Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Review: The Flying Biscuit Cafe

We like to try new places to eat when we go out of town (hence the whole point of the food review section of this blog), so before we left Hotlanta, we wanted to try a new breakfast place. 

I checked on my phone, while the wifey was getting ready, and found The Flying Biscuit. I knew it looked familiar, and later on she looked it up and they have been on some Food Network show or something. So, off we went. 

Knowing it was a "famous" spot we were kind of dreading the wait, because we were already running a little later than we wanted, so we were both starving. We got there and was told the wait was 5-10 for 2, so obviously we waited.  

I looked at the menu and the first I noticed was that I felt like I was about to throw up. The light over us was higher up than the ceiling fan, so the blades gave it this almost strobe-light affect. I'm not one to get motion sick or anything, but I had to pick the menu up and actually stand it up before I did. I looked around and it didn't look like every table was like this, so maybe just bad luck, but dang was it annoying. 

Dawn got the Southern Scramble without collards. Which included 3 eggs with turkey bacon and onions scrambled together, "creamy dreamy grits", and biscuit. She wasn't too sure about the grits at first, but it grew on her and she liked them before we left. Her favorite part was the biscuits and (what we believe to be) cranberry apple butter they give you. I have to agree, whatever that stuff is, it's good.

Let me preface this by saying, Dawn is a more health-conscious person that I am. She eats turkey bacon on a regular occasion and substitutes turkey whatever in recipes (as you've seen here) all the time. 

I ordered the Flying Biscuit Breakfast which comes with 2 eggs scrambled, "creamy dreamy grits", chicken sausage, and added a side of turkey bacon. The waitress even looked at me and said "it's turkey bacon, is that ok?" I wanted to say "well no, it's not ok, but it'll do." However, I was nice and just said "yes, ma'am."

The eggs were great, but it takes talent to mess up eggs. The grits were ok. I don't know what they put in them to make them so creamy, but I'm not a big fan of cream in the first place, so it was a little meh. They weren't horrible, and most people will probably like them, but I'm just not a fan. The chicken sausage had great flavor. The first one I ate was super duper dry though. I'm talking, it adsorb all of the liquid in my mouth, it was so dry. The second piece was a LOT better and was really good. I think the first might have been sitting out a little while, or maybe was just overdone. The turkey bacon, I wish I could get my $2 back. To make sure I wasn't biased, I even let Dawn try it and she agreed I might as well had been eating a tired. These things had NO crunch at all and literally tasted like rubber. I will leave a restaurant completely miserable before I will leave bacon behind ... I left a slice and a half on the table when we left. 

Again, the biscuits and that jam/jelly, was off the chain. I don't do a lot of jam/jelly on things, but this was just absolutely delicious. 

I don't know if I'd say this is a "must go" place, but it's not a "stay away" place either. The biscuits are great, you should definitely go try the biscuits if nothing else, but if you order a full meal ... dodge the "bacon" like the plague. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Review: The Spotted Pig

For some unknown reason my wife is an Atlanta Braves fan. I grew up a Braves fan, but kind of got tired of pulling for them because "they're the closest team we have." I grew up liking the Chicago Cubs (Ryne Samburg was the reason I played 2nd base my whole life, well him and the fact that I was slow and had a rag arm) and Oakland A's (because picking the furthest possible team is so much better). Then when Tony La Russa and Mark McGwire moved to St Louis, my fandom was part of the trade as well, and they joined my list of MLB teams I pull for.

We will normally be found at Turner Field 5-10+ times a season, but this year, with the wedding and everything going on it's been closer to the low end of that. 

As we pulled out of the drive Saturday morning, I ask her if she'd look on her phone to see if she could find us a new BBQ joint to try on the way. We've stopped at Shane's Rib Shack on numerous trips, but was feeling something new. She finds The Spotted Pig in Fair Play, SC just before we cross into GA. Little did she know how perfect her find was, because we actually pulled in almost right at 12:15 ... can't get much closer to lunch time than that. 

I didn't try to mustard base, but the mix of sweet and spicy was delicious. Some of the best sauce I've ever had.

Dawn got the pulled pork sandwich with baked beans and sweet potato crunch. She really liked the sweet potato crunch, but kept raving about the beans and how they had different types of beans and some pork too. 

Of course, I had to get the combo plate, so I could sample it all. The fries were good. They were regular fries with salt, so nothing special. The pulled pork was just that, pulled pork. If there's one thing that drives me crazy it's a menu that says pulled pork and you get chopped. It's not that big of a deal, but it's not the same thing. Just say chopped if it's chopped. Well, here, it's pulled, and it's great. They're not a big heavy rub applier with their butts, but you get a good hickory smoke flavor in there with it and it's good. Add a dab or two of the spicy and a little of the sweet ... mmm. 

And now, the ribs. Actually, I'm just going to go ahead and cut to the next picture ... scroll down. 

This is one of the best bites of a rib I've ever had in a restaurant. I've sure you've seen my "fall off the bone" rant plenty of times to know that is NOT how they really should be. I actually got to enjoy eating these ribs the way you're supposed to and not have to pick up the meat with a fork or my hands. 

It's funny, because after I took this picture Dawn mentioned that she was worried, because she read some reviews and everyone said how good the food was "but the ribs are a little tough." The ribs aren't tough, you just have to know how to eat them. 

One of the coolest things I've ever seen in a BBQ joint (or any restaurant for that matter) is this sink they had right in the middle of the sitting area. I'm not a clean rib eater, so I put this thing to good use. Yes, this is more than just for looks, it actually really works. 

As we were pulling out of the drive I told Dawn, "well we've found our new "on the way to Atlanta" stop." If you're ever on 85 going to Atl, or coming to Greenville, do yourself a favor and get off on Exit 1 to HWY 11 and go north. It's just 4 miles off the interstate, so it's not going to kill you. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

BBQ Pitmasters Season 4 Grand Championship In Tryon, NC

The highlight of the Blue Ridge BBQ and Music Festival, for me, came at the hands of the filming of BBQ Pitmasters. I didn't realize until we were up there, that this was actually the final episode of the season, the $50,000 Grand Championship match. 

A little bit of a spoiler, the 3 teams fighting for the title and grand prize are Pellet Envy, Sugars Barbecue, and Butcher BBQ.

The kicker for this episode, was each team got their own Lang Smoker and had to do a whole hog. Since they were doing whole hogs, the filming was 2 days instead of the one day it usually is. By the time we got their Saturday, they had already done the first turn ins, and the 2nd team was up presenting their whole hog. Each team presented for probably an hour to an hour and a half (no lie), and I'm sure it'll be edited down to about 1 minute once the episode airs.  

Sugars Barbecue are up in front of the judges presenting their whole hog.

Each team's tent area.

"The Pit" on the backside of the bus for the other teams to talk about how they did while the other team presents.

Yes, it's literally just on the other side of the bus. 

Butcher BBQ is being filmed while they prepare their hog.

Just another shot of the set up

Butcher BBQ on stage taking directions for the presentation. 

The son was bright and just over head, so this is everything that has to take place to get that "perfect shot" that nobody will ever see. 

Just another guy setting up in another location for filming.

Presentation time for Butcher BBQ ... another 15 minutes after he did his prep work. 

Pellet Envy filming his talking points just around the side.

Seriously, he's filming on the side while they're filming the presentation on the front side.

The judges taking orders from the Executive Producer (I know that's who she was, because that's what one of the workers said). 

The judges discussing the presentation and food.

Tuffy just looks like he's saying something so important with his hand out like that.

All 3 teams around back now. I'm not sure how they do the "live" judging with the comments and all, but I never once saw a tv back there ... maybe they just tell them what the judges say and they react ...? 

The sun was starting to get behind the trees by this point, so the screen had to come down ... apparently for some, that means nap time.

Still at work ... and still laying down ... 

Take that screen over to that side, I'm laying down over here ... 

The 3 teams around the back nervously waiting for the awards ceremony. 

This is Lara, she's the crowd cheerleader. She stood over by the side during the ceremony, and told us when to cheer and even got the crowd doing some chants for the teams and judges. This is also the one that told us it'd only be 30 more minutes ... every 30 minutes. The ceremony was originally supposed to happen around 4:30, but we ended up not leaving until 7 ... not to her fault, but she kept coming over and apologizing after she'd promise "just a few more minutes." 

Tuffy apparently thinks he's a photographer as well. I, apparently, thought it'd be a good picture to take a picture of him taking a picture.

Myron Mixon's son was in the back chatting with the film crew. Jack's Old (nor New) South wasn't competing in the actual competition, so I'm not sure why he was there, other than to hang out with dad. 

Once break time was over, everyone went back out to their tents and "worked" for a little while for a few more shots.

And then it was the moment of truth ... the teams were in formation ...

Myron making the final speech ... 


I'm not going to tell you that. Did you really think I was going to spoil the whole season, and say who won? 
(I will post the pictures of the winners after the finale has aired.)  

The filming for the episode and season was over, and competitors and crew all celebrated. 

Now for, obviously, my favorite part of the day.

Possibly my new favorite BBQer and new full time judge, Melissa Cookston. All of the judges were super friendly and nice, but once Melissa signed my card and took a picture with me she said "thank you so much for asking." Maybe it's just her being new to the whole "spot light", but it came off very genuine.

Tuffy Stone was a little shorter than he looks. Heck, he even looked taller walking around the set. I don't guess I realized how short he was till looking at the picture ... notice, I didn't let him get as close as I let Melissa ...

Myron was a trip, I've always heard hot great of a guy he is and how he has his TV character, but he's really just a good ol' boy that likes to cut up with people, but I've also heard that he's just like his TV persona and he's a jerk. In the time we were around him, I'd have to say he's a stand up guy, and a MILLION times more friendly than I would have ever imagined. 

One fan asked for a picture and said "I bet you're tired of doing this, but thank you", and he said "Man, I love this. I love BBQ, and anything I can do that gets me around BBQ, I love."

Once I walked up, he glanced at my hat, but didn't say anything. Again, Dawn thinks this is the most tacky hat in the world, so I say to him "it's ok, you can say how much you love this hat." He then looks back and then loudly says "SOUTH CAROOOLINA" and chuckles a little. At that point I said "so I'm guessing you're a Bulldog" and he goes "oh you know", so I had to follow it up with "well, if you want, you can always switch and become a Gamecock fan since ya'll can't beat us anymore." A crowd of guys that were around us all started laughing and gave him the "oooohhh". He raised up and said, "You know the only reason ya'll are winning is because you have that son of a b---- Spurrier on your side line. That man can win with anybody, and I can't stand him because of it." We all stood there and chatted for a second, took the picture, and then I said, "you know, some might say you two are similar in the way you always win and like to talk about it." He just made this big ear to ear smile and then I said "but he's always said "people don't like you if they can't beat you. They only like the ones they can beat, so I guess that's why nobody likes me." Myron started laughing and said he liked it and shook my hand, and we left. 

Country Style Ribs

Motivated by one of the recent BBQ Pitmaster's episodes, Dawn saw some Country Style Ribs and picked them up to try. They're a lot different than they appeared on the show, but you work with what ya got, I guess. 

I took out the pieces and trimmed some of the larger hunks of fat off. 

I used some of my new Bone Suckin' Sauce for these. 

We all know nothing goes better with meat than potatoes, so we decided to smoke some red potatoes too. I sprinkled them the 3 Beer Rub and then with the Bacon Seasoning. 

Through the ribs on Bullet Bill for about an hour and then finished them on the grill. The potatoes needed a little longer to cook, so our first attempt at smoked red potatoes kind of failed ... had to ... sniff sniff ... nuke them.

The potatoes didn't have the crunch with the skin since we had to nuke them, but the rub and smoke was really good on them. The ribs were delicious, and will definitely be done again. I'm thinking next time I'll go a little lower and longer on the smoker and then finish on the grill for a good sear.