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Category Archives: bbq

Scenes from the AC Food and Wine Fest 2013


Hey Everyone! Last weekend I was invited down to partake in the AC Food and Wine Fest! Here’s a great slideshow of the weekend, from the Blues, Brews and BBQ event and the Grand Market!

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AC Food and Wine Fest: Blues, Brews and BBQ


There were many events at the AC Food and Wine Fest this year. The Blues, Brews and BBQ event was hands down the best one! Even tho it was, no lie, 900 degrees out and this thing was held in the parking lot across from the Showboat Casino, even tho the guys using smokers and grills made it 200 times hotter and even tho the big tents were no help from the heat, it still was a blast!

Yes, there was a band and yes, there was a lot of beer. But hey, I went for the BBQ!!

First up was Devil’s Alley. They are a, surprise, bar and grille in downtown Philly at 19th and Chestnut Sts. Chef Brian Fidiam come with a something offbeat, but still awesome! Spicy Dry Rub Wings. Now when I say these things were moist, tender and delicious, believe me. I ate, well, I coulda put their kids thru college. Let’s just leave it at that!

Devil's Alley Spicy Dry Rub Wings

Devil’s Alley Spicy Dry Rub Wings

Next up was Smokin’ Betty’s, a place down at 11th and Sansom sts, in downtown Philly.  They brought their signature Riblets. Now, some of you might remember places like Applebee’s who would have all you could eat riblets. these are not that! Not that! Not even close! The sweet sauce mingles with the porky goodness and the fat disintegrates right as it touches your tongue. Again, I think I ate a whole table’s worth.

Smokin' Betty's BBQ Riblets

Smokin’ Betty’s BBQ Riblets

Also, I cannot go much further without a shoutout to some neighbors of mine I ran into and went to a few events with! Maureen is a huge fan of the blog and her kids (All grown up now. I am so old!) love going to food events. Also, a shoutout to Brigid’s boyfriend Joe who bought a 5 gallon oak barrel in which to brew beer inside! I want to see how that turns out! They also kindly showed me some of the more awesome things I’m writing about today! So, hats off to Joe and the Ramseys!

Joe, Brigid, Maureen & Rob

Joe, Brigid, Maureen & Rob

Paula Deen was big and loud at the event and she cracked everyone up. As you can see in the picture, she’s lost a bunch of weight, as has Michael. She was really loving talking to the crowd, got onto the topic of her Diabetes and having to eat better and lose weight. Her son Bobby has been helping them eat better (and she plugged his show “Not My Mama’s Meals”, in which he remakes some of her recipes in a way that won’t kill you…as fast), which has helped with the weight loss, but she didn’t put a big shine on the whole thing. She basically pined what we all feel, that weight loss is hard and sometimes you just want that donut, but you gotta stick to it. Sometimes tho, have that donut! Am I saying Paula Deen, Queen of Butter, was being realistic? Yes, I am! Good god, anything is possible I think.

Paula Deen & her man Michael

Paula Deen & her man Michael

Paula also brought along her Braised Beef Brisket. I have never actually tasted anything she has made (or, as it was probably at this event, supervised the making of), and this brisket was pretty fantastic. It had a great crust on it and the sauce had a kick but with a smokey backend. It was right on!

Paula Deen Braised Beef Brisket

Paula Deen Braised Beef Brisket

This little puppy melted the socks right off my feet. Local Smoke BBQ brought their world-famous Smoked Jalapeno Poppers. When I saw the sign, I was intrigued. However, I have a problem with Jalapenos these days. You see, I’m getting kind of old and certain things just, well, tie me up into knots. They turn my body into a festival of terror. I actually start twitching when I see seeds sometimes. Once I was assured there were no seeds, I dug in and wowza! A hollow Jalapeno stuffed with a cream cheese and pulled pork filling, wrapped in dry-rubbed bacon and slow-smoked to perfection & served with BBQ ranch dipping sauce. Pop that sucker right in your mouth and your eyes immediately roll to the back of your head. You need to sit down. The layers of flavor melt all over your mouth. These things are a National Treasure. These things should be on every tv show in the land. These things are amazing.

Local Smoke BBQ Slow Smoked Jalapeno Poppers

Local Smoke BBQ Slow Smoked Jalapeno Poppers

Tyler Florence was in attendance at the fest as well. He brought up Paula and then later came out and mingled amongst the sweaty unwashed. When I say this guy was the nicest fellow I have come across, believe it. I approached him, told him my blog name and said maybe he should check it out and he repeated it back, and said he would. I got the feeling from him, well, he just might. He then asked if I wanted a picture and I snapped one of just him and then he insisted we take one together (of which I will spare you of because we both look like we just climbed out of a pool). I felt bad for him, he was wearing that chef coat and he was soaked all the way thru. But he stayed and took more pics, talked to people, signed autographs and all. I know they all get paid to be at these things but the guy is a trooper (and just as cute in person as he is on tv).

Tyler Florence

Tyler Florence

Zac Pelaccio is a world travelin’ dude. He’s written a book called “Eat With Your Hands” and pushes that exact idea: to get into with your food. He also owns 2 restaurants: Fatty Crab and Fatty Cue. This guy knows what’s what.

Zak Pelaccio

Zak Pelaccio

Zak was working with Amstel Light and made a Pork Burger with Twig Farm Goat Cheese, Citrus Mayo, and Onion Jam served on a soft rye burger bun.

Pelaccio Pork Burger

Pelaccio Pork Burger

It was juicy and very well seasoned. However, I am not a fan of goat cheese. I keep trying and trying but no go. The Ramsey’s really liked it tho, it seemed. I really wanna visit one of Zak’s places tho, they sound amazing. You can order a half pound of deep fried bacon!!

Pelaccio Pork Burger Side Cut

Pelaccio Pork Burger Side Cut

The biggest, brightest part of the day was from Dinosaur BBQ! I didn’t think it was the same one in Harlem, from which I have heard many fantastically awesome things from people I know. They didn’t mention that on the menu, they just mentioned Newark. Turns out, it was! And oh my dear mother of all that is good and holy on this planet and the next, this thing was transcendent.

Dinosaur BBQ Beef Brisket Mini

Dinosaur BBQ Beef Brisket Mini

Look close at the meat, you’ll see the smoke ring. Look closer and you’ll see how juicy that meat was. Look again and see the amazing sauce they laid on there. I walked away looking like a toddler who fought a plate of spaghetti and I did not care. Not one stinkin’ bit. It was that good. I was sweaty, tired, and covered in bbq sauce and it was some of the best BBQ meat I have ever had. Unreal. UNREAL.

Whew! So that was the Blues, Brews and BBQ event! I left there seeing BBQ everywhere I went. I should say that two of my favorite beer companies were there as well, Anderson Valley and Pyramid Brewing! Check them out when you get a chance, you will not be disappointed!

Thanks to the AC Food & Wine Fest crew for having me and thanks to Joe & The Ramseys for hanging out! It was a blast and I can’t wait for next year!

Eating Our Way Around Citizens Bank Park


A few months ago I got picked in a second chance lottery for Red Sox-Phillies tickets. So, of course, I purchased said tickets. When I say it was forever ago, I mean the game was on May 20th and I purchased the end of February. My usual Phillies game partner in crime, Steve “Chinstrap” Zegray was getting ready to get back on the road with his band (The Dirk Quinn Band) so I asked my friend Pat Farley to come along. He was a little on the fence until I told him what I wanted to do: go early and eat as much stuff as I could before the game started. He then jumped on the game train. So, that’s what we did.

The Schmitter

The Schmitter

The very first thing we made a beeline to was the stand that sells The Schmitter. The Schmitter is my all time favorite thing they sell in Citizen’s Bank Park. I have been known to walk all the way around the stadium to get it. When the season is over, it’s all I think about to get me through the winter. When it’s baseball time, I get excited to eat one. It also helps that it is named after my all time favorite player: Mike Schmidt. The Schmitter is a sandwich that was created by McNally’s Tavern in Chestnut Hill. In fact, you can get one there all year round (Why don’t I? I am lazy. Next!). So, when I got the Schmitter, Pat and I were a little bit perplexed. Besides being yelled at by the lady at the counter to “walk thru the line” (a maze of rope…with no one in it), the sandwich was missing something. Namely, meat.

Let’s talk about what this delicious concoction is, ok? They broil the inside of a kaiser roll and from the bottom up it’s: cheese, beef, fried onions, tomatoes, more cheese, grilled salami, special sauce (this makes the sandwich, believe it or not) and more cheese. Sounds awesome right? A gooey, sloppy mess of a delicious piece of awesome. It’s the sort of thing you drop down the front of your shirt and when no one is looking, you try and lick it off (Is that just me? Can’t be…).

Schmitter Side View

Schmitter Side View

So, when we got this sandwich (pictured to the right), I didn’t know what to make of it. There was very little in this thing that looked like the Schmitters of old. Of olden times. Of yesteryear. And by yesteryear, I mean last season. This is not the sandwich I remember. The meat was almost nonexistent. There was barely anything on this sandwich. It was like the Schmitter Gods of Old and New had forsaken us. Did we maybe get a bad sandwich? Possibly. Are they scaling back the meat because of the bad economy? Maybe the person working making them was in a bad mood or just felt like slacking off that day. I was seriously disappointed because, well, did I mention they MAKE THE BEEF RIGHT THERE? Yes. In ovens. Right in front of you. And this sandwich is all they sell (besides beer, water and, I think, chips) so it’s not like they are being distracted by other orders. In fact, they just keep making them wether people are there or not. Most of the time they sell so fast, that is the best way to go about it. Anyway, to sum it up: Schmitter, please get your act together. I might be back with Pat to check you out again soon. (PS, Pat was very confused as to my excitement about this thing after he saw it. What followed was a “you had to be there back then” type of explanation. Way to make me look stupid, Schmitter. We need to talk.)

The Heater

The Heater

The second thing we ate was something I had never had before, that Pat spied. He had said it was fantastic, so how can I turn that down? Answer: I cannot. Campos is a sandwich place right on Market Street in downtown Philly. I worked around the corner from there for quite awhile and love the work they do. great sandwiches, great bread and decent prices. They have a stand at the ballpark and we got sucked into ordering…The Heater!

Inside The Heater

Inside The Heater

The Heater is a spicy cheesesteak with Jalapeno Cheddar and Buffalo Sauce. Oh yeah. I was excited that it had Jalapeno Cheddar and not jalapenos because, uh, I can’t eat the seeds anymore unless I am looking for a nice weekend trapped in the bathroom. TMI? Perhaps. Moving right along…The Cheese itself is welfare cheese orange (say what you will, that cheese made fantastic grilled cheese sandwiches). The sauce is drenched into the sandwich: meaning it doesn’t just make a cursory walk thru. And of course, the fried onions tie it allll together. The only nitpick I have with it, is that I think it could have used more meat. I know the economy is bad and all, but come on. I hate ordering “extra, extra meat”. But besides that, this sandwich is solid, and Campos is a place you should always hit when in the ballpark!

Bull's Sampler Platter

Bull’s Sampler Platter

Next up was a stop at Bull’s Bar-B-Que. Greg “Bull” Luzinski played 10 years in left field for the Phillies and now he owns this place in the new ballpark (in 1989 he was also inducted into the National Polish-American Sports Hall Of Fame). They serve up all kinds of stuff: pulled pork, ribs, and all sorts of sides. They are also a go-to place for those who have to eat Gluten-Free. We decided to get the sampler: one small bbq turkey sandwich, one small pulled pork sandwich and one small serving of ribs. It wasn’t exactly cheap but it wasn’t too expensive. I wasn’t thinking when we were ordering and I assumed it came with a side. I guess it didn’t. Altho the last thing either of us needed was a serving of beans. Ha.

 

Ribs

Ribs

Anyway, first up was the ribs. As you can see, there wasn’t too much there, but it was enough for the two of us, as we were walking towards stuffed. Pat found the ribs to be good but kind of salty and I had to agree. Not salty enough to not finish tho. Ay-o! They had a nice crust on them and overall, they weren’t bad.

What is a nice touch at Bull’s is that they actully have some sitdown tables so that you can actually eat like a person instead of leaning over a bit of metal or dripping sauce on your pants while you try and eat back in your seat. It is also helpful with little kids if you don’t feel like covering all their clothes with stain remover.

 

Next up is the little BBQ Turkey sandwich. I gave it a “meh” and Pat was not at all enthralled by it either. It seemed like it was just turkey lunch meat that took a swim in some sauce. It was not at ALL what we thought it would be and a lot more disappointing then I expected, which surprised me. Everyone is always babbling on and on about how awesome it is. The roll was nice tho, and the sauce wasn’t too overpowering. And honestly, there was a LOT of that turkey on there, that’s a small plus. So, while it wasn’t the awesomest of all time, it was probably the most disappointing.

 

Which brings up to the Pulled Pork sandwich. I’m actually really good at making pulled pork, believe it or not. When you are good at making stuff, you feel jaded when someone offers it to you. But I’ll tell ya, this wasn’t bad. The pork was chopped down a little bit much for me, but it is a pretty standard pulled pork and probably would have been good on a nice kaiser roll with a mountain of napkins. I was really into it and I have to admit, I forgot to take a picture. Please forgive me, hungry readers.

Now we come to the part of the day where Pat and I decided we needed some sort of dessert. It only makes sense right? They had a lot of ice cream in different Turkey Hill forms, which I am all for, but we were looking for something different. I mean, how many times can you have ice cream in a little batting helmet? (altho I do love it!) I thought I read about a cupcake kiosk over by the one Turkey Hill stand and low and behold, there it was! We sauntered over, neither of us being very into baked goods but into something different.

Cannoli Cupcake

Cannoli Cupcake

The 2 ladies who were working there looked like they were breaking down the stand when we got there. We pointed to the 3 on the top shelf and asked what they were. When she said CANNOLI CUPCAKE, we hi-fived and did a little dance (or, just ordered them, depending on how imaginative you are). This thing had the lightest, most delicious cake bottom, with the top made of fantastic cannoli cream and full size chocolate chips. On the top there were bits of cannoli shell sprinkled about.

You know how when something is really, really good, the people eating stop talking and don’t even notice? Yeah, that was us, standing at the hi-top table, pretending we both didn’t want to lick the paper that had the extra frosting on it. “You go ahead”. “No, you go ahead!”. It was like a Chip and Dale cartoon. In the end, we both had extra frosting, because there was SO MUCH OF IT and it was awesome! The cupcake was $3 but it was easily split by the both of us, which I thought was cool.

That was the day of eating. We had beers as well and walked around to fool ourselves into thinking we were burning it off (escalators don’t count right?) but it was a great day and the weather was awesome. The Phils got their asses handed to them by the Sox, but hey, ya can’t have everything, right?

My favorite thing was the Cupcake, followed super close by The Heater. That sandwich was awesome and I’d like to try it as a chicken cheesesteak! Pat’s fave was The Heater but he says the Cupcake was way better then expected & made it a tough choice as he is not much of a Cupcake guy.

So there ya have it! Will there be a second part of this entry? Possibly! Stay tuned and find out, the baseball season is just getting started!

 

 

 

 

Pappy’s Awesome Pork and More!


In Ocean City, New Jersey there are 2 bridges to get you onto the island from Marmora: the 9th Street Bridge and the 34th Street Bridge. On the road that leads to the 34th Street Bridge (Roosevelt Blvd) is a BBQ place called Pappy’s. As far as I am concerned, you gotta take the 34th Street Bridge because, well, Pappy’s is a world beater in Pork!

The dinner awaits!

The dinner awaits!

I ordered 2 sandwiches*: a Southern Pulled Pork with a spicy BBQ sauce and a Carolina Pork Sandwich with a spicy vinegar based BBQ sauce. I also ordered 2 sides: applesauce and potato salad. I originally asked for cole slaw, but at that time of the night (around 8), they were sold out. So I asked for a recommendation and the girl on the phone was so enthusiastic about the potato salad, I had to order it. I was told the potato salad was made fresh everyday and it was a huge seller (in a very perky teenage voice). In all of this food: NO DISAPPOINTMENT!

Applesauce

Applesauce

Let’s start with the sides.The applesauce was pretty standard but very consistent. I do not know if they made it themselves but it was cold and worked nicely against the Carolina Pork. Also, they gave me a nice size portion. Sometimes when you order a side, you get a very tiny cup of it. I could have shared this with someone. I wouldn’t, but I could have.

Potato Salad Closeup

Potato Salad Closeup

The potato salad, after being built up so much by the kid on the phone, had a lot to live up to. The happy verdict is, it did!

The potatoes were cubed kinda large but were cooked slightly al dente, so that they don’t just mush up in your mouth. There was a nice crunchy part with some green onion as well. Nice touch, obviously someone over there is thinking about composition of the potato salad and not just slapping some potatoes and mayo together. The best part? It has bacon in it! *happy bacon dance*. And I don’t mean bacon bits, I mean nice sized pieces of bacon (see it? see it in the picture?), a nice piece in every bite. I want to say I was able to ration the potato salad before I finished the sandwiches, but my pants would be on FIRE.

Now let’s get down to the real order of business here: the pork sandwiches.

I love a good sandwich, as I have blathered on about in the past. But it is hard to get a really good BBQ pork sandwich, mostly because most places are skimpy with the pork. Or skimpy with the sauce. Or the roll sucks. I am happy to say, both of these sandwiches suffer from none of that. NONE.

Southern Pork Sandwich

Southern Pork Sandwich

Let’s start with the Southern Pork. Served on a nice brioche-type bun. The roll was chewy without having to break a tooth to take a bite and stayed together from first bite to the last, absorbing sauce all the way. it was, I can say, a perfect roll.  The pork is pretty uniform in the pull too, which I enjoy. It is also obvious that this pork has been marinated in the sauce and these people are not stingy with sharing it. The pork is soft and absorbed the sweet but spicy sauce. I was not covered in the sauce, but would I have minded? Not one bit.

Inside the Southern Pork Sandwich

Inside the Southern Pork Sandwich

Here you can see the sauce. It wasn’t just squirted on by some pimply kid (like the squeaky voiced teenager on The Simpson) as he quickly wrapped it up and tossed it in a bag. The sauce is just as important as the pork. You can see the pull of the pork here too, which is also important. The shred is immaculate, and totally consistent throughout the whole sandwich.

Side shot of the Carolina Pork Sandwich

Side shot of the Southern Pork Sandwich

Here is your money shot. Enjoy!

Carolina Pork Sandwich

Carolina Pork Sandwich

Now let’s talk a little bit about the Carolina Pork Sandwich. This sandwich comes on the same kinda bun as the one above, and again, it works perfectly. A lot of people do not know what Carolina Sauce is vinegar based and not ketchup based. It gets it’s spice from the red pepper flakes throughout the sauce and it is gooooood.

Inside the Carolina Pork Sandwich

Inside the Carolina Pork Sandwich

Again, the pork is pretty uniformly pulled. The shred is great and keeps it from falling apart. The pork is not as wet as the Southern Pork but it’s not supposed to be. The vinegar sauce permeated the pork and mixed with the flakes, turning it into a hot, tangy delicious sandwich of awesome. That is the technical term. Either way, it was hot but also delicious.

Side shot of the Carolina Pork Sandwich

Side shot of the Carolina Pork Sandwich

Now! Enjoy your money shot!

So, as you can tell, I am now a huge fan of this place, I want to put their kids thru college. I would like to buy them nice gifts, or possibly just tithe to them. I have to settle for pimping their goods. I also want to mention that those sandwiches were only 6 bucks each. Anywhere else and it would cost you upwards of 9 bucks for a sandwich like that. Yet another reason to love this place. If you want to eat in, the place is a BYOB, so feel free to bring your favorite booze and stuff your face with the best pork I have had in many, many years. I hear the ribs are awesome too, I think they are next on my list. Check out Pappy’s at http://www.pappyspigroast.com! They also cater! So check it out!

Disappointment is NOT AN OPTION!

*If you were wondering, I did not eat both sandwiches in one sitting. I ate half of each then put them into the fridge. They were even better the next day.

Smoked Prime Rib


Every year in July we have a bbq for my grandparent’s anniversary. My uncle lives in Parkwood and has the biggest yard so we all troop up there, get bitten by mosquitos and eat whatever he decides to BBQ.

This year we had to wait to have the BBQ because my babci spent most of her summer bouncing back and forth from Pennsylvania Hospital and the rehab (and no, not for her raging coke problem). She is a whole lot better now (babci….now with bionic knees!) so we made the pilgrimage.

Ron likes to BBQ like Oprah likes to give stuff away. I was expecting the usual chicken, burgers and Polish Ribs (kielbasie butterflied on the grill), but he did something really different: he smoked, on his grill, a Prime Rib.

I didn’t even know you could do that, but he did. It was a tad too smokey tasting for me, but besides that, the meat was awesome.

Here is is sitting in the pan right after he cut it.

Ron's Prime Rib

Ron's Prime Rib

Here is it on my plate with a side o’ potato salad (diet, what diet?)

Ron's Prime Rib on a plate

Ron's Prime Rib on a plate

Some people like prime rib super red, but I thought this was perfect. It was really super juicy and tender. The charred bits were delicious too.

Btw, how many years have they been married? 62. I do believe that 62 years of the Smoked Prime Rib anniversary. True Story.

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