Dealing Carbs from a Shoe in the Land of Lincoln
Every second and fourth Wednesday night of the month, legendary bartender/chef/restaurant insider Dave Mau hosts Dinner with Dave at Memphis at the Santora, where he treats drinkers to a free meal and live music as the evening progresses. To remind ustedes of this great night, Dave treats us every Wednesday morning that he's on to a random OC food or drink musing of his choice. Enjoy!!
I agree with my fellow staffers here at The Weekly and consider downtown Fullerton on the weekends pretty much the worst thing ever. I also stand by my previous statement that Fullerton "has allowed their downtown to turn into a drunken orgy of Sodom and Gomorrah-esque proportions" (can I quote myself?).
I do have a soft spot for a couple of the shops. There's still something about Stubrik's that draws me to the wooden booths in the back - and it's not because wifey and I had our first dates there. That baseball cut top sirloin reminds me of the old Sid's in Newport and their food is just about as salty. In addition, I'm embarrassed to admit how much I like Heroes, although I still lament the loss of the old, quieter, smaller building. I do, however, laud the fact that (while peeking through the glass front windows to see how the build out was going) I saw a not-to-be-disclosed employee having sex with an unknown woman on top of the bar late one night before they opened the new location. No joke. That is called a pre-opening christening. I'm sure they wiped the bar down after but if you ask real nice I'll show you the spot sometime.
Their food may not be the best in the world but their beer selection is darnn good and they have some great burgers, a couple of good sandwiches as well. And I'm just white trash enough to appreciate a nice coating of peanut shells on the floor. But the mountains of fries you get there are worth the trip if you can get past some of their clientele. No thunder sticks in the bar, please.
French fries are my weakness, which means I'm pretty easy to please and I know about almost everything made with them, so I was amazed to come across an unknown culinary aberration on my trip to the Midwest over the holidays. My cousin, Seth, and I were in the front yard, during a family gathering, with the fellas having a few brews while everyone else was inside "visiting" when I heard them mention getting something to eat called a "shoe" (short for horseshoe). "What the hell is a shoe?" I chimed in. You would have thought I had barfed in their beers by the expression on their faces; they are as common out there as an In-and-Out burger here. So much for their all-knowing, full of crap food writer relative from California. I'm still wondering why nobody in the OC has built one here, especially in the sports bar food heavy environs of F-Town.
A horseshoe (the smaller version is called a pony shoe) is an open-faced sandwich made with various meats, piled high with fries on top of the whole deal and topped with a homemade cheese sauce. The original horseshoe, created in the late 1920s by chef Joe Schweska at the local Leland Hotel, was served on a raging hot metal plate (known as the anvil). Two thick slices of bread were grilled and added to the plate. Then a thick slice of ham, shaped like a horseshoe, was slammed on top of that. Welsh rarebit cheese sauce made of white sharp cheddar was poured on top and then, just before serving, fresh-made french fries were added as the (nails) in the horseshoe. The secret to this singular Springfield sandwich is the delicious cheese beer sauce - it's badass and I'll post the recipe below.
Out of obligation I had to try a shoe after our snowy day trip to see the Land of Lincoln. Post sightseeing (and keeping a keen eye out for Daniel Day Lewis) we ducked into D'Arcy's Pint for a quick tester. The shop itself is kind of halfway between between Ye Olde Ship and an Applebee's, not all that original but probably a big deal in town. I had one that was a mixture of ground beef, bacon and grilled onions on top of Texas toast with the fries and sauce setup. It was challenging serving-size wise, even by my standards, but it was great. The sauce itself was a little lackluster but I heard the shop has a white cheese version that is better, more like the original, but you gotta' ask for it. There are a couple other joints out there that apparently have a great horseshoe as well. Fat Willy's and The Gabby Goat are the ones I've heard the most about.
The moral to the story? Always keep your eyes and ears open when away from the OC. Even the places that are perceived to be culinary wastelands have their own rustic, local specialties. And what's not to like about cheese fries, right?
Now if someone here would just try and pull a horseshoe off, I'm sure it would be a hit. Do I dare Heroes to build one? Well, they certainly have enough fries.
Here's that recipe-
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup beer
2 tbl butter
3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
In a small bowl, combine egg yolks and beer until mixed. Set aside.In a double boiler, melt butter and cheddar cheese. Add Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper; whisk until well mixed.
Add egg mixture a little at a time, stirring constantly. Simmer and stir until it thickens and begins to bubble around the edges.
Remove from heat and keep warm until use. And use it you will!
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