Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Twin Smokers

I certainly enjoyed my BBQ at Twin Smokers, although I can't say that I was overwhelmed. Twin Smokers is in the heart of the Luckie Marietta district, with all its plusses and minuses---lots of fun, crazy parking.

These are the twin smokers---giant machines. Someone decided to give them names...

My cell phone camera failed me again, so I can't show you a photo of my brisket plate. I ordered two sides: the beans were OK but not exciting; the slaw seemed to be sour cream based and was pretty nice. The brisket was very tender and flavorful. But I think that it lacked a little character. Although very well executed, it didn't excite me. I also found the food to be a little expensive given the size of the portions.

Twin Smokers BBQ on Urbanspoon

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Lawrenceville: Bolton's BBQ

Bolton's is a small roadside establishment near Tribble Mill Park. In an age when BBQ has been taken over by yuppies like me, I am pleased to see that places like this still survive---no-nonsense, good BBQ.

A smoker and a half cord of very nice looking firewood graces the small parking area. Inside, this is a general store catering to fishermen. Refrigerators full of bait take up more floor space than does the BBQ. The owner made my BBQ pork sandwich for me by scooping two large spoonfuls of pulled pork out of the steamer and heaping them onto my bun. She asked "hot or mild," I replied hot.

Unfortunately, my cellphone camera failed me at the moment of truth. But I can report that the sandwich was as good as it was sloppy. The meat was tender and very porky. The sauce buzzed my lips but nothing more---no show-off, death-defying hot sauce here. This was a truly satisfying meal and I will make it a regular stop on my trips to the park.

Bolton's BBQ on Urbanspoon

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Chamblee: Little Cuba

I just had a very enjoyable lunch at Little Cuba. It's in that other part of Chamblee, the part where foodies never go, on the other side of I-85. That's probably why I didn't really notice this restaurant for quite some time.

I started off with tostones (mashed and fried plantains). Plantains need some sort of sauce to lubricate the starch. These came with a totally unexpected sauce made of lemon. To my surprise, it was a great complement to the plantains.

My pork was delicious. The pork cubes were fried just enough to give them great carmelization and texture. Inside the meat was juicy and flavorful. The rice and beans were very hearty. I hadn't bargained on the plantain chips; I just sampled them but they made a good complement to the pork.

Little Cuba on Urbanspoon

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Chamblee: Purnima

The Gang of Food convened at Purnima for a wonderful Bangladeshi meal. Thanks for the tip, Yorai!

A few notes are in order. The food was much like northern Indian to my untrained eye but the sauces were much hotter---not eye-popping hot but a very strong slow burn. The pastries---naan and samosa (although they used a different term)---were superb. They have a full selection of goat dishes that were excellent. We had several dishes with eggplant, a group favorite. The tandoor selections were also excellent.

Here are some photos for you to enjoy...

Purnima on Urbanspoon

Friday, February 6, 2015

Pork Shoulder Confit

I heard one or two food shows talk about pork confit, a variation on duck confit that had never occurred to me. A confit is a meat cooked in a bath of its own fat. So I decided to take this idea out for a spin. My ingredients were simple: a complete pork shoulder from Publix, a steal for less than $20; and two tubs of fresh lard from the Buford Highway Farmer's Market. The pork shoulder came vacuum packed in a brine, but I decided to pack it in my own brine (pickling salt plus molasses) for the last day. The shoulder was so big that I didn't have a pan big enough to hold it, so I also picked up a foil roasting pan.

Here is my pork shoulder going into the oven. I also threw in two carrots from the refrigerator, which turned out to be a great idea. I didn't have enough lard to fully cover the shoulder. As it turned out, I had enough to produce a good effect. The fat cap on top of the shoulder probably contributed as well.

Here it is coming out of the oven. I think this was the best pork roast I have ever had: juicy, tender, porky but not overly strong. It was so good I went back for seconds and thirds. A surprise bonus was the skin that came on top of the shoulder. It wasn't quite a ciccarone since it hadn't been fully fried but it was delicious. It was crispy, slightly carmelized, and with a touch of pork flavor, like a thick pork potato chip. The carrots were delicious, too. They didn't taste fatty, just like a concentrated carrot.

And I now have enough pork left over for three or four more meals. My next step is to use some of the pork in a batch of chili.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Tucson AZ: Cocos Con Camaron

I found this food stand near Tucson airport and had a very enjoyable meal. Quite frankly, I think the food at the airport is uninspired, so I drove around to try to find something to eat before I caught my flight. On a Sunday, many of the weekday options around the airport are closed. Luckily, this stand was open, clearly staffed by a hard-working family.

As you can see from the menu, they serve a variety of fruit drinks and fruit salads as well as savory dishes.

My order started off with a taquito made of beef head (cabeza). The meat was very tasty but not overly strong, just enough to make me wish I had ordered more of it. The burro's chicken was very juicy. The avocado complemented the meat very well in flavor, texture, and coolness. Even the simple lettuce made a nice contrast. I asked for my mango drink with a combination of crushed ice and water. I don't always order fruit drinks with my Mexican meals but perhaps I should change my habits---the sweetness of the mango contrasted with the savory meat just enough to highlight both.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Tucson AZ: Tucson Tamale Company

I made a U turn when I saw Tucson Tamale Company and I wasn't disappointed. I have always loved tamales but fresh, handmade tamales aren't that easy to find. Tucson Tamale's product was outstanding. It also came out so fast that I didnt' even have time to put away my wallet before the plate was in front of me.

I ordered the Santa Fe and the blue corn. The Santa Fee is a pork tamale. The masa was soft, creamy, and rich. The filling balanced the pork with a variety of other flavors. I ordered the hot salsa, which is of the sneaky variety: not too hot initially but delivers a good 10-minute slow burn.

The blue corn tamale, a vegetarian option, deserves a closer look. If you haven't had blue corn before, it does have a distinctive taste. The yellow corn in the filling makes a great contrast in both taste and color. Thiw was a wonderfully complex filling that I really enjoyed.

Biscuits Country Cafe on Urbanspoon