Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Review - The Playwright Irish Pub, Greenville, SC

With the weather starting to cool off a bit, we decided to take Rhett downtown for lunch and a little adventure out. We remember that a new (opened in the last year or so) restaurant had opened up in a newly renovated part of downtown, so decided to give The Playwright a shot.

Since we had the little guy, we of course had to sit outside, and that was absolutely fine with us. The outdoor seating area has very nice covered tables, brick pathway, and lots of soft fluffy grass for your little friends ... or your sore feet from walk on all of the other pavement in your typical downtown.

Once you go inside, it's like you're teleported to Ireland. The builder is one of three that's actually certified as a Builder of Authentic Irish Pubs in the world by Guinness. Apparently, they're kind of a big deal.

I'll start with what I ate first, since it wasn't the highlight of the trip. I'm not a big Chicken and Waffles guy, but we'd been watching some cooking shows that kept highlighting it, so I pounced when I saw it on the menu. The waffle was delicious and had a great crunch to it. The chicken was juicy and the breading had a really nice crunch as well, but that's where it ended. I almost wonder if the chef may have forgotten to season ... anything ... for the chicken, because it was the most plain tasting chicken I've ever eaten.

Ok, lets get back on the positive side. The wifey got the Whiskey Chicken Sandwich. I'm not sure why they put the lettuce and tomato on top of the bun, but we were thinking it was probably for the weirdos like me that don't like lettuce and tomato, so it'd be easier to discard. Either way, the sandwich was really good, and the fries were killer.

I mean, look at this face. How could we not go back?

Don't tell Rhett, but we'll actually have to go back sometime when he's not with us. The inside bar/atmosphere is really cool.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Our New Backyard Is Complete

After nearly a year of work, delays, and frustrations our backyard is finally finished.

So, without further delay, my new covered cooking area, our dinning and firepit sections, and Rhett's yard.

I custom made an exhaust vent to help carry the smoke out from underneath roof. It has an opening at the top, but we were more worried about potential smoke marks/damage to the wood finish.

The Jack Daniels whiskey barrel we picked up in Lynchburg on our Nashville trip last year. This isn't just a typical Jack Daniels barrel either. We were told that the grooves on the inside were specially done for the Sinatra Select batches.

One of my birthday presents to help keep my beer cool, and Lee Roy the pig with wings.

This is the wife's garden that a few weeks before this had 2 massive zucchini plants that nearly took over the entire garden. Yes, that's a penguin pirate flag.

And this is my little buddy Rhett. This project ended up costing more than we were expecting, but to watch this guy run around the yard, and try to get out the door every time I go out to cook, was worth every penny. He enjoys it just as much as we do.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Vaughn Packing Co. Brisket

There's a local butcher shop/meat packing company that I found a couple of years ago. I say I found it, because it's about 2 miles from my Papa's house, and they've been in business for 60 years ... maybe I'm really bad at finding things. I've been meaning to go by there and picking up some meat to cook, but they're not in the direction we usually go, and I just kept forgetting.

We were out running a few errands, and Rhett was having his annually check up so we were trying to kill a little time. As we were in the grocery store, D looked up at me and said, "Hey, would you want to go over to that butcher shop place to see what they have?"

When your wife not only says you can go meat shopping, but suggests it, you do not pass up on that opportunity.

We had no clue what we were wanting. As we were looking over the price sheet, we heard one gentleman order a 2lb bone in brisket for a stock that he was making, and we both looked at each other and said "aahhh, brisket."

We went with a 10lb cut, and you could tell it was fresh.

It was a little more fatty on top than you tend to get in the grocery store, but the trimming is part of the fun, so I had no issues with that.

Trimmed most of the fat, arteries, and all of the other gunk off, and cut a piece off the corner so I'd know which direction to slice once it was finished.

Did a mixture of Oakridge BBQ's Habanero Death Dust and Black Ops Brisket Rub.

I didn't feel like waking up super early, so threw it on Bullet Bill (WSM) and set my BBQ Guru to 275 degrees.

After about 10-11 hours, I pulled it out and let it rest for an hour.

This was one of the most tender briskets I've ever cooked. I know it sounds cliche, but you could taste the freshness of the brisket. One of the best compliments D can give my cooking is when she takes a bite and goes, "mmmmmm". I don't think she said a word the entire dinner other than "mmmm".

The next time I do a big cook, I will definitely be going back to Vaughn's ... I just may go a little lighter with the Habanero Death Dust.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Movie Review: The Secret Life Of Pets

We were able to get our hands on some sneak peek tickets again, so this weekend we were able to see The Secret Life of Pets nearly 2 weeks early.

The Secret Life of Pets starts off telling the story of how Max, the main pet, and his owner Katie found each other. They had the perfect life together, until Katie brings home a new, much bigger, dog Duke. Max immediately doesn't like this move, and runs to Katie's side to tell her all of the reasons he doesn't like Duke. When Duke overhears this conversation, it creates a feud.

The feud gets Max and Duke into trouble, and their friends Gidget, Tiberius, Chloe, Buddy, and Mel have to join together and save their friends.

I've seen other reviews that aren't that positive. They talk about how the story doesn't have enough filler, or that there's too many characters, or that someone wasn't rubbing their shoulders while they watched it (the last one I made up). I guess that's where I differ. When they go to a movie, it's their job. When I go to a movie, I go to escape and to be entertained.

I thought The Secret Life of Pets was a great movie. There were multiple times that the entire audience busted out laughing at the old hound stepping on his big floppy ears, or as the tatted up pig comes crashing through the roof.

As a dog person, I thought they were dead on with a lot of the characteristics and antics for the dogs, and blended them perfectly to create an English speaking pet. Basically, you don't hear a voice talking and it's just the body of an animal. The character is acting exactly how you would expect that animal is be acting, but can talk (kind of like what I do with Rhett in my head).

3D movies are usually either really great, or super cheesy and you can tell that they just added this explosion or whatever so they could have a 3D effect, but it doesn't belong. I enjoyed the 3D work here, and really thought it was one of the better ones I've seen. There were a few moments that I could see coming, but when they happened they still surprised me.

I absolutely loved the movie, and if you're a pet person, have kids, don't have kids, or just like fun movies, I think you will too. As long as you're not a movie critic, you're probably going to enjoy The Secret Life of Pets. We'll more than likely be buying this the day it comes out, so we can watch it at home with Rhett.

He's even already made friends with Max and Buddy, and holding Max's paw.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Review: Tin Lizzy's Cantina, Greenville, SC

Greenville has a new taqueria in Tin Lizzys Cantina, and we tried it out for the first time over the weekend.

We don't usually go for appetizers, but we were both starving and are suckers for a good chips and salsa ... plus, we had to try the for research purposes, right?

I usually add salt to the chips wherever we go. Not a whole lot, but a little sprinkle for a little flavor. Well, immediately I noticed these chips came with seasoning already added to them. To go with the chips, we ordered the hot salsa. It's always a tricky choice when ordering at a new place. Is the hot going to shoot steam out of my ears? Is the mild going to be red water? Well, the hot is exactly how I like it. Hot enough to get the nose opened up, but not make you want to cry. A good salsa mixed with delicious chips, and we'll be getting apps again in the future.

There were a few hiccups with Dawn's order. She ordered one beef taco, and one chicken taco with black beans and rice, but got 2 beef tacos and just black beans. It ended up being ok, because she really liked the beef tacos, and the black beans were really good just the way they were. I even heard some "mmmm's" between bites, so lets not start shedding any tears for her over the little confusion.

I ordered the Three Little Pigs Nachos. I mean where can you go wrong with pulled pork, bacon, and chorizo with cheese, jalapenos, lettuce (which I left off), and their honey chipotle BBQ sauce.

I just wanted you to be able to take that in before I went any further.

I admit, I'm not a big nacho guy, so it's not like I have a plethora of nachos to compare these too. What I'm saying is, I'm not a nacho snob like I am a BBQ snob (as the wifey likes to call me). With that said, these are by far the best nachos I've ever eaten. You get a good smokey flavor from all of pork, heat from the jalapenos, and some sweetness from the honey in the BBQ sauce.

I do also need to note, this is probably big enough for 2. I did put a pretty good dent into it, but I was miserably full.

This is a diet crushing dish, and it's worth every single calorie.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Review: Negril Village, Atlanta GA

For our dinner before Alton Brown's show, I made us reservations for Negril Village. It looked like a really nice place, and thought it'd be a little flash back to our honeymoon in Negril, Jamaica.

I was leaning towards the Jerk Chicken and Waffles, but that's what she ordered, so I went for the Curry Shrimp.

The shrimp and Jasmine rice was delicious, but a little on the light side (as in not enough) for me. I finished my plate, and after she tapped out ... I finished her plate (2 legs and a waffle). Now, the jerk chicken and waffles was absolutely amazing. Some of the best jerk chicken I've ever had.

If you're ever in Atlanta, and want a taste of Jamaica, make sure to stop in.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Review: Home Grown, Atlanta GA

I was looking for a new breakfast spot for us, and on nearly every top 10 list was Home Grown. The one that I was more interested in was that it was very high on the Top 10 Best Biscuits list.

We got there at just the right time. There was about a 20-30 minute wait, but it wasn't completely lined out the door ... yet.

I can't remember what it was called on the menu, but Dawn got scrambled eggs, sausage, cheese grits, and a biscuit. I always say it's hard to mess up eggs, so what's there to really say about the rest of the plate? She did say that the cheese grits were the best grits she's ever gotten at a restaurant. There was no need in adding salt, pepper, butter, anything. They came out seasoned and ready to be delicious.

From the moment I found them on the Top Biscuits list, there was no question what I would be ordering ... Biscuits and Gravy (with a side of sausage).

They didn't disappoint. One of my biscuits was a little over cooked and hard, but whatever, it was still really good and the size of the biscuits made it easy for me to just slide the harder pieces over and enjoy the goody (what my sister and I called the soft fluff center of biscuits when we were growing up).

When you make a run through Atlanta, make sure to stop by Home Grown and try their biscuits. They really are that good.