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Features

14 Fast Food Seafoods to Help You Survive the 40 Days of Lent

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Around February and March every year, fast food menu boards become inundated (okay, maybe just splashed) with foods which would have no business being there if it weren’t for Catholics. Not to say deep-fried fish sticks, nuggets, and patties can’t be delicious; just that, when seen alongside sizzling slabs of charbroiled beef, they might not be most people’s first choice. Oh, but then Lent rolls around, and reminds us all that man cannot live on burgers alone, that we should do unto fish as we would unto burgers, and . . . any other awful biblical misappropriations you can think of.

So we’ve compiled this quick rundown of the seafood options offered by your favorite fast food chains either yearlong, or especially during Lent. New items are starred.

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Arby’s

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Reel Big Fillet
Alaskan white fish, tartar sauce, and iceberg lettuce on a toasted sesame bun

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Burger King

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Premium Alaskan Fish Sandwich
Panko-breaded white Alaskan pollock, topped with tartar sauce, lettuce, and pickles on an artisan-style bun

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 Carl’s Jr.

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Charbroiled Atlantic Cod Fish Sandwich and Taco
*Notably not deep fried. Charbroiled Atlantic cod filet, lettuce, tomatoes, and tartar sauce between two sesame honey wheat buns. The taco version features Santa Fe sauce, shredded jack and cheddar cheese, shredded lettuce, and salsa on a flour tortilla.

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Del Taco

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Crispy Shrimp Taco and Burrito
Golden fried shrimp, cabbage, pico de gallo, and “secret sauce” wrapped in either a taco or burrito tortilla. The burrito comes with lime rice.

The menu’s regular beer-battered fish tacos are also available.

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Jack in the Box

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Fish Sandwich
Fish filet topped with shredded lettuce and tartar sauce

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 **Long John Silver’s

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Dippin’ Fish Strips
Available in a snack box of five with dipping sauce like McDonald’s fish McBites

The rest of LJS’s Lent-friendly menu is also available.

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 McDonald’s

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Filet-O-Fish
The old Lenten standby; available for only $1 on Fridays

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**Panda Express

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Golden Szechuan Fish
Lightly battered North Pacific cod tossed with sugar peas, red bell peppers and Szechuan sauce

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Popeye’s

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Seafood Mardi Gras
Cajun fish, popcorn shrimp, butterfly shrimp, and seafood po’boys, all fried in Popeye’s spicy, Southern-style breading

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Quizno’s

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Lobster and Seafood Sub
51% real lobster salad topped with white sauce and iceberg lettuce

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Rubio’s

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The Original Fish Taco
Beer-battered Alaskan pollock, topped with white sauce, salsa and cabbage

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Wendy’s

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North Pacific Cod Fillet
Panko-breaded cod topped with tartar sauce and lettuce

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White Castle

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Clam Strips, Fish and Shrimp Nibblers, and Fish Sliders
All coated in savory and crispy breading

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Wienerschnitzel

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UnDer the Sea Trio
Deep fried Alaskan pollock in hot dog, burrito, or  good ol’ fashioned fish and chips form.

Categories
Restaurants

Langostino Lobster Returns to Rubios for Limited Time

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Most well-known for their fish tacos, Rubio’s has announced the the return of their Langostino Lobster Taco and Burrito which is sure to please pescetarians and carnivores alike.

The limited edition burrito is filled with “tender Langostino Lobster drizzled with warm basil butter, citrus rice, and fresh guacamole. Wrapped in a warm flour tortilla, the burrito includes black beans, chipotle white sauce, salsa fresca, and is topped off with crisp lettuce.” The Langostino Lobster Taco Plate is served with “two tacos topped with freshly sliced avocados, a cilantro-onion mix, chipotle white sauce, and cabbage” and includes with a side of “no-fried pinto beans and chips, .”

A Surf & Turf Taco Plate is also available for lovers of both land and sea. The meal includes a Langostino Lobster Taco as well as a Grilled Gourmet Steak Taco paired with a side of no-fried pinto beans and chips.

Dubbed a fan favorite over the last decade, Rubio’s has revamped their signature seasonal recipe to enhance the flavors of the Langostino Lobster while still staying true to its humble beginnings.

Categories
Brand

The Gentleman’s Guide to Fast Food + Beer Pairings

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It takes a certain kind of person to want to drink beer with his Breakfast Jack, but we’re pretty sure we want to be his new best friend.

But not just any beer, mind you. No our friend is much more refined that that. He understands that fast food, good fast food, is not simply the repurposed soy slosh you wash down with too-syrupy Coke. It’s something that deserves to be relished. Celebrated. Perhaps, not with all the pomp of a Clara Brut Champagne, but come on, you could at least break out the Hefeweizens.

The way your friend sees it, why waste your precious taste buds on overpriced fountain sodas when you could purposely pair that Western Bacon Cheeseburger with a nice smoky Rauchbier? Or a Fish Filet with watery iced tea when you could be drinking a Kolsch?

The simple lesson he hopes to teach you, old sport, is that you wouldn’t. Since beer has malt, you’re able to pair it with all kinds of foods, similar to how you’d eat anything with at least some kind of bread. So put down that awful, ‘beetees-causing, “diet” Pepsi and kick back this summer with any of these fast food x beer pairings, courtesy of our friends over at Total Wine & More in Tustin.

Just don’t try them in the drive-thru, k?

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McDonald’s Fish Filet x Goose Island Summertime Kolsch

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TW: “With fish, any kind of white meat, you wanna have like a lighter beer. The thing with beer is you wanna do one of three C’s: It’s either you wanna contrast it, complement it, or cut it. Kolsch is a lighter German style from the Old World. It’s a summer, seasonal beer: very light, crisp, little bready. Not bitter, not hoppy or anything like that – just really nice and smooth. A good, refreshing, summertime lawnmower beer.”

Verdict: The crisp carbonation washed out the slick, doughy mouthfeel of the fish filet breading, while the citrus helped dress up the tartar sauce.

Goose Island Summertime Kolsch
Seasonal
Illinois — “The color of sunshine, with a light fruity aroma and a hint of fruity acidity, this is the perfect summer session ale. A Kolsch beer brewed in the traditional German fashion, you’ll find yourself enjoying and savoring each sip of summertime.”

$8.49 for a 6 pack of 12 ounce bottles @ Total Wine

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Carl’s Jr Western Bacon Cheeseburger x Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen

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TW: “If you can pronounce it, I’ll give you a dollar because I sure can’t. This beer is really, really, really smoky. It smells like burnt bacon for the most part. There’s a little bit of bitterness on the end because of the hops. The bitterness helps cut through fatty things, because this is clearly a fatty burger. Overall though, smoke. Good barbecue beer.”

Verdict: For anyone who hasn’t had a smoky beer before, the nose is definitely startling at first, but eventually helps to draw out the deeper flavors of the burger, so the sweetness of the barbecue sauce isn’t too overwhelming.

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen
“Germany — This smokebeer, made with smoked malts, is unique to the town of Bamberg. It is very dark and the smoky aroma is immediately evident, but on the palate there is some maltiness. Give this wonderfully unique brew a try. Pairs excellently with sausages and meats.”

$5.99 for a 500 ml bottle @ Total Wine

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Starbucks Birthday Cake and Chocolate Cake Pops x Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout

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TW: “With desserts, stouts work really well because they’re really rich and usually have notes of chocolate or notes of coffee. With this one, it’s an oatmeal stout, so it’s not gonna be overpowering… For me, stouts can get too rich, too roasted because you have to roast the malt to get that dark color, but with this one, it’s perfect. Very well done. English-style stuff is known for being not as extreme as the Americanized-everything… We wanted to amplify the flavors of everything that came from the Old World over to the New World. But yeah, this is a really rich roasted beer, malty, but still sweet and not bitter. You can have bitter for contrast, but usually with dessert, you want the sweet, so you want to complement it.”

Verdict: Amazing coffee and vanilla flavors here, and a much recommended alternative to sucking down another too-sweet Frappuccino.

TW: “I think I like the chocolate one best, because that’s the flavor the malt has already. It should help a lot. It’s good, like fudge.”

Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout
Malty, Chocolaty, Coffee, Smooth, Medium-body
“England — This style of stout, with the addition of a small amount of oats, died out around the first World War until Samuel Smith revived it in 1980. It is almost opaque, with an unusually silky texture and complex, medium-dry velvet palate. Vegan Society confirmed.”

$3.29 for an 18-ounce bottle @ Total Wine

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Jack in the Box Breakfast Jack x Hangar 24 Orange Wheat

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TW: “Wheat beer is usually unfiltered, so you’re going to see yeast still in the bottle, so it’s going to be hazy, cloudy. It’ll have a real pretty appearance. I mean, they always ask if you want orange juice with your breakfast combo. It’ll be like, ‘Sir, it’s 7:30 in the morning, why do you want beer? And why are you in the drive-thru?’ Yeah, that definitely threw me off when I saw the breakfast sandwich on there. I guess maybe if you’re out late, Jack in the Box is the place for breakfast all day, so you can get an after 5 o’clock breakfast sandwich. Yeah, that’s really orange-y. Even though Hef’s got a fuller body because it’s a wheat beer, it’s still a lighter style. The flavors aren’t extreme, you just get most of the wheat feel and the orange and coriander flavor.”

Verdict: The unequivocal “Breakfast of Champions,” this combination was by far the winner – and the ultimate alternative to boring, watered-down mimosas that you never knew you needed.

Hangar 24 Orange Wheat
Crisp, Fruity, Citrus, Light-bodied
“California — Pours a hazy light orange color with a creamy white head. Aromas of oranges on the nose amidst a wheat background. The body is thin, delivering slightly sweet flavors of refreshingly tart oranges and orange rinds. Won Gold in 2012 at LA IC Beer Competition.”

$3.99 for a 22-ounce bottle @ Total Wine

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Chipotle Barbacoa Burrito Bowl x Anchor Steam Beer

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TW: “Definitely haven’t had that. I heard it was a little spicy. So the rule with anything spicy is that hoppy beer is gonna make it worse. It’s gonna make it burn bad… I’ve had IPAs with jalapeno peppers and it hurt the whole way down. I love spicy food, I put hot sauce on everything, and I was dying… So you want something to quench it. I went with an Anchor Steam Beer. It’s a California Common, made with lager yeast but at ale temperatures. That’s what makes it kind of special. It’s real nice, got a nice bready feel to it and it’s more of a thirst quencher….”

Verdict: This beer cut the medium spiciness of the meat and salsa really quickly, though the flavors didn’t really complement or contrast in any specific way. Overall, it tasted a little bit like soap and I think I’d rather just have milk if I wanted to get the heat out.

Anchor Steam Beer
“California — Iconic Anchor Steam derives its unusual name from the 19th century when “steam” seems to have been a nickname for beer brewed on the West Coast under primitive conditions and without ice. This process produces a dark amber lager with lovely malty/hoppy aromas.”

$7.29 for 6 pack of 12 ounce bottles @ Total Wine

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Yoshinoya Beef Teriyaki Bowl x Chimay Premiere Red

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TW: “This is a Trappist beer. Trappist beers, there’s only eight of them in the world. This is technically a Dubbel, their Belgian style: roasted, but not sweet. Usually with darker Belgian ales, there’s like a raisin-y sweetness or a canned sugar. With this one, it’s roasted, it’s dark, but it’s still smooth. You get a lot of Belgian yeast in it though, which gives it a lot of spice. Trappist means it’s made by monks and it can only be made at the monastery. It makes it a lot more expensive, but you can never go wrong with Trappist. Most people enjoy it even if they don’t like darker beer because they can appreciate the style and the yeast, the spiciness, a little clove. But that should pair nicely with some teriyaki. Teriyaki’s got a little bit of sweetness and this’ll kick it right back.”

Verdict: You get a lot more fruit than spice at first, but the spice comes out with a bite of the teriyaki and results in a nice balance. A bit too pricey for a weekday, after-work beer though. Just saying.

Chimay Premiere Red
Malty, Fruity, Estery, Chocolaty, Medium-bodied
“Belgium — 7% ABV. TRAPPIST ALE. Coppery in color, this beer gives off a light, fruity apricot aroma. The flavors perceived in the mouth confirm the fruity nuances noticed in the fragrance. The silky sensation to the tongue is made refreshing by a light touch of bitterness.”

$11.49 for a 750 ml bottle @ Total Wine

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Burger King Sweet Potato Fries x Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar

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TW: “Browns go really well with sweet potato fries. This specific one is Rogue Hazelnut. It’s a brown ale and they added hazelnut, which gives it a little bit of richness at the end, but nothing too crazy. It should complement the sweetness of the sweet potato fries… Since it’s dark, they roast the malt so it’s gonna have a lot of roasty character to it. Burnt, toasted. But the hazelnut is gonna bring a little sweetness, a little richness, which should pair very nice. Both of them [the fries and the beer] have sweetness on the end, but it doesn’t kick in until later. You add the beer, it definitely helps it, brings it out.”

Verdict: BK’s take on sweet potato fries can come off as rather bitter, but the beer helps smooth out the inconsistency and actually makes both taste significantly better.

Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar
Balanced, Malty, Caramel, Toasty, Medium-body
“Oregon — GABF Gold Medal 2012. Dark brown in color with a hazelnut aroma, a rich nutty flavor and a smooth malty finish. This has a blend of Great Western 2-row Pale, Munich, Hugh Baird Brown, Crystal 80 and Crystal 135, Carastan, and Beeston Pale Chocolate malts.”

$6.99 for a 22-ounce bottle @ Total Wine

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Wendy’s Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger x Green Flash Le Freak Ale

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TW: “With this, it’s a hoppier beer. It’s a Belgian IPA. It’s American, so it’s gonna be very hoppy. We’re extremist and they like to jack up the IBUs [International Bitterness Units]. It’s a scale from 1 to 100. Your palate can’t really detect past 100, it’s just gonna taste bitter. With this one, they used Belgian yeast, so the same characteristics you got off of that Chamay, they put it in here, with the hop bitterness of an IPA. It might work, I don’t know, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. This on the nose right away, you’re gonna smell the hops, so the citrusy, pine, grassy, grapefruit. And this is the one that’s gonna linger on your tongue for a while.”

Verdict: Actually originally meant to pair with a hot dog, the Le Freak went fine with Wendy’s new summer burger, but nothing particularly noteworthy. I admit I’m not a fan of hoppy beer in general though, so the disconnect might just be on my end.

TW: “The yeast jumps out at it, the yeast and the bun match up nice. As soon as it hits your mouth, they grab each other. Plus I love hoppy beer. It made it a little bit sweeter too, because the pretzel adds the sweetness.”

Green Flash Le Freak Ale
“California — 9.2% ABV. GABF Golde Medal 2012. A convergence of an American Imperial IPA and a Belgian Trippel. A zesty brew with enticing American hop and Belgian yeast aromatics leading you to delicious malts and a complex layering of hop flavors that quench and refresh.”

$8.99 for a 22-ounce bottle @ Total Wine

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Rubio’s Fish Taco x Orval Trappist Ale

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TW: “Another Trappist beer. This style is a Belgian pale ale. So not pale as in an IPA but this is Old World. It’s not as hoppy, because they most just use hops, you know, ‘cause you have to. This one should have a nice pretty color to it as well, but still that same yeast and the same spiciness of the yeast and the smell. […] The yeast of Belgian beers is really, really unique. So if you pair that with that, it’s got a nice crispness to it, almost like, I don’t wanna say ‘sting,’ because that sounds bad, but it’s crisp, you can feel it on your tongue – a little prickly I guess, but it should pair really nicely with that fish.”

Verdict: Great beer and a great fast food fish taco, but a slightly underwhelming pairing. I would have preferred if it was a little more citrusy.

TW: “That’s real light, nothing crazy jumps out at you. It’s kind of consistent and nice, good flavor, not super fishy either. This adds a nice Belgian yeast and it’s perfect. It comes and goes quick, it’s not really long lasting. Real light, real easy. It adds a different spice, I guess you could say.”

Orval Trappist Ale
Balanced, Estery, Spicy, Earthy, Medium-bodied
“Belgium — 6.9% ABV. TRAPPIST ALE. Orval is brewed unfiltered by Catholic monks at a monastery founded in the 1100s in the pastoral Belgium countryside. Three different malts and two types of hops, fermented three times, impart a great character and complexity. Balanced.”

$5.49 for an 11-ounce bottle @ Total Wine

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Categories
Fast Food

The Simple Pleasures of the New Grilled Chimichurri Salmon Dishes from Rubio’s

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Working at a food blog, you come to understand what will and won’t do well on your site. You actively seek out the ostentatious, the bizarre, the HOLY SHIITAKE MUSHROOMS, BATMAN. Little by little, your writing becomes less about celebrating food and more about gawking at it (which is, of course, its own brand of fun). Every once in a while though, you find something that – while not bacon wrapped, nutella-stuffed or Sriracha-drizzled – nevertheless deserves to be shared, on no merit other than sounding absolutely incredible.

Say it with me now. Grilled. Salmon. Chimichurri. Is your mouth watering yet?

Rubio’s, the San Diego-based chain who brought $1 Fish Taco Tuesdays into the mainstream, is now offering new Sustainable Grilled Chimichurri Salmon burritos, tacos and salads for a limited time. As the press release details:

“. . . each item features sustainable, grilled Atlantic salmon topped with Rubio’s chimichurri sauce, a savory blend of chopped basil, parsley, chives, garlic and olive oil. The mouthwatering burrito and taco include fire-roasted corn and Fresno chiles. The burrito comes complete with black beans and salsa fresca, while the taco is topped with crunchy spring mix, butter lettuce and crema. Providing an even lighter option is the salad, made with fresh spring mix and butter lettuce tossed in a chimichurri balsamic vinaigrette dressing and topped with fresh sliced avocados, Fresno chiles, crema and fire-roasted corn.”

This summer, do yourself a favor, at least once. Put down the Waffle Taco and pick up something that sounds good and is kind of good for you. If nothing else, it’ll leave you feeling good about yourself, so you’re free to sneak in that extra Frosty cone for dessert.

Categories
Brand

The Quintessential Guide to Fast Food + Wine Pairings

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Which pairs better with a plate of Panda Express Orange Chicken: a Gewürztraminer or a Rhone Valley Rosé?

Different people will tell you different things. The Gewürz is perfect for bringing out the natural spice of the orange sauce, while the Rosé marries swimmingly with citrus. And while an entirely different school might say pair it with a Peach Sparkling Arbor Mist (a school of the sorority-pledging, college fresh-woman variety, mayhaps), I’m guessing that even when drunk alongside imitation soy meat, something that calls itself a fast food wine should still be, well, a wine.

Anyway, all disputes aside, a perfect Panda wine pairing does exist, and there’s an actual science behind it, as I discovered on my most recent visit to Total Wine & More. By applying the same wine pairing techniques normally reserved for steaks and lobsters and smoked mozzarellas to Taco Bell DLTs and McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets, my expert sommelier guided me through the perfect methodology for classing up an average Tuesday night.

Here’s all you really need for a good fast food wine: a high degree of acidity, to cut through the grease and fat; a fair price point, so someone can just pick it up at the store on the way home from work. (These, for instance, were all under $20.) It should complement, not battle, and certainly not overwhelm, the medley of real and artificial flavors, and as a nod to our readers, the perfect Foodbeast fast food wine should also be a little bit “out of the box”—something that most people probably haven’t heard of or just wouldn’t think to drink with, say, french fries or a Double-Double.

These are the best wines to pair with your favorite fast food menu items, or in other words, the ultimate indulgence paired with the ultimate indulgence. We dare you not to try them all at once.

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McDonald’s Chicken Nuggets x Clara Brut Sparkling Wine California North Coast

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TW: “I get honey right off the top with this. It’s a very unique, but true, strong honey. And that was one of the first things I thought of with the chicken nuggets, is that a lot of people dip chicken nuggets into honey, and there are a lot more white sauces for chicken nuggets. It would have also been very easy to recommend a Zinfandel because a lot of people dip chicken nuggets into barbecue sauce.”

 

Verdict: The champagne definitely cuts through the lingering grease and makes the whole eating process a lot more pleasant. This would make a classier, less guilty alternative to sweet and sour sauce.

TW: “I’d say that went together nicely. Any day with champagne is a good day.”

 

Clara Brut Sparkling Wine California North Coast
Dry, Peach, Toast, Full-Bodied
“North Coast, CA – Round and full-bodied, with rich nectarine and peach fruit. This sparkler has a nicely developed character with toasted hazelnut, honey, toffee and brioche flavors.”
$17.99 @ Total Wine

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 McDonald’s French Fries x Phebus Torrontes

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TW: “I thought of french fries as a snack, more than anything else. If anyone’s just going to get french fries, it might be on the way home from picking up the kids from school or getting out of class as a college student. So with that, it’s a great little middle of the day wine. Especially in Southern California, every day is beautiful. Even the bad days are beautiful by 2 o’clock. I thought primarily of picnicking, sitting on the patio, on the porch. And Torrontes has just got an excellent springtime feeling to it. It’s refreshing, it’s crisp. And I think it would pair well with the starchiness and the saltiness of the fries, without being terribly sweet.”

 

Verdict: This one I didn’t understand as much. It was a good wine, but I wouldn’t necessarily pair it with the fries, any more than plain old ketchup.

TW: “All Torrontesses are different. The citrus battles a little bit with the sweetness of the potato. A to F, I’d give this one a B.”

 

Phebus Torrontes
Crisp, Lemon, Citrus, Light-Bodied
“Salta, Argentina – From Argentina’s northern region of Salta comes this crisp and refreshing, oak-free white wine made from 100% Torrontes. A nose of fresh cut lemons with a hint of lime is followed by layers of citrus on the dry and refreshing palate. Pair with seafood and spicy dishes.”
$9.99 @ Total Wine

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Kentucky Fried Chicken x Cloud Break Chardonnay Barrel Fermented

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TW: “For fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy, I thought, ‘How American is that.’ And the best-selling grape in the United States of America is Chardonnay. So I had to go with an American Chard for this. . . Fried chicken is more of a ‘stick-to-your-ribs’ meal. It’s filling, even with just a little bit, and quintessentially American. I grabbed the Cloud Break Chardonnay because it’s got some of that weight behind it for not too expensive. This wine drinks like a much more expensive bottle. With that, it’s got that comfort food element along with the weightiness of the wine. But it’s still got enough acidity to cut through the fat.”

 

Verdict: Like the chicken nuggets, this pairing just made sense – a solid refresher after the greasy chicken which also didn’t battle with the sweetness of the mashed potatoes.

 

Cloud Break Chardonnay Barrel Fermented
Oak, Apple, Butter, Full-bodied
“California – The Cloud Break Chardonnay is rich with flavors of toasted oak, vanilla, butter, apple, pear and hints of coconut. 100% malolactic fermentation is used to give it nice body and texture. Refined acidity and hints of green apple linger on the elegant finish.”
$7.99 @ Total Wine

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Subway Turkey Sandwich x Dr Heidemanns Riesling Dry

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TW: “The sandwich can get tricky because so many people do so many different things with their sandwiches. Riesling is a classic pairing with turkey . . . Turkey tends to be a relatively dry meat, and not just in the fact that many people overcook it. It’s usually a touch bland. And Rieslings, there’s nothing bland about them. They’re just fantastic and there are so many different styles. You can really find a Riesling to find your style and what you like. It’s also a matter of acidity and the viscous, sort of heavy mouthfeel of Riesling can help detract from a dryer piece of meat.”

 

Verdict: The sandwich was mostly bread, and dry bread at that, so there wasn’t too much going on here. Solid Riesling though, which went well with the turkey once it was separated from the rest of the sandwich.

 

Dr Heidemanns Riesling Dry
Crisp, Citrus, Mineral, Light-bodied
“Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany – Known as a ‘Trocken’ style wine which is the German word for ‘dry.’  This 100% Riesling from the renowned estate of Dr. Heidemanns – Bergweiler has all the citrus and mineral notes you would expect but unlike typical Mosel wines. Pair with seafood and chicken.”
$14.99 @ Total Wine

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Panda Express Orange Chicken x Château de Nages Costières-de-Nîmes Rosé Reserve 2011

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TW: “We’re pairing this with an orange chicken, which we know has got some sweetness to it. And because I didn’t want the sweetness to battle, I went with a distinctive dry rosé. I could have gone with a dry white or a dry red, but I think the red would have overpowered the chicken, though the dry white would have gone just fine. But I picked this one specifically because of the fruit flavors you get out of a rosé often are red fruits, along with the crispness, lightness and freshness that people associate with white wine. I get some strawberry, some raspberry notes, and a touch of a citrus zest and that marries really well with the orange chicken. And it’s still acidic enough to fight against the fried aspect of the chicken and the rice.”

 

Verdict: I liked how this pairing was still fruity but not overly sweet, which allowed both to keep their flavor profiles at a nice balance. One of my favorites.

 

Château de Nages Costières-de-Nîmes Rosé Reserve 2011
Crisp, Cherry, Melon, Raspberry, Light-bodied
“Rhone, France – Fragrant and fresh aromas of ripe cherries and melon mixed with rose petals. This blend of Grenache and Syrah displays the bouquet in flavor, along with some raspberry, in a light to medium bodied style. All of the wonderful ripe fruit flavors fade into a crisp finish.”
$9.99 @ Total Wine

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Weinerschnitzel Chili Cheese Dog x Hugl Zweigelt

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TW: “When I think hot dogs, I think barbecue, and two other wines pop into my mind. If you’re doing barbecue sauce, Zinfandel goes really well. Otherwise there’s a grape from Argentina which is perfect for grilling. But this today was a chili dog and that changes the game. So I went with a little more of a traditional country known for sausages [Austria] and with the grape that many of your readers may have never heard before, called Zweigelt . . .The truth is it’s very similar to Merlot, but unique. The first thing I noticed is this is a kind of earthy wine and it’s not terribly fruity. A lot of people associate fruit with sweetness, but I’m guessing that the chili in this chili dog is going to be relatively sweet chili, and I didn’t want that to battle. Also this particular Zweigelt has got a bit of smokiness and I still wanted to keep that element of barbecue.”

 

Verdict: The winner by far – this pairing not only made sense, but it completely enhanced the flavors of both the chili dog and the wine, which also managed to diminish the saltiness of the hot dog perfectly. If you are only going to try one of these nine, make it this one.

 

Hugl Zweigelt
Fresh Fruit, Easy Drinking, Cherry
“Austria – This variety was created in 1922, when Dr. Fritz Zweigelt crossed two grapes – Sankt Laurent and Blaufränkisch. The wine boasts a concentrated color, fruity and spicy aromas, and cherry flavors. Full-bodied, smooth and round, the wine is an ideal food companion.”
$13.99 @ Total Wine

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Pizza Hut Pizza x Sobon Sangiovese

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TW: “Italians drink wine with every meal and most people think of pizza as Italian, but this kind of pizza is pretty American. So why not with an American grown wine from an Italian grape? Sangiovese is a grape grown in Italy. Some of the best Italian wines are made with Sangiovese. So this is an American take on an Italian wine and an American take on an Italian staple. It’s got great acidity to it as well, so it’ll cut through some of the fattiness of that pepperoni and sausage, but it will pair well with the sweetness of the sauce and the doughiness of the pizza dough.”

 

Verdict: I wasn’t a fan of the cheese and dough here, but the meats and wine together were on point.

 

Sobon Sangiovese
Intense Fruit, Cherry, Full-bodied
“Amador County, Sierra Foothills, CA – The Sangiovese grape is a native of Tuscany, Italy which has adapted well to Sierra Foothill soils. It has fragrant berry aromas and flavors, overlaid with hints of tea, spice, leather and mint. Enjoy with antipasti, pasta dishes and pizza.”
$8.99 @ Total Wine

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Taco Bell DLT x Oak Grove Petite Sirah

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TW: “This is a pretty common grape that most people have never heard of. The joke is there’s nothing ‘petite’ about Petite Sirah. It’s full-fruit, full-bodied, full-aroma, full-mouthfeel. It’s a big wine for such a small name. I’ve never had the Doritos Locos Taco, but what I assumed is this is gonna be an explosion of flavor in your mouth. It’s sort of an aggressive thing. And with that big flavor, we need a big wine too. But we’re also not trying to get anything that’s going to battle. Because a lot of American cheeses don’t have that strong a flavor, a lot of it’s time it’s just for mouthfeel or binding. The mozzarella that they use on pizzas tends not to be that smoked mozzarella, it’s more of something to hold toppings on. For this I thought much more of the soy meat and the Doritos which are going to be the driving flavors.”

 

Verdict: The flavors here didn’t harmonize too well and kind of got lost, leaving me mostly with the taste of the Petite Sirah and the texture of the taco meat, which was slightly less than appetizing.

TW: “Tasting it with the Nacho Cheese, I feel like it cut the fruit down a little bit in the Petite Sirah. With the Cool Ranch, I might actually go back to one of the whites or the rosé.”

 

Oak Grove Petite Sirah
Intense, Raspberry, Strawberry, Medium-bodied
“California- Aromas of raspberry and strawberry lead to powerful flavors of crushed red berry fruit, plum jam and the spicy notes typical of this varietal. The interesting combination of flavors makes this wine a perfect match with grilled meats, cold cuts and strong cheese.”
$5.99 @ Total Wine

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In-N-Out Double-Double x Avenel Cellars Cabernet Napa

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TW: “Now let me preface this by saying, if this was Animal Style, the flavor profile will be different, there’s no question about it. So barbecue, charbroiled burgers, this is a perfect one. This is a red blend. It’s primarily Cab and it’s rockin’. It’s Napa valley fruit, the price on it is outstanding. It’s under $20 — $18.99 – but I like to think that In-N-Out Burger is the Cadillac of the fast food burger world. There’s also this idea that In-N-Out’s not dealing with the pink slime. They want a quality product in people’s hands, so why not spend a little more money on the wine that you’re gonna drink with it?

“This is a much dryer wine. It’s got higher tannins, sort of that feeling that your mouth is dryer after drinking it. And tannic acid goes really well with that fattiness of specifically beef, but I’d match this with a steak too. Maybe not a big porterhouse, but something a little leaner. I think it’s got a lot of character and I wanted to finish with that sort of thing that you remember where, upon eating a Double-Double, you might be full. You might not want to touch those french fries at all. Because it’s kind of a big sandwich, but you’ll definitely want to keep drinking this wine, because it pairs really well with this food and continues to be delicious.

“I also took into account the caramelized onions and the sauce. The sauce is acidic but it’s also sweet and this one I think can cut through it just fine. Some of the flavors might marry well, so it’s sweeter, fruitier, but I thought more about the meat. The sauce is like an accent, the meat is what carries the flavor of the hamburger.”

 

Verdict: This one I tried at home after the interview because the line at the In-N-Out drive-thru around 12 in the afternoon was much too long, but you definitely can’t go wrong pairing a burger and Cab, though I’m not sure it wins me over as an alternative to a strawberry shake.

 

Avenel Cellars Cabernet Napa
Concentrated, Blueberry, Cherry, Full-bodied
“Napa Valley, California- This Cabernet was handcrafted by renowned winemaker Marco DiGiulio. It expresses wonderful fullness and suppleness with soft and integrated tannins. The layers of black cherry, blueberry and cocoa are dominant throughout the wine. Enjoy with steak or ribs.”
$18.99 @ Total Wine

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Of course, hard workers that they were, the Total Wine staff had other fast food pairings that we hadn’t even thought of, such as El Pollo Loco chicken and a Riesling, or a Rubio’s Fish Taco with a Montignac Picpoul de Pinet. The absolute winner? Sriracha and Gewürztraminer.

“If you’re like so much of the world loving Sriracha on absolutely everything,” they insisted, “you know Gewürztraminer is going to be your best friend.”

Good wine doesn’t need to be expensive, and it certainly doesn’t need to be paired with a big ol’ slab of (probably fake) Kobe steak. Maybe next time you’re shopping for a nice weekday dinner wine, you’ll stop and think to yourself, “Do you want fries with that?”

Categories
Cravings

Bacon Garlic Herb Shrimp Taco

Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill lives up to its name when it comes to their fresh and tasty Mexican ingredients. While I don’t patronize their locations as much as I’d like, I was pleasantly surprised to find that they had bacon on the menu via their  Bacon Garlic Herb Shrimp Tacos. The thought of adding bacon to their garlic herb shrimp was a combination too good to pass up:

Categories
Fast Food

How a Couple Managed the Return of Rubio’s Portobello Poblano Grilled Tacos

Are you a fan of Rubio’s Portobello Poblano Grilled Gourmet Tacos? For a vast majority of us, we may not even know this limited-time menu item exists, but for a couple that is unusually passionate about their good eats, they decided to not let the sudden dissappearance of their favorite menu item go unheard.

But what is one to do in such a situation? Inquire about the tacos with a manager? Fire off an e-mail to corporate? How many times have customers tried this only to have their inquiries fall on deaf ears? Well, this is a story with a slightly happier ending:

Categories
News

Rubio's: All-American Taco (Burger Taco)

Have you ever imagined a flour tortilla stuffed with char-grilled, seasoned beef patty, topped with melted American cheese, salsa fresca, smoky garlic-chipotle mayonnaise, a jalapeno pepper and lettuce? Well me either, apparently it’s super innovative…but what is this I spot? A place out in Texas serving the same thing? Regardless of its originality, if you’re not out in Texas, find a Rubio’s near you if you want to try out a burger-taco!