Archives: October 2006
Junior mints are one of the most underrated candies. The outer coating was the darkest of chocolate way before dark chocolate was "in" and the inside has the perfect, melt-in-your-mouth consistency. Great ratio of outside to inside, too, and much better than a York peppermint pattie. The other day I saw an offshoot called Junior Caramels.
I used to love Butterfinger, but with each passing year, it looks and tastes more and more like chemicals.
At my house, I'm in charge of handing out the candy while my wife makes sure the dogs don't get loose and attack anyone. That works out perfectly, allowing me to a) give out the crap candy first, holding back the good stuff for tomorrow's breakfast and b) check out some of the better-looking mothers in the crowd, possibly in catsuits.
Chocolate is a great secret ingredient in a barbecue sauce, especially if used sparingly so that it affects the flavor without being too obvious.
Kids today aren't into chocolate the way my generation was (I'm in my 40s). If it's blue or sticky or wiggly, they'll take that over a Snickers any day.
Tootsie rolls have not only gotten smaller over the years, but lighter in color too. But Tootsie Pops are still great. Getting a Tootsie Pop at Halloween was a major score. Getting a Dum Dum was like getting ripped off. On the other hand, Charms are the Rolls Royce of lollipops.
Another underrated candy is the Planters peanut bar, sort of a salty version of peanut brittle.
Someone ought to do a full fledged investigation on why there isn't fresh water taffy.
I used to like M&Ms, but the endless permutations to extend the "brand" are getting a little overbearing.
Most overrated candy: Charleston Chew. I always found them boring, whether at room temperature or frozen.
Somewhat overrated: Three Musketeers. If you're going to have that, why not just go all out and have a Milky Way?
I love meat and I love candy, but I like meat to taste like meat, not candy.
Weekend Wrap-up, Hell Night Tonight
I wound up going to Uncle Willie's in New Haven for a Saturday lunch, where a friend and I, through creative ordering, sampled 7 different meats and 4 sides. While in New Haven, we also managed to hit Louis' Lunch, the joint that claims to have invented the hamburger. Just setting foot in the building was like a religious experience, and the burger was pretty good too. On Sunday, my wife and I visited Blue Ribbon in Newton MA, where I hadn't been in about a month. We purposely bought some extra brisket for use in a batch of homemade chili, and it turned out great.
Today I added a couple of Connecticut joints to the Joints directory.
Tonight, I'm going to Hell Night at East Coast Grill in Cambridge MA, where the food is extra hot and extra good. I know I'll be making extra trips to the bathroom tonight and I'll be in pain Tuesday morning, but it's worth it. They always manage to do something interesting with ribs and smoked shoulder for these events, so I'm curious to see what they'll do this time.
I'm headed to central Connecticut on one of the weekend days to check out one or two joints with a friend who's on a barbecue competition team. On the other day, I'll either revisit one of my favorite BBQ spots or fire up my own smoker. It's getting close to Thanksgiving now and I want to do some advance experimentation with a new dry rub on some smoked turkey.
I added a new item on the Links page today, but I have no idea who's site it is. It's called the If I Were to Have a Barbecue Review Page and it rates joints on a scale of 1 to 10. He likes some places more than I do and vice versa, and for the most part we're in agreement. He backs up his ratings with descriptions below, and it's worth a read.
You may agree or disagree with the opinions in his site, my site or anybody's site. Whether you agree or disagree with my reviews, I hope you at least find my Joints directory useful enough to give you ideas for new BBQ restaurants to try. Feel free to treat my site just like Playboy and only look at the photos. They're probably the best indicator of whether or not you'll like a joint. Remember that you can click on most of the meat photos to get a larger image.
Some Reviews - New York BBQ
Today I posted reviews for Bailey's Smokehouse in Blauvelt, NY and Live Bait in New York City. See the Reviews page or link to reviews using the red icons in the Joints directory. There are also a few new items in the News page.
New York Trip
I checked out a few places in New York the last couple of days. On Sunday I visited RUB in New York City and got to meet Kansas City BBQ (and now New York BBQ) legend Paul Kirk, who was in town to conduct his pitmasters class the day before. I also chatted with New Jersey BBQ (and now New York BBQ) cult figure Dave "Fink" Finkelstein at Bailey's Smokehouse in Blauvelt, NY. I'll post the review for Bailey's Smokehouse tomorrow.
I finally tried the chicken at RUB and it was good. I also took my first taste of the gargantuan Oklahoma beef rib at Daisy May's and it was among the best beef ribs I've had. I went back to RUB Monday to try the Reuben with warm pastrami fresh from the smoker, and it was fantastic. I could see myself getting the pastrami on a regular basis there as part of a three meat platter. Most menus are just menus, but I look at some as a personal checklist.
All Star Burgers
Last night I stopped into All Star Sandwich Bar to try their long awaited burger, and it was superb. Weighing in at eight ounces, with a 75/25 ratio of lean to fat, it supplied ample beef juices in every bite. The applewood smoked bacon is pretty good too, and you can select among several cheeses. See the News page for photos and BBQ news/events.
Some Reviews - New Hampshire BBQ
Today I posted three reviews in one update for the first time in a while. These include Boston 'burbs stalwart Firefly's as well as Goody Cole's Smokehouse and Yankee Smokehouse in New Hampshire. That makes 80 BBQ joint reviews so far. See the Reviews page or link to reviews using the red icons in the Joints directory.
North Carolina State of Mind
A co-worker stationed in North Carolina is up for an office visit this week, and he brought me three North Carolina BBQ sauces to sample. As most of you know, North Carolina barbecue means two things: pork (either shoulder or whole hog, not ribs) and vinegar, and these sauces pack a vinegar wallop.
It's interesting that most joints in the Northeast have a "North Carolina" BBQ sauce, but none of them taste like these. We're talking super tart, with a hint of sweet, almost like a savory version of lemonade. They're very good, but take a little getting used to, even for someone like me who loves vinegar. I'm guilty of putting a heaps of vinegar in my sauces when I smoke my own shoulders and I'm partial to a vinegar in thicker sauces when I'm judging. Maybe years from now, we'll see sauces like these in restaurants in the New England and New York BBQ joints, similar to the way Chinese food has gradually gotten more authentic over the years.
Weekend Wrap-up, RUB Reviewed
I made it up to New Hampshire twice this weekend. On Saturday I met a friend for lunch at Goody Cole's Smokehouse at their Brentwood location. On Sunday, my wife and I checked out the foliage on a birthday visit to the outlets in North Conway. Along the way we stopped at the Yankee Smokehouse in Ossipee.
Today I posted my review for RUB (Righteous Urban Barbecue) in New York City. See the Reviews page or link from the Joints directory.
On Sunday, my wife celebrates a major birthday. This could have serious BBQ ramifications for two weekends, but I expect to hit at least one Boston BBQ joint with her and one New Hampshire BBQ joint solo during that time. Maybe I could squeeze in another new discovery by using the tried and true "Let's look at the foliage" chestnut. Yeah, that might work.
Another Two Reviews - Boston BBQ
Today I posted my reviews on the Reviews page for East Coast Grill and All Star Sandwich Bar, both in Cambridge MA. That's 76 reviews so far.
Two More Reviews - New York BBQ
Today I posted my reviews on the Reviews page for Dallas BBQ and Duke's, both in New York City.
Autumn in NY
My plans changed, so instead of heading into the city today, I wound up going on my New York BBQ trip yesterday. It was a perfect day for this time of year, with the sun just bright enough to wear shorts and a T shirt for probably the last time until 2007. A rare opportunity allowed me to snag the #2 spot in the burger line at Shake Shack, so I seized it. I sampled just a few bites of the burger, and it was very good. But best in the city? Probably not; I liked the burger at Blue Smoke (same ownership) better. Check out the A Hamburger Today site for a really comprehensive look at burgers.
After Shake Shack, I embarked on a snacking crawl that included Duke's (a few bites), RUB (a serious lunch) and Dallas BBQ (a few bites). I originally meant to hit Daisy May's, but I saved that for my next trip.
A Couple of Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Yesterday I wanted to do a comparison of the pulled pork sandwich at East Coast Grill in Cambridge to its sister restaurant All Star Sandwich Bar a few doors down the street. So it was All Star Sandwich Bar for lunch and ECG for dinner. I've had the pulled pork at East Coast Grill many times, but never the sandwich, so I thought it was time.
The pork is essentially the same, coming from the same smoker. The bun is the same, your basic cheap sesame seed model. It's grilled at ECG, served right out of the package at ASSB. The sauce is simple vinegar at ECG, pepper-infused vinegar (Tabasco or similar) at ASSB. The cole slaw is served on the side at ECG, inside the sandwich at ASSB.
The winner? Me. I had two pulled pork sandwiches yesterday.
I'll have detailed reviews of both places, based on many previous visits, in the next few days.
This Saturday, my wife and I are headed to East Coast Grill in Cambridge. Even though it's one of my favorite BBQ joints, the grilled fish there is so good I usually go the seafood route instead. But this time around, I'll be checking out the barbecue offerings so I can make the final tweaks on the review I've already written. On Sunday or Monday, I'll do the same with a few places in New York.
I added a few places to the Joints page for New York City BBQ (Cowgirl, Old Devil Moon) and Long Island BBQ (Jessie's Roadhouse in Merrick, Laura's BBQ Roadhouse in North Bellmore, and Seconds BBQ in Amityville). Man, it seems like there's a new place popping up on Long island every week or two.
Calories In, Calories Out for a Cause
This Sunday, the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors is holding a walkathon in Boston. You can walk the 1-mile, 3-mile or 6-mile route and then enjoy food from Redbones BBQ and other donators. Silent auction items include a gift certificate to Blue Ribbon Bar-B-Q. www.phoenix-society.org
Today's weight: 215. Breaking even over the last two weeks, down three pounds overall.
Hell Night in Cambridge / The Baron in NYC
I added a few newsworthy items to the News page for restaurant events and barbecue competitions. The Baron of BBQ, Paul Kirk, is coming to New York to offer a hands-on barbecue class on October 21. The event is sponsored by R.U.B. in New York, co-owned by Kirk.
I'm a former competitor, fan and judge at KCBS events, but I try to restrict the BBQ competition coverage on this site to that which pertains to restaurants. That's because there are a bunch of great sites out there (see Links) that already do a fantastic job showcasing the world of competition barbecue.
Speaking of restaurants competing, best of luck to NYC's Daisy May's this weekend at the Kansas City Royal, known as the World Series of Barbecue.
Another Review / Laptop Is Back
My laptop arrived yesterday, repaired and ready to roll. Today I posted my review for Little Red Smokehouse (Carver, MA). I also added some new places to the Joints page: Men Wielding Fire in Lakeville, MA (opened very recently) and Live Bait in New York City (around for years but I forgot to include it, even though I've been there).
Up for Two Months / Laptop Problems
Yesterday marked the 2-month anniversary of the site. I've posted 71 reviews and still have another 16 in various stages of completion. I hope to have 100 reviews posted by February. Spending the holidays with my in-laws on Long Island should give me an excuse to check out the area's exploding barbecue scene, which should be good for at least 6 joints toward that goal.
My laptop is having serious problems, so that's limited by ability to update the site and respond to email over the last few days. I hope to be back to normal by the end of this week. Dial-up is a real bitch.
This past Saturday, I paid a lunch visit to All Star Sandwich Bar in Cambridge. Chris Schlesinger told me a few weeks ago that he wanted to make the chili hotter than it was, to the point where it's almost impossible to eat. I can tell you it now has significantly more heat than on day 1, though it's still nowhere near East Coast Grill's Hell Night level. I was also pleased to see larger portions of both the chili and the cornbread. Burgers are coming soon. Speaking of Hell Night, the next trio of dates is October 30 through November 1. On Halloween night, whoever has the best costume wins free Hell Night dinners for a year. Check out the East Coast Grill contact info on the Joints page to make a reservation.
My wife and I returned to Chili Head BBQ (West Bridgewater, MA) Saturday night, then visited Little Red Smokehouse (Carver, MA) on Sunday night. I should have a review for Little Red Smokehouse posted tomorrow or Wednesday.