Posts Tagged ‘Diva Q Eats’

Parts and Labour .. One night and an incredible feast.

This culinary adventure started out as emails. Lots of emails to food friends all over to ask where should my BBQ BFF andI go out for dinner when she flew in. The rules were simple. It had to be somewhere new. It had to serve meat and it had to be delicious. Without fail each one of my friends lists started with Parts and Labour.  That had to be a good sign.

I made a reservation at one of their chef’s tables in the kitchen. Each of these tables (3) seat 4. Our dinner party participants were Jason Rees , Sid Friedman, Angie Quaale & Myself…. All of us obsessed with BBQ, meat and all things tasty.. We are all experienced home cooks and chefs. More importantly though we all like to eat.

Our dinner excursion for the evening had already had a fantastic start thanks to Scott Vivian and the crew from Beast. So for an hour we let that digest while we sipped some lovely wine at P&L’s rectangular bar, lit by dozens of colourful pot lamps.  Our dinner party assembled and we headed to our table.

Anytime I get to watch chefs and line cooks work their magic with ingredients is a good thing. I would much rather spend any meal in the chefs kitchen than see a play or show. Watching the crew from Parts & Labour was akin to watching a perfectly orchestrated symphony.  Mason jars line the top shelf in the kitchen. All full of in house pickles and creations from their chefs.

Our waiter Daniel took great care of us right from the get go. Ordering up wines and libations we debated on what dishes to start with. Then talking with Chef Matty Matheson we decided on a meal that seemed never ending and was completely absolutely 100% delicious. This is what we ate.

Roasted bone marrow, white bean purée, crostini, truffle salt, herb salad

- I love marrow. This was good.

Decadent French Fries in house mayo. ( Amazing)

Oysters from the East and the West… mignonette sauce.. I think I am in love with these beautiful gems.

Manhattans & Old Fashioned

Headcheese made from pig’s head. Served with Dijon (and at my request plain white vinegar) pickled fennel bulb.

One of my favorites of the evening. I grew up eating head cheese. It was a staple at my Grandma’s house. This was incredible.

Dried Seaweed (Dulse) from New Bruinswick. Chef Matty’s Grandmother had sent him some for his birthday. It was delicious. Reminded me of black potato chip at first then … like a chewy sea scented calamari.  I may need to get some.

Pigs Ear terrine. Pressed pig ears. Now this was chewier than I expected but I really enjoyed it. It was not the tables favorite but I certainly enjoyed the texture. Reminded me of gummy bear pig parts.

Jason is an uber beer guy. He knows more about beer than most and he recommended this beer. Delirium Tremens is a Belgian strong  pale ale.  Lovely to drink.

Grilled ox tongue, dijon, farm salad, shallot sauce

It took everything in me not to lick this plate. It was a resounding favorite from everyone at the table. We all oohed and ahhed at the taste sensations. Dense, delectable and completely incredibly delicious. The meat was so tender and packed with flavor. Chef Matty described how they pack the tongues in and press them. So much work goes in behind the scenes for this dish.

Wild boar Tourtiere with buttered peas.

We were in luck as this was the last one available for the evening. A beautiful bowl of deliciousness. You crack through the buttery flaky pastry to chunks of boar meat, a rich gravy and absolute yumminess.  Such a comforting dish.

Wanting to end the night on a light note we ordered the 20 oz Rib Eye….
Served with monstrous onion rings and a beautiful mash on a massive cutting board. The meat was perfectly cooked, expertly seasoned and the au jus was so good I was tempted to ask for a straw.

Desserts – Lemon & Chocolate Pie
I loved the meringue topping on the chocolate pie but thats about it. I found the lemon bar to be lacking lemon – overly sweet it reminded me of the Shirriff brand of lemon confections. The chocolate pie and crust were not memorable. The only downsides for the night.

Our meal lasted a few hours and in between we had some excellent wine and even some Jalapeño pickles. Throughout the night we put our faith in Chef Matty who fed us well and made recommendations. All of the dishes were very well seasoned. Our entire night was terrific. Our server Daniel did a good job. Our drinks were never empty and our plates were consistently put away efficiently. From the hostess at the front door to the bar to the kitchen we were treated well.

In the kitchen area you are insulated from the loud music around the communal tables. Personally I would never be able to sit at the communal tables on a Saturday night. I really prefer the bustling noise of the kitchen to the throbbing music. Thats one of the things I admire about P&L – they have balanced it out well. The massive space (over 5000 sq ft) that is beautifully decorated- has managed to encompass everything from a night club to a great restaurant. It gives the patron options where to sit and where to go. I will go back to P&L. I believe all of us will gladly – just as long as we get to sit at the Chef’s table and have him feed us.

the Stockyards- .. full of perfect pit beans.

Its no secret I am a huge fan of the Stockyards in Toronto (recently voted Best Barbeque in NOW’s 50 Best Restaurants in Toronto 2010).. I have had multiples of meals there and every one of them has been excellent.  Their porchetta (fennel and garlic scented pork loin, belly,and cracklings served on a baguette,with garlic aioli) with rapini and shards of delicious well seasoned crackling is one of my all time favorites sandwiches. Their buttermilk marinated chicken is perfectly cooked every time  (and always worth the wait!) with each bite a crunchy symphony of flavors (love it with their in house made smoked hot sauce) and their fries are decadently indulgent. My super fly fry girl and the guys manning the flat top and fry stations  kick a$$.  Basically they serve consistently great  food all the time. They have such a dedication to serving excellent food that there is no wonder why the place is always busy and people leave happy & full.

This past weekend I made a return visit. I had to make sure my BBQ BFF Angie Quaale who had flown in for some business got to try their food.  We had the porchetta and the fried chicken ( two of my all time favs) and they were both excellent. We were very happy and along with the meal one of my favorite drinks as well… Black Cherry from Boylan

Tom Davis (owner) likes to play with his food.  Thank God.  This tall lanky guy has all the excitement of a kid at Christmas when he tells me about some new and upcoming menu items -Korean fried chicken sandwich and Viet-Lyon sandwich. (Roasted pork belly, house made pork rillette, daikon, carrot, sriracha mayo) His enthusiasm is infectious and I can’t wait to come back and try them.

In the mean time however I got to try something I had never had before … their Pit Beans.

Now I have eaten a lot of beans from bbq Pits.  I love BBQ beans. I have made gallons of them myself. However I have never  had better beans than at the Stockyards.  Truly I was shocked. I knew they would be good. IT pretty much goes without saying if Tom puts it infront of me I’ll probably like it. However I have never had better at any one of the BBQ joints I have visited all over North America (and that list is getting longer all the time). I personally cannot make beans this good.  I don’t know of anyone who can make beans this good.

What makes these so special?? Well they come to you and they really don’t look like anything exciting. Unassuming  looking bowl of beans. . Truly beans are a simple thing so many places serve them and more often than not they are a disappointing bland side dish. These beans could be a stand alone meal and you would be incredibly satisfied eating beans alone. Now think about that for a second.. How many places have you been where you could say their BBQ beans would be enough. Enough to satisfy your BBQ craving > These do. . Cooked in his homemade charcoal pit these capture the very essence of BBQ.  From the second the aroma starts to fill your nose with its hint of smoke and spice.. you want to dig in.   Let me wax poetic about these beans for a bit..  your first bite happens and you know immediately these are not your average pit beans. These are something truly magnificent. Starting with the texture of the beans themselves…They are not mushy they are not hard they have integrity but they meld in your mouth beautifully coating your tongue with flavor. Then a wonderful thing happens you taste some of the beautiful pulled pork mingled in amongst the beans and it is awesome meaty goodness.  Seconds later the back heat builds and it is a pleasant warmth like a BBQ hug of happiness. .  These beans are amazing. Well seasoned, cooked with care and truly special.

I am so glad to have tried them. I will be back for more soon. They are worth it.

Big Bone BBQ & Wicked Wings -Barrie gets another great BBQ joint !

I was happy to read a while back that Barrie would be getting another BBQ joint. Currently we have one Big Chris BBQ and I already like to eat there so why not another.. Barrie with its ever growing population can always use more BBQ.

Big Bone BBQ & Wicked Wings Barrie opened up just yesterday. Their location at 190 Minet’s Point Road is within a strip plaza facing Young St. It is an interesting location as it is ideally suited for the bedroom community at the South end and central Barrie.

They have awards from various ribfests around the walls and make claim that they have won over 50 BBQ Championships (?!).   The decor is casual and warm with taupe colored table cloths and walls with wood accent partitions.  Each table has ketchup salt & pepper, wet naps and a roll of paper towels but no  (?) BBQ sauce.  It is a nice… but not too nice place to go.   You would be comfortable here in dress pants as well as shorts.  They have achieved a good balance.

When I arrived there was one table of 4 young men all very animated and thoroughly enjoying their meal. It was nice to see people enjoying their food so much.  It was 11:30 am so no wonder that the rest of the dining room was empty.  However within moments many people started coming through the door. The crowd was a mix of businessmen in suits, young teens, families and local staff from area businesses.  They all looked happy to be there.   There was the sweet smell of BBQ throughout the restaurant…. and a terrific selection of Jazz, country, and blues on their sound system.

Lots of options on their menu.

Wanting to try just about everything I ordered the Elvis platter. It  comes with 3 bones, 1/2 lb wings, 1/2lb pulled pork, fries, coleslaw, beans and cornbread for $18.00  I also ask to have sauce on the side and the waitress went and asked if that was possible.  I also asked the super friendly waitress for sweet tea. I should have known that would be confusing.  In Canada no one ever refers to it as sweet tea. We usually order iced tea.  (I miss my US sweet tea! ).  No problem and off she goes to get it.

In the meantime I play with my blackberry but notice a couple of the staff milling about and generally doing everything they can to make people feel comfortable.  The owners of the Newmarket location (Lee & Tim Rombos of the Purple Pig & Memphis BBQ Woodbridge ON, fame) were on hand as well.  Certainly as this is only day 2 it is to be expected. I really hope they continue with their hospitality.

My platter arrives minus the beans. I do not say anything because truthfully I was paying attention to the meat.  It looks good plus instead of 3 bones I get 4. . ….

The ribs and the wings both come without sauce but the pork had already been sauced for the day. The texture of the cornbread is good its not overly sweet or dry. Just a decent slice of cornbread that crumbles properly.  The waitress came with the beans and apologized without being asked.  The coleslaw is creamy, simple and crunchy.  Its a good contrast for the pork which has nice chunks  in addition to the pulled. I got a little bit of bark but not much.  The flavor was good – mild and unoffensive with a hint of smoke. I like the fact the pork was not mushy and it still had definition. I would always prefer to order it naked and I hope that could someday be an option here.  Their sauce is a tangy and sweet tomato based sauce. A typical Canadian BBQ sauce. I am in it for the meat so to me the sauce really doesn’t matter that much.

The ribs had good flavor. Smokey overtones and very mild in seasoning and to me-  the lack of sauce let the taste of the meat come through. The ribs were well cooked. They were not fall off the bone.  They were tender and moist and quite lovely. They were… however… a little thin on the meat side as you can see from the picture and certainly this may be why I received 4 instead of the 3 as stated on the menu.  The owner Mike Miller later told me they are actively looking into obtaining some heavier racks and securing their pork for the upcoming months.

Happy people make better BBQ trust me on this…

Now moving on to the beans. They are forgettable. Seriously. Just forget them if you are looking for Smokey pit BBQ beans. They taste like a can of Heinz beans right off the counter.  To some people that may be terrific and perfectly acceptable but I have higher expectations from a BBQ joint.  They need some oomph. They need some smoke and they need more flavor.  I hope they give them some of the same love & attention they have bestowed upon their wings……..

wing picture from their website (I will admit I was too busy enjoying them to take a picture)

Moving on to the wings… They are really fantastic.  Lots of smoke flavor in little wing packages. To me I hold all wings to the level of Buster Rhinos in Whitby my all time favorite place for bbq wings. These come really close other than being a little on the small side they are terrific. Good things can come in small packages. I love a really good smoked then grilled wing.  The dual cooking technique can elevate a simple chicken wing to heights of absolute  culinary excellence.  They do them really well here and offer 24 toppings for their wings from the traditional flavors to a little more unique like Rasta Jerk and creamy Parmesan.

The kitchen is open to the dining room for all to see.

They use a Cookshack with hickory to cook all of their BBQ.

I had a bit of conversation with the owner Mike Miller about the restaurant and the menu items. He pointed out that I had missed the brisket sandwich completely when I had ordered the Elvis Platter. I just had to order one and I am very happy that I did. They thinly slice all of their brisket and toss it very lightly with their sauce and a bit of additional salt.  While it is not a traditional Texas style brisket it is a really satisfying beefy sandwich that has all the right amounts of spice and sauce.  Its piled high on a perfectly proportioned soft bun. To me meat to bun ratio should always be taken into consideration.  You should never have more bun than meat. Ever. They do it right here and its delicious.

The only real glitch I  observed on my visit (and seriously its only their second day) besides the beans ..is in their layout.  They have a podium at the front of the restaurant for the hostess and the cash station is at the back of the room. Its awkward.  I think they should have combined the hostess station and the cash at the front and be done with it. Certainly it would free up room to put in at least 1 more 4 person table if not 2.  It doesn’t make any sense to have to walk to the back of the restaurant to pay when you are heading out the door. Also for those people waiting on take out they would be standing basically in the dining room right next to the other patrons seated in tables. I really think they need to change that layout.

My bill for the brisket sandwich, the Elvis platter and the iced tea was $33.00 (not including tip).  There was plenty to bring home for my better half. He was happy too. Both of us will be back next time. For sure without a doubt we will be back and I am thankful that Barrie has not just one but two great BBQ joints now.

Congratulations to the owners on their successful opening. It was a delicious afternoon.

Website:http://www.bigbonebbq.ca
Location:
190 Minet’s Point Road
Barrie, ON, L4N 4C3

705-733-2663
Mon – Thurs:11:00 am – 9:00 pm
Fri – Sat:11:00 am – 10:00 pm
Sun:12:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Price Range:$$ (10-30)

Attire:Casual
Payment Options:
Visa
Mastercard
Take – Out and Catering available.

Bad Brads BBQ New Baltimore Michigan

Recently I had occasion to be in Michigan and it provided a great opportunity to check out Bad Brads BBQ in New Baltimore Michigan.

The building is just terrific and I sure wished it was a lot warmer so we could have sat on their incredible back patio. It has a fireplace, a pond and a while lot of appeal !

Everywhere in the restaurant there is a concerted effort to make it interesting warm and appealing. I have to say the decor is just really great. I think its a fine line in BBQ joints. They have done a really fantastic job in this BBQ joint.
From the inlaid wood tables that have a great look to them, to the attractive bar and the wood piles outside they have paid attention to a lot of details.

However with even those great details the show stopper has to be the incredible murals that are a bbq carnivores version of a Picasso or a Rembrandt— pictures of meat cuts on the brick walls and knives painted on the brick facings all over the restaurant. I loved these.


More importantly though I think have paid close attention to the main meats. We ordered a sample platter of sausage, brisket, chicken, cornbread, collard greens, and potato salad served with warm tortillas.

The chicken was really moist and tender and there was a generous amount for the platter. I personally think it needed more oomph (just my preference) but that was easily remedied by using one of the many great sauces that is on every table. I really liked the spicy one. It had great depth and was full of many layers of flavor. All of the sauces were interesting and full of flavor.

The potato salad for me was just fine. Nothing to knock your socks off but nothing bad about it either. Just a really decent potato salad with good texture.

The sausage I have to admit I tried it twice and I did not like it at all. It was the only item that we tried that I really was disappointed about. I have eaten sausages all over the place from Texas to Canada and everywhere in between and these were just not good in my opinion. The texture was too fine and all you could taste was vegetable. You could not taste any pork.  I wasn’t the only one in our party that thought this. We all did. One of my dining partners even pointed out that the sausages tasted like a vegetable mirepoix before you add the bread to make stuffing.   When you expect a pork sausage you should be able to taste the pork. Sadly these were lacking. They looked really good too. Terrific color and they had that really nice snap when you bit into them – Such a shame they coulda been a contender…….

Let me just say this I love collard/turnip greens.  I love it when its done right and the balance of the vinegars and the greens marries. It can be a little bowl of heaven when that happens. These were almost there. The only thing is that I got to crunch (yes crunch) on some tough beans in the collard greens. Ugh. They need to take those beans out or cook them properly and let the greens with the lovely striations of meat weaved through them shine. Pretty simple fix.

Moving on to brisket. It was delicious. It was smoky and tender but not too tender and God bless them they left some of the decadent fat on the brisket slices. I thoroughly enjoyed the brisket slices. They were wonderful. Absolutely a must have for anyone going there.

Additionally a must have would be their cornbread with the whipped BBQ butter. It was glorious and tender and just sweet enough and just crumbly enough and it is probably one of the all time best cornbreads I have ever had. It was like your Grandma had just made it for you out of her 50 year old cast iron pan. I liked it so much I ordered another.  It was that good. Don’t miss out on their cornbread.

I like this restaurant. I liked it a lot- from the stacks of wood outside to the BBQ smells coming from the kitchen.  I like the way the it feels and the food and all of the things that make a good BBQ joint in my opinion this place has. I look forward to going back and having their ribs and pulled pork more brisket and of course their to die for cornbread. Make sure you stop in if you are in the area. Its worth the drive.

Location:
35611 Green St.
New Baltimore, MI, 48047

Phone:
(586) 716.9977

Kitchen Hours:
Mon-Sat / 11am – 10pm
Sun / 12pm – 9pm

Bar Hours:
Mon-Sat / 11am – ???
Sun / 12pm – ???

Catching up my trip to BC

Well I am really behind in my blog posts but I thought I should share a few pictures and results from the Canadian National BBQ Championships in Whistler BC as well as my trip overall.

I flew out earlier this summer to spend some time with my BBQ BFF Angie Quaale teach at her incredible gourmet food store Well Seasoned and while I was there compete.

It was a culinary indulgent trip for sure. BC is where my Mom was born and I have not been since I was just a few months old.  The first thing I said after getting off the plane was holy crap those mountains are huge.

*Please note this picture was taken by Ralph Maughan

You see no picture does them justice to get their magnitude and their impressive size and beauty. Gorgeous breathtaking and majestic don’t seem t do them any justice as an adequate description.

Also I have to state the people of BC are seriously laid back. They take their relaxation very seriously.  Shortly after getting off the plane we headed to Granville Island. Now this was an incredible place to spend the day just hanging out eating some of their delicious local fare and well of course having a few cocktails.

Wandering around the streets of Vancouver afterwards with my hosts Dennis and Angie was a whole lot of fun. There is so much to look at and see taste and experience that it is a bit of sensory overload.

After spending the day being tourists we proceeded to the beach at English Bay for the evening to watch one of the most incredible fireworks displays at the Symphony of Fire from Team Spain. We had a very long extended and relaxing meal with a whole lot of cocktails.

Here is part one of some video from the event.

It was an incredible way to end my very first day in BC.

The next day was all about relaxing kicking back and just getting caught up.

We also headed out for some great food. super yummy.

To top it off we went to a comedy club contest. This was held in a not so savory part of the city and was an adventure in itself. Some of the comedy was so horrible it was funny. The highlight was a friend of Angies – Art Factora who was funny, truly funny and kept us laughing long after he came off stage. they also served PBR a favorite beer of mine.

I also held a couple of recreational BBQ classes while I was there. I taught a class on ribs and also a class on BBQ desserts. Well Seasoned has had chefs from across the world come and teach at the store everyone from top TV Chefs to local favorites. Their course calendar is packed to the hilt with culinary excellence and opportunities to learn.

On another day we headed out to lunch with Anthony Sedlak famed Chef and star of the MAIN on the Food Network. Funny guy who likes to stand on his head. A lot. He was great company to have lunch with and I am really looking forward to seeing his various projects come to fruition. We tried a new burger place Romer’s Burger Bar and by the descriptions on the menu I was really looking forward to my burger. Sadly the burgers lacked in taste texture and overall appearance but the company I had more than made up for the poor meal.

One of the all time best meals I actually had during my stay was in Angies and Dennis’ backyard. we had a truly divinly decadently delicious halibut that Angie crusted with Salt & Vinegar potato chips. It was incredible. Dennis had caught the halibut himself. Paired with some fresh veggies, salads and a couple of bottles of wine this was by far my favorite meal from the entire vacation.

We also did girly things like get  pedicure and one other thing I never ever thought I would do … we got tattoos. Yup. Tattoos. You see I have been calling Angie and I and a few other ladies of BBQ sisters in Smoke. Angie one day called me a said in her ever so exuberant voice you know we should get tattoos when you come to BC….. and so we did.  She got hers on her leg and I got mine on my wrist. I won’t kid you it hurt like heck at first but the pain went away and I am so happy I did it. There are a few other ladies now that have plans to get the same tattoo as well and thats going to be pretty awesome.

We had to prep and get supplies for the competition in Whistler so we ended up doing some shopping and of course did a little trip to Washington as well.  One of the great things about BC is the availability of incredible produce and meats everywhere you go.

I have to go into more detail about one of the places at the Granville market.

Oh My goodness this place is an amazing culinary feast. We went back to Granville to stock up on munchies for Whistler. This is where I fell in love with an incredible charcuterie place called Oyama Sausage Company.


They make everything themselves. Pate’s, hams sausages terrines salamis cured smoked meats you name it they have it and its all delicious. I want to go back and try every single thing they make. Everything.

Big Chris BBQ Smokehouse-another visit

I made a repeat visit back to Big Chris today. I had not planned on it but as I was over in that area of Barrie it was convenient. Good food is always worth it.

Today I tried their shaved roast beef. A while back I posted their beans well to put it bluntly -sucked royally. Since then however I have great news – they are really great now. Completely terrific. Texture flavor and all aspects are just super yummy now.

This time I stayed and ate with my 4 year old son.

This is how they serve their in house diners. It was a very generous portion of lovely smoked shaved roast beef (you can opt for their horseradish mayo) great french fries, side of crunchy coleslaw and the new and uber improved beans. It was plenty for both of us. Kudos to them for improving their products and reacting to customers. I have no doubt Ill be back and I would suggest anyone who appreciates good bbq goes.

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