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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.

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