Philly cheesesteaky photo courtesy of Advance Food Company, Oklahoma City, OK

Well damn.  Little did I realize the firestorm reaction I would elicit when I mentioned that I would be making Philly Cheesesteaks this weekend and serving them in focaccia.  Apparently, there are some Philly Cheesesteak purists among this blog’s readership who would sooner smack me upside the head than eat a Philly Cheesesteak with focaccia.  They have made it clear that a Philly Cheesesteak is NOT served on focaccia.  Nor is it made with anything but shaved rib eye. As for the cheese, I can take my pick between provolone, American, Cheese Wiz and, in extreme cases, mozzarella.  Apparently, there is some leeway on the toppings.  Fried/grilled onions are standard but, in some circumstances (not clearly detailed), green peppers, hot peppers, and even mushrooms are acceptable.  The addition of tomatoes, lettuce, ketchup, hot sauce and even mayo remains a highly contentious issue.

Got it!  Thanks or the outraged input.  I’m going traditional this Sunday.  Nevertheless, I might put the focaccia on the side and look the other way.

Continuing our trip down Atlantis memory lane…


This one was a memorable for a number of reasons, but chiefly for actor Jason Momoa’s dedication to the material.  Understand, Jason always did a great job on the show but, in episodes like these in which we explored Ronon’s backstory, he always worked especially hard, studying the script, asking the right questions, making suggestions, and then throwing himself wholeheartedly into his role (literally throwing himself as, at one point during production, he jumped out of the gate and scraped the hell out of his arm).  He was always very passionate and committed, especially to those very demanding fight sequences that saw him acquire some pretty remarkable skills in a relatively short period of time under the guidance of our fantastic Stunt Coordinator James “Bam Bam” Bamford.  In fact, check out the trailer for Stallone’s new movie (at the end of this write-up – just skip ahead to the 2:00 mark) in which Jason plays the bad guy.  That’s some nifty axe work!

Jason and Amanda at the Reunion read-through.
Mark Dacascos as Tyre.

This episode was also notable for the appearance of Mark Dacascos (Brotherhood of the Wolf, The Crowd, Iron Chef America) who had been recommended for a part on SG-1 by actor Ben Browder.  I was a big fan of Mark’s work and, for that reason, didn’t cast him on SG-1 because he would have played the role of a Jaffa who ended up dying at episode’s end.  Instead, I kept him in mind and, after this script was written, immediately thought of him for Tyre.  And, he was perfect – likable (which made his turn all the more shocking) and a seasoned martial artist (his fight scenes were terrific).  In an early incarnation of the story, Ronon kills all of his former friends but I had a change of heart after casting Mark.  He was not only great as Tyre but simply a great guy as well, very well-liked by the crew.  All the more reason to write a sequel the following season (Broken Ties) and have him back for a little revenge and redemption.

Director Will Waring – camera shy.  Ironic, no?
Director Will Waring unmasked. A pleasure to work with. And, if things fall into place, hopefully I’ll get the chance to do so again sooner than later.

I’ve spoken extensively about this episode in past blog posts so, rather than repeat what has already been said, allow me to direct you here (October 13, 2007) for a rundown of my thoughts on the episode, covering everything from scheduling conflicts, my favorite scene (the Ronon/Sheppard talk), and the loss of my favorite line: “Who’s Hootie now?”.

Spooky, no?
The wraith set.
Director of Photography, Michael C. Blundell, transformed the set into an remarkably creepy environment.

More goodies here (October 14, 2007) in the form of scenes and excerpts that didn’t make the cut.

BTW, that garish painting Ronon had up in his room adorned my office for that entire year.  I always wondered where it wound up.  I can only assume it was purchased at auction by some discerning art collector. 

37 thoughts on “September 6, 2012: The Great Philly Cheesesteak Debate! Days of Stargate Atlantis Past! Reunion!

  1. Stream of consciousness:

    Reunion. Loved that episode! I’m a big fan of Mark Dacascos.

    Hey! My local Bavarian restaurant serves Moscow Mules in copper mugs! Unfortunately, I didn’t see them on the menu until I’d ordered a beer, so I’ll have to wait until next time to try it.

    Uh, what is that Stallone trailer doing there? Did I miss something in the fog of my migraine? Dang! It’s Jason Momoa. Lookin’ good!

    @Tam Dixon: I hope your headache is better. Mine is okay at the moment, so I am functional (after drugs and a nap).

    @das: I’m glad you are on the mend. You’ll be back on solid food in no time. You don’t think Joe brought up the cheese steaks just to torture you while you are on a liquid diet, do you? Naw, he wouldn’t do that sort of thing…

  2. Yer gettin’ there, Joey, yer gettin’ there. I just wanna know where in the world yer gonna find REAL Philly Italian rolls. And if yer thinkin’ maybe I’d send a couple yer way, forgetaboutit! First the chocolate, and then the rolls. 😉


  3. You know how elaborate sets are made for sci-fi shows, it would be cool to record them being built, so the fans can see it made from the ground up. Like the videos you can see of concert stages at outdoor arenas being built and taken down look. 🙂

  4. A big person loving to fling through the air for having the falling thing all figured out. I don’t know much about acting, but I know that alone will make someone in demand to make someone else’s techniques look impressive.

  5. Thank you for the pictures of the devilishly good-looking Will Waring. Oooooo, oooooo he’s handsome!!

  6. @baterista9: The “Central Jersey” concept is a fairly new one as far as i know. I’m not quite sure I subscribe to it. 🙂

    @Marc: Good info there too!

    @Das: The original Tony Luke’s on Oregon Ave. is great. However, I don’t think the sattelites have it down. We tried the one in Washington Twp. the weekend it opened and were not impressed.

    Joe, if you have to use focaccia, go for it. I love it. Although I’d never use it for a cheesesteak.

  7. Jason’s new movie looks awesome to bad he’s the bad guy would love to see him playing the hero roll

  8. @ JeffW – My friend Marc is the real expert – he’s Italian and he lives in Philly. The man knows his cheesesteaks!

    And the smoked pork looks wonderful! (Of course, at this point old leather shoes look quite tasty, too 😛 ). You should figure out how to do a Carolina-style pulled pork. By Carolina, I mean the simple Eastern type of sugar/vinegar/hot pepper bbq sauce, without ketchup or mustard. ‘Tis wonderful!

    @ JimFromJersey – Thanks! Not sure I’d even try the place, but you never know. I don’t eat cheesesteaks like I used to when I was younger, and now with my gut troubles I may be eating them even less, if ever.

    @ Sparrowhawk – I only had to be on just liquids for two days, so yesterday ate some eggs, white rice, applesauce, and steamed chicken and veggies. Today was the same. I’m dealing with heartburn issues now which may be due to the antibiotics, so I added yogurt. I need to get to a gut doc, though. I should have done so after my first bout with this, but you know how it is when you get feeling better and think everything’s all right. Live and learn, I say, live and learn. 😛


  9. Geez…just reading my previous post over and I sound like a 70-year old! 😛

    @ Joe – There are actually about 4 episodes from the first half of S4 that I have never seen. I haven’t been joining in much in the convo because I don’t remember much of that first half, but there are a couple eps coming up that I might have a thing or two to say about. 😉


  10. Classic Stallone – “mumble, mumble, bang! Mumble, mumble, thump! Mumble, mumble, smack!” But it’s great to see Momoa getting work in another film.

    Question for your next Q and A – Since Stallone had them, what is your opinion of tattoos on actors? Does it limit the work they can do?

    And, I’d try a Philly Cheese Steak on focacia. It might improve it.

    For anyone feeling under the weather, look for the humor in life. It is the best medicine, after all. Feel better soon. 🙂


  11. Wow, some foodie you are Joe, you were suicidal to talk about Philly cheesesteaks. I think you stepped on your carrot there friend. Normal people from Philly go posgtal when talking about which is the best cheesesteak. By tghe way it’sD’Allesandros on Roxbury..

  12. I’ve never had a Philly cheesesteak so I can’t join the arguement. 🙂

    As for “Reunion”, I really enjoyed this episode. I thought Mr. Momoa did an excellent job. The reasons for Carter taking over Atlantis were solid.

    Too tired to think straight right now. Will try to post something a little more thought out tomorrow.

    Anne Teldy

  13. Regarding the cheesesteak conundrum, I will live you with this quote:

    “The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.”
    — Walter Bagehot

  14. You weren’t joking about the focaccia? Maybe I’d eat your steak sandwich with focaccia, but I wouldn’t call it a Philly cheesesteak, lest anyone from PA find out about it. I have a Philly friend who would mail me a flame-rigged box of cat feces over such a gaffe and I’d deserve it!

  15. Deni: Things calming down at your house yet? How are Kenny and Riley getting along? 😀

    Sparrowhawk: Yes, thank you for asking. I’m still feeling weird but finally made a dr.s appointment. How is your migraine today?

    Man! People take their Philly Steak Sandwich seriously don’t they? I wouldn’t show a picture of a deviant sandwich on your blog! You might have protesters or something.

    Reunion: Jason M. always does a fantastic job in those fight scenes. I follow Bam-Bam on twitter and sometimes he’ll reply back to me. He seems like a very intense guy. He recently showed pictures of him and his lovely wife in Paris. His wife, with her beautiful smile and billowy skirt. Then you look over at Bam-Bam and he looks ready to tackle terrorists. 😆 Anyway, the whole SG team did great with photography/special effects. I’m sure the budge wasn’t unlimited but they made it work.

    Thanks for the memories!

    AnneTeldy: I hit audiobook lottery at the library this week! I snagged the new Odd Thomas book Odd Apcoalypse and Book 7 of the Dresden series!!! I listen while I’m cleaning, so things are going to be pretty spotless at my house next week. Plus, I might even stay late at the humane society to get through one of those audio jems 😉 .

  16. When listing Mark Dacascos’ past roles, you left off the current Hawaii Five-0 baddie Woo Fat….or were you only including those that came before this episode of Stargate Atlantis?

  17. @Joe:

    Well damn. Little did I realize the firestorm reaction I would elicit when I mentioned that I would be making Philly Cheesesteaks this weekend and serving them in focaccia.

    Yep. Growing up near Baltimore on the east coast (just south of Philly) and hearing the raging debates about what was a “Philly Cheesesteak” and what wasn’t, I knew enough to keep my toes out of that water! =D

    On Reunion, I’m just a little curious; who’s line was “Who’s Hootie now?”?


    I love Carolina BBQ! Since my dad was from Georgia (and I spent many a summer there), I was raised on the Carolina-style BBQ (the mustard powder, sugar, black pepper, spices, and vinegar kind). Unfortunately, here in the mid-west it is few and far between. Weber Grill used to have a Pulled-Pork Carolina BBQ Sandwich, but they pulled from the menu. 🙁 I think the average Chicagoan doesn’t really know what Carolina-style BBQ is (maybe because of the proximity to Kansas City and Memphis?)

    Anyway, I usually make my own sauce (an activity that my wife hates because of the vinegar smell that fills the house), but I don’t really have any other recourse; the grocery stores only stock the tomato stuff.

    I do have a pork belly prospect that I’ll be checking out this afternoon. I was reading some local foodie forums and found that a grocery store in Crystal Lake carries it, but you have to ask the “right” butcher. Like a lot of things in Chicagoland, it’s who you know (i.e. “I knows a ghuy…”).

    I also found some bacon-steak for backup, but we’ll see if I can get the pork-belly first. More smoking for the weekend…

  18. Good episode again! Jason did a wonderful job as did Mark D. I didn’t like the fact that the wraith enzyme turned Ronon into a worshipper though, it takes all agency away from the humans if even he can be turned. Of course my favorite parts were Sheppard with two guns, Sheppard on his knees and that final scene between Ronon and Sheppard.

  19. @JeffW: My local butcher reports a pork belly shortage due to the drought and poor grain harvest. The pigs just aren’t getting fattened up enough, so the supply of pork belly and bacon is dwindling. 🙁

    @Tam Dixon: My headache is much better today, thanks; just a bit of post-migraine fuzzy-headedness. Hardly distinguishable from my normal mental status!

  20. I love Reunion. Ronon-centric episodes always kicked ass. Because Ronon never said much, it was nice to have an episode just about him and his background.

    Oh and the first post of actual story, the Prologue (my version of an episode’s teaser) is up and running on Please stop by.

  21. The Crowd?? I think you meant The Crow.. that’s ok just thought it was kind of funny typo.

    Jason’s new movie looks awesome and I’m excited to see it! Have you talked to him lately?

    I’m a fan of focaccia & Philly Cheesestak so I’d be game to try it. Let me know how that goes.

  22. @Das and Sparrow_hawk:

    I found fatback and pork bellies! They came sliced (I would have preferred slab, but at least I found it). Joesph’s Market in Crystal Lake had it (right next door to the Irish Boutique). I also picked up some sweet corn and a whole chicken that I’ll smoke at the same time as the pork. Now I have to make up some Carolina Sauce for tomorrow. Saturday’s gonna be good!

    On going to a butcher: I was disappointed that I couldn’t find a local butcher that would sell these cuts. When I talked to them, it wasn’t just that they were out of stock on these cuts, it was because they didn’t normally stock these cuts in the first place! I was a little amazed; I mean why wouldn’t a butcher stock the more exotic cuts of meat? I would think that would be one of their main draws…guess not in this case though.

    Both butchers said I could special order a whole or half hog, but my freezer is full (needs to be cleaned out) and my smoker is nowhere near big enough to smoke half a hog, so maybe next year.

    @Sparrow_hawk: Glad to hear your headache is doing better!

  23. @Tam Dixon: Riley’s being really good with Kenny, but Kenny is under my bed since early this morning. She managed to get out of her cage (?) and I couldn’t find her for a while, but I knew she was in the house, at least! I just spoke to one of my vets (remember, I’m a dog person…) and he said to leave her there and put some food, water and a litter box by my bed and close the door. Poor kitty, I hate to see an animal so scared, but my vet assured me that given some time, she’ll be ok. 🙂 If any of you guys have any ideas to help me (and Kenny) along, please let me know!

  24. Man, all I know is Ronon would kick both Rocky AND Rambo’s asses.

    I want to know how they filmed those fight scenes. I know there are apple boxes and half apples, but is there a such thing as an “apple platform”? Stallone is so much shorter than Momoa!

  25. @ JeffW – The type of Carolina BBQ I’m familar with is the Eastern style with no mustard, but instead is just vinegar (apple cider and/or white), red pepper flakes (some also add hot sauce), sugar (white and/or brown; molasses optional), and salt. There’s a local guy who cooks the best pull pork ever, and uses this sauce. Not sure what his ingredients are, but no mustard or ketchup in it – it’s a transparent sauce. I’ve posted his roast pig pictures before, but here goes again:

    Also, your wife sounds like my husband! Since I have cats (who inevitably walk across the newly mopped floor and then lick their paws), I mop the floors with white vinegar, and Mr. Das hates it! He’ll come home and gripe, “The house smells like pickles!”

    Personally, I like pickles. 😀


  26. The last time I had a Philly Cheese Steak was at a little place right off the Oaks exit of 422. Can’t remember the name of the place, but it was to die for. I was taken there with a couple of co workers when we were working in King of Prussia.

  27. @Das:

    That pig looks awesome! I’m guessing that’s a charcoal smoker? It looks like he’s got a nice smoke patina going there.

    On the Carolina sauce, I’ve had both kinds (the clear and the mustard), but I like the south Carolina mustard-style a little bit better. I’ll eat (and enjoy) the Memphis style too, but it’s not my favorite. I smelled up the house making some sauce tonight…I’ve got it chilling in the ‘fridge ready to go for tomorrow. I’ll take some pictures of the smoked meat when I’m done.

  28. Love, love, loved Reunion! It is one of my top 5 favorites. I have watched this a hundred times. I think it was so well written. The action and drama flowed seemlessly throughout. I think this is one of your best stories Joe. It was perfectly cast. Did you have anything to say about casting? The story of Carter coming in to lead Atlantis was handled very well. It made me not mind at all Weir was gone. (still wish she had not been “killed”) Loved that it was mostly about Ronon. Carter didn’t come on too strong and that was a very good thing. Loved Ronon’s skirt he wore while sparing with a very pregnant Teyla. Rachel hide it well but you could still tell. Loved Ronon’s (Jason’s) new tatoo and how you worked it into the story. Loved Carter going into Ronon’s room as he is packing up all his stuff. Guns, knives, jewelry, even a few books. Who gave him those? Sheppard, I bet. The true identity of his “friends” surprised me. The fight scene was awesome. Loved how Carter asked him where his friends were and he said “right here” meaning Sheppard, Teyla, McKay, etc. Felt sorry for him though. Thank you Joe for taking an interest and writting for Ronon. You, Cooper, and Carl really brought his personality out.

    Exciting to see Jason working with Stallone. How could anyone work with Jason and not like the guy? Maybe Stallone can help him in the future to get more rolls. Jason is soooo good looking! Tall, dark, and awesomely handsome. He is fun to watch!

  29. @ JeffW – Yup, a charcoal smoker. I think it takes 18 hours or so to cook the pig. And see that skin? Well, when the meat is gone mom has him put the cracklins in a big bag and she feasts off it for a week! She’s such a hillbilly sometimes. 🙂


  30. Wow even people not from Philly are passionate about the cheesesteak…impressive! There are many (and I mean MANY) amazing food options in this city, far beyond the Cheesesteak, but it seems like we can’t escape this sandwich! Personally living in the Philly area, the only time I ever get one is when I have friends come in from out of town and they “have” to get a cheesesteak. For the record, I’m a Provolone without, kinda girl.

    But there are many better dining options; most notably restaurants by Marc Vetri, Jose Garces, and Stephen Starr (In that order). You want something great to eat in Philly, go there!

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