your feelings all hurt because you just found out you were wrong about the bean thing. We all make mistakes. I once owned several pairs of tapered jeans, for example, but I stopped wearing them. Similarly, you can stop putting beans in your chili.

Small Bite: Which Wich

Which Wich is a worldwide sandwich shop chain that I had never heard of before a few days ago. You can’t really do a restaurant review on an entire chain, so I’m posting this as a Small Bite instead.

Hey, a new sandwich shop! New for me anyway.

Hey, a new sandwich shop! New for me anyway.

” This is a restaurant, not Wild Kingdom “

I found myself in Belmont at lunchtime following a dentist appointment, so I decided to go looking around for somewhere I hadn’t eaten at before. Which Wich immediately caught my eye, mostly because it is located right next to the Starbucks I was visiting. Alright, let’s give this a try.

Never before have I seen a bag caddy of this magnitude.

Never before have I seen a bag caddy of this magnitude.

The ordering system at Which Wich is… different. I honestly do not know whether I love it or hate it. I think love. Basically there is a wall of many types of little baggies. You select a baggy based on the type of sandwich you want to order (I opted for a Cuban in the ‘ham and pork’ category) and fill in some options with a felt pen. It’s not immediately apparent what you’re supposed to do when you walk in, but Which Wich seems aware of this. The cashier also has the job of asking every single person who walks in if they have been there before, and if not they are given a brief rundown of what to do.

They have one of those awesome a-billion-soft-drinks-in-one-machine things here.

They have one of those awesome a-billion-soft-drinks-in-one-machine things here.

The one thing that stood out about this place was the swarm of flies buzzing around inside the front door. I’m not kidding about this. They were the annoying fly-around-in-a-square-pattern type flies that never land, and they exclusively hung out in a beam of sunlight through the open doorway. I guess it wasn’t really unsanitary since the flies weren’t landing on anything, but it was still weird. I know it was a nice sunny day and all, but close the freaking doors, people. This is a restaurant, not Wild Kingdom.

The slightly pouty teenager making my sandwich called out “Cuban for Tom! Cuban sandwich for Tom!” Oh nice, that’s me. So I walked up to the counter. “Just a minute,” she said sulkily, as though I had asked her to get off the phone and go do her chores. And so I waited another few minutes, standing there awkwardly. “Cuban for Tom!” she called out again. Apparently she meant it this time because I was awarded a sandwich. Alrighty then.

Which wich would a witch witch if a witch could witch a wich?

Which wich would a witch witch if a witch could witch a wich?

The sandwich itself was pretty tasty. It was messy as hell, although that’s not always a bad sign. It was a real challenge to keep drippy toppings off of my clothes, but somehow I managed. I rather appreciated the copious amount of mayonnaise that was used, but my waistline didn’t feel too great about it.

Overall Which Wich is not a bad place for lunch. I’d probably prefer it over Subway, but it’s more or less on par with Togo’s.

Nonstandard Disclaimer of Randomness
No sandwiches were harmed in the writing of this post. Actually, that’s a lie. I totally destroyed that sandwich, and I’d do it again given the opportunity. I’m not entirely sure why a disclaimer is needed to advocate sandwich safety, but I guess there’s a first for everything. Why am I still writing this? Why are you still reading this? These are questions the answers to which may never be known.

Small Bite: Easy corn off the cob

” Please do not remove any fingers in the process “

There’s nothing quite like fresh corn. I always like to have a few ears on hand whenever it’s in season – it goes with just about anything. One of my favorite ways to prepare (and eat) corn is to cut it off of the cob and saut√© in a skillet with some butter and black pepper. Cutting the corn from the cob isn’t a particularly difficult task, but it can be a bit tricky to do it neatly. I can’t take credit for this technique, but to be honest I’m not sure who can, therefore I’ll go ahead and take all the credit. Thanks.

A bowl in a bowl. So meta.

A bowl in a bowl. So meta.

To keep corn from flying all over your kitchen counter, you’ll need two bowls: one very large and one relatively small. Turn the smaller bowl upside-down and place it inside the larger bowl, stand an ear of corn against the bottom of smaller bowl, and (carefully) cut the kernels off the cob with a very sharp knife. Please do not remove any fingers in the process, and don’t push down too hard with the knife as the corn cobs tend to get rather slippery after a bit of cutting.

Observe photo above. Add corn. Process complete.

Observe photo above. Add corn. Process complete.

The good news is that you now have a bowl full of neatly cut corn kernels, all while keeping your countertops clean. The bad news is that you have an extra bowl to wash, but I’d call that a fair trade.

Nonstandard Disclaimer of Randomness
The vegetable cutting technique detailed in this post involves the use of both a sharp knife and a cerebral cortex, so if you are an idiot please do not attempt. If any part of this post confuses you, please see the previous sentence.

Introducing Small Bites

“Small Bites” is a feature I’ve intended to add to my this blog for quite a while now, but simply haven’t. Unlike my feature-length recipes and restaurant reviews, Small Bites will be shorter posts on a variety of topics, most of which will not really have a point. In other words, they’ll be exactly like everything else I write, only more concise.

To help explain in more detail what Small Bites are all about, here’s a handy infographic:

The only reason this is here is because I feel like all posts should have a picture.

This is here is because I feel like all posts should include a photo of something.

There, I hope that cleared things up.

The good news is that I’ve built up something of a backlog of Small Bites lately, and I’ll be adding them to my publishing schedule here and there. I hope you enjoy reading them, but it’s okay if you don’t because I still enjoyed writing them.

Nonstandard Disclaimer of Randomness
The intent of this disclaimer is to disclaim any claims made in the body of this post, whether or not it has claimed or dissed anything at all. To be perfectly honest, I’m not even sure why I decided to add a disclaimer here, but since I’ve fooled you into reading this far I’ll go ahead and chalk it up as a win. Thanks for being a willing victim.