RIP Anthony Bourdain

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If you hadn’t heard already, legendary television host, chef, traveller, and author Anthony Bourdain committed suicide this morning at the age of 61. Normally I don’t really cover celebrity deaths unless they actually meant something to me. Anthony Bourdain meant something to me. Meant a lot to me, actually.

It’s a trivial thing, but I played football in high school, and every summer during two-a-days I would find a random show to watch in-between sessions. It helped me decompress and develop a (somewhat) soothing routine that kind of got me through some rough weeks. My sophomore year (first year of double sessions), it was American Chopper. Junior year it was Bizarre Foods. Senior year it was No Reservations. I had seen various promos for No Reservations before, but never actually tuned in. I had seen food shows and travel shows before, why would this be any different? It turns out it was way different than anything I had ever watched. The way he talked, the way he interacted with the environment around him just spoke to me. It felt like it was a real couple days in the life of a traveller, not another heavily scripted reality show.

I was hooked instantly, and, the more I watched No Reservations and Parts Unknown the more I considered Bourdain an idol of mine. I had always loved food and been interested in traveling, but he stoked a desire to experience the world through food that still exists today (even if I’m too poor scared to actually act on it). The way he could naturally bond with everyone around him and his complete openness to try new things were kind of a blueprint for how I, an extreme introvert with the people skills of a paper bag, could theoretically live my life. He made the world seem like a less scary place, and he showed that, regardless of where you live or what language you speak or what food you eat, everyone’s really just looking for the same thing. Which, of course, was the entire point of the show.

And more than anything, he was just so cool. He might have been one of the five coolest guys to ever live. Which just shows what a bear depression really is. I won’t insult people who are really suffering by saying I know exactly how they feel, but I know how hard it is to deal with. It’s not real depression or anything, but I frequently deal with bouts of overwhelming sadness and self-doubt, but since I’m too scared or embarrassed to talk to other people about it, it just kind of festers for a few days. Again, I’ve never been suicidal or felt like there was no way out of the tunnel, but I still sympathize with anyone who feels crushed by the weight of the world. Don’t be like me. If you’re ever feeling low, or trapped, or scared that there’s only one way to end the pain, reach out to someone. There are countless suicide prevention hotlines out there you can call. Or better yet, talk to a friend or family member. Sometimes it’s good to just talk to someone you know. You might think you’re burdening them, but believe me, anyone who cares about you would never think that way. No one should ever feel like there’s no way out.

RIP Anthony Bourdain.

Happy Opening Day of #HotDogSZN

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Don’t know if you people were aware, but it’s Memorial Day Weekend. It’s a great time to remember those who gave their lives to our country, celebrate the start of summer, and take some days off. That’s all well and good, but we all know the real Reason for the Season- it’s the start of Hot Dog Season.

While it’s true that the grill never sleeps, outdoor grilling season is really a Memorial Day through Labor Day window. Burgers, chicken, steak, veggies, literally everything tastes better in the summer when cooked on a grill. But, of course, the star of the show has always been, and always will be, hot dogs. If you’re hosting a barbecue without a metric ton of hot dogs being served, friend, you won’t find me there. I’m an established hot dog junkie, and when the weather gets hot, my dog cravings get hotter. As a hot dog expert, I, of course, have some (correct) opinions about the noble tubesteak. There’s a lot of bad hot dog takes out there, mostly by fools or people who don’t like hot dogs. Don’t trust anyone who doesn’t like hot dogs.

Top Hot Dog Types

  1. Natural casing pork
  2. Natural casing beef
  3. Regular beef/pork mix
  4. Any other meat
  5. Non meat

Top Bun Types

  1. New England style
  2. Anything else

Top Condiments (don’t come at me with some niche sauce you made one time or that your favorite tiny local place has. How could I have possibly had that?)

  1. Yellow mustard
  2. Sauerkraut
  3. Deli mustard
  4. Relish
  5. Spicy mustard

Top Hot Dog Preparation Methods

  1. Grilled
  2. Not eating them at all
  3. Raw
  4. Boiled
  5. Microwaved

Top Hot Dog Accompanyments

  1. Chips
  2. Another hot dog
  3. Fries
  4. An ice-cold Bud Light Lime®, Perfect for Summer
  5. Potato Salad

It’s also time to start prepping for the July 4th Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island. I’m pulling up stats, breaking down film, building advanced statistical models to try and project a winner, all the normal things people do to get ready for the Nathan’s. I’ll be there regardless, but I may or may not have been put on a waiting list for a qualifying event at the end of June. I’ve sent them my highlight reel, but no word on if it’s improved my standing.

My Experience at MLB Foodfest

Two hours of pure concessions and drinks for $40. Not a bad way to take ten years off your life.

I was obviously excited about this, but I wish I could go back and do it over. Not to spoil the video, but I was only able to eat 25 of the 30 entries, partly because of the time (they screw you out of at least five minutes because they don’t let anyone in until your time slot starts, but then you have to leave the second your time slot ends. Factor in lines and stuff and I didn’t get my first plate until 1:09. Sad!), and partly because I did the exact incorrect strategy. Essentially, it was a big horseshoe around the perimeter of the dining room with the booths arranged in alphabetical order by city. I started with Washington and went in a circle, both because I wanted to eat the Arizona entry last and because it was closest to the door. This was the incorrect strategy. The bottom half of the alphabet was far, far superior to the top half. If Foodfest was the NBA, N-W was the West and A-M was the East. Absolutely no contest. So while it was nice to actually enjoy all the good food, that meant I had to eat the disgusting things on a full stomach. Not a good combination. I almost puked on camera two or three times, and, had I gotten whatever the Indians thing was, I know for a fact there would have been a reversal of fortune. You can get on me for getting full off of 25 bites (another bad strategy: I took multiple bites of some of the early food because, again, it was actually good) if you want, but 95% of those things were bread heavy. And the buns were all thick, too. Too thick, if you ask me. It didn’t make for a fun morning, I can assure you.

So I missed five teams: Tigers, Indians, Rockies, White Sox, Braves. As I said, the Indians Flamin’ Hot Cheeto abomination would have made me puke. The Tigers had chicken shawarma nachos, which seemed like a very bad thing to eat at 2:45. I actually had the Braves thing, which I don’t even know how to describe, in my hand, but once I got through the absolutely brutal Red Sox-Orioles combo, I couldn’t do it. I blame the coleslaw.  Coleslaw stinks and half the teams used it as a garnish. The Rockies and White Sox weren’t high priorities since they just had a regular cheeseburger and sausage, respectively, and I’ve had my fair share of both. The only sad thing is that I’m sure both were pretty good and I ate a Cheeto-lote instead. By the way, how to the Rockies not bring Rocky Mountain Oysters? I guess they figure everyone already knows the rating on them already.

Anyway, it was a good time. I hope they do it again next year (I’m sure they will), and hopefully other leagues get in the game, too. Now that I know to eat the horrifying and repulsive foods first, I think future Foodfests will be more enjoyable. Still can’t believe the Sox didn’t come with the hot lobster roll.

MLB Foodfest is Today

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It’s finally here. MLB Foodfest. I feel like I’ve been waiting for this my whole life. Two hours of stuffing your face with ballpark food without the hassle of going to an actual ballpark. I may have died and gone to heaven. My time slot is 1-3pm. Will there be a video of me reviewing all 30 items? You bet your ass. Will there be Snapchat (briancurran11) and Instagram (@briansden69) story updates? Yes. Will I eat something I regret? Without question. This is going to be epic.

Now that I think about it, MLB really dropped the ball not having this on 4/20.

As for what I know you’re all really here for, yes, going to the festival will cut down on my God of War streaming today. I’ll probably hop on later tonight as I digest, so be on the lookout. If you need a fix, here’s the full streams from yesterday, when I messed around and did two separate sessions.

https://player.twitch.tv/?autoplay=false&video=v252844613Watch Brian Plays God of War pt. 1 from JarringTiger on www.twitch.tv

https://player.twitch.tv/?autoplay=false&video=v252963933Watch Brian Plays God of War pt. 2 from JarringTiger on www.twitch.tv

I Think I Own the Barclays Center Now

I went to the Nets game last night, as all true New Yorkers are wont to do. As it was the last home game of the season, it was Fan Appreciation Night, which was nice up until they had DeMarre Carroll had to pick up a mic and thank the fans for their tremendous support, even though about 65% of the seats were empty. I’ll be honest that was a little awkward. But other than that, I, a longtime Nets fan, had a great time at Fan Appreciation Night. Got a free shirt. Did some modeling.

 

Ate some food.

It was nice. The Nets don’t deserve the Barclays Center. It’s so clean and modern and spacious and it’s pretty easily the best place I’ve ever watched a basketball game. The exterior was covered in rust-colored paneling, which I thought was actually rusted but, on further inspection, it was all aesthetic, which is the most Brooklyn thing imaginable. The food was expensive, but it was pretty good, and show me an arena that doesn’t charge an infinite amount of money for a hot dog and I’ll show you a G-League arena. It has free WiFi that actually works. The only downside is that literally no one cares about the Nets so no one goes. It’s a beautiful place, and the fact that it’s so nice is by far the most interesting thing about team.

As for the product on the court, folks, I think I speak for everyone when I say anyone who watched the game will remember it forever as the greatest game of Allen Crabbe’s career. The legendary shooting guard was on fire from the jump, pouring in a career high 41 points. I thought he’d get 70!

I haven’t spent much time watching Nets games, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that they flat out refuse to take 2-point shots. They’re second in the league in 3s attempted this season, and I’m pretty sure 70% of those have come in the last two weeks. They hunted 3s like Russell Westbrook hunts rebounds. D’Angelo Russell and Crabbe have the greenest green lights in basketball history, regardless of what percentages they shoot. Listen, the Nets are terrible, but I like what they’ve been doing the last few years. With no first round picks or stakes, why not pursue experimental playing styles? Why not try to acquire every bad or expiring contract? Why not offer every free agent, restricted or unrestricted, a short term deal for big money? At some point next century when the Nets get their first rounders back, things are going to start turning around.

Luckily, the Nets had an actual opponent last night. It would have been crazy if I just went to an open practice or something. Let me tell you: Bulls-Nets in the last game of the season is the least consequential sporting event I’ve ever attended. If you asked 100 diehard NBA fans if this game even happened, I’d be willing to bet at least 75% would have had no idea. But I’m glad I was there to witness it, because the Bulls put on a tanking display for the ages. Robin Lopez, Chris Dunn, Zach LaVine, and Denzel Valentine didn’t play. Justin Holliday had like 10 points in the first quarter and I don’t know if he got in the game after that. With three minutes left in a six point game, the Bulls lineup was Ryan Arcidiacono, Jerian Grant, Sean Kilpatrick, David Nwaba, and Cristiano Felicio. That’s not made up. That’s an actual NBA lineup. I’d love to see the per 100 possessions stats for that group, gotta be one of the the best in the league!

Surprisingly, the Nets won (even covered!), so the question needs to be asked: am I the new King of the Barclays Center? The facts are simple- in games in which I haven’t attended, the Nets are 27-53. When I do attend? 1-0. Kind of startling, honestly. Add in the fact that I was practically begged to sit on the Nets Throne and I sampled some traditional Brooklyn fare, and I think it’s only natural that the Nets offer me complementary season tickets and the deed to the Barclays Center. Ever since Jay-Z left, they’ve been dying for some star power. I’ll gladly become the new face of the Nets. I’ll go to team events, I’ll go to (some) games, I’ll do commercials and promo spots. All I ask is free food and a nice paycheck. Like $2-$3 million max, that’s it. I’ll even pretend to be a Nets fan, which is really the most difficult ask of all. The Nets desperately need buzz. I can’t think of anyone more buzz-worthy than me. So, come on Nets. Crown a new King of Kings County.

MLB Announced It’s Hosting a Food Festival and I’ve Never Been More Excited for Anything in My Life

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source–  We’ve built an all-star roster for the first MLB FoodFest, with a menu that boasts tastings from ALL 30 ballparks – from the Dodgers’ lauded Cheeto-Lote to the Mariners’ toasted grasshoppers.

On top of the eats, we’ll also be keeping your IG feed fed with a hot dog art gallery, massive popcorn pit, and more.

One weekend only, tickets are limited.

 This came across my feed the other day. A food festival showcasing signature dishes from all 30 Major League stadiums. Purely out of instinct I purchased tickets immediately. I didn’t even think twice. Don’t think I thought once, to be honest. What better way to usher in the new era of the Brian’s Den then to attend a massive cultural event in my first month in New York City? I actually don’t think this is a coincidence. MLB saw I was moving and immediately put this event together to welcome me to the city. Can’t say I blame them. So, yes, I will be there, and yes, I will try all 30 foods, and yes, there will be a video. If you want to join me get a ticket for Saturday April 22nd at 1-3 pm. I’m sure they’ll go fast now that everyone knows I’m coming.

Let’s take a look at the menu:

Some rapid fire thoughts-

  • Rockies sending a regular old cheeseburger when they have Rocky Mountain oysters is a head-scratcher.
  • Chicago dogs are the worst way to eat hot dogs don’t @ me.
  • A lot of crab here. Don’t hate it.
  • I already know the Cheeto-lote is going to be the worst thing I ever put in my mouth.
  • When I think Detroit, the first thing I think of is shawarma.
  • Things I’m looking forward to for content purposes: toasted grasshoppers, Monte Khrush Davis Cristo, Cheeto-lote, churro dog, Pig Pickin’, chicken and donut slider.
  • Things I actually want to eat: South Side Horseshoe, Brisket-acho, bacon wrapped plantain, Tri-tip nachos, Reuben Cuban sandwich, chicken waffle cone, lobster roll.
  • Calories clearly don’t count here.
  • Toasted grasshoppers is the most Seattle thing imaginable.
  • Wonder if eating everything will get me a non-roster invite to a team’s spring training next year.
  • This is going to be the greatest day of my life followed by perhaps the worst trip(s) to the bathroom in human history.

As Should Be Ashamed of Ourselves as a Society for Allowing Beet Snacks to Exist

So there I was, minding my own business in the grocery store, when what do mine eyes see? Another in the growing list of foods that should not exist: beet flavored snack crips. Not only beet flavored, but made of beets!

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Initially, I felt deep anger. Why would anyone want this? Why would anyone think this needed to be made? Who would hate themselves enough to eat these? The answer, it turns out, is me. I couldn’t resist this demented food curiosity.

#snackreview for the good thins beet flavored crisps. 😖😖😖😖😖😖😖

A post shared by Brian’s Den (@briansden69) on

 

Maybe the worst thing I’ve ever eaten, and I’ve eaten a lot of bad things. I just don’t understand why we need this? What is the demand for beet snacks? Are we as a society so helpless that we need to eat disgusting beet flavored snacks to tell ourselves we’re healthy? What happened to just eating regular old fruits and veggies?

Listen, what people eat isn’t really my business. Eat what you want, when you want. But junk food is my world. You mess with salty snacks and you mess with me. These are an abomination and an insult to Nabisco’s legacy. You already make Wheat Thins! Those are kind of healthy. Is that not good enough anymore? Do we really need to appeal to every possible palate and every dietary need? How about if you want to eat healthy you just don’t eat Doritos? Is that so crazy? I shouldn’t have to look at beet flavored snacks when I go grocery shopping. And you know the only people buying these (besides me) are moms who are trying to force their stupid children to eat healthier. You really think little Aiden is gonna be happy when he takes out a bag of beet thins at lunch and all his friends have real chips? That’s how bullying starts. Beet thing only belong in one place.

Quite frankly, I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired of Big Snack slapping me in the face with these science experiments. This has been going on way too long. Know your audience. Do think the people that buy their body weight in Cheez-Its, Pringles, Goldfish, Doritos, Oreos, and every other salty or sweet snack under the sun want vegetable flavored snack crisps? As someone who fits the previous description, the answer is no. Snack companies need to accept that stoners (I’m not a stoner, Mom, don’t worry. I just eat like one), not suburban moms are the key demographic. Why do you think Mountain Dew and Doritos are so powerful? Because they embrace this fact and run with it. Nabisco is responsible for things like Nutter Butters, Chips Ahoy, Oreos, Cheese Nips, and Chicken in a Biskit and now they want to make beet flavored snacks? Get out of here with that nonsense. I’m old enough to remember when the snack world was pure and no one cared about how unhealthy everything was. I fear I may also be young enough to live to see a day where the unhealthy snacks get pushed to the margins to make room for the growing wave of healthy, completely inedible snacks. And that, friends, is enough to bring a tear to my eye.

While we’re talking about grocery store, I had to include this story, as it pertains to the Grocery Store Rules.

source– An 87-year-old man has been invited back to an Upstate New York Wegmans grocery store after he was banned from the premises for sampling hot soup last week.

In a viral Facebook post that has since been deleted, Maureen Singer said her father, Herb, was booted out of the Johnson City Wegmansafter a member of the store’s Asset/Protection Department accused him of “stealing” hot soup.

Singer also wrote that he was made to sign paperwork he did not understand, and told he could not return to the store where he also gets his medication from the pharmacy for two years.

She admits that Herb did take a “few spoonfuls of soup — which he understands to be samples.” It was not clear if he was using the same spoon or a different spoon for each sampling.

I don’t care how old you are, if you take hot soup and eat it before paying for it, you deserve to get banned for life. I stand with Wegman’s 100% and it’s total B.S. they had to apologize. This old geezer is lucky I wasn’t there, or he would have faced a much stiffer penalty than just signing some paperwork.

To refresh, the Grocery Store Rules:

  • Use the correct carrying device. If you’re only getting a few small things, take a basket not a full cart.
  • If your total items is more than or equal to the allotted number for the express line, don’t use it.
  • Don’t sample something if it’s not a free sample. I see (usually older) people open a bag of grapes and eat one or two then put it back all the time, and it’s the closest I come to committing murder.
  • Take a number at the deli and wait your turn. You’d be surprised how many people don’t understand this concept.
  • If you have to return something (whether it’s expired and you were too blind to realize it or whatever other reason you make up), don’t eat half of it first.
  • Don’t stop you cart in the middle of an aisle. Go to one side. Also have some kind of awareness for where the best place to park is. Directly in front of all the chicken blocking everyone isn’t it.
  • If you aren’t elderly or impaired in some way, don’t walk really slow when you know people are behind you.
  • Don’t hold the refrigerator/freezer doors open for longer than you need to.
  • Don’t open something before you buy it. This might just be my own pet peeve, but still.
  • At least attempt to control your unruly children.
  • For the love of God, don’t ask one of the employees (who probably want to kill themselves because they work at a grocery store) if there’s more of something in the back. What, do you think there’s an entire other store in the back full of stuff they don’t want you to buy? Use your brain.

If you don’t understand these basic tenants of society, odds are you’re too oblivious to function in a civilized culture in the first place.

My Valentine’s Day Plans

Note: I posted this last year, but since my love life is surprisingly in the exact same state it was last Valentine’s Day, I just figured I post it again. Nothing wrong with running back the hits, especially when they help me cope with crippling loneliness. Haha, just kidding. Could you imagine? I’m not so low where I’m buying myself roses yet, but I might soon because it’d be nice to have some roses every now and then. Anyway, Happy Valentine’s Day.

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Guys, I’ve found someone. After years of searching, I finally have someone I can call my own. A love so pure and profound I pity anyone who is unable to share in this feeling of bliss. And now, on Valentine’s Day, it’s time I go public: Chocolate Strawberry Oreos and I are getting serious.

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Arguably the best tasting cookie I’ve ever had. How it took them this long to make, I have no idea. Delicious doesn’t even begin to describe it. It was love at first sight, and we’ve had great chemistry from the moment we first met. I’ve never felt this way about anyone before. Unfortunately, these are limited time only, which means this love was made to burn fast and hot. Luckily, tonight is the perfect time to show Chocolate Strawberry Oreos my true feelings. So, what’s in store? Let’s run through the itinerary of our date night.

Paying Homage to Saint Valentine

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Chocolate Strawberry Oreos is a bit of a religious history nut, so we’re taking part in a reenactment of the legendary Saint’s life at the local Rotary Club. It’s an odd bit of performance art where everyone in the audience gets a randomly assigned part. Then, under cover of darkness, the person playing Valentine illegally weds couples, only to eventually get caught. So, I might end up married to someone else, face religious persecution and martyrdom, or I might wind up executing someone. Anything could happen.

A walk through a strawberry field

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As is typical with someone nearing the end of their life, Chocolate Strawberry Oreos wants to reconnect with their heritage and see the land of their ancestors. No better way that by walking through a strawberry field. Unfortunately, we live in the Northeast, so it’ll be covered in snow. All that will remain will be ghosts of past harvests and the hope that the sleeping plants will one day regain their glory. Kind of a downer when you think about it, but it’s still better than visiting a synthetic strawberry flavor factory.

Dinner

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What Valentine’s Day is complete without a romantic dinner out at your favorite restaurant? Unfortunately, not many high end places will let you bring your own food in, so the options are limited. So, we’re going to go the place I went on the day we met: Taco Bell. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than sharing some Nacho Fries together. Add in a nice bottle of wine and some nice candles and the mood will be perfect.

Going home to watch Valentine’s Day

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What Valentine’s Day would be complete without this 2010 classic? Almost unthinkable not to watch this once a year. Decent chance I’m the only one who’s ever seen it, but that doesn’t matter to me.

Dessert

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It’d be kind of messed up to make Chocolate Strawberry Oreos eat chocolate or fruit, so all that leaves really are Sweethearts. Not ideal, but we can make the most of it. Maybe blend them up and make some smoothies. Maybe melt them down for some Sweetheart fondue. Maybe I’ll skip this part because they’re gross. It’ll be a game time decision.

Seal the Deal

What happens next? Well, I’ll leave that to the imagination. Let’s just say it involves a glass of milk and me eating a million Oreos in one sitting. Hope everyone’s Valentine’s Day is as good as mine is about to be!