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Friday, April 8, 2011

A Tale of Two Barbecues

Last week, a friend and I stopped at Dickey’s Barbecue for lunch.  Now Dickey’s is a chain based out of Dallas, but it’s been around a while so I decided to give it a try. 
I ordered the pulled pork plate.  I will have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised.  Now this wasn’t the best pulled pork that I have ever eaten, but it wasn’t bad considering that this chain tries to cover all of their bases and serves both beef and pork. 
The pork shoulder had been smoked and had a nice pink smoke ring.  My biggest complaint is that they took a chunk of shoulder that had been soaking in broth and pulled it right before they put it on the plate.  I prefer pulled pork that has a nice smoky, chewy crust outside and a tender moist inside all mixed together.
I topped it off with the sweet barbecue sauce.  It was tomato-based and well proportioned.  I do prefer a little more of a sour bite to balance the sweetness, but it was pretty good. 
Final verdict for Dickey’s:   Not bad for a chain, but not quite my favorite.
Earlier this week I was in Kansas City for some business meetings.  One night we went to dinner at Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue. 
Now this is not your typical barbecue place.  This was definitely upscale, both in d├ęcor and menu.  The  barbecue prices were a bit higher, but given the setting, this was to be expected.
I ordered the barbecue special for the evening: the three meat combo.  I ordered brisket, sausage, and ham.  It came with two sides, as usual with this sort of place.
I was disappointed.  The brisket was too fatty, the sausage did not have much flavor, and the ham was not up to par.  I had really looked forward to the brisket, but the fatty nature of the meat detracted greatly.  The sausage seemed to be a standard grocery store variety, and the ham didn’t seem to be much more than an accumulation of lunch meat.
Now I realize that this is a fairly scathing review.  I had eaten here before and it had been much better.  If you go to Kansas City, skip the upscale places and head to Oklahoma Joe’s or to the epicenter of Kansas City barbecue, Arthur Bryant’s.
Final verdict for Jack Stack:  Skip it and head to Arthur Bryant's.

Friday, April 1, 2011

He'Brew

I tagged along with my wife last Saturday night at a beer and wine tasting in Edwardsville.  My wife went to taste wine and I went to taste beer.

At the tasting, they had one of my old favorites, La Fin du Monde from Quebec.  In English, this translate to "the end of the world" and I suspect that if you drank a couple of these large bottles, it might be the end.  La Fin du Monde is a high gravity beer.  To make this beer, it goes through three fermentations.  The last fermentation is done using champagne yeast which is one of the few yeasts viable at a very high alcohol content.  Despite the high gravity, this is a light and fruity beverage.  It is crisp for a high gravity ale, and is a great after dinner dessert beer.

One of the most interesting beers I tasted was another high gravity beer made by a company called "He'Brew".  This beer was aged in rye whiskey barrels.  It was quite strong (~10% ABV), but tasted even stronger due to the rye whiskey taste.  Think of an IPA with a shot of rye.  If you're a rye whiskey drinker who might want to moderate the amount of alcohol you imbibe, this might be a good substitute.