Pollo Rapido


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From Belgium last week I took the culinary-passport across the Atlantic and a bit south to Guatemala in the form of Pollo Campero.  This particular location is on South Blvd in Charlotte but this is a chain that originated in Guatemala with one families secret chicken recipe.  I’m sure there’s a GFC joke in there somewhere if I tried hard enough but I just ate and don’t want to work that hard.

Anyway, the interior is very much a fast food décor, you order at the counter, they give you a number to display at your table and deliver it to you when it’s ready.  I was going to say the menu is limited but in this case I think focused is probably a better description.  Like the name says they are a chicken place and you can get it grilled or fried, and also in a bowl or empanada.  I opted for grilled.  They also have interesting signature sides.  If you want fries with that you can get yucca fries, plantains are an option as well as street corn salad which is what I went with.  They also had rice, beans, slaw and regular fries for the less adventurous.  For drinks they had Pepsi products, water, tea and some you don’t see everywhere; horchata, Jamaica and guava.  Even though I knew it was going to be sweet I got the guava.  I did consider the Jamaica which was made from hibiscus.

OK a side note here on the guava.  When I decided on the drink I said, “I’ll take a guava.”  I pronounced it with the hard G.  The young lady behind the counter looked at me and said “So you want a guava?” pronouncing it basically without a G but adding that little sound I can’t replicate in writing but sounds something like an h & w combined with the urge to spit.  “Yep, that’s the one,” was all I could say as I thought to myself that she sounded just like me when someone mispronounces something and I use it in my next sentence so they can hear it correctly without having to be an ass and blatantly call them out on it.  Well played counter girl, well played.

Alright back to the food.

The chicken was very good.  I honestly couldn’t tell exactly what spices they used other than some mild peppers and a little garlic and maybe onion powder but the citrus was very evident but not in a bad way.  I’m not actually sure if the green sauce on the side was supposed to go on the street corn salad or for the chicken so I tried it with both and it worked for either.  The corn salad was cilantro, tomatoes, corn, with some white crumbled cheese and peppers.  I liked it ok but it’s not something I’d want often.  I got tortillas with the meal instead of the dinner roll since I figured that fit the theme a little better.  Overall it was a nice Sunday lunch and a nice departure from other fast food chains that are so much more prevalent.

Check out the Tell Me More page for a turkey soup recipe, some music, a fact and shopping opportunities.


Belgian Breakfast


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From Syria last week I continued west to Belgium and if you search Belgian food you’ll inevitably come up waffles.  So the passport went to Cast Iron Waffles in the Ballantyne, NC area for their “authentic Belgian Liege waffle”.  Now to be transparent I have had these waffles before at work for a special occasion breakfast so I had a good idea what I was in for except these would be hot of the iron.

The place is pretty easy to find as it’s right on the corner of a couple of side streets but parking is pretty scarce.  Luckily I got a place on the street right in front since it was just after 7:00am.  The outside is brick and the interior continues that design with some brick façade inside and a café appearance.  You order at the counter and they have a few tables in a seating area and they do “to go” business as well.

I went with a “naked” waffle although they did have plenty of toppings if I’d wanted some additional flavors with my breakfast.  To wash it down I opted for plain coffee rather than one of the expresso drinks they serve.

Naked in this case did include a dusting of powdered sugar, which honestly was just gratuitous sweetness.  I’m not going to do it justice but let me try.  The waffle is made from a very sweet batter that has enough sugar in it that the very hot waffle iron creates caramelly crystalized areas across the waffle.  Those spots give you an occasional sugary crunch that compliments the soft pastry like interior of the waffle.  It’s like a sweet bread but a bit denser without being heavy.

I’m definitely more of a savory breakfast person than a sweet breakfast person but one of these once in a blue moon is a treat.  Like I said there are other toppings you can get but aside from maybe a sprinkling of cinnamon I think you start getting too sweet at a certain point.  Adding syrup to these would be a travesty and now that I think about it I didn’t see a bottle of syrup in the place.

As I mentioned I just went with a standard coffee so I can’t speak to their specialty coffee drinks but the Saratoga dark roast I had was very good plain coffee. So the pre-sugar crash verdict is this was a fine Belgian breakfast that is worthy of recommending but only one or you’ll go into a sugar coma.

Be sure to check out the Tell Me More page for a recipe, the 2017 Belgium Eurovision entry and more.