Monday, March 6, 2017

In my internet travels I happened upon this company one day and was immediately intrigued by the items that they sell. I first saw their southern grits on a website but not long after, came upon their wide variety of pancake mix flavors. The site was amazing looking so I decided to give them an order and check them out. (Let that be a lesson, presentation matters). I realized later that the founder had been on Shark Tank and the Sunday I tried my first two varieties, the episode with the founder came on CNBC, it must be destiny!

So this week, I tried the Banana pudding and strawberry shortcake flavors. I also have in my cabinet, regular Vanilla and Bourbon Salted Pecan which I have to try. Now I mention these four flavors because the line of pre-made pancake and waffle mixes that Southern Culture offers is pretty large. Check out their shop and just see how many they have, you could be trying them out for months, I will have a link to them below.

The canisters that I received were the smaller sizes and each is good for about 12 pancakes which means a family of four can each have a short stack for sunday breakfast. Now compared to the Aunt Jemima's of the world, it seems to be a bit pricey. These were each about 8 bucks before shipping. However, that would be cheaper than IHOP or most other chains and restaurants that have flavored pancakes. The other positive is that many of the flavors can also be made in an acceptable manner for Vegans.

After all of that, let's talk about the pancakes themselves, the formula is pretty simple, add eggs, butter, and milk if you choose to go the traditional route and drop them onto your griddle. The one thing that I didn't expect was the little bits and pieces that are in the mix. The strawberry shortcake pancakes show you little pieces of strawberries that you taste once you bite into them. The banana pudding variety has little pieces of vanilla wafers maybe, or something that gives you a slight little flavor kick. Unfortunately, I do mean 'slight'. The one issue that I have with these pancakes is that the flavor profile is very subtle. Now some of that can be attributed to the natural ingredients, sure, they don't come through as prominently as artificial ones, but it just seemed to lack a little bit of punch on their own. Now I could see a scenario where one would take the Banana Pudding pancakes, make them and then top with some sliced bananas and whipped cream and have something really special, but just for myself I did expect it to stand out a little more.

In the end I didn't think that the Shortstacks Pancake and Waffle Mix was bad, it did let me down somewhat and maybe that was my own faulty expectations. With two down and two to go I have a better frame of what to expect even if I would still like a larger hit of flavor and ability to really taste something different. I also still have a desire to try the other southern favorites like grits and fried chicken batter. If you are bringing the family together with some toppings and some time, it can be a great party where the pancakes are the center of the family. However, just eating them they didn't bring the quite what I was expecting and that's unfortunate.

Rating: 2.5/5

Saturday, March 4, 2017

So There is a nice little location in Reisterstown that has been home to several small restaurants over the past few years. I couldn't tell you why so many don't last other than the fact that most restaurants in general fail. However, I have high hopes for the latest tenant in the space, Chicken Shak, a mix of Peruvian style charcoal chicken, and local style "pit" meat sandwiches. My wife and I went in recently to check it out.

First of all Chicken Shak is not to be confused with a small Michigan based chain called Chicken Shack. This is a brand new idea that mixes one of the new hot sensations at least in this area, of Peruvian charbroiled chicken and a Maryland staple of pit beef, turkey, and pulled chicken. The menu is a little bit large and includes Whole, Quarter, and Half chickens, chicken tacos, salads, salmon, and the aforementioned pit beef and turkey. Then there are the sides which are pretty numerous with cole slaw, mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and different kinds of rice.

For our meal My wife and I split a chicken which is cooked nicely, it has great charcoal and smoke flavor through the meat and the white meat is moist which can be tricky with chicken. My wife was especially impressed with the seasoning blend on the skin of the chicken. My chicken had some extra sauce on it which I dipped my chicken in and it was good and enhanced the flavor. It tastes like the seasoning blend from the chicken in a liquid form. I like the broccoli as well which wasn't mushy and did have some flavor to it. The cole slaw wasn't my wife's favorite, it was a bit tart for her.

For the kids they had BBQ pulled chicken sandwiches. The chicken was the same as the charbroil chicken that I had but pulled apart and put together like a traditional pulled chicken sandwich. The sauce is sweet and reminds of something like Sweet Baby Ray's. But mixed with the good flavor of the chicken it works really well. it is served with home made kettle style chips. They are thick cut and a little on the burnt side, which I like, but they weren't even mine and I might have eaten too many. They could cut back on how many they give, and maybe cook a little lighter, but it wasn't bad.

Chicken Shak is a nice new restaurant with a good product. I will be going back to give the pit sandwiches a try and to see what they do with the Salmon. They are just getting started so there are some service kinks, however when they get over that hump things should be good for them. The food I tasted was good and unique and a worthy competitor to the places already in the market. The restaurant has a nice clean design and incorporates a lot of the modern design that is going on in the market place.

Rating: 4/5