Friday, January 23, 2015

I Love Bacon, but apparently "America Loves Bacon" too

The America Loves Bacon tour is making 3 stops this year, and one just happens to be in my home state. A look at the calendar tells me this is on a Saturday, its just outside of Williams-Brice Stadium, and the Gamecocks Baseball team has a home conference game all on the same day. Mostly importantly, it tells me ... I'll be there.

A day full of bacon and Baseball. What more could one ask for?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Early Christmas Present

I guess it's a little late to have a post about an early Christmas present, but, oh well.

One of our traditions is to do New York Strips on Christmas Eve. We'll usual go splurge a little and go for the grass fed, fancy strips. This year Dawn surprised me, and ordered us some Omaha Steaks New York Strips and Filet Mignons.

Once the strips thawed (I usually say de-thawed just to drive Dawn crazy haha), I added some woreshishire, vinegar, and Big Poppa's Steak Rub.

"Hey daddy, are you cooking my dinner?"

I'm a hot and fast kind of guy when it comes to grilling. I love the grill marks, and the flavor the char gives to the meat.

We used the Filets for beef wellingtons but didn't get any pictures. Sorry, but they didn't last long enough for pictures.

I realize Omaha Steaks aren't always the cheapest, and you have pay the shipping, but if you have a special occasion that you want to do steaks for, you won't find any better than Omaha Steaks.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Movie Review: American Sniper

The movie American Sniper is based on the book of the same name. The story is about Chris Kyle, who is credited with the most sniper kills in US military history, 160. I first learned about this story when Dawn got me the audio book 4 years ago, and have been a huge Chris Kyle fan ever since. I mean, how could you not love and respect a man that did his job as great as Chris did? To serve, protect, but most importantly, save American lives.

We've just gotten home from seeing the movie, and all I can say is that I love that man even more than I thought I did before. I'm sitting here writing this post in my "The Legend" shirt, because of Chris and men like him.

I'm a firm believer that, while most of us are put on this Earth to make it go 'round, some are put here for a specific reason. I believe that although America may be turning its back on God, that God put Chris Kyle on this Earth to save American lives.

If you go to see this movie wanting to watch a high-octane, 100 miles per hour, non-stop action packed war movie, you're going to be let down. This is a movie about Chris Kyle's story, not just his tours overseas. Now, don't get me wrong, there is plenty of action in this movie and it will keep you on the edge of your seat, but just know this is about the full story, not just a few months/years.

I was listening to the radio on Thursday and heard the DJ say "American Sniper was nominated for Best Picture of the Year, but it doesn't even come out till tomorrow. How can a movie be the best movie of the year before it even comes out?" Well, the reason it can be the best movie of the year before it comes out, is because it's the best movie of the year. There's going to be movies with more "better" action scenes. There's going to be movies with more "better" love stories. There's going to be movies with with "better" drama plots. There won't be any better complete movies than American Sniper this year. Clint Eastwood directed this movie, perfectly. Bradley Cooper played this character, perfectly. It says something when the wife of Chris Kyle and his friends all see the movie and say that there were times that they got wrapped up in the movie and forgot that it wasn't really Chris.

If you've read/listened to the book and/or followed Chris' story, then you have a pretty good idea of how the movie will go. The ending is a tough one, but beautifully done.

When you go see this movie (because you will, or better), be prepared for the ending. If you've never walked out of a theater in absolute silence, and everyone around you in absolute silence (minus the sound of sniffling noses), then you're about to have a new experience in your life.

If I could do 10 pigs, I would. We will buy this movie with the million hours of bonus footage when it comes out, and I can't wait to watch every last second of it.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Movie Review: The Interview

North Korea, this is America. We're a free country that can view any movie we want ... even if we scratch our heads afterwards asking what we just watched.

Moral of the story, Seth Rogan and James Franco needed some money so they made this movie. In reality, it wasn't that bad, but if I wasn't a couple of drinks into the night I feel like my opinion would be a little different.

Thanks to Jim Carey, we're now stuck with the Stupid Comedy genre of movies. They're either epic hits (Dumb and Dumber) or they're epic fails (pretty much anything he's done the past 10 years). The Interview has it's moments, but even then they drag the jokes out past the funny time. Ok, I get it, he has to shove a big huge contraption in his butt, ha-ha.

Now that I think about it, I'm not sure if I'm even mad at North Korea. We watched it on Amazon Prime for $5, but if we had to go to the theater to see this, we would have spent over $20 to see it.

It's worth a cheap lazy laugh ... just don't forget the alcohol.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Movie Review: Taken 3

I'm not movie snob, I can see the same movie with a little twist for the third time, and still enjoy it. For some, they'll say "Liam Neeson blows stuff up and saves the day, same ol, same ol." But for me, it's about the story line.

When you think you know what's going on, they throw in a little twist to keep you off the trail. Then, out of nowhere, it hits ... and you have the "aahhhhh" moment when it all starts to make sense.

I do have to say that I wasn't a big fan of the ending. It felt almost as if they writers were tired of writing and said "ok, we're done."

With that said, the story line and twists were enough to check it out. It won't win any "Best Movie of the Year" awards, but it's a good date night.

After hearing his comments this past week in-regards to "too many guns in the America." I would have not seen this in the theaters, and waited to rent it. I have a problem with people preaching gun control propaganda, and then using guns to earn millions through Hollywood.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Review: Queology, Charleston, SC

Our last day in town we did some shopping (mostly just walking) along Market St. The plan was, we'll do some shopping and once we get hungry, we'll just step over to Pizzeria Di Giovanni and grab lunch. The night before, we met some friends out at Mad River for drinks and noticed Queology next door. As many times as we've been to Charleston we've never noticed it. We turned up the street on our way to Pizzeria Di Giovanni, and passed Queology again, but this time they were open with smoke and delicious smells pouring into the not so delicious smelling Market St air (if you've ever been to Market St you know the smell I'm talking about). At that moment we had a decision. Do we go have some of the greatest pizza on Earth, or do we try out this BBQ restaurant that is advertising a half rack of Ribs as their Special of The Day?

We decided to give it a shot. They advertise their success in the BBQ Competition circuit, so it couldn't be bad.

One of my biggest complaints with a BBQ restaurant is waiting. The food takes hours and hours to cook, so all of that is done before I walk in. We, and at least 4 other tables, waited 20 minutes for our food. Now, that's not a long time to wait in a restaurant usually, but again, this is lunch and the food is already cooked, there shouldn't be much to do other than throwing it on a plate. We noticed that there was apparently just ONE person working (in slow motion) in the "kitchen". At no point did our waiter even come by to say "your food will be out shortly." Actually, our waiter never came over to our table until the food finally did come out.

Dawn went for the pulled pork plate and potato salad, while I did the half rack special with baked beans and chips.

The pulled pork had a good traditional smoke flavor (I think it was hickory), but tasted as if that was it. I'm ok with that, but you expect all kinds of flavor to hit you in the mouth from a competition team BBQ joint. Once she added the sauce, she really like it. The potato salad was good too, she said.

Dawn told me while we were eating that she's banning me from ordering ribs at the next BBQ restaurant we try out. These were very tough to eat. I don't know if they were under cooked or had been sitting out a while (not removing the membrane didn't help either). The rub that they use was amazing. It had some spices and flavors I don't think I've ever had on ribs before. The flavor between the rub and the sauce, was really good on these ribs, but they were so tough, I threw BBQ sauce all over the table every time I had to pull a bone apart. The baked beans, I think, are self explanatory from the picture. They tasted like your basic run of the mill canned baked beans, and were extremely watered down. The flavor on the ribs were good, but the best part of my lunch was the bag of chips.

Once we finished, we were both ready to finish the day of shopping and had actually decided to head home after dinner, so we could get home and not have to waste Sunday by having to drive home. Well, that was stalled because we had to wait close to 10 minutes (during proof reading, Dawn said it was "at least 15 minutes) for the waiter to come back and even bring us our check.

Dawn liked her food, but all the waiting ruined it for her ... and my food surely didn't bring it back up. Once we left, we passed Pizzeria Di Giovanni and all I could do was think how delicious it could have been.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Top 10 Restaurants of 2014

Everyone seems to have their Top (insert number) (insert subject) of (insert year) these days, so I figured, lets jump on that bandwagon and start my own. Here is my Top 10 Restaurants that we ate at in 2014.

10. Gary's Barbecue - China Grove, NC

A traditional BBQ joint. The pork was cook perfectly, and the sauce topped it off just how real BBQ should be.

9. Virgil's Real Barbecue - Atlantis, Bahamas

For a tourist destination BBQ restaurant, I was blown away with how good their food actually was.

8. Yard House - Greenville, SC

We went in for the beer, and left craving their food (the s'mores brownie mostly) more.

7. City Smoke - Charlotte, NC

I can't call it BBQ, because I didn't see a single smoke ring on anything, but the food was still really good. Make sure to ask for the Scooby Snacks.

6. Red Bone Alley - Florence, SC

One of the best "random finds" we've ever stumbled upon, but won't be the last time we venture to this indoor-outside style restaurant.

5. Another Broken Egg Cafe - Charleston, SC

I always say, "It's hard to mess up breakfast, but when it's good, it's good." I can't wait for Greenville's Another Broken Egg Cafe to open up.

4. Thumbs Up Diner - Atlanta, GA

See above, but lets talk Hot-lanta. If you spend the night, don't go to Wa-Ho (Waffle House) that you can find ... literally ... ok not LITERALLY ... on every single corner. Take a little drive to Thumbs Up Diner and get a real breakfast.

3. The Smoking Pig - Pendleton, SC

One of the best BBQ joints in the Upstate. I just hate that we have to travel to my most hated place on Earth to eat their. Maybe they'll deliver ... an hour away.

2. MESA - Atlantis, Bahamas

Top 5 New York Strip ... 'nuff said.

1. Memphis Barbecue Co. - Dunwoody, GA 

Lifetime supply of pork rinds for $4 (I feel like I could stop there), pork rinds for your appetizer basket, delicious cornbread, amazing mac & cheese and baked beans, mouth watering pulled pork, brisket that will knock your socks off, and PERFECTLY COOKED deliciously amazing ribs. Stop looking at my blog and plan your trip to Dunwoody, GA now (ok, don't stop looking, I like the hits).

Happy New Year everyone. I will never be able to say it enough ... THANK YOU for taking the time to check out my site.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly Of Atlantis in Bahamas

Before I begin, allow me to go ahead and say that our opinion and views for travel destinations have a very high bar to reach for. If I had to name a best, I think I'd say that our Honeymoon at Sandals in Negril, Jamaica is #1, and everything about it was absolutely amazing. Maybe it was the loooooove in the air, or maybe it was just that they spoiled us and no other resort has been able to come close. Ok, lets go.

A few years back the wifey's (girlfriend at the time) company went on a company cruise to the Bahamas. For the staff, it was a few half-days of meetings. For the "plus ones", it was a free vacation.  
This year, they decided to do another company trip to the Bahamas, but this time it was just a straight flight. Apparently "some" got sick the whole time and weren't able to be a part of the meetings on the cruise. We flew from GSP (Greenville-Spartanburg, SC) to Atlanta and from there, flew over to the Bahamas. Knowing we had a 2 hour layover in Atlanta, and nearly 3 hours in an airplane between the flights, we came prepared ...

Once we landed, I was able to let my hair down and enjoy a free long-weekend vacation in the Bahamas. Now, Dawn didn't really have to "work" the whole time, but given her job role, she did have to spend a lot of time setting up the meetings and coordinating plans with restaurants and other events for the visiting staff.

Although the trip was free for us, it was very disappointing to see how much they nickle and dime their guests. You can go to a $49 a night motel and get a free gym to work out in, but not at the Atlantis. That will cost you $15 a day. You can stay at a sleazy Inn and get free WiFi, but not at Atlantis. That's another $25 a day. You may expect to tip at any other non all-inclusive resort, but at Atlantis, your tip is added onto every bill you're given. Oh, you're at the convenience store and just want to buy a pack of gum? That's fine, you're going to tip for that too. Maybe it's just us, but we just weren't fans of how there was an extra charge for every amenity around every corner ... oh yeah, and you paid a tip on it.

We had a great room looking out over the resorts pools ... although from our room we mostly got tree tops, which I'm still ok with looking at Palm trees all over.

Of course, I was forced to take the selfie.
(Go Cocks, 2010 Baseball National Champs hat)

There was a little sea-side stand called "Brats and Balls" that we tried one day. I got the Spicy Jalapeno Brat with Mozzarella. I order and was told "We don't have any Mozzarella, what else do you want on top?" They had a few other cheeses on the menu, but from the look of their ingredients in the table at 11:45, I wasn't getting any.

Dawn ordered the 3 Meatball Sliders ... it ended up being a 3 meatball sub.

As you could clearly see from the photos, the brat and balls were dry as the beach sand.

We were checking out the restaurant listing and noticed a place called MESA that serves South Western food. Wait, what does that say? Hhhmmm, apparently MESA is a Bobby Flay restaurant ... yes please.

With our group room purchase, we were given a discount card for a couple of freebies at different places. At MESA, you get 2 free margaritas, and we did, and they were gooood.

It didn't take long for me to find what I was going to eat. A quick scan of the menu and my eyes fell upon the words "New York Strip" ... SOLD! We chose to do 1 side each, so I went with the roasted corn.

Dawn got the Pork Tenderloin and double-baked potato. For $9.50 a side, the corn was a nice portion, but the double-baked potato was a bit skimpy.

Don't mind the previous horrible picture (I'm not a fan of being "that guy" that takes pictures of his food in restaurants before he eats ... it kind of makes me feel like a weirdo). Here's a picture to do the steak a little more justice. Either way, nothing could show how delicious this really was. It doesn't beat the Omaha Steakhouse's New York Strip, but this would definitely rank in the top 5 greatest NY strips ever.

I went to the rest room and when I returned the waiter was bringing Dawn a wine glass. He then goes to the table beside us, picks up there bottle of wine, and brings it to our table to pour Dawn a glass. While I'm sitting there confused, the old (um, older??) ladies at that table lean over and say that they ordered the bottle before they realized how full they were and didn't want it to go to waste. Out of the entire bottle, they had only drank 1 restaurant poor glass. That means, Dawn had more than 75% of this bottle to herself to drink at dinner. If you can't keep up here, I'll spell it out. Nearly an entire bottle of wine on top of a margarita in about a 30-45 minute time span equals ... drunkie wifey. I've been informed that this is my limit on the story that I'm allowed to state before my life is in jeopardy.

I'm a firm believer of the old saying "When in Rome ...", so I always like to sample the local beers when we're on vacation. One of the other husbands told me about one of the local beers that he really liked called Bush Crack. We went shopping and had lunch at Senior Frogs, so I decided to give it a try. When they brought the can out, I fell in love. Not only was the name close to my nickname, Cack (I mean, it's only 1 letter away, right?), but most importantly, it had a Gamecock on it. Oh, the beer was delicious too. Definitely wouldn't mind getting some more of that.

Yes, we had food too. Surprise, I ordered the bacon cheeseburger.

Dawn, a day removed from the story above ... ordered some tacos, that she doesn't even remember what they were, and only ate one and part of another ... yeah.

One of the best parts about Atlantis is the bay with not very cheap yachts to make you feel a little smaller in life.

For dinner, we tried out the Marina Pizza. The pizza was really good, but 4 slices, a beer, and 2 waters put "us" back $44. Although it was good, it wasn't THAT good.

On one of our walks we saw this little guy, so he got a picture and a post.

For dinner on the last night, the whole group went to Virgil's Real Barbecue. The first night we all had dinner at Carmine's Italian Restaurant and one of the new employees that has Italian heritage picked the family style meals for everyone. Once we decided on dinner at the BBQ joint, it was stated that I would be the most educated to make those decisions.

We got there before everyone else to enjoy our free drinks (remember the discount cards). As we approached the bar I noticed the saddles and knew where I'd be sitting.

Once we sat down at the table, I saw their neat place mat. I looked at South Carolina to see who they were highlighting for our state, and low and behold it was none other than Scott's BBQ in Hemingway.

For apps we ordered the hush puppies and trash ribs.

They also brought out some delicious cheddar rolls.

For dinner yours truly selected the pulled pork, barbecue chicken,

Memphis Style Spare Ribs,

and Texas Beef Brisket.

To go with it, we got the Mac & Cheese,

and Mashed Potatoes & Gravy.

I have to admit, I was a bit skeptic about how "real" this barbecue would be, but other than the pulled pork (which was horrible), everything was really, REALLY good.

Brats and Balls/Every other food stand