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Deep Fried Twinkies, Cookie Dough and Snickers – no problem! I can gain 60lbs in one sitting!

This is the first hot dog joint, where the desserts take center stage, although you may want to go ahead and sign that living will before you order. If they can batter it and fit in a fryer, then they will do it. It’s about as deep-fried, a festival-style you can get; including choices like a deep-fried Twinkie, deep-fried Ding Dong, deep-fried Snickers bar, deep-fried Oreos and deep-fried cookie-dough balls. Seriously!!!

Pam’s offers thirteen different dogs to choose from. The one that bears the restaurant’s name, the Chicago-style hot dog, is served on a poppy-seed bun and topped with peppers, a pickle, neon-green relish and chopped onions. When I am O’Hare, I always get one or two of these. I know they’re not super authentic, but I love the peppers. At Pam’s, you get a 10″ dog, with two buns, Chicago style.

Yeah seriously, it has two buns on that dog!!

Of course, it would not be anything special, if they didn’t have some ridiculous challenge in this place to crush newcomers. At Pams’, it’s called the Archinator.

The “Archinator” is stuffed inside a baguette, because you can’t find a regular bun that’s 22″ long … The “Archinator,” served Chicago-style, costs $15.99. Of course, you can take the “Archinator Challenge” for $22.99.

This “Archinator” is topped with sauerkraut, chili, cheese, tomatoes and peppers. (The price also includes an extra-large order of fries and a 32-ounce soft drink.) If you finish the “Archinator Challenge” and you receive a $20 gift card and your picture on the wall.

Now if you didn’t want the challenge, you could consume your calories in a multitude of other tasty, death concoting ways.

Your first choice would be to have deep fried twinkies … sprinkled with icing sugar. Do get it extreme with the cherry sauce.

Here is a close up …

Didn’t feel like that craziness, then you could have deep fried Snickers bar … in funnel cake batter.

So wait, you didn’t like the deep fried twinkies or snickers, then how about deep fried chocolate cookie dough …

More Balls of Glory …

Nuff said … you’re in St. Louis .. get over there! NOW!

Pam’s Chicago Style Dogs & More
6016 Delmar Blvd.|In the Loop!
St. Louis, MO 63112
ph: 314-721-PAMS (7267)

Jerk Chicken in St. Louis … seriously! And it’s phenomenal!!!

In my travels, I am constantly surprised at how little I know about things I claim to know a lot about. For instance, I really like my Jerk Chicken with Rice and Peas, swimming with gravy and with tons of hot sauce and some water cress salad on it. Simple food, with an extraordinary impact!

Having worked in St. Louis for the last 15 months, I’ve had time to appreciate this city and the suburbs. That being said, I wouldn’t recommend St. Louis to anyone, if they had to choose from the multitude of other much more interesting cities in the US.

As for the food though, St. Louis is growing on me … slowly but surely. This city has some great food but nothing has amazed me more than “Mi Hungry” … it is ridiculously difficult to find good Jerk Chicken in Toronto (even when the damn West Indians have taken over this city), yet I find the best Jerk Chicken I’ve had in years in St. Louis?!!?!

This is a simple place. Once you walk into the unassuming MiHungry (adjacent to rubber burning smells wafting from the nearby auto repair shop), which was obviously an old school diner that was taken over by Miss Ava and her Jamaican husband – this is the second of two locations (the other is in downtown St. Louis), the food will get you.

The decor is complete with exterior plastic and vinyl benches and on the inside, a long counter with barstools. If the food doesn’t get you, then the down home charm of Miss Ava will keep you in – she reminds me of the women serving breakfast and lunch in the Old Breakfast Shed in Port of Spain.

If you’re looking for something swank and posh, then this is definitely not the place for you. This place is all about ridiculously great food and service … nothing more, nothing less.

On coming in, Miss Ava immediately offered samples of her “greatest hits.” Diane and I couldn’t refuse and we graciously accepted samples, which included three kinds of meat: chicken prepared one of three ways: fried, reggae, or jerked; cornbread, green beans, candied yams, collard greens and rice and peas. I think I was hooked right there.

As for the entrees, I had my customary rice and peas with Jerk Chicken. The rice and peas was different, not like the traditional coconut water infused rice and peas with country thyme and seasoning. This was a sweeter southern version of it (Miss Ava is from the South), and it was tasty though, very tasty. The star was the Jerk Chicken – perfect Jerk Sauce with seasonings, a good heat from the skin and meat and tons of smokey greatness in the meat. Only in Jamaica, do you get meat smoked over wood like this. More on that smokey business in a bit!

The food on display is easy to pronounce and even easier to eat. You want Jamaican food with Soul food … then this is the place. Collard Greens with Turkey … check! Candied Yams … check! Sweet Corn … check!

Want some Reggae Wings?

Just when I thought the Jerk Chicken was the top, she offered me the Jerk Pork. I was a bit skeptical, not wanting to ruin the great impression I had of the place – Jerk Pork is yet another ridiculously simple dish to make but a difficult thing, to do really, really well.

 The pork was fall off the bone tender and saucy with just the right amount of spicy (hot enough to tingle, but not so hot that you can’t taste your next bite, so of course she had a home made spicy BBQ sauce that made me reminsce of the sauces we have in Trinidad). I was so stuffed with food, but the Jerk Pork simply blew me away – phenomenal.

Of course, I wanted to up the ante and be difficult, so I asked for Fried Plantains. No problem mon! She takes out a raw plantain, peels it, cuts it up in about 10 seconds and flash fries that thing right there for me.

Miss Ava grinds her own spices for the Jerk chicken, pork and sauces she is serious about the flavor.  She and the husband are so serious about the flavour that you will have to ask them about this!

Mi Hungry Catering and BBQ

Don’t let the “dive” look of this place cause you to drive by… You must stop. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

8 tips for hiking Mt. Pinatubo

My tips for going up Mt.Pinatubo

  1. Take a change of clothes.
    When you hike all the way up, you’re going to jump into the crater lake. You’ll need clean clothes for the ride back. There is also a full shower, that you can use at the spa town and even get a massage after the hike.
  2. Bring multiple bottles of water.
    You’ll need it. There is no clean water going up to Pinatubo. There is one toilet stop along the hike, you can wash your hands in the stream, however you can’t drink the water. Water is cheap before you get on the hike, if you have to buy water at the top, you’re going to pay 6X the price.
  3. Bring extra money
    Your entrance fee doesn’t cover the boat ride across the lake. If you came this far, paying 350 pesos to have some guy do this, is completely worth it

  4. Absolutely swim in the crater
    The water is cold-ish, but once you sit on the shore, most of the shoreline is warm and bubbly. This is the strange part—when you step on the sand, especially near the shoreline, the sand is too hot you can’t stay in one place for 3 seconds but the water is cold. Blame the water temperature on mountain weather and the hot sand on the magma below. Quite a contradiction. 
  5. Bring a good camera with video
    The vistas are awesome, the scenery is stunning. Why come all this way and not get amazing pictures. It will also help to have a waterproof camera, since you’re going to be in the crater lake and in a little rowboat.

  6. Get there early (before 7am) – if you are a solo traveller.
    I went by myself and I had to pay the entire 5000 PHP for the 4X4. For me, I’m not that price sensitive (thanks ACN), that’s almost 100$ Canadian but if you are by yourself, then you will need to hike along with a group. This is an awesome trip and you want to share the experience. Thankfully, my driver Hermie had never been along for the hike, so it was awesome sharing that experience with him
  7. Book your tour directly
    Forget going through a tour company or your hotel. Get there and find someoe directly. You’ll feel better that the locals are getting the money. If you are a group of 5 and above, you just have to pay 1,500 php per head ( the includes the 4×4, entrance fee, guide fee, skyway toll fee and lunch—already a good deal). Make direct transactions with somebody in the site and not with a travel company.
  8. Ensure you have great sunglasses and sunblock
    There is a lot of glare off the rocks and the water. No explanations necessary. 

BUDGET SUMMARY : Per Person in a group of 5 or more

  • 1,500 PHP  : per head for lunch, entrance fee, 4×4 to set off point, guide fee and skyway toll
  • 350 PHP : Crater boat ride
  • 150 PHP : Diet Coke – if you don’t take your own
  • 400 PHP : Massage in spa town
    __________
    TOTAL = 2,400 php ~ $57 Canadian

Monday Morning Consultant – Promos, Status and FourSquare?!?! Seriously!!!

When a consultant is on the road, we live and die by the hotel promos. It is the bread and butter perk of all perks (well that and the airline status). However in the chase for business, hotel chains are constantly competing with each other to get the most out of the business people and consultants who work on the road for a living. Every quarter, they come up with a new promo to drum up business.

My Q1 promo was with the Marriott, where they offered a MegaBonus of 50,000 points, if you stayed 25 nights in a quarter with them, on top of the regular points and platinum bonus points one got. This was a great promo, since the points I got for Q1 will allow me to stay at a Marriott Hotel/resort in Trinidad for 11 nights like the Courtyard Marriott in Port of Spain, which isn’t entirely bad at all. (Don’t mind the ridiculously crappy service at the hotels in Trinidad)

Promos like this are easy to get and require no work, aside form booking your reservations in advance, so that the other consultants don’t book your favorite hotel up and get their stays easier!

The Q2 promo I’m doing  is from Starwood is a “Stay 3 times and get one night in a resort free” promo. Now every promo they offer, might not necessarily be the best one for you, but a road warrior always takes advantage of the quarterly promos on offer. This promo is awesome, since it will practically pay for 3/4 of the stays on my next Asia vacation in a couple weeks – Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Maldives and Seychelles.

Now this promo actually requires some work, before one can truly take advantage of it. A stay doesn’t mean a single night, it actually means the period between check in and check out. So if one stayed in a hotel for 3 nights consecutively, then you would only have one stay and you would need basically three periods of 3 nights to get one stay. That would be silly and unproductive!

The right way to completely abuse this promo would be to “Hotel Hop”. There are many FAQ’s on hotel hopping, but the most appropriate one for this promo is located on FlyerTalk.

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/starwood-preferred-guest/1213242-switching-hotels-every-night.html

By jumping from hotel to hotel every night, you rack up three stays in a week leading to a free resort night per week, rather than every three weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hence three free nights within 2 weeks of this promo!!

Now this is not meant to be some sort of FAQ on how to do this, but rather an insight into how one can travel for free or cheap without spending any of your money, but rather accumulating a perk of the job.

Yet another promo that I found, was the introduction of a “Social Networking” promo offered by Sheraton, where they will give another 250 points for doing nothing but using your phone to check into their hotel! This is absolutely crazy and of course, it’s gotten me addicted to foursquare. Any traveller should be aware of this app on your iPhone … it is crazy addictive! Here is my profile … https://foursquare.com/rishiray

So here I am in Q2 racking up points and hotel stays with foursquare and hotel hopping! Yet another consultant 101!!

Three basic food groups in Montreal : Schwarma, Croissants and Smoked Meat

In Montreal, there are only three basic food groups: Schwarma, Croissants and Smoked Meat. Each of these food groups creates significant foodie discussions and most people are quite passionate about their chase for the best of each.

Any full day in Montreal will include a combination of all three along with liquor and accoutrements.

  1. Schwarma – The Lebanese’ community has provided many things to Montreal, but nothing with more impact than a Coke, garlic potatoes and Schwarma – I have no cares about who invented the “trio”, but this was the best staple of university. I still maintain that Boustan’s is the standard downtown Montreal. Now having gone back to Abu Elias, I have to say that Boustan is the best in Montreal.
    Abu Elias, is a Lebanese grocery located in Ville St Laurent. There’s always a crowd over there, most of whom speak no English.

    Here is the good

    • Very fresh meat
    • Hot Grill to burn the shit out of that meat

    Here is the bad

    • Terrible ordering system for a newbie – no sense to things at all
    • The sandwich is terribly small – with no turnips, slaw etc unless you ask explicitly
    • Wait time is long
    • Sandwiches are made in batches, so there is little room for customizing your sandwich
    • Garlic potatoes are average at best

    Grocery setting isn’t the best, but isn’t the worst either

    In the end, is going out all the way to Ville St Laurent, worth the drive out there? Not in my opinion. The meat is good, but that is all and I wouldn’t recommend an outsider going out all the way there, when you have Boustan’s downtown. That being said – it is worth a pass, if you have the time.

  2. Croissants – With the Francophone influence on Quebec, one cannot discount the French/Quebecois food in Montreal. Some of the best croissants in the world, not just outside of France are found in MontrealThe really good news for those of you, who don’t want to venture to Paris is that delicious croissants abound in Montréal. In fact, some neighbourhoods in this city boast as many bakeries as their Parisian counterparts. But since you can’t possibly spend your entire weekend in Montréal testing croissants (nor can I really, with all the butter that permeates every crack of a great croissant) I thought I would look for a great croissant in Montreal. After tons of research i.e. two google searches – I found the place that supposedly has one of the finest crosissants.

    You may think that judging this contest would be easy – but let me tell you, it’s not! There are so many factors to consider, like shape, flakiness, buttery taste, and the overall yum factor. I wasn’t sure I wanted to weight of the decision-making to rest on my shoulders alone, especially since I cannot eat croissants.

    The entire bakery smells like a butter bomb exploded.

    Local Favourites are:
    • Pain Doré, 1357 Mont-Royal St. E., www.aupaindore.com
    • Olive & Gourmando, 351 St-Paul St. W., www.oliveetgourmando.com
    • La Croissanterie Figaro, 5200 Hutchison St., www.lacroissanteriefigaro.com
    • Mr. Pinchot, 4354 De Brébeuf St.

  3. Smoked Meat :Montreal styled smoked meat is the stuff of legends. A trip to Montreal without stopping in the mandatory “joints” : Schwartz’s, Dunn’s, Ruben’s.If you only have one choice to make, then make it Schwartz.

    Always expect a crowd when you get in there for a sandwich … it has become a tourist attraction for a reason. Personally, I think that the meat has declined in quality over the years, but this is just my personal opinion.

    Firstly, understanding how to order smoked meat in Montreal, is key to the experience. The sandwiches are built with seedless rye bread and piled with hand-sliced smoked meat about 2 inches high with yellow prepared mustard. The customer can specify the amount of fat in the smoked meat:

    • “Lean”: The lean and less flavourful end. Healthful but dry.
    • “Medium” and “medium fat”: The most popular cuts from the middle of the brisket. Occasionally, a sliced mix of lean and fat meats
    • “Fat”: From the fat end of the brisket. Fires the fat taste receptors, but may be an acquired taste.
    • “Speck”: Consists solely of the spiced subcutaneous fat from the whole brisket without meat. An attributed cause of death for some of its connoisseurs

    We managed to order a lean sandwich … note the lack of fat, and it was definitely quite dry.

    Also there are many other items on the menu aside from the world famous smoked meat, but if you’re not there for the smoked meat, then why are you bothering to go to Montreal?

There you have it – 12 or 24 hours in Montreal – if you did nothing else but eat these three things and went to those places, it would be a ridiculously full day!

Monday Morning Consultant – Osama Bin Laden edition

So if you didn’t hear … Obama took out Osama. Rhymes doesn’t it? Mission Accomplished and now time for a lot of happy backslapping in the US Government. Good stuff, now the war on “terror” is over and we can go back to our lives.

Here is the official Star post and obit : http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/983926–obituary-osama-bin-laden-was-the-face-of-terrorism?bn=1

I’m relieved and all will go back to normal. Yes, everything is back to normal.

NOT!!

When a consultant hears the news of a global terrorist icon like Osama being taken out, you know what goes through their minds?

Good lord!! The lines at Pearson to get to work are going to be insane. It is going to be around the corner and everyone will be cranky and late for their flights. It’s going to be an even crappier Monday morning, because the commute will be brutal and every flight will be slightly delayed creating a greater backlog for those who fly in the afternoon.

I better confirm my morning flight and ensure I get on that flight, even though it might be slightly late, because afternoon flights will be backlogged.

Additionally, today is not the day to look customs agents in their eyes directly, or make any sort of remotely stupid terror reference, otherwise “you know who, will do, you know what, at any given time”. Sort of like Voldemort from Harry Potter, except with a beard and all.

The funny thing is that when you think about the whole thing, there is absolutely no true relevance of these events to my Monday morning commute, but it is all about the inference and threat of “terror”.

Only consultants have to think about things like Osama affecting their commute. You know another thing that consultants worry about?

Tornadoes!!!

Seriously, when you can’t go to work because a tornado destroyed your airport, then you know your commute has reached the height of the absurd! We don’t have snow days like in Canada, but we do have “airport out of commission” days.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703567404576280690143120096.html

Additionally, even more absurd, is the location you moved to, also gets hit with a Tornado warning!

http://www.topix.com/forum/city/jamestown-tn/TV58SOI3SG963TG8E

Just another day in the life of a consultant!! Time to walk off like a boss