I’m back!

October 4, 2010 Leave a comment

I figured this would be an appropriate first post back. If you ever wondered what my creative process is like, this might be the most apt description.  Read, shudder, and learn!

Categories: An Open Letter

2 1/2 More Days Without Green Vegetables: Memphis Redux

April 9, 2009 Leave a comment

At the end of February, I spent a few more days in Memphis, TN.  As is my habit, I revisited some of my favorite BBQ establishments and tried to knock out a few new ones.   These trips have a habit of doing a two things: like a wine-tasting tour, they expand options and reinforce preferences; they also cause a disconcerting desire for green vegetables and brown rice. 

We happened to be staying in a hotel right upstairs from Rendezvous, so we ended up there for a late dinner on our night of arrival.  Since my traveling companion was a BBQ novice, it was the easiest place to start and a short walk, which was all the more important since Memphis was in the midst of a serious cold snap.  Most of what I can say about Rendezvous has already been said – the charcoal broiled ribs are not true BBQ, but they will do the trick and establish a good baseline for someone that is not well-versed in Memphis-style BBQ.  My ribs were a little drier than usual, but I usuall err on the side of dry rather than overly wet since I like to sauce them myself.  I kind of like the fact that I can order a “pitcher of beer,” which they actually deliver without asking what kind I’d like.   

For the next stop, we hit the Germantown Commissary.  It had been more than a year since I last visited.  Since it is in Germantown, a good 15-20 minutes from downtown Memphis, it can be hard to get to when I am on a tight schedule.  This time, however, we had some extra time before meetings and were able to swing out that way.   I ordered the BBQ sandwich plate, which comes with beans, slaw, a deviled egg, and a pickled pepper.  Their BBQ sandwich was as great this visit as prior visits, with enough smoke to make you remember you’re eating BBQ and enough moisture to stay together without devolving into a sloppy mess.  It was served properly on a cheap white bun, with slaw on the side.  The slaw provides enough creaminess.  My only disappointment was that I did not have enough appetite to eat the homemade banana pudding. 

As usual, a visit would not be complete without a stop at the BBQ Shop for dinner.  I ordered my usual ribs and pork combo.  They did not disappoint – the ribs were were perfectly smoky with a nice char on the outside, giving way to a moist interior.  The chopped pork is a nice counterpoint to the ribs: moist without being sopping wet and with good smoke and seasoning penetration throughout the meat.  One of our dining partners went all in for the BBQ Shop combo – essentially one of everything on the menu.  I admired his fortitude and was able to get a taste of their brisket, which reinforced my belief that butts are best.   I cannot lie about liking the butt.

The lone new place was Jim Neely’s Interstate BBQ.  At one time, this was purported to be the best BBQ place in Memphis, but it turned out to be one of my least favorites.  The ribs and pork lacked prominent smoke and excessive moisture seemed to be a result of spending time in a steam tray.  The ribs included the tips, increasing the eating difficulty.  The sauce was ladled over the ribs and pork, and none was provided at the table.  Can’t say that I was really enthusiastic about the place, which is a shame, since I had such high expectations.

After several visits to Memphis, the rankings are: BBQ Shop, Germantown Commissary, Central BBQ, Rendezvous, Cozy Corner.  I’m leaving Interstate off the list, as I don’t think I’ll be going back.  Cozy Corner deserves a second visit the next time I am in Memphis so that I can rate them with more certitude.

Science Is On Our Side

April 9, 2009 Leave a comment

Bacon Sandwich

Finally, science is put to a good use, proving what we already knew:  according to “scientists” in the UK, bacon really does cure a hangover.   Check out the article here.

Categories: Fresh Links Tags: , ,

When Keeping It Ironic Goes Wrong: the McNuggetini

February 17, 2009 Leave a comment

There are few better things to eat than a Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwich and waffle fries.  I’ll dip my Wendy’s fries in a frosty (I mean, probably just the tip, but enough to get the taste).  I do like alcohol.  However, of the many imaginary lines in the sand I draw, one of them happens to fall at McDonalds.  I just won’t eat there.  The act of mixing McDonald’s milkshakes, barbeque sauce, and McNuggets into the McNuggetini is so far out of bounds, even I am shock and awe’d that someone would do this.  I do have to admit that they score points for execution and bravado.

Whether the McNuggetini was a fit of poorly conceived irony, just poorly conceived, or an act of latent genius, history (or the internet) will have to be the judge.  For an appropriate way to consume meat-flavored alcohol, please refer to my previous post on Bacon-Flavored Bourbon.

Categories: Fresh Links Tags:

I’m Going to Go All Rodney Dangerfield On This Piece

February 13, 2009 Leave a comment

This article is enough to get me thinking about going back to school to be an English major.  The only equivalent that I can think of is my friends who managed to convince their professors that Phish tour was a sociological experience worth documenting.  I’ll take the 1 for $3, 2 for $5 rib anyday over a vegan burrito, bro.

Categories: Fresh Links

French Fry Coated Hot Dog

January 22, 2009 Leave a comment
Image courtesy of www.lastappetite.com

Image courtesy of http://www.lastappetite.com

Apparently, the economic downturn has also resulted in fewer bacon-related culinary innovations.  Belt tightening indeed.  So, instead of something bacon related, I give you something from its cousin: how about a french fry-coated hot dog.  Frankly (zing!), I am surprised that this was not invented for the Texas state fair.  Instead, it was invented by the Koreans and perfected by the genius at lastappetite.com.  I would be remiss, however, if I did not mention that it would be better with bacon.  And American cheese. 

Edit: my dreams have been realized.  This is a clear sign that the bacon-onomy is in pork-covery.

Categories: Fresh Links, Innovations

Stunt Eater Reviews: La Michoacana, Charlottesville, VA

January 19, 2009 Leave a comment

Fewer business trips and the resulting decrease in expense account meals have given me fewer new restaurant reviews in unfamiliar cities.  In Charlottesville, few things have excited me enough culinarily to warrant a post except a recent excursion to La Michoacana on High Street. 

The place lacks most basic amenities: there is no public bathroom, there is one communal table, and a steamer table from which the people serve.  As far as I could tell, there was no kitchen, so food must magically appear before service.  The menu is two columns, one for the available meats and the other for the delivery format.  Meats include chicken, barbacoa, carnitas, pork rinds, chorizo, and beef tongue – it would appear that these are available every day.  Meat delivery formats include the standards  (tacos, burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas) as well as a few additional ones (gorditas, tortas).  The most expensive item on the menu is the enchiladas, at $8, tacos $2, and burritos $6.  Everything else is available a la carte so you can mix and match fillings to your heart’s content.

I was not feeling experimental, and ordered a barbacoa burrito.  One of my dining partners ordered a burrito, while the other picked a few tacos.  The burrito comes with rice and meat on the inside, beans and toppings (crema, lettuce, tomato, onion, and cilantro) on top.  Two hot sauces and pickled vegetables are available in tupperware containers on the counter for self service.   This was clearly food made by experienced hands – the barbacoa was rich and juicy without being greasy.  The beans were creamy without being too lard-laden.  It was the best burrito I have eaten in a long time.

On my visits out west, there were a few places serving “authentic” Mexican food that I would always visit.  During these visits, I would lament the fact that the only available Mexican food available in Charlottesville was either Guadalajara or Amigos.  While these places hold a cherished place in my heart for cheap margaritas and combo platters, sometimes you want something a bit more authentic.  La Michoacana fills this gap nicely.  Bumping shoulders with day laborers and working men while mowing down some tacos is a great way for a salaryman to spend lunch.  As we finished, a guy sat down next to us with a plate filled with two gorditas, oozing cheese – now I know what I am getting when I go back.

La Michaocana Deli
1138 E. High St.
Charlottesville, VA 22902

Mon-Thur. 10am to 9pm
Fri&Sat 11am to 11pm
Sun 11am to 9pm

Bring cash, as they do not accept anything else.