Note: Recently, I was assigned the task of writing about my favorite meal for a course I am taking. I was so hungry when I finished, I thought I would share.
My favorite meal consists of buffalo chicken wings with curly fries, carrot and celery sticks with ranch dressing, fried cheese cubes with cherry mustard sauce, and a nice cold beer of some imported variety.
If you’ve never tried this particular combination of healthy foods (and yes, I jest here about the healthfulness of this meal), you’re missing out one of the most delectable sensations of taste to ever cross the human palate. In particular, this meal should be enjoyed at a fine establishment (hint: it’s a dive) called “Wings N Things” on Cortez Road West, en route from the city of Bradenton, Florida to the sleepy fishing village known as Cortez.
Note: Yes, there’s another Wings N Things location (on Tallevast at Lockwood Ridge). And yes, I also enjoy that location—especially for its convenience. However, as both locations are no longer under their original ownership, I feel like the Cortez location’s owners have generally stayed more consistent with the practices of the founder. To some, that’s a positive. To others, it’s a strike against it. If it were closer, I’d probably eat at the Cortez location more often, but in practice, I find myself at Tallevast more often.
The reason this restaurant, in particular, should be chosen is that it serves, in my not-so-humble opinion, the quintessential flavor for the sauce that makes fried drumettes and wings qualify for the moniker, “buffalo.” While it’s available in milder forms (e.g. mild, medium, hot, and “TNT”), I recommend that you select the setting with the most “heat.” It’s a wonderful delicacy the founder of this restaurant named, “Napalm.”
Sandy, as she was known, must have been attempting to call to mind the burning sensation elicited by this bizarre substance used in chemical warfare (if that is indeed the correct term for it) as portions of the jungles of Southeast Asia were engulfed in flames during the Viet Nam conflict.
When the portions of fried yardbird are served to you as a patron, they appear on the table in a plastic boat lined with aluminum foil. Pooled in the bottom is a generous helping of this orange, aqueous substance, which has also been lavishly applied to the sticky exterior surfaces of the chicken pieces. Introduced into your mouth, the sauce ignites a veritable firestorm of flavors… simultaneously sweet, salty, vinegary, and — perhaps most importantly — hot. The heat comes from the particular combination of the peppers (mostly cayenne, but undoubtedly comprised of a selection of others which remain the secret of the proprietors) and the vinegar.
The effect is so remarkable that caution is to be advised when breathing the air above the meal because the heat from the freshly fried meat causes the pepper-infused vinegar fumes to become nearly noxious. Coughing and sputtering is normal for those neophytes who fail to recognize this.
In order to be properly enjoyed, the curly fries — long cut and fried to a crisp — should be doused in white vinegar and then heavily salted. The flavor of this accoutrement perfectly complements that of the poultry.
The celery and carrot sticks add an air, slight as it may be, of healthfulness to the meal. The fact that vegetables are being consumed with this fried fiesta is just enough to salve the conscience of the eater. Dipping the sticks in the small plastic containers of ranch dressing help round out the flavor profile of the meal.
As if the sensations crossing your taste buds weren’t yet salacious enough to tantalize, the deep-fried cubes of cheese are there to push everything beyond proper limits of enjoyability. Care must be taken to allow for the proper cooling of these little balls (one can only imagine that the cheese had been arranged in a cube shape before being breaded and deep fried) as the cheese — if it’s too hot — will explode into your mouth and sear the flesh thereof, properly ruining your ability to enjoy flavor for the rest of your meal. I must insist that at least some percentage of these little balls of dairy delicacies be dipped into the accompanying cherry mustard sauce. Having never located a similar sauce anywhere else, I can only speculate as to its origins. It doesn’t seem to be mustard-like or even cherry-like at all. Rather, it is a liquid with a mild reddish color that adds a nice spark of sweet flavor to the whole experience.
Of course, you may choose to wash all of this down with the beverage of your choice. For many years, this establishment served Pepsi products. Thus, a Mountain Dew was the imbibement of choice for those looking to add a non-alcoholic kick to the meal. Once the switch to Coca-Cola products was made, the only logical choice was an imported beer of some sort. I usually find the darkest option available, as I find it pairs best with the rest of the meal.
As my salivary glands are now working overtime just from the writing of this short essay, I feel compelled to submit my response and drive to this establishment post haste.