Thursday, July 26, 2012


This blog has sat idle for quite a while. I got thinking I'd do a top 10 foods list and then realised that was going to be super tough. Instead, I thought I'd share some good food stories, and maybe for a while make it a food blog.

The Numero Uno:

A few foods have occupied my "absolute favourite" slot over the years. But now, after having gotten to experience New York's finest, I don't really see the top spot changing. It turns out I am a massive fan of Salt Cured Beef. This includes Corned Beef, Pastrami and Montreal Smoked Meat. I can't remember the first time I enjoyed one of the culinary delights, but I do know when I was hooked. September 2007. Las Vegas. The Mirage Casino and Resort. The Carnegie Deli.

First Las Vegas Carnegie Deli experience, 2007

This was the first time I'd been to Vegas. My friends had been a couple times before and had hit the Carnegie Deli on the previous trip. It obviously had made a good impression as I'd heard tales of the giant sandwiches for a year. Perusing the menu it didn't take long for me to make a decision. My initial thought was "do I want Pastrami or Corned Beef?", but I soon discovered that both were within my reach. The "Woody Allen" is the Carnegie Deli's combo Corned Beef and Pastrami sandwich. It's massive. Not big. Massive. Even though I was told we were going to eat "Giant sandwiches", my feeble brain still didn't grasp just how big this thing was going to be. In fact, my friends went on and allowed me to order a side of coleslaw, french fries, and eat about 8 pickles, then laugh at me when the Woody Allen finally arrived at the table. Besides the size (no, I did not finish it, in fact I wasn't even close that first time, taking half back to the hotel), it tasted amazing. Perfection. Or at least what I thought at that point was cured meat perfection. That was the start of my journey to eat Corned Beef/Pastrami at as many deli's as possible.

Over the last 6 years I've gotten to travel to New York quite a bit. As excited as I get to do and see other things in the city, nothing excites me more than going to the deli's. Is this sad? I don't know, but damn the food is good. The original Carnegie Deli (7th avenue at 55th street) is better than Vegas (duh), although the sandwiches are actually slightly smaller. I've come to decide that the actual best thing at Carnegie is their Corned Beef. The Pastrami is still great, but if I'm not feeling like tackling the Woody Allen, and I can just choose one meat, at Carnegie it would be the Corned Beef.

Katz's Deli Pastrami sandwich
For me, the crowned jewel of NY deli's is Katz's Deli (205 East Houston Street). Immortalized in "When Harry Met Sally" ("I'll have what she's having"), Katz's Pastrami is the thing I would ask for as a last meal. It does not get better. Period. While awesome with mustard, I like to get mine with Russian dressing. $16 a sandwich may seem expensive but you can't put a price on heavenly taste bud bliss (and I've been known to order two).

Stage Deli cheesecake from my December 2010 visit
Also high on my list is the Stage Deli (7th avenue at 54th street). A block away from Carnegie deli, it's, in my opinion, not quite as good, but if the Carnegie is packed you won't be disappointed to hit up the Stage.  Super impressive is their cheesecake (yep, we may have a whole blog on cheesecake at some point).

Schwartz's Deli, November 2010
In Canada, and specifically Montreal, we have our own take on the smoked brisket of beef. Montreal's tale is similar to NY. It was the Jewish settlers (of which Montreal had the largest community in Canada) that would own and operate the cities best deli's (and bagel places). Montreal Smoked Meat is similar to Pastrami but uses a different mix of spices. The most famous Montreal deli is probably Schwartz's (I mean, they do have a documentary about the place, which I have seen). Line ups are out the door, and it is some seriously yummy stuff (and much less expensive than it's NY brothers).

Another great Montreal spot is Dunn's. Lucky for us, Dunn's also has a few locations in Ottawa, a city I get to usually a couple times a year. My Ottawa trips need a Dunn's fix. I'll be there next week and will be coordinating a trip down. 

What are your own favourite Deli's? Comment away.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The worstest?

Honestly, this must be the worst blog on Albert Arnold Gore Junior's Information Super Highway. Well, maybe not the worst, but come on, I last wrote in January. Sure, MattyP's Top 25 Lists hasn't been updated since 2006, but this site is almost as bad, and arguably contains much weaker content.

It's November, so that means it's Movember. Last year I had a pretty sick 3 sider going. I did look awesome/homeless/Kentuckian, but this year I've had to give things a pass as my girlfriend likes the goatee and I would be a bad man to shave it off. My friend Kyle is doing some fundraising and you can donate here

Watched a great movie yesterday, Barney's Version. That Paul Giamatti guy is just fantastic. I really seem to like him in everything and Barney's Version was no exception. And Dustin Hoffman! The Hoff!! Well, the real Hoff (not that Hassellhoff fool, although damn he's good for a laugh). Does Dustin Hoffman make bad movies? (don't answer that, I'm sure there's a few, but there are so many good ones). Anyway, loved the flick.

Been watching some awesome new TV. Homeland on Showtime is currently my favourite of the new crop. Awesome plot idea, fantastic acting from Claire Danes, cliffhangers galore. It's a must watch. Closely catching up though is the new Kelsey Grammer political drama "Boss". Grammer plays the mayor of Chicago whose just been diagnosed with a degenerative neurological disorder he's decided to keep private. They're only 3 episodes in so jump on now. Oh, and there's Kathleen Robertson who played Clare back in the day on 90210. Time has treated her well.

I've also been reading some good Comic Books lately. I'm one trade paperback away from finishing Grant Morrison's entire run on New X-Men. It's been interesting. I'm a big Morrison fan, and who doesn't like the X-Men?, so I was expecting a lot. The dialogue at times felt quite odd. I didn't think Grant was always capturing the voice of each character. It's the X-Men, and everyone has pretty distinct ideas of how these guys should be talking and what they would be saying, and some of the stuff just didn't seem right. Especially Wolverine at the start, although this did get better as the run progressed. For the most part I have really enjoyed the storylines, although I found the whole Weapon Plus thing a little rushed and slightly hard to follow. This was echoed in and compounded by the art which I was not a big fan of for that arc. There were a few times where I was wondering what the heck was going on. While I'm on about the art I should touch on the fact that I was really disappointed that Frank Quitely didn't handle the art for the entire run. For some reason I was under this impression. His stuff is the best in the books.

Anyway, I feel content that I've written something here, so I'm done. Make sure you check out the link above for the MattyP lists. And feel free to comment. He loves comments. Until next time, this is Graham Brown saying "donde esta el pollo?"

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Airport

Nothing unites complete strangers like being delayed together at an airport. Beautiful women that would normally not give a second glance to that crazy guy wearing the Spain shirt, suddenly open up, sharing intimate details of their lives. Of course, this is only after they’ve spent half an hour lamenting the current state of the airline industry and explaining how this is the worst thing that’s ever happened to them.

This may or may not be happening beside me right now. And he may be a Real Madrid fan. And she might be a Liverpool supporter. Apparently they like soccer.

The previously mentioned beautiful lady and I did share a chuckle, at the expense of the singing United employee. I don’t know if they’re being instructed to sing everything into the intercom, or if she really is that happy, but it’s something to experience alright. We actually both want to smack her right now. Not that entertaining when your flights delayed.

The North Dakota State Bison mens’s basketball team is here. This is slightly coincidental, as I believe it was 2 years ago at Winter Storm that I met the NDSU women’s b-ball squad. There were some lookers on that team, although, freakishly tall women do scare me slightly. I don’t get turned on by a woman that could beat the crap out of me like some of my friends *cough* Mike Croft *cough*.

I’ve managed to watch a movie that I had downloaded while sitting here, “The Squid and the Whale”. It is quite good. The acting is superb. Laura Linney, Jeff Daniels, even Billy Baldwin, who plays a former tennis pro, now instructor, who never quite made it. His high ranking being 402 in the world. It also co-stars a young Jesse Eisenberg, reaffirming to me the fact that he (no matter what my horrible judge of cinema friend Boyd might say) is a good actor. I however lost my spot at the electric outlet, and won’t have enough time to watch “Fish Tank”, which was going to be movie number 2.

I’ve continued to work my way through the tome that is “Divided Jerusalem, the struggle for the holy city”. It seeks to try and breakdown and explain the history behind the constant conflict, and struggle for control of the city, from it’s beginnings to present day. Lots of political intrigue here, with religion often being used as a pawn to promote political gain.

Anywho, about losing that power outlet, the battery is running awfully low here, so for now, this is intrepid airport reporter Graham Brown signing off. Adieu

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The List 2010

It's been a couple of years since I've published the list. Lots of questions. How high will now over 18 Emma Watson rank? Will free falling Denise Richards hang on to a spot? Who will make the Hall of Fame? Can Britney Spears win Whore of the Year again? Here are the top 26. Enjoy.

26. Giada De Laurentiis
25. Katie Holmes
24. Denise Richards
23. Halle Berry
22. Olivia Wilde
21. Mila Kunis
20. Sienna Miller
19. Olivia Munn
18. Stacy Kiebler
17. Cheryl Cole
16. Jennifer Connelly
15. Elisha Cuthbert
14. Kelly Brook
13. Rachel Bilson
12. Vanessa Marcil
11. Emmanuelle Chriqui
10. Keira Knightley
9. Emma Watson
8. Rachel McAdams
7. Jessica Alba
6. Jennifer Garner
5. Sophia Bush
4. Kate Beckinsale
3. Heidi Klum
2. Scarlett Johansson
1. Natalie Portman

2010 Hall of Fame inductee: Diane Keaton

2010 Whore of the Year: Lindsay Lohan

Friday, November 19, 2010

Hospital Time

I figured this was the easiest spot to write about what happened yesterday for everyone that was concerned.

People are afraid of many things. Some don't like spiders. Others can't leave their damn house. I have a big fear of having a heart attack. I haven't had chest pains in the past, even when I was at my biggest, but none the less it's a fear I have. This was the biggest reason I started dieting again back in March. I don't want to die. Pretty straight forward.

During the past 8 months I've been dieting I've experienced different chest pain at times. It's usually not the same. Or in the same spot. I'm told this is good, as usually when it's related to your heart you have chest pain in the same spot because there's a blockage there, and that's what's causing the pain. I believe the pain is more related to the change in diet, exercise, and general exertion I was putting on my body that I wasn't before. Still, I should have gone to a doctor to check with him.

Wednesday night I started to get some pain in my left side and shoulder. We (me and the doctors) think I've strained something and that's what's causing the pain there (mostly when I breathe in deeply, sneeze, etc). But yesterday at work, as the pain was getting worse (probably from lifting and using my arm duh), I started to wonder if it could be cardiac related. As you all know, pain in the left arm is a possible heart attack symptom. So I googled "chest pain and shoulder pain", and sure enough it is a possible heart attack symptom. I continued reading on about other possible symptoms, dizziness, sweating, shortness of breath.

Well, from there I think my brain just went haywire. I didn't actually feel nervous or panicked, but the brain did it all for me. It came over me in a wave instantly. I got insanely dizzy, thought I was going to pass out. The sweat was pouring out of me. I had convinced myself I was having a heart attack, and these new panic symptoms made me think I was even more. One of the guys at worked called 911 right away. As I sat down, and started to try and relax, the dizziness started to subside. Even the pain in the shoulder went away.

The paramedics arrived and hooked me up to all their gear to run tests. Everything was coming back ok, but they still made me go to the hospital, in the Ambulance, on the damn stretcher and everything. I asked if I had to go on the stretcher, but they said yes. At this point we were already thinking that I just panicked and that I was probably ok, but they had to run the tests at the hospital, which was a good thing.

They did some x-rays, an ECG, and blood work. Everything came back saying I was ok, and hadn't had a heart attack. I guess it's better to be safe than sorry.

I'm still having the pain in my side and shoulder, and it comes and goes. I thought it could be something viral as well causing the pain, but they said the blood work said no. So, hopefully this pain goes away in a few days and I can just chill out, remain calm and know that I'm not having a heart attack. I guess my brain just panicked, because I have such a fear of having a heart attack. I instantly assumed the worst.

Thanks to all that were concerned and that have written/called. You're stuck with me for a little while longer.

Monday, September 13, 2010

What happens in Vegas

Wow. I might be the worst blogger in the universe. The blogoverse even. One post this year. In January. Clearly this hasn't been my year for putting words to computer screen. But I've been chatting with a lovely lady (who's undoubtedly a better wordsmith than I) and she's convinced me to write some more.

This weekend marks the beginning of a journey. A journey that will see friends embark together on an annual pilgrimage to the land of excess. To partake in the finest things life has to offer. My friends, it is time for Las Vegas.

Many of you may know that I travel fairly often, heck I was in New York 4 times alone so far this year. Each trip is usually a great time, but there is work to be done. I'm either teaching, judging, or competing. My yearly trip to Las Vegas is the only time I travel that I don't take a pair of drum sticks with me. This is the only time away that is truly vacation. And I can't wait!

Woody Allen and I share a few connections. We were both born on December 1st. We both have had (or still have ) a thing for Diane Keaton. And every September, at the Carnegie Deli at the Mirage Hotel and Casino, we go to battle. Ok, it's not really me versus the actual Woody Allen. In fact, it's not even a Woody Allen look-alike. It's a sandwich. Woody Allen the sandwich. "The Woody Allen" to be precise. The Woody Allen is a beast. It's said to be 1 lb of Corned Beef, and 1 lb of Pastrami, but I would guess it's total weight is closer to 3 lbs. 3 years in a row Woody and I have battled, and 3 years in a row I have emerged the loser. I've vowed this year will be different. I've been practicing. Working hard to expand my stomach so that I'll be able to finally triumph over the most amazing of Jewish delicatessen. Wait, no I haven't!! I've been on a diet since March. I actually can't eat nearly as much as I used to be able to. I shouldn't stand a chance, and probably shouldn't even be attempting this. But there are some things a man has to do in this life, and I, Graham Brown, must one day defeat the Woody Allen. Maybe this is the year. Below are images of the two combatants from the past 3 years.




Vegas isn't just about eating giant sandwiches. There are also places where people can get drunk and stand up and make fools of themselves in front of others. You might know these more commonly as karaoke bars. The past few years we've hit up karaoke at Imperial Palace. IP has a special bar and room just for karaoke, and it runs every night. Needless to say, we've had some excellent nights there, and it might be the thing I'm most looking forward to this trip. I don't know if everyone will be able to see the following link, but it is gold.

Other traditions that will be revisited include Hug a Hooker, Randomly wondering the strip while drunk, trying to complete the entire collection of this years hooker cards, Beer Pong on the strip (where I am two time defending champion), and more.

I have a feeling this may be the best trip yet, and I'm hoping to have some new stories to share when I return. Get excited people. The magic is about to happen.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Baseball Hall of Fame

The 2010 inductees into the Baseball hall of fame will be announced tomorrow. I like looking over baseball stats, and always enjoy reading the yearly debates about who should and shouldn't get in. I figured this year I'd make my own ballot and compare it to who actually gets in tomorrow.

Tim Raines-I'm surprised by the lack of support Raines has received his first few years on the ballot. It would be a shame if he doesn't end up in the hall.

Dale Murphy-The other player that I just don't understand why he gets no support. Murphy was one of the best players in the NL through the entire 80's.

Mark McGwire-I don't care about the steroids. What are we going to do? Keep everyone that played between 1995-2004 out of the hall? The era was what it was. I say say yes to McGwire.

Roberto Alomar-Hit .300 for his career, with an on base percentage of .371. Had 10 Gold Gloves in an 11 year stretch. A no brainer.

Edgar Martinez-Even though he played most of his career as a DH his hitting numbers are just truly great.

Barry Larkin-A solid all around player. The 1995 NL MVP gets in.

Fred-McGriff-Maybe I have a little bias from Fred playing in Toronto, but he has 493 career homers, has a career .377 OBP, and hit 30 or more homers 10 times.

Andre Dawson-He's been on the ballot for 9 years. I think this one might be make or break for the Hawk.

Just missing the cut:

Bert Blyleven-287 Wins, and 5th most strikeouts of all time, but he was never considered great.

Jack Morris-His career ERA will keep him out

Alan Trammell-If Larkin gets in I can see people also making the case for Trammell, but I have him missing out.

Don Mattingly-From 1984 to 1989, he was one of the best players in the game. But his production dropped off sharply after that. An interesting case, and maybe one I'll have to examine further in the future.