29 May 2008

MUSIC THURSDAY: Introducing the Band

For all of you readers out there who might be wondering why we have Music Thursdays on the Ulika Food Blog, I ask "why not?". As Rob has said more than once, music and barbecue are totally related. If you you don't believe that, you've obviously never been to a barbecue competition.

One of the highlights of any barbecue cookoff is always the Friday Night Band. Now maybe this is just a Middle Tennessee thing - I sometimes take for granted the abundance of live music that we have around here - but I'm going to assume for our purposes that the Friday Night Band transcends geographical regions. If a cookoff has no other entertainment, they will still have live music for a couple of hours on the night before turn-in.

The Friday Night Band can be a ragtag bunch of local youngsters straight outta the garage, or a deft assembly of seasoned vets. They can be slick, ambitious and upwardly mobile, or contentedly underachieving. They can be rockin' country, or country rock. But there's one thing that every Friday Night Band has in common - covers. Play something we know.

At the beginning of this barbecue season, we set out to compare and contrast the bands we saw at competitons. After two years on the circuit, we knew to expect anything. We were not disappointed.

The Beagles
Porkin' in the Park (Clarksville, TN)




The Beagles were probably the oldest band we've seen at a barbecue cookoff, in terms of average age. I'd place it at about 42, and that's with a guitar player and a drummer who looked to be 10 years younger than everybody else. The Beagles seemed to be comprised of the kind of Baby Boomers the Bellamy Brothers used to write songs about - raised on rock'n'roll in the 60s and 70s, but have gradually made the transition to country. They played a sexegenarian set that ranged from the pedestrian ("Sweet Home Alabama", "Mustang Sally") to the inspired (Cat Stevens' "Wild World", the Byrds' "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better") to the head-scratching (Anna Nalick's 2005 hit "Breathe (2 AM)"). Overall, the level of musicianship was superior to what we normally see at events like this. Their playing was refreshingly efficient, free of the free-form histrionics that normally rage unchecked in a three hour set.

Sloe Gin
High on the Hog (Winchester, TN)




Some of the lads in Nashville's Sloe Gin probably could have been the children of some of the Beagles. Their setlist, however, still relied mostly on the classic rock standards of the 1970s, with some Nickelback and Creed peppered in amongst the Doobies, Stones, Eagles and Skynrd. Their meandering, indulgent style, replete with blues jams and ten minute guitar solos, seemed to be right at home on a balmy Franklin County night.

Troubled Hush
Sun Drop Country BBQ (Pulaski, TN)




This contest featured the unfortunately named Troubled Hush. Troubled Hush also hail from Nashville and used to be called Goodchild, which, amazingly, is a better band name. This band definitely seem the most inclined to "make it" in the recording industry, judging by the fact that they actually played several original songs, and by their MySpace page, which announces:

Goodchild made its name as a goodtime party band. Whereas Troubled Hush is looking to establish itself by making moving, lasting original music.


Oh, and there's also a band photo which features the lead guitarist taking a shit (very moving). Anyway...while I am not normally a fan of original tunes from the Friday Night Band, Troubled Hush somewhat redeemed themselves by playing some interesting covers. I heard, among other things, "Ain't No Sunshine" by Bill Withers, "Wagon Wheel" by Old Crow Medicine Show, "Paradise City" by Guns N' Roses, "Undone (The Sweater Song)" by Weezer, and "Santeria" by Sublime. Definitely the first time I've heard Weezer at a barbecue cookoff! Even if their execution was a bit ragged and things got unnecessarily jammy at times, overall I dug it.

So there you have it, Dear Reader. Perhaps in the future we will have more in depth reports with setlists, etc. We'll see.

In closing, I will leave you with a bit of trivia. What ONE song do you think was played by all three Friday Night Bands discussed here? If you said "Keep Your Hands to Yourself" by the Georgia Satellites, you are correct. Who would have thought?

28 May 2008

BBQ SAUCE OF THE WEEK: Ahrun's Famous Zombie Boogie

Alright, I'm back. Things have been a bit hectic lately. Sorry I've deprived you of learning the relative merits of various barbecue sauces. Anyway, on to business.



One of the fallacies of these barbecue sauce reviews is that they are essentially done in a vacuum, with sauces tasted alone on a spoon. And though that is really the only fair way to judge a sauce, we all know that in reality, barbecue sauce was made to be eaten with barbecue.

So if we think about barbecue sauce in context, just because a sauce is good by itself doesn't necessarily mean it will complement what it's going on. Sometimes a sauce, though delicious, is so overwhelming that it will dominate whatever it touches. Ahrun's Famous Zombie Boogie Pineapple Habanero Bar-B-Que Sauce is one such sauce. Don't get me wrong, I love this sauce. It's the color of a good mole and the consistency of steak sauce. It has a nice smokey aroma. And the best way I can describe its taste is to say that the sweetness and the spiciness have both been turned up to 10. This is about the sweetest sauce I have tasted in these reports, and also the spiciest. And it's an interesting sweetness, with essences of molasses and, of course, pineapple. It really has a great taste. HOWEVAH...

I cannot imagine putting this sauce on any barbecue that I thought was good, simply because there is no way you could taste anything else under this sauce. But on the other hand, the sauce tastes so good that if you were dealing with, say, bad barbecue, this sauce could turn it into something interesting. In fact, Ahrun's Zombie Boogie could be the beginning of a whole new category of barbecue sauce:



Henceforth, any barbecue sauce which is delicious, but too strong for its own good, shall be known as FLUBB.

Grade: A

23 May 2008

Memorial Day Weekend - What Are You Cooking?



Post a comment below and let me know what you are cooking this Memorial Day Weekend.

To all the cooks participating in the The Great American Barbecue Festival, good luck and have fun.

22 May 2008

Music Thursday : Poke Salad

As you go to your various cookouts this weekend, I hope you enjoy the nice weather and great food. If you are in the South, you might be lucky enough to get some poke salad.

Tony Joe White - Poke Salad Annie

18 May 2008

Pizza on the Egg

We are getting a little bit better with the pizza on the egg.

This time, we started with a homemade crust which was brushed in olive oil. Instead of the traditional red pizza sauce, we made a white base sauce with butter, flour, salt, parmesan cheese and heavy cream. The pizza was topped in sausage, pepperoni, bella mushrooms and various cheeses.

Using a little corn meal allowed the pizza to slide off of the peel and onto the egg easily where it cooked hotter (around 600 degrees) and faster (6-7 minutes) this time.

16 May 2008

BBQ IN THE NEWS: Bizarre Pig Smack in Franklin



Today's Tennessean has a story about a piece of promotional pig art in downtown Franklin, Tennessee which seems to have been the victim of a bizarre threatening note.

"Your Pig Got Smoked. Rodeo Time In Franklin," reads the note, which also had a rounded cigar burn in the paper.

Nice.

First of all, who says newspapers are dying a slow death in our modern society? Where else are you going to hear about hard-hitting, relevant stories like this one?

Second of all, it's good to know that despite the ever-increasing yuppification of Williamson County, there are still people there who care so passionately about the Franklin Rodeo.

Third of all (and most importantly), I am very interested in hearing more about this Franklin Food & Spirits Festival. From the sound of things, it seems to be a mostly barbecue-oriented event. With a little digging, I was able to learn that some impressive people and organizations are involved, including Pat Martin (Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint - Nolensville, TN), Ed Mitchell (Eastern NC BBQ legend), Big Bob Gibson's Bar-B-Q, Frank Vernon (The Bar-B-Q Shop - Memphis, TN), Jim 'N Nick's Bar-B-Q, and the Southern Foodways Alliance. Apparently, they're cooking whole hogs at the Carnton Plantation the first day of the festival. Where do I sign up?

14 May 2008

BAR-B-CURIOS: World's Largest Barbecue Sandwich - UPDATE!

I wanted to check back in and let all of you know how the Pulaski Kiwanis' world record attempt turned out. As we pointed out beforehand, the people from Guinness were not on hand, so the record was not certified. But it appears that unofficially we do in fact have a new world record.

The assembly of the sandwich began shortly after the dessert turn-in at 2:00.



Here is the finished product.



As you can see on the scale, the final weight was 145 pounds. Old record of 89.9 lbs = destroyed.



Thoughts:

1. First and most obviously, this is not one sandwich, but two. Two buns = two sandwiches.
2. You might not be able to tell from the photos, but most of the pork was not pulled. In the first photo, you can see that they started to pull it with the first few butts, but most of the sandwiches consisted of them just placing whole butts (bone-in) onto the buns.
3. Now that the excitement of this record is behind us, what's next? What should be the next "world's largest" food item record-breaker? I for one would like to see the world's largest funnel cake. You?

13 May 2008

SunDrop BBQ Cookoff - Pulaski, TN


Pulaski was not kind to Ulika last year. We were coming off of a strong performance in Winchester and got highly disappointed when the awards rolled around. Well, this year was no different. Coming off of strong finishes in both Clarksville and Winchester, we did not fare so well in Pulaski.



For the second year in a row, our pork finished D.A.L. (dead ass last). We felt like it was probably the best pork we had turned in all year, but the judges did not agree. Our chicken and ribs did not do much better. We have been doing pretty well with chicken this year and while it may not have been our best effort, it was still pretty solid. The strongest aspect of our chicken has been tenderness and that was what ended up hurting us. As for the ribs, I just never know with the ribs. It is the one category that I can just not figure out. In KCBS competitions, they tell you that a fall off the bone rib is overcooked. What you look for in a perfectly cooked rib is to bite into the rib and pull away without pulling all the meat off the bone. The couple of times that we have been able to accomplish that, the judges still kill us on tenderness. I just can't seem to get a 9 on tenderness for ribs to save my life. Maybe I should just start boiling the ribs.



The bright spot of the weekend was our brisket. We took fourth place in brisket and we have been in the top 10 for brisket in all of our contests this year. We also received a nice trophy with a SunDrop bottle. If you are not aware, SunDrop is the official drink of team Ulika. so, a trophy with a SunDrop bottle is a very cool prize for us. If you are a SunDrop drinker, you also know that the bottles are much more preferable over the cans. The glass bottles have real flakes of citrus that make it a more enjoyable experience. Now, all I have to do is keep Peter from drinking the trophy.



All in all, we still enjoyed the weekend. We were setup right next to our friends from Pig Smokers in Paradise and High on the Hawg (congrats on their 1st place ribs). We also got to meet the guys from The Thrillerz on the Grillerz. Ben and Joe also got to meet the Pig from Piggly Wiggly.





Now team Ulika will be taking a hiatus while we await the arrival of the newest team member, JoJo Marlow. Our next competition is scheduled for June 27-28 in Lawrenceburg, TN.

10 May 2008

Pulaski Results



4th Place Brisket

Yes the brisket is the only thing worth mentioning at this point, but I will have a full report later this week.

Congrats to Jiggy Piggy for their Grand.

08 May 2008

Mmm... Weezer


Well, Weezer's back (again) with a new self-titled album (again), which the kids are referring to as "the red album". I was kinda excited to discover that the lead-off single is called "Pork & Beans", but unfortunately it doesn't seem to have much of anything to do with the canned food staple. Though it does have have some well-placed pop culture references to Rogain, Timbaland, and Oakley's.

It's worth noting that Ulika's Ben Patton makes some amazing Jimmy Dean-sausage-infused baked beans. So, so good... some real deal pork and beans.

ps Y'all like my Photoshoppin'? I know you do.

Weezer - "Pork & Beans"

06 May 2008

Agave Pictures


Here are some pictures from the cook at Agave on Sunday. A big thanks to Cullen and the Agave staff for having us out - they sure know how to throw a party. Our bbq festivities did have to follow the midget wrestling that was on Saturday night (how can you compete with that?).

Peter made his famous peppers. Peter is in fact the king of peppers. We estimate that Peter has made more than 1,000 peppers in his short pepper making career.


Peppers being stuffed with cheese.


Peter checking on the peppers


The finished peppers - stuffed with pepper jack and shrimp then wrapped in bacon


The finished ribs

I was really happy with how the ribs came out. I had never cooked a rack of ribs on a Weber Kettle before and they turned out alright. The Weber was also pretty low maintenance. With the Big Briq charcoal that I was using, I only had to add some coals one time during a four hour cook. Oh yeah, and I guess we won the "competition". We beat out two other teams in our first ever overall victory!

02 May 2008

Ulika BBQ to Cook at Agave in Nashville


On Sunday May 4th, Ulika will be making a special appearance at Agave Tequila Lounge in Nashville. As part of a four day Cinco de Mayo celebration, Agave will be holding a ribs and chicken cookoff. I know that I said I would never cook in an unsanctioned event again, but this "contest" is a little different. First, there will only be two or three other people "competing" - so I like our chances. Second, I'm not sure if you could really consider this a contest since there are no prizes, no awards, and no judges (well 5-6 random people may or may not select a peoples' choice winner). No, this "contest" is more for fun. Honorary Ulika member Cullen Wyatt helps run Agave and he asked us to come down and participate. So when the opportunity came up, I decided that it would be more fun to handicap ourselves by cooking old school only - on Weber Kettles.

Come out to Agave on Sunday. I am sure Cullen and the gang will be serving it up real nice all day long. Agave is located at 118 12th Ave S, Nashville, TN.

01 May 2008

Music Thursday: Crawfish


We are now at the peak of crawfish season...so for Ulika Music Thursday, I thought I would bring you a song about crawfish.

Elvis Presley's Crawfish

This is a duet with Kitty White featured in the 1958 film King Creole.

Is there anything better than grubbing on a table of crawfish while drinking a cold beer? I didn't think so. Nothing says spring like sucking the head off of a little crustacean.

If you are in Nashville, South Street has all-you-can-eat crawfish on Sundays that I highly recommend. You better show up early (before 3pm) to make sure you get some.