Posts Tagged ‘Memphis’

Waking up in Memphis.

Well we woke up in Memphis this morning. Thankfully without a hangover from last night.

Yesterday we started driving from Barrie Ontario Canada and we pulled up here in Memphis about 25 hours after we started. Now its only a couple more hours till we get to Little Rock Arkansas.

Yesterday being St. Patrick’s Day it was fun to see the festivities at Silky O’ Sullivan’s on Beale St. It was a lot of fun to watch the festivities.Then we headed back to Pig On Beale. Still terrific food, fun staff, and great atmosphere.  If you go to Memphis make sure you go eat there.

My husband really wanted some Memphis BBQ since he didn’t come on the trip last month. I was craving a steak. Had to cave to his request. Really it wasn’t much of a cave. Vlad is one of the most incredible people on the planet. He goes out of his way to do everything he can to support my BBQ habit/obsession/career.  He really enjoyed his BBQ feast. Plus he had enough leftovers to do at least 2 more meals today LOL.

One of the highlights of this trip besides seeing everyone will be seeing  My Sister in Smoke Angie Quaale.  She is flying in today from BC to hang with us this weekend. That is awesome. So happy she is coming. Last year my friend Tim Brown from Can’t Stop Grilling came with us. His team is the only other Canadian team that will be in Little Rock this year. I plan on doing everything I can to beat him.

So we are off to do the final leg of our journey to compete in Little Rock Arkansas. There are 225 teams that are competing for $100,000.00 in prizes. I sure hope the Olympic Own the Podium program applies to Competitive BBQ’ers as well. I believe. LOL I can barely type that without cracking up. OK in reality I believe that I will do my best. I believe that- if I can- out of this entire trip – be proud of my turn in boxes, and get a call that would be cool. But I can dream. Hell yeah. I can dream.

2010 NBBQA Award of Excellence Winners

The NBBQA has published the list of their recent Awards of Excellence Award winners at the National BBQ Association Conference in Memphis this past Feb4, 2010
Congratulations to all the winners!!

Why I now HATE Air Canada’s Customer Service

So we all have our travelling nightmare stories. So I thought I would let you all know why I now HATE Air Canada “customer service.”

It started out with my trip home from Memphis. The plane I was taking (United) was broken and we got delayed a few hours. That meant I would miss my original Air Canada flight.  So off to the service desk where I was put on a later flight to get back to Canada.

 

No problem right>> I mean really a few extra hours in the airports isn’t so bad.No I really enjoyed sitting on the floor next to one of the few outlets that work in Chicago. Honestly though I met a great guy named Tim who made me laugh at it all. He and I sat on the floor sharing this outlet and made the best of it.

 

 

So I finally got back to Canada only to find that my bag was still in Chicago. No problem right>?? Went to another service desk was assured that my bag would be on the next flight. (*Seriously are you kidding me???) So two days later I get a call from Air Canada. They have found my bag and will deliver it by courier. Now for two days I have not had my boots or my winter coat or any toiletries but I was happy nonetheless since I was at least going to get them back and all of the BBQ stuff I had purchased.

 

Right…WTFlip was I thinking.

 

No I got my bag – yes I did. Thanks to those lovely people at Air Canada I got my bag back smashed. So smashed in fact that one wheel is in multiples of pieces and the other is rammed up so hard it doesn’t moved. On top of the lovely cuts into the bag and the fact it looks like it was run over by the plane itself. GREAT. Just GREAT. So I look through the bag and I am missing a boot and my toiletries and a few other things. Great just great.

 

 

So I do what everyone else would do in this situation. I call Air Canada. What I should have done was take some prozak and a few shots of tequila and called it a day.  But no I called Air Canadas Delayed & Damaged Customer Service number. Well they answered the phone at least. I thought I had the wrong number to be honest. Since the people answering the phone are in India. YES India. Now I am sure they are lovely people and all but they should at least be able to speak ENGLISH when you call.

 

I know I am asking a lot. A Canadian Company that has their customer service in INDIA> cause that makes a WHOLE lotta SENSE. Huh. So I can’t understand her and she can’t understand me. That makes a LOT of sense Air Canada. So she tells me a number it took multiples of times to get it clearly. I am beyond frustrated. I go to their website. you would think somewhere there I could find the golden ticket. The place where I could talk to a real person. A real live English speaking person.

 

No I am not angry at all by this point I mean I have only wasted an hour or so. Then I finally find on their website a number to call. Once again it gives options to book tickets and other pre recording robotic answering crap. So I start a search on the net. God bless Google. I love Google. I find another number that warns you will have to press zero three times before you can get to the person. Yes because making it easy to talk to a person in customer service is such an accomplishment from Air Canada.

 

So I get through. Its a miracle. Well I only had to wait for 41 minutes. Thats all. I mean heck I din’t need those 41 minutes or that hour. Its not like I have laundry to do children to talk with blogs to write recipes to work through.

 

 

But wait. It gets better. After finally getting through to a person they disconnect. Are you flipping kidding me.?????? So I call back and once again I am on hold. This time for 20 minutes ad I give up. I give up because my kids needed me more than I needed to yell at Air Canada.

 

So Air Canada this is my open letter to you. You suck. Big time. I hope all of your customers go to West Jet. I know I will be.

My Memphis experience…..

**Picture Courtesy of 4 Legs up BBQ

I have had the Memphis BBQ experience I was looking for. The NBBQA conference is done for another year but those memories will certainly last a long time. In 4 days I ate lived and breathed BBQ with a few hundred other enthusiasts. However there was a core group of us again that went out on our own to seek out those unique Q & food experiences that are best experienced within a smaller group of friends.

Our group Dave from Sweet baby Rays, Rays Nephew Duce Raymond , Ron Nunes BBQ Organizer,   Kelly & Roni from 4 Legs Up, Chris Jones from Colins Creek Barbecue, Joey McManus from Joey Mac’s Smoke Stax, Tim Clendenning from Windy City Smokers, Woody Steve Wasson & Brenda Grubb from Woody’s Smoke Shack  all set out to experience some authentic Memphis Q and food.  I felt once again blessed to be with such great people.

Cozy Corner

We set out to a place I have been waiting to eat at since I read about it in Peace Love & BBQ – Cozy Corner.   It’s in a less savoury part of Memphis where the  windows of derelict buildings are smashed out everywhere, a bit of desperation has set itself on the people and the poverty is overwhelming.  However when you pull up to this battered restaurant- you are greeted with nothing but pure Love & Sunshine by the owner Desiree.   This woman is a true light within this downtrodden area.  She puts her beliefs  in God on Display throughout the restaurant from the bibles next to the register and the menu board which proclaims they would not accept any tips and thanks God.

When I spoke with her she was warm and lovely readily giving anyone and everyone that walked through the doors a hug a word of encouragement and true sincere expressions of care and concern.  The restaurant itself was a relic in itself. The stained blue Berber carpet, missing ceiling tiles and flimsy wall panelling really does the place no justice.  However you don’t need decor to have great BBQ. I have seen this time and time again. Cozy Corner is one of those places.

**Photo courtesy of 4 Legs Up BBQ

We decided as we usually have in the past to get one of everything on the menu.  This is really easy when you are traveling with a pack of 11.  When we received the tray I was shocked to see the huge amounts of sauce on the Cornish hen, the ribs and the pork in addition to the smoked bologna sandwich.  I am not a big fan of sauce and this looked as coated as an oil slick.

Photo courtesy of 4 Legs Up BBQ

Everything at this place was wonderful. The hen was tender sweet tangy and spicy- I savoured the tiny little drum stick I had then the breast meat – intensely flavoured and spicier than the rest. My rib was perfectly cooked coming off the bone with just an easy tug of teeth once again surprisingly not overwhelmed by the sauce. The bologna cut into almost an inch thick slab was a throwback to my childhood. It was layered with sauce and coleslaw on a typical hamburger bun. It was awesome. The coleslaw and sauce really added to the overall flavour of the bologna sandwich.  I could imagine coming here with my children just for that Sammie alone.

Photo courtesy of 4 Legs Up BBQ

Everyone that serves you or interacts with you in this iconic place-smiles. They thank you profusely. It is a wonderful experience to feel appreciated. They get it here. You can certainly understand why they are still there. It is perfect with all of its “imperfections”  Most of all what makes it perfect is the combination of Desiree’s continuance of this wonderful BBQ joint and the warm fuzzy feeling you leave with  it.


Rendezvous

We stopped at Rendezvous in the downtown core as well. It’s down an alley way near the Peabody in the same location it has been in for -well forever it seems. In 1948, Charlie Vergos cleaned out a basement below his diner, discovered a coal chute, and started a legend.  Charlie’s kids run things now, and their kids are coming along, and their kids will follow.

The alley is full of dumpsters, trash and the smell of charcoal. Seedy would be one way to describe it. However as you stand there you see people from all walks of life heading into Rendezvous:  Ladies dressed to the nines with their Manolo Blahnik boots and Louis Vuitton purses, men in their sharp Ralph Lauren suits  and Brooks Brothers, everyday people in their Nikes and hoodies attire all carefully treading around the dumpsters to get to this place.  Not only people walking in but there is a constant flurry of vehicles driving up and dropping people off.

Now imagine yourself walking into an antique store jumbled full of treasures and timeless classics, full glass showcases containing lots of kitschy fun stuff. The floor is mottled and cracked there are people everywhere sitting at tables eating BBQ. Then take a walk to one of their antiquated back rooms full of signs and pictures from all over the world and you know you have arrived at Rendezvous.

Our party once again tried everything we could possibly partake in on the menu while still allowing us to remain upright without going into a protein coma.  We ordered a sample platter of all of their meats plus a couple of sides. However before I go into more detail on this I will have to tell you about my most favorite part about Rendezvous and that would be our server. To call him a server seems a bit of a disservice he is a Legend here at Rendezvous himself. Big Jack Dyson is a flurry of Southern comebacks and full on court press hospitality. He will have you laughing and feeling comfy in an instant. He has been at Rendezvous since 1969.  They don’t have a lot of staff turnover issues at Rendezvous.

Photo courtesy of 4 Legs Up BBQ

Big Jack brought us out some of their gumbo to try on the house. It was an interesting medley of flavours for sure. He also brought us some lamb ribs that were gamier than most I have tried. These were not what I was used to but it was just fine. The food overall at Rendezvous is not something I would go back for to be honest. I didn’t like their ribs or the pulled pork at all.  I was really looking forward to some dry ribs but these were not it. They were just not my thing. I don’t think many in our party liked them at all.  I don’t think you go to Rendezvous for the food. You go for the experience. I would go again for the experience. It should not be missed. The ambiance and the cold beer were a great combo. However next time I think I would just stick with their ham & cheese plate.

Pig on Beale-Pork with an Attitude


From their website:

With the 1950s decor of checkerboard floors, formica tables and vintage movie posters mixes with live rockabilly, honky tonk or bluegrass music, a down-home happenin’ hoopla should come as no surprise. The Pig on Beale’s jukebox could easily be the best on Beale Street, with an eclectic mix of Memphis

music like the older Furry Lewis and Elvis to the Delta Blues of the Eric Hughes Band. The bar hosts live Blues and Americana music Thursday through Sunday from area Americana bands.

What they don’t tell you on their homepage (they do in the about section though) is that their food rocks. I mean rocks out like being at the best concert of your life with the love of your life.. For me sharing their food with some incredibly dear BBQ people was an event I will cherish.

The food is top notch. Once again I have found competition quality BBQ at a restaurant. There are only 3 BBQ joints (Pig on Beale, Bub-Ba-Q, Q Restaurant) I have been to that I would be happy to serve their food in a turn in box and be proud to call it my own. From the creaminess of their potato salad to the wickedly good onion rings to the hickory kissed ribs and pulled pork perfection, great wings and the tender chicken the Beale Street BBQ super feast is awesome.  Even that description doesn’t seem good enough to me.

What impressed me even more is that we were there during the down times. Not even close to lunch or dinner but right in between. Having top quality food at an off time is impressive. It was quiet when we were there with only 1 or 2 other patrons. They have most obviously taken great care to ensure what they serve is their very best at all times. Our server was great too. Very polite to all of us making sure we were well attended to.

Later on at the convention I ran into John the owner. Now John stands heads above me and he is a solid young man. Think the Stone Cold Steve Austin version of BBQ and you have a good picture of what he looks like. John actually owns both Pig on Beale and natural Born Grillers. They compete as well. Actually they win a LOT too with many of their impressive trophies in the windows of Pig On Beale. Their website lists their many competition accolades.  I was sorry we didn’t have the time to make it out to their Southaven location.

My advice to anyone would be that going to Memphis and not eating BBQ at Pig on Beale would be akin to missing your first Anniversary, your kids birth or your own wedding – it’s just something that should never ever be missed.  It was that good.

Gus’s Fried Chicken


Now off to another joint we went just down a few blocks and around a corner. This was the second time in three days that I had eaten there. That should pretty much tell you something right there. I had extolled the virtues of Gus’s fried chicken to our group and we all decided to give it a go.

We had the deep fried pickled fried green tomatoes and a whole lotta chicken and fries. Once again it did not disappoint.  Lip smacking finger licking can I get another piece even if I have just eaten at 3 other BBQQ joints chicken kind of food. I think to tell an outstanding place from a good one it is just this when you are so stuffed you can barely move but all you want to do is eat more you know you are in a place of greatness. I think that applies to both BBQ and chicken.

Jim Neely’s Interstate BBQ


On the day I was leaving my friends Chris Jones and Tim Clendenning all headed to the airport together.  As we wandered around waiting for our flight we decided to have breakfast. Well of course that would mean having more BBQ. You just can’t ever get enough. So we headed to Jim Neely’s Interstate Bar-B-Que.  This was about 830am.

Gotta love Memphis where you can get BBQ at any time of the day or night. We ordered up BBQ Nachos, Pulled pork and BBQ Bologna. It was all great. Just really good decent BBQ that had good flavour, good texture, and nice sauce. The BBQ Bologna had a great char on it as well that was yummy.

The Pulled Pork Sammie had to have at least a ½ lb of pork on it. Extremely generous. We did also get the BBQ spaghetti I will say this it’s not my thing. Just no. Just not going to ever order BBQ spaghetti again. Overall the food was really good. We even got to talk with Harold Neely. He wanted to pick up our check but Chris had already paid. Good people to talk with for sure. If you are in the Memphis airport stop by and eat. You will not be disappointed.

Well I could go on and tell you some really juicy stories about Myron ”Damn” Mixon, or some of the other folks fables and tall tales or even my own new associations with some fine folks but I think I will take a lot of those stores and keep them to myself. While in Memphis I walked by a poster and it said this: What happens in Vegas started in Memphis.   I tend to agree with this sentiment. For the days I was there I was educated, libated and satiated with BBQ and food. We will leave it at that.

However as I end this rather long winded (and really if you have read the blog at any time you will know I tend to be a wee bit long winded) I have to tell you a story about our trip to Gus’s and this goes towards the kindness and the type of people I am real proud to associate with. As we were walking in Memphis within our tight knit little group a homeless man approached my friends and asked for money. He ended up being invited to eat with us. None of us would ever like to see anyone go hungry. None of us would have wanted for this man to go without something to eat. So we had our meal with this man who was quite articulate and certainly added a deeper meaning to our meal. That is the breaking of bread with your fellow man is always a good thing. That we should always look out for each other.   That we should take care of each other.  That food whether it be BBQ in Memphis a hot dog in New York  or even poutine in Toronto has the capacity to bring us all together.  That is my Memphis story.

** A note of thanks to Kelly & Roni Wertz from 4 Legs up BBQ for some of the excellent pictures of the Memphis adventure.

NBBQA Conference BBQ Bus tour

We had a fun time going to a few restaurants here in Memphis and area.

The places we went were Germantown  Commissary, Central BBQ, Whole Hog Cafe, Old School Bar-B-Q

Each of the restaurants had some decent food however overall I would have to recommend the Germantown Commissary as my favorite hands down. They also had some of the very best pies I have ever eaten. If you are in the area make sure you stop in.

Today I am off to another bunch of BBQ restaurants. I am really looking forward to them!!

Day 1 Travelling to Memphis with Mr. Happypants and Jungle Jims International Market

Day 1

Traveling to Memphis is a bit of an adventure for sure. However I have even more of an adventure on this trip as I am traveling with my Dad aka Mr. Happypants. Dad is letting me drive him to Memphis then he is carrying on to Florida. Don’t get me wrong my Dad is a great guy but he has some definite views on the world. Many of which I tend to disagree with.  He was a cop for 25 years and after then a small business owner. My Dad talks in a certain way that’s well….. lets just say direct.  Its either that or pretty much unnerving dead air silence from him. My brother and I often refer to Dad’s way of talking as the cop talk. Its the “let me ascertain the facts” type of lingo. We have reminded him of this over the years. He gives you this defiant look and we all sort of move on. It just always better to move on. Think Ray Romanos Dad – Frank on Everybody loves Raymond. That’s pretty much my Dad.

 

 

Want to guess which one is my Dad?

 

To my Dad food is just food.  Its either good or bad with no gray. Ask my Dad what flavor profiles he is getting from something and he will look at you like an alien.   Then he will tell you he thinks you are full of nonsense.  He is a straight up salt & pepper, canned peas, cook it till its deader than cement kind of guy.  Burgers, hot dogs, meatloaf  and M&M meat shops kind of guy. NTTIAWWT  Don’t mess around with him on that either. No, just don’t -I have tried on many occasions. 

 

 

Plus don’t even try to get him to buy any other roast other than eye of the round cooked to a limp gray. (Dontcha know its good value look at how lean it is!!) He is also the same guy who tried to buy Walmart’s ready made “BBQ” ribs that you microwave in front of me. He couldn’t figure out why I was a little annoyed.  So that’s pretty much my Dad in a narrow focused sort of way.  He is also a really thoughtful out of the blue kind of guy.  Last year knowing we needed a fridge for the competition trailer he offered to buy it for us as a very early Christmas gift. He is that kind of guy. Gruff on the outside not tolerant of anything, or anyone,  and unfailingly thoughtful at the oddest and most unexpected of times. He also helped me paint some of my house and fix things.

 

 

Prior to getting in his truck to drive I got “the” lectures. I knew they were coming I was prepared. The don’t you dare go a km over the speed limit lecture. The you are not smoking in my truck lecture, the I am not eating at any where fancier that Cracker barrel lecture, the why do you need to buy anything at duty free lecture, the well what time are we getting there lecture, the I don’t want to stop anywhere lecture, the I don’t want to learn how to use a cell phone lecture, the don’t mess with my “golden oldies” radio tuning lecture, the can’t you turn that black butter (My blackberry) thing off lecture, the why do you need so many clothes when I can go away for 2 months and take only this minuscule bag lecture , the well I only need 1 pair of shoes why do you need 3 lecture, and so on and so on.  Dad has become over the last couple of years since my Mom has passed on very, very stuck in his own ways of doing things. (Understatement of the year) Yup that’s my Dad. I love him.Wouldn’t want to trade him for any other Dad either.

 

 

So Mr. Happypants and I set of this morning at 5am. It was -15 in Barrie this morning. Damn. Cold. Loaded up with timmies we crossed through the great white North of Barrie Ontario and headed to the Detroit border. Stopping a couple of times for the inevitable potty breaks we talked about his trip to Florida and my trip to Memphis. My father is as obsessed about Florida as I am about BBQ.   Explaining to my Dad about BBQ competitions is always complicated. He does not understand why I pay to go and stand sometimes in field full of mud praying that my meat will turn out well.  Why I am paying the potty mouth guy (what Dad and my daughter call Myron Mixon) to take his class.  When I inevitably come home from a competition he does not understand why I am beyond thrilled with a Fourth place like I was this past year in Louisa Virginia. He does not understand that beating Tuffy Stone, LeeAnn Whippen and others just once was a thrill for me like no other.  That I did not need a GC to feel awesome. He just  turns to me morosely and says better luck next time. Hopefully you will actually win. Yup thats my Dad.

 

 

 

We stopped for lunch at Cracker barrel. I always have the same meal there. Its always chicken fried steak. Always. I have this artery clogging meal once or twice a year and thats it. Dad tried it for the first time. (It took some convincing) I don’t think he liked it as he ate fries and biscuits and not much of it.

 

 

Along the way I got cut off by an idiot in one of those supped up Honda Civics that remind me of beetles on acid – and I cursed at him. Douche noodle. Yup thats what I called the little twit. (Please make sure to click the link to find out who came up with that most interesting of curses on January 30th its epic) Well let me tell you that lecture was one of the longest. The why don’t you talk more like a lady lecture was combined with the I know we did not raise you to speak like that lecture, which further rolled into the I don’t know whats wrong with you people which he made an even further lamented lecture into the I am sure your Mother would not be proud of you for speaking like that lecture. Trust. It was a long and benevolent (in my opinion) silence that I received after those lectures.

 

We set out for our final destination. Jungle Jims International Market for the day.  I had heard about this most interesting of places from a friend of mine Cam. He has gone back twice. I now understand. This is like a playground for foodies. Truly it was. I could spend days in this place. For my Dad not so much. So we left but not before I managed to grab 7 bottles of wine and some snacks. Ok and also some spices and a few other things. As quick as I could I got out.  I didn’t like to keep Mr. Happypants waiting.  We will be off again early in the AM. We will be staying downtown in Memphis tomorrow night. I will probably need to crack open one or more of those bottles of wine. I am 100% sure I will get a lecture about that :-)

 

Heading to Memphis LOL Hope they are ready for me.

Ill be on the road for the next couple of days travelling to Memphis to attend the NBBQA conference. I had such a good time last year in Austin for the conference . I have been looking forward to this a LOT!! Also will be taking Myron Mixon’s class while I am down there. Should be an interesting trip and I’ll blog about it as much as I can.

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