Monday, December 31, 2012

Farewell To 20 12

Farewell to a year that my life was such a huge roller coaster that Disney, 6 Flags, and Carowinds called about doing a signature ride at their parks about me. 2012 started off like any good roller coaster would. By doing that slow clinking climb up. I started a new job in February for an IT solutions provider (if any of you need a contact for computers, printers, monitors, phones ... anything. I'm your guy. Ok, so a shameless attempt to get business) after working for the same tool company for nearly 10 years.  

I started my new job and things were going great. I was winning some deals and making some sells at work, and I felt Dawn and I were ready to take our relationship to the next level. One May 25th I went for the first time to look for an engagement ring. I had looked around online or passing by before, but hadn't really dug into it yet. I knew what she wanted, so I didn't really have THAT big of a decision to make. 

On May 26th around 7a.m. my roller coaster hit that notorious first hellacious drop that coasters are known for. To save everyone from a replay of the play by play. If you didn't follow my blog around then. Please go back and look at the Cack Fall Down and Go Boom post. (I have to admit, I haven't even reread it.)

ANNNNNNYWAY, roller coaster up and down, up and down blah blah blah. On the last Friday of my time out from the accident. I met my sister at a jewelry store client of hers after meeting Dawn for lunch. It only took a few minutes before I had her "something shiny" in the works of being made. 

Dawn always said that she had to have her "something shiny" before I could have my new smoker. It wasn't really an ultimatum, but it was a joke she would often say whenever I would drool over the Lang or Jambo websites. Well ... I always told myself it wasn't an ultimatum ... hhhmmmmmm. 

The same day I proposed to Dawn I also let her know that I purchased Jessica. (Guys remember, it's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. It's also easier to get forgiveness when she gets a new piece of jewelry.) We were out at dinner with a group of our friends (that I had secretly set up behind her back) when I dropped the news about the smoker. She gave me "that look" then went back to the ring ... it works I tell ya.

The second half of the year has mostly been spent getting back to normal. The swelling is gone but I still have some numbness in my face, I've started back to the gym and reffing Basketball, we've been going to concerts and on long weekends out of town like we used to, and South Carolina stomped Clemson again. Yep, just things getting back to normal. 

This next year is shaping up to be a blast. I plan on helping out in my first BBQ comp in April, Dawn and I will be getting married in May, and I'm going to turn this blog into a beast. 

Thank you to each and every one of you that take a few minutes out of your day here and there to check out my blog. You don't know how awesome it is when I check to see if anyone is looking, and 20 people have viewed since the post went up. 

If you keep looking ... I'll keep posting.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Santa Hates Vegetarians

If my birthday or some other gift giving holiday is near, and you're wondering what to get me. You can't ever go wrong with some food or cooking related. Even if I already have it. I could probably always use a new one. 

This years cooking and food related Christmas gifts are below, and yes, that means new foods/flavors to try out in the new year. 

Apparently when you purchase so much product from Big Poppa Smokers you get a free T Shirt. I, however, get said FREE T Shirt as a separate item (it's ok, because Dawn got a free item as a separate gift as well. I know her tricks by now). 

We've already tried out the 3 Beer sauce. I did 3 Beer rubbed chicken covered in 3 Beer sauce. I must say, I'm a fan of (most) all things beer ... including the rub and sauce. The get the free T Dawn got me the Big Poppa Smokers "Money", "Little Louie's Seasoned Garlic Salt", "Jallelujah Bacon Jalapeno Rub", and "Happy Ending Finishing Rub". Of course the bacon jalapeno rub is sparking up my interest ... and taste buds. 

Oh yeah, and then you have that sack of rub that would make any ATF cop perk up thinking this is some type of brick of drugs. Sorry guy, it's not. It's a 5 POUND bag of Plowboys Yardbird Rub. The funny part is. She swears up and down that she ordered this 2 days before I used my last bit and complained ever since that I was out of it. (I think she knows me pretty well ... maybe too well)

She also got me this bacon candy stuff. Most of it is dark or milk chocolate covered pieces of bacon. I've tried one piece and it was ... ok. I'm not a big pure chocolate fan, so the heavy covering is borderline too much for me. 

Santa was good to me this year. I can't wait to give these new rubs a shot. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Best (and not so best) Of Charleston

Dawn and I went to Charleston for our 9th Eric Church concert (Yes people, we have a bit of a problem) and for her birthday weekend. 

We started the trip off by stopping at Groucho's Deli in Columbia on the way down and that night before the concert. We stopped in at The Noisey Oyster. 

The next morning we just ate the complimentary breakfast at the hotel. For lunch we went to one of our "must go to"s when in Charleston, Pizzeria Di Giovanni. That night was Dawn's Bday dinner so I asked a Brethren, some CockyTalkers, and even some friends that live down that way where would be a good place to take her. Most either said Slightly North of Broad or agreed that it was amazing once I said that's where we were going. 

The same Brethren that pointed us in the direction of SNOB also told me about Duke's BBQ. We were already planning to be in Folly Beach for dinner at Locklear's Beach City Grill, so Duke's it was for lunch. 

On Sunday we ate breakfast at another one of our Charleston traditional stops at Barbara Jean's. After that, we hit the road and headed back to the house. We had dinner plans with some friends of ours at Side Street Pizza in Tryon (I don't believe I really need to do a review for that ... IT'S DELICIOUS). 


If you've never been to a Groucho's ... you need to. I've had it twice (once in Gville) and both times they've been amazing. If you go you have to try the STP Dipper. One of THE best sandwiches out there. I hear their  STP sauce is amazing on it as well. 

We go by the Noisey Oyster every time we're in town, and always say we need to try it out (more so Dawn than me). Both of our food was good, but neither was blow your socks off amazing. She got the shrimp and grits (you'll see a trend here) and I got the blackened spicy chicken sandwich. The chicken stayed the temp of the sun till the very last bite. Once my mouth regained feeling from the 5 degree burns the spice kicked in and it burned me again in a different way. 

If you were reading above and thought to yourself "what the heck and where the heck is Pizzeria Di Giovanni?" Well my friends, I am about to tell you about one of the best pizza joints in SC. Giovanni's (as we call it for short) is in a little shopping center near the middle of Market Street. It's the corner of the block just above Wild Wings. There's a pirate shop, a flag shop, and Bulldog Tours in there as well. It's $5.00 for a single slice and drink for lunch, and ... well ... just look at the picture. 

SNOB is a middle to upper price range restaurant in Downtown Charleston. We both ate and had a glass of wine and the total was around $74, so it's not CRAZY expensive, but it's not an every night type place. Dawn got the Shrimp and Grits which she has named her #1 favorite ever (she gets them everywhere, so that's saying something). We got their recipe before we left, so you may see that posted in the future. I had the Pork Chop which was out of this freaking world. The check was a decent little hit, but this meal was WELL worth every penny. It may not turn into an every Charleston visit must, but this won't be the last time we ever go. 

Now, my buddy Pat told us about SNOB and he's a BBQ guy, so if there's one thing I can trust him on. It's his recommendation for BBQ places to go to right? Well ... uummmm ... no. From the $12 a person buffet to their sign advertising "best mac n cheese around" and "try our fried chicken". We should have ran away and never looked back. 

The pork didn't have a lot of flavor, so I'm guessing they didn't inject or even rub their butts. As you can see from the pictures, the pork doesn't have much of a smoke ring, and the skin is very thin so there wasn't anything on it. There was also a piece that had a big hunk of fat on it too. WITH THAT SAID, once I added their sauce, it was actually pretty good. Maybe their focus is more on the sauce than the bare flavor of the meat, I don't know. Oh, and the mac'n'cheese was good, but the chicken wasn't all that great. 

After the disappointment of Duke's we were hoping we didn't completely strike out in Folly Beach and that Locklear's would save the day. It did. I just got a bacon cheese burger, and Dawn got a Black Bean Burger, but we both thought they were very good. 

Barbara Jean's is near the top of Market Street and a pretty good country style place. We've only ever eaten Breakfast their, but every single time we go ... it's good. You need to order their breakfast sausage too. It's got onions in it (just close your eyes if you're like me and hate onions), but it's got an amazing flavor with a little bit a kick to it. 

There you have it, the full break down on everywhere we ate on our last trip to Chucktown. I would recommend everywhere we went (minus Duke's), and will definitely be going back in the future (minus Duke's). If you've ever been to any of these places. Let me know what you think about each.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Interstate BBQ vs. Rendezvous

As a new "feature" of my blog. I'm going to start doing food reviews here as well. I've been asked my opinion on a lot of local BBQ restaurants on Facebook and CockyTalk, so I thought why not expand my opinion to my blog.

Dawn and I travel a good bit. Although it's mostly to places like Hotlanta, Chucktown, and Charlotte (sorry, no cool name for there), but we also venture out further at times. Wherever we go we always try to find a new place to eat. Maybe a place that we've heard was good or has been on TV that's supposed to be "soo great".

During our trip to Memphis In May I requested that we try Interstate BBQ and Rendezvous to see who really has the best BBQ between the two. For those that don't know. In the BBQ world there's the big debate of sauced or dry ribs. Interstate sauces theirs while Rendezvous does theirs dry.

After suffering through ... I mean ... After a wonderful day at the Memphis Zoo we went to lunch at Interstate BBQ. (For anyone traveling to Memphis. I would HIGHLY recommend visiting Interstate during the day. There are some pretty rough parts of Memphis and Interstate BBQ is right on the boundary line.) I, of course, ordered the Ribs and Dawn order some sampler plate. The ribs and the sauce were AWESOME. I tried a bite or two of Dawn's plate to see how the pulled pork was. It was good, but didn't really blow me away. (The brisket was the bombdiggady)

They made me walk 500 more miles ... wait, I mean ... After touring the wonderful city of Memphis some more we parked it for dinner at Rendezvous (yes, both in the same day).

The ribs came out and looked delicious. I've never eaten straight up dry ribs before, so I wasn't sure how I'd like them.

The flavor was off the chain, but the ribs themselves were a little tough and they don't remove the membrane before cooking, so it was hard to eat.

After a bone or two I decided I had to go with sauce. I tried dry, and it just wasn't my thing. I look up and they have their sweet sauce. I grab it and put it by my plate (this was before I ate the first ones). Dawn picks it up and uses it for hers (we do a mix of spicy and hot due to a "mess up" I had in Nashville when I put spicy on my sandwich accidentally and covered it with sweet). Once I decided to do the sauce I didn't pay attention to which bottle I grabbed. I just grabbed the bottle that was in the spot that I had placed the sweet ......... it wasn't the sweet.

After COVERING my ribs with HOT I try to save it by scrapping some of it off and covering it with sweet ... it didn't work. What you're about to witness is what happens when you eat a full rack of ribs covered in hot sauce (Dawn said I couldn't finish them all. Every guy reading this knows ... THAT MEANS WAR)

After it was all said and done, in the battle of Interstate vs Rendezvous the winner is ........... well it really depends what you want. If you want ribs I would say Interstate. If you want pulled pork I would go with Rendezvous.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Memphis In May BBQ Championship

I've been meaning to post these for a while now, but have been slack. I wasn't able to post them after the event. Since SOMEBODY had to go and fall and need surgery (this was the week before).

For those that don't know. Memphis in May is a month long event and each week highlights different "attractions". I don't know what each week is, but one is a music festival and another is a World Championship BBQ Competition that attracts teams from all over the world.

BBQ Comps are a whole other beast from cooking on the weekends. For some of these people, this is their job. I went through and took some pictures of some of our favorite "tents" that these teams had.

When they loaded they didn't load in order. So some of these may bounce around.

Notice the (at the time) brand new BLACK BBQ Brethren flag on the left.

When I talk about "I used Myron Mixon's ..." this is the guy I'm talking about. In his own words, he's the "Winningest Son of a B&$% in BBQ."

I just got a kick out of these cops caring a beach umbrella.

I had to get a picture of our fellow South Carolinians

Yes, people even brought pools and couches to lounge in. When this picture was taken that pool was looking VERY inviting. It was just shy of 100 degrees that day.

I believe this team was from Norway to join in the comp.

A good friend of mine is a lawyer, so when I saw this I had to take picture for him.

Another Brethren members team.

As we were walking on the back side someone (not me) had written Go Gamecocks on the side walk. Gamecock Nation is spreading.

Team Too Sauced To Pork's set up. These people (and the rest of the Brethren) are some of the nicest people you'll ever meet. The ABTs that I made during Jessica's first cook came from our experience here this day ... along with the idea to grill pound cake (wipes the drool from my lip).

This is the view from the front entrance. As long as this line of teams looks ... it kept going AT LEAST 3 times this long. I believe they were estimating around a full mile of teams.

This is where the competition bug bit me and I hope that one day Piggin' Ain't Easy will be able to be on the level to compete against these guys and gals.