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Kettle Brand Limited Batch Cheddar Beer Potato Chips

cheddar beer kettle chips

cheddar beer kettle chips

Kettle Brand Potato Chips has come a long way – over thirty years ago it began selling chips out of a van, and now it is the largest natural chip brand in the country.  What’s best is Kettle Brand is first potato chip maker to be verified by the Non-GMO Project.  In honor of its history, last year it launched four limited release bags of popular flavors.  We had not heard of the release nor any of the press around the celebrations in 2012, however we just found a bag of the cheddar beer variety at BevMo by chance that was still far from its expiration date.  Of all places, BevMo would be the place to find cheddar beer chips, especially when Kettle has a section on their website for pairing beer with chips.  Thick yet crispy and super crunchy, Kettle chips are known the world over for amazing texture and mouth appeal, .  Over a dozen flavors are all tempting, but cheddar beer might be one of the most creative.  The cheddar flavor is there but not strong, and the beer comes off more like a bittersweet essence mimicking hops and malt.  It’s a tasty chip that stands well on its own with no dip.

The Lunch Box, Oakland CA

Anyone can make a sandwich, but not everyone can cook their own meats.  The Lunch Box is a wondrous find because the quality of the meat is impressive, and the freshness of the produce, breads, and, well, everything, matches.  It is like most deli/sandwich shops in its layout: order at a counter, and either sit at a tinier counter or take your food to go.  But what keeps a steady flow of customers in the small establishment is the consistency in uber-friendly customer service, speed, and the finest ingredients made and used by expert hands.

wrapped to-go, no matter what

wrapped to go, no matter what

To minimize water and energy waste, foods are packaged in biodegradable or recyclable materials.  Whether you choose to stay or go with your food, it will remain piping fresh until you open it, be it sandwich, soup, salad, wrap, or hot plate.

The gumbo soup had a base of a rich and mildly spicy chicken broth, slightly thickened from the okra (the origin of the name of the dish; gumbo is derived from the Bantu word for okra).  The chicken was tender and juicy, and the plentiful vegetables were still somewhat crisp and not at all overcooked or mushy.  Green pepper is one of our least favorite ingredients, but its use in this soup didn’t phase us in the least and we both enjoyed it thoroughly.

baked ham and swiss

baked ham and swiss

On one of the softest french rolls we’ve tried with a thin crispy, crunchy exterior and soft, chewy inside, came the fork-tender baked ham sandwich.  We got it with all the fixings: choice of cheese, mayonnaise, zippy brown mustard, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, and choice of homemade tapenade.  Zach always loves a good ham and Swiss, so that was the choice of cheese.  The tapenades included olive & garlic, sweet pepper, and jalapeño carrot.  It was tough choosing among those, but he went with olive & garlic.  He was a little apprehensive that it would overpower the delicate, smoky, delicious oven-baked ham, but the balance was perfect.

classic rueben

classic rueben

Mexican sodas are making their way into the most unexpected places.  This is due in part to increasing awareness of the issues of hyper-processed ingredients, therefore natural sugar sodas instead of American versions with high-fructose corn syrup are being sought out and embraced.  The Mexican Pepsi, not yet as popular as Mexican Coca Cola, was refreshing with the classic Rueben on soft marbled rye with Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, creamy and tangy thousand island, and the shop’s own corned beef.  The meat was extremely tender, so much that we could bite right through without having to tear away.

roasted turkey hot plate

roasted turkey hot plate

And there’s the Mexican Coca Cola, sabroso and great for washing down this giant hot plate.  For about $8, you get thick, moist, abundant roasted turkey, smothered in savory gravy, on a bed of creamy homestyle mashed potatoes with the skins mixed in, plus a hefty house or caesar salad and a hunk of bread.  Add a side of cranberry sauce, and it’s almost Thanksgiving (yes, you can get a side of cranberry sauce if you ask).  With the house salad we chose ranch dressing, which is house made.  It is very creamy as it is made with buttermilk and sour cream.  The herbs come through as a pleasant aftertaste, with dill being the star of the salad show.

There is a paid parking lot right around the corner that’s “never full,” and while the lots’ and meters’ fees might be a tad bit steep, the surprisingly low costs at The Lunch Box help mediate what you pay for your vehicle.  It’s worth it, though, to drive in for lunch, but if you’re already in the area, you have no excuse not to eat here.

Ceviche and Truffled Chips

This Cinco de Mayo we stayed at home instead of celebrating the 151st anniversary of the Battle of Puebla in public with lots of reveling Oakland denizens.  We didn’t go all out to do a party or anything, but instead Zach put a gourmet twist on two Central American standards for a snack lunch.  We try to follow sustainable seafood guidelines, so the ingredients used were with thought towards the impact on the environment.

ceviche and truffled chips

ceviche and truffled chips

Makes enough for 4-6

• For the chips:

3 liters of peanut oil for frying

18 corn tortillas, white or yellow, sliced into sixths

Truffle salt for seasoning to taste, but you’ll probably use at least 1 tbs.

Heat oil to 370 degrees F in a deep fryer (it’s possible to fry in a cast iron pan or a dutch oven, but then you’ll have to monitor the temperature with a candy thermometer).  Cut the tortillas in half, then slice each half into thirds, creating evenly-sized triangles.

Place one fourth of all the triangles in the fryer at a time so as to make small, thoroughly cooked batches.  Cook for about 4-5 minutes but stir a couple times with a skimmer.

If you have a sturdy fry basket, shake and/or tap it to knock off any excess oil, and let drip for about 20 seconds before tossing the chips in a stainless steel bowl with truffle salt.  Transfer to another bowl lined with paper or cloth towels (to be green) to soak up the remaining oil.  Chips will stay good in a sealed sandwich bag for days!

• For the ceviche (all local ingredients except the Hawaiian pineapple):

1/2 lb. of line-caught Californian halibut

1/2 lb. of line-caught Pacific salmon

1 cup of pineapple

3/4 cup of freshly squeezed lime juice

1/2 cup of Roma tomatoes

1 extra large jalapeño pepper

1 shallot

1/4 cup of minced cilantro

Salt to taste

Cube the fish 1/4″ pieces, and soak in lime juice for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

Dice the pineapple and tomatoes in the same size as the fish, first removing the tomato seeds.  Remove the seeds from the jalapeño, and cut into 1/8″ pieces.  Finely mince the shallot and cilantro like the jalapeño.

After the fish has finished soaking, drain with a strainer and discard the lime juice, shaking off any excess juice.

Toss all ingredients together, tasting for desired saltiness, and serve cold in Arakawa Pottery.