Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Memphis, Tennessee; Modern Day Deliverance continues.

Who hasn't heard of Graceland, the Peabody Hotel or Beale St? You may not have known that they were in Memphis, but you have heard of them. We had hoped to see a lot of sights in Memphis, however our delay in arriving prohibited that.

After leaving the Nashville airport, we headed west on I-40 toward Memphis. It was a 210 mile drive and we were anxious to get there. The first thing that strikes you is the beauty in the rolling hills of Tennessee. The leaves had began to change and it was picturesque. The hills would flow in valleys of cotton fields. Being from Utah, I take the mountains for granted. People we met on this trip would ask us about the mountains back home. I would say that I could be in the mountains in less than ten minutes from leaving my home. The cotton fields and rolling hills were what they took for granted. So maybe the grass, mountains or hills are really greener on the other side.

We arrived at our hotel in Memphis and checked in about 6:30pm. Hungry, and eager to see the town, we got on the trolley to Beale St.

Downtown Memphis at Night

Historic Memphis Trolley

Being the Foodie that I am, I had previously researched some restaurants. The Blues City Cafe has been around so long it's practically an institution. Their slogan is "Put Some South in Your Mouth." It's a run-down looking dive serving BBQ with live music on the weekend. I loved the look of the place and just walking in, you knew the food would be great.  We were tired and hungry, but sitting there at the bar waiting for our food and enjoying each other's company, we were happy.

The Boys waiting for food at Blues City Cafe. Happy to be here.

Blues City Cafe, Beale St. Memphis, Tennessee

For an appetizer I ordered the seafood gumbo. I love making gumbo at home and was very excited about this dish. This sure had some fire to it and definitely "Put the South in my Mouth." It is a very spicy, roux based gumbo with shrimp, crawfish and a scoop of rice. It had a thick, gritty texture and was delicious. Thankfully my cup of both water and Dr. pepper were full when I started eating. It became a two chugs of water for every spoonful of gumbo.

Seafood Gumbo; Spicy & Delicious.

For an entree I ordered a rack of ribs served with cole slaw, baked beans, texas toast and steak fries. It was a lot of food. The ribs are hickory smoked and basted in maple barbecue sauce. They are slow cooked to perfection and the meat falls right off the bone. In other words: very delicious! After devouring the gumbo, munching on the fries, beans, and cole slaw, I couldn't make it through half of my ribs. They were heaven but I was done.

James showing off the Best Meal on Beale at Blues City Cafe
Rib Plate Meal. A lot of food.

We walked around Beale St. for a while but unless you are an Alcoholic or looking to become one, there wasn't much for us to do. In addition to that, it was 40 degrees with full humidity and the wind blowing off the mighty Mississippi. We were chilled to the bone and therefore surrendered. The trolley took us back to the hotel and we enjoyed game 6 of the World Series.

Fun with Family: A chilly night on Beale St.

Be sure not to leave Memphis off your bucket list. Especially if you are a Foodie.

Happy Eating.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Modern Day Deliverance

For the record, I have never seen the move Deliverance. It is about 4 friends who travel to the south for a river rafting trip. They run afoul of the locals who consider them "city folk" and the trip turns into a nightmare.

In September, I was looking into BBQ classes to become a licensed Judge for the KC BBQ Association. There was a class in Lynchburg, Tennessee on October 21. I began looking into travel plans and got really excited about traveling to that part of the country. Ultimately I was unable to make the BBQ class but decided that the last week in October would be a great time to take a trip. I spoke to my dad & brothers and we were all able to make it. I had not seen my brother Mike for a while (he lives in Washington DC) so it would be a great reunion.

We got to the airport about 3:30pm on Wednesday, October 26, for a 5:10pm flight. We had a layover in Denver and due to a snow storm there, we left Salt Lake late and arrived in Denver two minutes after our flight to Nashville had departed. Argh! The trip was already going to be a short trip and now it was getting shorter.

Frontier Airlines put us on a flight to Nashville at 11:22 the next morning. We found a hotel and enjoyed the snowy, cold night in Denver. My brother's flight from DC got to Nashville on time and he spend the night in the hotel we had arranged.

We had a breakfast buffet at the hotel, got to the airport and our flight departed on time-yeah! Thankfully, Mike already had the rental car and was able to pick us up at the airport at 3:00pm. Initially we had planned to drive from Nashville to Memphis early on Thursday to take in the sights and most importantly, the food. Not wanting to waste any time and also motivated by a $150 non-refundable hotel reservation in Memphis, we hit the road.

Now this is a blog about food right? Yes it is! In my introductory blog a few months ago, I wrote about my love for food and travel. This trip incorporates them both. When is the best time to experience good food? On vacation of course. Over the next couple of weeks, please enjoy the posts about food, travel and family.

Happy Eating (& Traveling).

Monday, November 21, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving this week! This is the time when we are supposed to eat too much food and not feel bad about it. Everyone is doing it so there is no one to judge you.

I hope that the time spent with family is richly rewarding. Enjoy your meals wherever you are. Enjoy the buttery soft rolls, the creamy rich mashed potatoes, the country gravy, the heavenly sweet potatoes bathed in butter (my recipe), the fluffy stuffing, moist tender turkey, and sweet cranberries. Savor the pumkin pie with whipped cream, the chocolate silk pie, pecan pie, strawberry pie, rhubard pie. One piece each for everyone.

I want to hear about your meal. I want to hear about how you ate so much that the only thing you can manage to do is to watch 8 hours of college football on both Friday & Saturday. Then I want you to call me and I will come over, watch football and eat leftovers with you.

I also want to hear if you went out to eat. Where you went and what you liked. Be careful however, if you went to Chuck A Rama, you may not want to tell me. I might think less of you.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Thanks to all of you for all you mean to me.

Happy Eating

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fiddler's Elbow

On a recent post, I reviewed Fat's Grill in downtown Sugarhouse. Since I did not want to venture far, I decided to review Fiddler's Elbow. The first time I ate here was back in 2004 to watch an NBA Finals game. Every March, some friends and I meet here to watch March Madness basketball. Not having been since, and craving the food, I put together a last minute lunch with two good friends. There were no sports to watch on a Tuesday in November at noon; unless the Pakistan vs Australia cricket match interests you.

When my friend Justin arrived, he grabbed the menu but before reading it looked at me and said "what are you ordering? you always seem to know what to get?" I was flattered. The Foodie in me is being recognized.

The menu selection is not large. This is a brewery and the biggest part of the menu seems to be limited to alcohol. Since I am a Teetotaler (as written about here), I stick with the food; good food that is.

If you are going with a group, get the pulled pork nachos as an appetizer. It's a towering stack of chips covered in cheese, pulled pork (instead of chili), sour cream, guacamole, red onions, black olives, jalapenos, served with fresh salsa. Make sure your glass of water gets refilled often as there is a fire to this dish. You could also order this for your meal. Or better yet, do what I did last March. I got there first and ordered the nachos. Once my friends arrived, they couldn't resist and started munching. When the bill came, I had everyone throw in some money. Free nachos for me. J/K, I contributed.

Craving BBQ, when our waitress asked for our order, I was about to say the pulled pork sandwich; Until she told us about the specials. They had a prime rib sandwich served with horseradish on a soft homemade roll. I put down my menu and ordered that. My friends did likewise. It was delicious! The meat was tender and stacked thick in the sandwich. The creamy horseradish gave it a delicious bite. It didn't look like a large sandwich at first but ended up being very filling.

The fries were okay; nothing fancy-stick with Fat's for fries. I wish I had ordered the cream of mushroom soup as my side.

The food is great but Fiddler's can be loud. If you want a quieter place with the same great food, try Salt Lake Pizza & Pasta next door. Same owners, same kitchen, same great food.

Happy Eating

Fiddler's Elbow on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Rice Pilaf

Until my recent cooking classes, I wondered what exactly was rice pilaf. I knew that I had eaten it before, but never understood what made it a "pilaf." Rice Pilaf is a dish in which the rice is cooked in a seasoned broth. Depending on the local cuisine, it may also contain a variety of meats and vegetables.

I love rice; especially since I spent a two year period of my life eating it three times daily. Ruby has also come to love it. I thought that it would be a great dish to have for leftovers. This is a dish we made in class.

1 pound long-grain white rice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or clarified butte
1 ounce carrot, minced
1 ounce celery, minced
1 ounce onion, minced
32 fluid ounces chicken stock, hot
1 bay leaf
2 thyme sprigs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

Heat the butter or oil in a heavy-gauge pot over medium heat. Add the mirepoix (carrots, celery, onion) and cook, stirring frequently, until tender and translucent, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the rice and saute, stirring frequently, until coated with butter or oil and heated through, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the heated stock to the rice. Bring to a simmer, stirring the rice once or twice to prevent it from clumping together or sticking to the pot bottom.

Add the bay leaf, thyme sprigs, salt, and pepper. Cover the pot, and place it in a 350 degree oven (or leave it over low heat on the stove top). Cook without disturbing until the grains are tender to the bite, 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Uncover and fluff with a fork to separate the grains and release the steam.

Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

I added all the stock upon instructed. Please hold some back. You can always add more later but taking some out is difficult. The rice was cooked but I still had stock at the bottom. It took some work but turned out.

Also, when the instructions indicate to "Cook without disturbing" please follow. If you stir the rice often while cooking, it becomes sticky rice.

This is a great dish. I always thought of rice as something to put a meat or a vegetable on top of. This adds a component to it where it can be eaten as a great side dish. As you can see, Ruby loved it. She couldn't even wait for the table, so we ate while sitting on the floor.

Happy Eating

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fat's Grill in Sugarhouse

In order to adequately acknowledge the amount of time and money I have spent at Fat's Grill, I thought it appropriate to write about.

Fat's is located right in the heart of Sugarhouse, making it a perfect meeting spot. There are about 8 of us friends from college who get together for lunch on a regular basis. At first, it was picked for the location but we soon became addicted to the food. It has also been a lot of fun to play pool there; free if you order food. More often than not, this is where we still meet on a regular basis.

It has a very clean atmosphere with delicious food. Everything from the appetizers, burgers, wraps and pizzas are wonderful. I actually haven't ordered something here that I did not like. I went once by myself to watch a baseball game and relax. Somehow I managed 4 refills of Dr. Pepper in the process.

Here are some food recommendations when you go: definitely get the Fat's Nachos as an appetizer. They are almost a meal in & of themselves. In fact, one of my friends did order them as his meal not too long ago. In the Wrap category I have tried the Grilled Chicken Caesar Wrap, Buffalo Chicken Wrap and Spicy Chicken Wrap. In the Burger category, Firehouse Burger, Fat's Burger, Pastrami Burger, Fat's Bacon Cheeseburger, Blue Cheese Bacon Burger, TNT Burger and Double Cheeseburger. Go with the TNT or Firehouse is you like it with fire. I have also had the BBQ chicken pizza. The other day, a good friend had the Greek Pizza. He really liked it.

Spicy Chicken Wrap with Fries

Most commonly, I order the Firehouse Burger and the Spicy Chicken Wrap with Fries. The fries are baked with a little paprika shaken on them; delicious. Whatever you order, you will enjoy the food and the atmosphere. Call me if you are going please; I am in the neighborhood.

2182 S. Highland Dr.
Salt Lake City, Utah, 84106

Happy Eating.

Fat's Grill & Pool on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 11, 2011

Garlic Herbed Mashed Potatoes

Doesn't this just sound delicious? It definitely is. Last month, this dish was part of a cooking class I took. With all the other food we cooked in class, I don't remember trying this. Wanting to taste them and knowing that Ruby loves potatoes, I went to work.

It might take a few minutes longer than regular mashed potatoes but you will never go back.

2 3/8 pounds potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 1/4 cups whole milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 pound butter
1/8 cup basil, cleaned and chiffonade
1/8 cup parsley, cleaned and chopped
3/4 tablespoon rosemary, cleaned and chopped
1/8 cup garlic, minced
1 1/4 tablespoons kosher salt
3/8 tablespoon white pepper

Peel and cut the potatoes into 1 inch thick pieces and place in pot.

Steam the potatoes until tender, 50-60 minutes.

In a sauce pan, warm the butter, garlic, herbs, cream and mil together to steep the flavor.

When potatoes are cooked, mix them in a mixer on high speed until smooth.

Add the milk and butter mixture to the potatoes and mix in slowly.

Add the salt and pepper and whip on high.

Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.

One of the most important steps is #3; warm the milk, butter, cream & other ingredients before you add it to the potatoes. Usually we pour cold milk & butter into the potatoes. This doesn't allow for the flavors to properly develop since you are throwing cold ingredients into very hot potatoes.

Another note: you cannot overcook potatoes. Put them on the stove and forget about them for an hour. I guess you could eventually burn them but if you manage a way to do that, find another hobby.

Rachel and Ruby loved them. I received this text from Rachel yesterday: "Eating yummy potatoes! Good thing I have a toothbrush for when I'm done :-)"

You will definitely need a toothbrush after you eat. The garlic is very strong. The herbs add a flavor combination to the potatoes that you wouldn't think would work. It does work; works well. It definitely makes it more than a side dish.

Enjoy. As I said, you will never go back to simple mashed potatoes.

Happy Eating

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Would you believe me if I said that there is a good Mexican restaurant in Kaysville? There is. It's PepperBellys! Interesting name. Where does the name come from? Not even our Waitress knew the answer.

If the name leaves you scratching your head, then the interior of the restaurant will leave you even more confused. This is a place that Mike & Frank from "American Pickers" would love. Maybe the restaurant got all of their decorations from them. There are signs, pictures, and trinkets that make you believe you are in 50's style diner. Something perfectly Americana. The menu even makes you feel that you are in a diner atmosphere; except for the "Fresh Mexican Food & Grill" at the bottom.

When the food arrives there is little doubt that you are in the right place for Mexican food. Why else would I drive 30 miles north for lunch? Okay, my Brother lives near there and we met for lunch. My Sister-in-Law also works there and is the Waitress whom we asked where the PepperBellys name comes from.

Definitely get the chips & salsa as an appetizer. The salsa is homemade and has a "fire" to it that I desperately love. My Brother got the cream cheese & chicken chimi. He recommended that I do the same. I declined; insisting that I would have some of his and something else. I got the cadillac size smothered burrito with beans & spanish rice. You have your choice of shredded beef, chile verde or sweet pork. My Sis-in-Law brought me sample of all three. The shredded beef is cooked in cinnamon and she said that customers either love it or hate it. I was in the latter category. It had a stale smokey flavor to it. I chose the sweet pork. My burrito was wonderful. The sweet pork has a carmelization to it that really gives a distinct texture. The sweetness and tenderness add to the mix of flavors in the burrito.

The only negative to my burrito was that I could not finish it. I mentioned that I ordered the Cadillac size. It was huge. 3/4 the way through I threw in the towel. While pondering how I would get up from the seat in a few minutes, she brought out a dish of deep fried ice cream with hot fudge, caramel and strawberries as toppings. It was overwhelming but I managed. We did not finish it. I left happy and was somewhat unproductive the rest of the day. My wife asks, "how is that different from any other day?" :-)

If traveling north or south on I-15, get off on the 200 N. Exit in Kaysville. Head east, turn right on Main St. and PepperBellys will be about 100 yards down on your right. You will not regret it.

Happy Eating.

Pepperbellys on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 7, 2011

Am I a Gardener?

This spring, Rachel and I planted basil, oregano, parsley, green onion, rosemary, thyme, lemongrass, green bell pepper and jalapeno pepper. We looked forward to the many dishes that would benefit from these herbs & vegetables. It was overall a fabulous summer with many delicious foods.

Most of the plants did well. It seemed like the basil needed to be picked every few days. The oregano was growing like a vine; as was the thyme. The peppers on the other hand, never got going. I love to cook spicy food. I was definitely looking forward to some bell peppers in salads, spaghetti and rice dishes. The jalapeno peppers would definitely add some kick to soups, sauces and whatever else I could sneak it in without Rachel knowing (until she took a bite).

Unfortunately, all the peppers had to come from the store. Take a look at our lack of a bumper crop this year.

The larger bell pepper on the left is about the size of a golf ball. This was the harvest.

Not even a bud of a pepper on the jalapeno peppers all season.

If you have any advice for how to get a more bountiful pepper crop, i'm all ears.

Happy Eating

Friday, November 4, 2011

Star of India

Makhni Chicken
Indian food is one of my favorites. A couple weeks back, I spent the evening cooking a few indian dishes along with some other indian food lovers. Something about the spices, texture, and preparation is all appealing to me. Cooking these dishes take a long time. With this in mind, one evening last week Rachel and I went out for indian food.

Star of India is located is just west of State St. on 400 S. After dark, the place can be hard to find. It's dimly lit and doesn't have a lot of street frontage. We were only a few feet away on the sidewalk before we saw it. I wasn't sure if it had closed. The interior is a little drab. I think that they got all their booths from the most recent Dee's closing and had them re-upholstered. But for the most important thing, the food, it was fabulous.

For an Appetizer we ordered Nan & Raita. Nan is an indian bread cooked in the tandoor (clay oven). Raita is a whipped yogurt blended with cucumber, tomatoes, potatoes and mint. Sometimes I eat the raita with a spoon instead of a sauce. It's that good. Rachel could eat the Nan for a meal. This is a delicious bread, doughy in the middle and crispy and the outside.

I ordered Makhni Chicken for an entree. It's a Tandoori chicken cooked in a classic tomato & fresh butter sauce. Very delicious. The creamy sauce and chicken over a basmati rice seems to make everything right. On the side, I had them bring some mango chutney. I would pour this over the dish. The multiple flavor combinations seemed to compliment each other.

I would go hear again in a heartbeat. Be careful, however. The menu indicates that you can order your dishes "Mild / Hot / Hotter / Very Hot / Very Very Hot." I ordered Hot and thought that is was only the second tier of heat so I would be fine. After every bite, I had to take a drink of water.

If you are downtown, please don't hesitate to go to Star of India. Truth be told I have rarely been disappointed by any indian restaurant in Salt Lake.

Happy Eating.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sage Pork Tenderloin

From a fabulous Home Chef who I have had the privilege to cook with, I have learned a fabulous Sage Pork Tenderloin. On a previous post here, I mentioned that I have cooked Indian Food with her. Whatever we cook, I learn much.

The sage pork tenderloin was something she cooked at a 4th of July BBQ. I asked her for the recipe and she was happy to share. Since then I have cooked this dish twice. Both times, I was the star of the show. It is delicious. I don't have a picture but will post one when I cook it again.

Sage Pork Tenderloin

2 pork tenderloins, 1 - 1.5 pounds each.


2 tablespoons leaf sage (dried).
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (coarse).
1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar.
1 teaspoon black pepper.
1 teaspoon garlic.

Sauce / Dip:

1/2 cup fresh packed sage leaves, cut finely.
6 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced.

Massage the rub into the tenderloins up to 30 minutes. The more massaging, the more tender the meat and  more flavor. Place over hot grill, sear all sides to seal in the juices. Continue cooking on grill, turning often until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

Place all ingredients for Sauce / Dip into small pan, place on grill until butter is melted. Cut cooked tenderloins into medallions and place in dish. Pour sauce over meat; enjoy.

This is a delicous dish. Rather than cooking another burger or hot dog on the grill, try a sage pork tenderloin.

Happy Eating
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...