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Published: Sunday, 7/15/2012

Morsels

Some diners aren't afraid of ghosts

BY DANIEL NEMAN
BLADE FOOD EDITOR

Some like it hot. Some like it very hot. And then, some like it absolutely freakin' ridiculous.

The Red Robin Gourmet Burgers chain recently decided to go the ridiculous route by putting the ghost pepper on a couple of items on its menu.

The ghost pepper -- the real name is Bhut Jolokia, but anyone who calls it that is just showing off -- is one of the hottest peppers in the world, hotter even than the fearsome habanero or the intimidating Scotch bonnet. The hottest ghost pepper is 300 times hotter than the mildest jalapeno, or to put it another way, the mildest ghost pepper is more than 100 times hotter than the hottest jalapeno.

Red Robin is the first national chain to put the ghost pepper on its menu, and you can get it two ways. One is on a Fiery Ghost burger, which is a hamburger with ghost pepper sauce, with pepper jack cheese topped by fresh and fried jalapenos. Option No. 2 is the Cry Baby burger, a hamburger covered in onion straws with Sriracha seasoning, more onions sauteed in hot sauce, with pepper jack cheese and ghost pepper ketchup.

Bill Carstensen, general manager of the Toledo location (4850 Monroe St.) said, "they are a bit spicy and not for the faint of heart."

The peppers come to the restaurant in the form of a puree, he said, so they are generally unadulterated. The puree is slathered on top of the Fiery Ghost, but mixing it into ketchup for the Cry Baby "tones it down a little bit," he said.

Both burgers cost $7.99, and Mr. Carstensen said that the people who have tried them have generally been very happy with them. That might be because the waiters explain just how spicy the food is going to be.

"I make sure that everybody knows what they're getting," he said.

Boom box

It's summer, right? Let's say you're at a beach somewhere. You've got your towels, you've got some Pringles, you've got one of those beach chairs that are so low you have trouble getting out of them.

And you've got your tunes on some sort of electronic device. But how can you share your great taste in music with your friends and everyone up and down the beach?

The answer is in your hand, provided your hand is wrapped around the Pringles can.

From now through Oct. 31, the good folks at Pringles will send you a battery-operated Pringles Speaker for the proofs of purchase from four cans.

The Pringles Speaker fits on top of the Pringles can, amplifying the music and using the can as a rudimentary soundboard. It's sort of the same idea as the one behind a Bose speaker, except way, way less high-tech.

The speaker attaches to any MP3 player or similar device. All it takes are the proofs of purchase and a redemption form, which is available at pringles.com/current-promotions.

Once you get it, you can start playing your music for everyone. No, seriously: "The Eggplant That Ate Chicago" is a classic.

Grilling 3.0

Are you looking for something else to do with your grill?

You've got the meat down pat. You know all about soaking corn in water and putting it on the grate or even in the coals. Marinating vegetables and grilling them is old hat.

Maybe it's time to start grilling fruit. Yes, fruit. Specifically, melons.

The lovely people who make Nakano seasoned rice vinegars suggest grilling melons for appetizers or even for something to cleanse your palate between courses. You can make it spicy or minty -- your choice.

Melon, any kind (if watermelon, use seedless)

Seasoned rice vinegar

Chili powder OR dried ground ancho OR pasilla chiles

Kosher salt

Fresh mint, chopped

Wash melon well. Cut small watermelon in half. If using cantaloupe or honeydew, cut melon in half and scoop out seeds. Cut into 1-inch thick slices -- large enough for appetizer servings but not too large to handle on the grill.

Brush both sides of melon liberally with seasoned rice vinegar; let stand 10 minutes. Lightly sprinkle both sides with chili powder and salt OR sprinkle lightly with salt only, then after melon is grilled, sprinkle with fresh mint.

Heat grill to medium. If desired, rub grates with a little vegetable oil to prevent sticking. Cook melon slices 5-7 minutes, brushing with more seasoned rice vinegar; turn and grill another 4-5 minutes.

Serve warm and eat with knives and forks.

-- Source: Nakano vinegar

Items for Morsels should be submitted at least two weeks before an event to food@theblade.com.



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