Tuesday, December 30, 2014

WOW... 2014 SUCKED (kinda)!

Watching TV today a Psychologist was discussing the emotional impact the holidays can have on some people.  He suggested people should take inventory of the past years positive events and experiences and reflect on them.  His theory was the list would provide a springboard for how you approach 2015 and in doing so you would feel good about yourself.  Ok...maybe I can buy that but if your gonna inventory the good things shouldn't you inventory the bad shit? And with some people wouldn't the bad shit offset the good shit and result in even more depression?  I could debate this further but I am not a Physiologist just a GOBRT..."Good Ole Boy with Redneck Tendencies" however I did like the idea of making a list of the good shit!  So despite Lawyers, Judges, Courtrooms, a bad wreck, rib disqualification in Cookeville, & other life changing bad mojo there have been some incredible events, experiences, & PEOPLE in my life this past year!  Here's my list....

Music has always been an important part of my life. I began playing trumpet in 3rd grade & guitar in 4th. My favorite instrument to play is the stereo/radio but nothing can compare to LIVE MUSIC! Here are a few artist & bands I had the pleasure of seeing & hearing (in no particular order)  Sturgill Simpson, Blackberry Smoke, Holly Williams, Byron Hill, Wil Nance, Roxie Dean, Will Hogue, Billy Joe Shaver, Jason Isbell, Lucinda Williams, Shawn Mullins, Chuck Cannon, Emmylou Harris, Jamey Johnson, Ricky Scaggs, Jeff Hanna, Martraca Berg, Keith Anderson, Kaycey Smith, John England & The Western Swingers, Larry Hamilton & The Palace Band, 50 Shades of Hay, Eileen Rose & Silver Threads, Wendy Newcomer, 2Country4Nashville, Pork McElhinny, David Petersen, Skipper Grace, Drake White & The Big Fire, Clare Dunn, Brian Collins, Donica Knight, Todd Snider, Buddy Miller, Robert Ellis, Chas Sandford & a few others that I am sure I missed.

Next are some things I did, attended, or visited starting with competing in 4 BBQ contests (Winchester, Lewisburg, Cookeville, & Mt. Pleasant) of which the Tony Stone Cookeville contest is my favorite, Studio A catering event, the KCBS Banquet in Nashville, spending time in the "Holler" in Kentucky, the Watertown Yard Sale, Jeff & Luann's Birthday/Anniversary party,  Brandt & Mandy Snedeker Catering event, The Jack, spending weekends poolside at Hooperville, assisting Donny Bray at WCPC BBQ Classes, lightening of the Jack Daniels Barrel Christmas Tree, July 4th Party at Hooperville, weekends in Mullberry, Jack week at the Butt-Ranch, and Orange Beach Vacation! I am sure I am leaving out something but my memory is fading as I finish a bottle of Winter-Jack! 

Contrary to what Facebook says you can never have enough friends! So I made some new ones in 2014. Colleen Martin, Rodney Crowell, Angie Leathers, Andy Williams, Mayco & Marianne Van Galen, Phil Wingo, Donette & John Van Cleve, The Meat Sweats, Flaming Pig BBQ, Chip Chapman, Melissa Pyne, Bob Williams, Andy Sawran, Edz wings, De Filous, Dale Watson, Braai-B-Que, Damon & Michelle Austin, Todd Sessa, Chef Sara, Mike Wolf, Johnny Love, Rick Morris, all entered my life in 2014. I also re-connected with Joe Beckham, Leroy Groves, Patricia Rhodes, & Dan Watson. Thank you for allowing me into you "Circle of Friends" & I am so thankful that you are in mine. Please forgive me as I am sure I have left many off this list. Winter Jack is now down to 1/4th.  

 I could not have gotten through 2014 with the help of several special people in my life.  Lee McWright, Jeff & Luann Edwards, Misty Tinch, Richard & the entire Finley family, Joe Luffman, Jeff McPherson, Buck, Lou, Phyllis, Christy & David Baker, Jan & Randy Minchey, Tonya Alexander, Donny & the entire Bray family, Byron Chism, Darryl Sage, Penny & Chip Hooper, & Lu Ann & Mark Walker. You have all been there for me to lean on, give an encouraging word, a listening ear, & a soft place to land. I can't thank you enough.  You make my life better & I am so thankful for each of you.  2014 would not be possible without the support of my family.  I don't know where I would be if it wasn't for them.  My brothers Shane and Tim are always there when I need them. I am so proud of them!  My "Silver Lining" in 2014 is the time that I have gotten to spend with "Momma DoRag"!  She is my ROCK.  I can always count on her to cheer me up no matter what.  She is the most caring, giving, & loving person you could ever meet.  We have had fun cookin, eating, exploring, laughing, crying, arguing, & makin the best of 2014.

 As I sit here finishing the last drop of Winter Jack I guess the Psychologist "list idea" worked for me.  I did have a really great 2014 after all & I am so excited to see what 2015 has in store for me.  Guess I will have to make a list as I go!  Hope I am on your list! Hopefully not your shit-list!

Have a safe & Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

DoRag's Review: Chauhan Ale & Masala House 

Decided to try “Indian” food for the first time after hearing several good reviews of the Chauhan Ale & Masala House.  One of the dinner groups that I am a member of arranged reservations so the idea of new Peeps & new food was just what I was needing.  Chauhan is located @ the corner of Grundy & 12th Ave North in the former “Roosters BBQ” “Judge Roy Beans BBQ” location.  The exterior has undergone some changes & the interior has a new “warm & cozy” look & feel.  I expected the sounds & smells that my “Un-refined Redneck Ass” had visioned but to my surprise it was very pleasant & not a scent of incense to be found!  I met my group, none of which I had previously met.  They were congregated in the bar area but none had drinks.  After some introductions I confessed “I ain’t ever eaten any Indian food”.  It was like the whole dang place heard me…everything got really quiet until some Dude said “no worries we’ll help you”!  Then he commenced to rattle off for 10 minutes about the whole Indian food flavor profile none of which made sense to me.  Hell by then all I wanted was a beer!  Finally the rest of the group (13 in all) arrived and we were seated.  The exposed brick walls served as screens for several overhead projectors showing pictures of the food & various other subjects.  Made for a swanky look!  Our waitress brought us water out of a fancy bottle & menus.  Reading the menu was a chore being it was dark & the print was a bit small but I managed to find the drink list.  Only a couple in the group ordered drinks so after several minutes of deep thought, I ordered a beer.  I continued praoozin the menu when something caught my eye in the Appetizer section…”Garam Masala Pork Belly”!!!  Now there’s something I know about!  So when the waitress returned I ordered one up.  Again I felt a bit out of place because only one other at the table ordered an appetizer!  Guess I got some learnin to do about these “Dinner Clubs”.  The small talk continued….the Lady across from me was from the area & seemed to be a historian of sorts.  The Dude next to her had lived in Austin for a bit & both had traveled around the world.  They were in a “deep” conversation & I thought it best for this ole boy to stay in the shallow end!  Finally the beer showed up & I immediately ordered another.  The nice Lady next to me worked for the State of Tennessee & lived in the Donelson/Hermitage area.  It was her first time at the Masala House but was familure with Indian food & was very helpful with the menu.  I played it safe & went with Chicken and Tikka Masala (tomato cream sauce).  By this time beer #2 arrived with the Pork Belly Appetizer.  The small plate contained 5 cubed pieces of pork that had been deep fried & laid on top of some greens & slivers of apple.  Quite “un-impressive” & at $2 a chunk I was expecting a little more!  They did have nice crispiness & flavor but by the time I shared with my new found friends all I got was a bite!  I ordered another beer!  
Garam Masala Pork Belly
More chit-chat until the waitress returns with our entrees.  My Chicken Tikka Masala arrived accompanied by bowl of rice.  The chicken was submerged in a orange colored sauce & it was suggested that I spoon it over the rice which I did.  My first bite to my delight was good!  Tender chicken in a creamy sauce with a hint of heat & spices.  The more I ate, the more I liked it!  The others had more traditional Indian dishes like Chicken Saag, Lamb Korma, & Shrimp Moilee but I was happy with my “safe” choice.  These people eat fast & before I knew it the waitress was back asking for desert orders of which there were none!  I excused myself for a short trip to the “facility” & upon my return most of the Peeps were gone!  Puzzled, I ordered another beer!

It would be a stretch to say I “like Indian food” but I can say I liked what I ate.  I will leave it to you to debate whether Chicken Tikka Masala  is traditional Indian or a UK dish as I learned the British lay claim to this dish & it is very popular in the United Kingdom.  In the end I had a pleasant yet somewhat puzzling experience so I may return to eat another day.  The Chauhan Ale & Masala House is a nice, beautifully decorated, cozy, dimly lit, possibly romantic restaurant which provided great service & above average food. Just remember that is coming from a “Un-refined Redneck” so pay them a visit & decide for yourself!  Waitress...another beer please!!!!


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Salsa de Mesa (Table Salsa)

Made some Salsa today to use on Brisket Tacos. I usually make more like a Pico de Gallo which is more chunky. I found this recipe on The Hispanic Kitchen website while looking for a recipe that would have a longer "shelf life" than I had been getting with the Pico. As you can see it made about 2 cups and has quite a bite due to the Jalapenos! You may want to start with 1 pepper and go from there! As for "shelf-life" will keep you posted! Pretty easy to make...give it a try! Enjoy!

6 Roma tomatoes
1/4 white onion
 2 to 3 serrano or jalapeƱo peppers
1 to 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
Juice of ½ lime or 1 key lime
Pinch of crushed Mexican oregano
¼ cup chopped cilantro (optional)

Combine the tomatoes, onion and chili peppers in a microwave-safe dish. Cover with a paper towel and cook in the microwave for 7 to 8 minutes. You could most certainly cook it on the stove top as well by covering tomato, onion and peppers with water and simmering for 20 minutes. Drain all the water before blending. Remove from microwave and let cool slightly. Transfer to a blender, adding lime juice, garlic, oregano, cilantro (if using) and salt, to taste. Start by pulsing, then quickly blend for a few seconds. Taste for salt. Serve warm or at room temperature. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Check out the Hispanic Kitchen for more great recipes!    The Hispanic Kitchen 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Big Al's Deli, Nashville, TN

One room dining & kitchen area. Several tables with seating for maybe 12-15 & 4 stools at the counter. It's crowded! Mike is the cook with Big Al helping with prep, delivery, & taking orders. There was also a nice lady waiting tables & working the register. Luckily I got there early & scored a stool @ the counter so I could see the action. Mike was manning the flat-top grill & the deep fryer. The menu had a "Meat & 3" feel with daily specials. Today's specials were Pork Shank, Meatloaf, & Chicken. They also offered mashed taters, beans, & greens. I ordered a burger & fries but will try the Pork Shank next time. I also ordered sweet tea, which had a different taste that I did not like so I grabbed a Coke. While waiting a steady stream of hungry peeps filled in and placed their orders. Several to go & several sat "family style" wherever they could find a spot. Big Al is a BIG PERSONALITY! He seemed to know everyone that came through the door! Even me who he called "Sport"! It was not long before my burger & fries arrived with a side of Mayo. Other condiments were on the counter. The burger was fully dressed & served open faced. The large helping of fries were hot & crispy. I added mayo & commenced to preform the "hunch"! Big Al's also delivers BIG FLAVOR! The burger was cooked medium well & was huge! It had a nice blend of garlic & pepper seasonings & was juicy! I would say it could be the best burger that I have experienced in Nashville that I did not cook. I am a big Gabby's fan but I gotta say Big Al's may take their crown! Be prepared when you pay them a visit to wait for a seat, sit with strangers, & enjoy good...no GREAT food! You can see Big Al's passion for what he is building & Mike is a Class A cook! Watching him reminded me of seeing Earl Campbell on the football field! I am glad I paid Big Al's a visit. It won't be my last! BTW...they did not charge me for the tea!

It's Been a While......

To say "it's been a while" is an understatement!  I am not going to go into where I've been or been going through, just gonna say there have been many changes in my life.  Some for the better & some not.  My philosophy has always been "when life serves you up lemons, add tequila, salt & do shots".  I've had my share of shots lately but....it could always be worse right?  But enough about that....let's talk what's going on now!

Recently I have had the opportunity to visit several great restaurants & enjoy some great music in Nashville & Louisville.  I thought it would be fun to share my experiences with you. So beginning now I am going to post a short review of the resturants, food, music, & venues I visit as well as an update of the DoRagQ Competition BBQ Team's 2015 schedule & results.  I promise to post at least weekly if not more often. Here is a review of a recent place I visited for lunch.  Hope you enjoy!