31 March 2010


Wow! This one has a pop like no other that I've tasted in these reports. This one will pucker you up! It's a vinegar-based sauce, but goes beyond the simplicity of an Easten Carolina style sauce by adding lots of mustard, paprika, and garlic. Very very tangy and not a trace of sweetness to be found. It's got a great vibrant color and a thin, spice-laden texture. Carolina Treet is probably right up lots of people's alley, but the tart factor is just a little too much for me.

Grade: C

30 March 2010


The Final Four of the Burger Tournament has been set.

The people have spoken, or in this case voted, for the top four burger spots in Nashville. There are no real surprises here as three of the number one seeds made the final four and one number two seed.

Brown's vs. PM

#1 Seed from the North Bracket - Brown's Diner
Brown's Diner is definitely what you would consider a true burger joint. Inconspicuously located on the corner of 21st and Blair, the double wide trailer that Brown's calls home doesn't exactly fit into the neighborhood that has built up around it. But even with the ever changing landscape, Brown's has stayed true to form by putting out one of the best burgers in Nashville. They look to take their classic burger up against the jazzier PM located just about a mile down the road. It's not exactly the battle of the boulevard, but it's close.

#2 Seed from the East Bracket - PM
PM is the brainchild of Nashville restaurateur Arnold Mint. Don't let the Seaweed Salad on the menu fool you, there is a burger on the menu of this ore upscale restaurant, and several folks will tell you it's the best in town. This is truly an old school vs. new school match up as they take on the rough and rugged Brown's Diner.

Rotier's vs. Gabby's

#1 Seed from the West Bracket - Rotier's
Rotier's is a Nashville tradition. Located near Vandy on Elliston Place, they have been serving up their famous burgers since they first opened in 1945. Known for the grilled burger on french bread and winner of several "best burger in Nashville" awards, they aim to take down Gabby's.

#1 Seed from the South Bracket - Gabby's
Gabby's is the new kid on the block. Owner Doug Havron opened Gabby's in the old Hap Townes location near Greer Stadium. Known for serving grass-fed beef and the slogan "living the dream", Gabby's looks to make its mark by taking down the historic Rotier's.

Vote Here

29 March 2010

Burger Tournament: Elite 8

The Elite 8 has now started. I know that we are a little off from the original schedule, but we are determined to come up with a winner. We also have the voting chart fixed for this round. So continue to vote for your favorite burger joint.

Vote Here

If you can't see the right side of the bracket click 'ctrl +'

25 March 2010

Burger Tournament: Sweet 16

We are now into the Sweet 16 on the Burger Tournament. There have been a few upsets, but the high seeds are still alive.

Vote Here

23 March 2010

Burger Tournament Update

I am sorry for the problems with the burger tournament. I thought it would be a little easier than it has been, and we are still working out the kinks. Thanks for your patience.

We have advanced to the second round, but not all of the matchups show up correctly in the voting window. We are still tracking who you vote for so feel free to keep voting.

Vote Here

Contest Recap: USA Barbecue Championship

Last Thursday the Mrs. and I loaded up the trailer and headed west to North Little Rock for the USA Barbecue Championship. This was the first time that Team Ulika had ventured outside of Tennessee for a bbq competition, and of course we could not leave town without incident; I had to go to the trailer shop twice before we left town just to get the lights working. Once we were riding legal, the 5.5 hour trip seemed to take forever. It doesn't help that the drive is exceedingly boring from Nashville to Memphis, and once you cross over into Arkansas, the roads just turn to a bumpy mess. But we finally rolled into town on Thursday afternoon and got a nice spot underneath an old railroad bridge. A majority of the teams were already setup when we arrived, but we made it into our spot without a problem. We felt really lucky having an end spot after seeing how some of the teams were cramped in together.

After getting the trailer unloaded and the new banners hung, we ventured across the river to downtown Little Rock for a deep dish pie at Gusano’s Pizzeria. The pizza was just okay and it made me realize that I should not keep trying to order a deep dish pizza outside of the Chicago city limits. Since it was not much to speak of, don't expect a Friday Night Slice review.

After dinner, I headed back to the trailer to trim up the chicken. This process takes way longer than I would like to admit, but I am happy with the final product after it is over.

Friday rolled around and the meat was inspected, butts and briskets injected, and other meaningless task were fulfilled. BP and Peter arrived at about 2pm as did our neighbors, TNT Smokers. We cooked up a few sausages and dogs on the egg and then called it a night.

On Saturday morning I ended up boiling some water with my charcoal starter so I could get my aeropress going. Once I had my coffee I could start my day. Everything started smoothly and the only that really went wrong with my cook was that I ended up a little ahead of schedule. Being a little anxious, I started the ribs and chicken a bit early and it may have ended up costing us a few spots since I had to hold them until turn in time. Everything went smoothly with the turn-ins thanks to our official team walker, BP and the spotter, Peter. As always, the Mrs. made some pretty boxes and the presentation scores were all perfect 9s with a few 8s.

Luckily the rain held off until we were packed up and ready for the awards. We sat there hoping to hear our name called in a tough crowd of competitors, but it was just not our day.

With 227 teams competing this is how we finished:

Chicken 92nd
Ribs 139th
Pork 65th
Brisket 98th
Overall 90th

Even though we finished 90th, we actually had our highest overall point total. So we have some positives to take away from the weekend. All in all I had a great time in North Little Rock and I look forward to cooking there again sometime. Ron Cates has already announced that the prize pool will be bigger next year.

Congrats to Rod & Sheri Gray of Pellet Envy for taking home the oversized check for Grand Champion and two more trophies to add to their collection. Tuffy Stone of Cool Smoke finished as the Reserve Grand Champion with a 1st place in ribs.

Middle Tennessee was well represented with The Long Dawgs taking 13th overall (that new Jambo is working out nicely!) and High on the Hawg placing 16th overall.

I thought the best way to wrap this up would be to write just some general observations:

1. The banks of the Arkansas River is a nice place for a contest.
2. Japanese guys love $100 bills.
3. On the top floor of a hotel, you sacrifice water pressure for a view.
4. Little Rock is home to JoJo's BBQ (Peter bought me the t-shirt to prove it).
5. Rod and Tuffy can cook some pretty good bbq.
6. Little Rock has some jacked up road intersections.
7. People like BBQ Pitmasters
8. There are several new Jambo pits on the circuit as well as some knock offs.
9. Three 180s in Pork is crazy impressive.
10. Peter should have bet that team that we could beat them. Then we would have at least gone home with a little cash. Instead he bought a Vols win.

We will be competing again in about a month when we head to Winchester to participate at High on the Hog. <-- make sure you have the sound cranked up!

18 March 2010

Nashville Burger Tournament - Round 1 Begins

Ulika Food Blog Presents the 2010 Nashville Burger Tournament

Vote Now

17 March 2010

BBQ SAUCE OF THE WEEK: Stubb's Original

In Middle Tennessee, Stubb's is a barbecue sauce. In Austin, Texas, Stubb's is an institution. It's a restaurant and it's a live music venue. And I'm not talking about Joe Singersongwriter and his guitar or a Saturday night cover band. Stubb's regularly hosts real concerts, and is a key venue at South by Southwest (the Walkmen and Spoon are playing there tonight).

How good is the restaurant? It depends on who you ask. The general consensus seems to be that however good the barbecue once was when the place was in Lubbock, it isn't much count these days. Still, it seems like a very values-driven organization that is committed to more than just making a buck. The sauce arm of the company partners with homeless shelters and soup kitchens across the country and has made it part of their mission to "feed the world."

The Stubb's line of barbecue sauces has been very successful. They have found their way onto supermarket shelves nationwide and were the 8th highest selling barbecue sauce brand in 2009. The sauce comes in six permutations - original, spicy, mild, hickory bourbon, honey pecan, and smoky mesquite. They also make a variety of rubs and marinades.

The "original" version of the sauce is definitely a little bit hotter than your normal sauce that is not labeled "hot." Overall, this is more of a savory and spicy kind of flavor than sweet. There is a modicum of sweetness, but it exists more as a complement than a leading player. The sauce has a very earthy, natural taste, with lots of rich tomato flavor enhanced by notes of vinegar, onion, garlic and tamarind. The consistency of the sauce is relatively thick, with a relatively smooth texture. Bits of pepper punctuate the the dark red color.

Grade: A-

16 March 2010

What Day Is It? Slight Delay in the Burger Tournament

Is this a weekday?

There has been a slight delay in the Burger Tournament. The voting will begin Thursday the 18th to coincide with the NCAA Tournament. This way the voting will be continuous without a stoppage in play. Sorry for the confusion, but I have never hosted a tournament of this size before. Here is the new schedule:

Round 1 - March 18-20

Round 2 - March 21-23

Sweet 16 - March 24-26

Elite 8 - March 27-29

Final 4 - March 30 - April 1

Championship Game - April 2-5

14 March 2010

March Madness: Nashville Burger Tournament Update

There is a slight change to the dates for the burger tournament. All voting will begin at 12:00 am on the first date listed and it will end at 11:59 pm on the last date for each round.

Round 1 - March 16-18

Round 2 - March 19-21

Sweet 16 - March 24-26

Elite 8 - March 27-29

Final 4 - March 31 - April 2

Championship Game - April 3-5

Selection Sunday: South Bracket

1st Round South

1 Gabby's
16 Sports Page

8 Corner Pub
9 Morton's

5 McCabe Pub
12 Puffy Muffin

4 Twin Kegs
13 Judge Bean's

6 Capitol Grille
11 Cross Corner Bar & Grill

3 12 South Taproom
14 Ant B's Burgers

7 The Melrose
10 Sunset Grill

2 Five Guys
15 Sam's

Selection Sunday: West Bracket

1st Round West

1 Rotier's
16 Southside Grill

8 Fleming's
9 The Gold Rush

5 Red Robin
12 Commodore Bar & Grill

4 Ted's Montana Grill
13 Robert's Western World

6 Belle
11 Hutton Hotel

3 Bobbie's Dairy Dip
14 Mambu

7 Dalt's
10 Blackstone's

2 Sportsman's Grill
15 Nero's Grill

Selection Sunday: East Bracket

1st Round East

1 Fat Mo's
16 Johnathan's

8 Bricktop's
9 Hermitage Cafe

5 The Palm
12 Whiskey Kitchen

4 Buster's
13 Big River Grille

6 Bosco's
11 Frank-N-Burger

3 The Edgefield
14 Dan Mcguinness

7 J. Alexander's
10 Jackson's

2 PM
15 Harpeth Grill

Selection Sunday: North Bracket

1st Round North

1 Brown's Diner
16 Past Perfect

8 Burgers n Cream
9 Backyard Burger

5 F. Scott's
12 Broadway Brewhouse

4 Boswell's Harley Davidson
13 Whole Foods Grill

6 Merchant's
11 Noshville

3 Cheeseburger Charley's
14 Crow's Nest

7 Blue Goose Cafe
10 Paradise Park

2 Elliston Place Soda Shop
15 SoBro Grill

11 March 2010

Assault with a Deadly Meat Thermometer

Man stabbed with meat thermometer at movie in CA

(AP) – 2 days ago

LANCASTER, Calif. — Authorities say a man was stabbed in the neck with a meat thermometer after asking a woman to silence her cell phone during a screening of the film "Shutter Island" at a Southern California movie theater.

Los Angeles County sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore says the stabbing happened Feb. 27 during a screening of the Martin Scorsese film in Lancaster. He says the two suspects remain at large.

Whitmore says the victim had complained about a woman sitting nearby who was talking on her phone during the movie. He says the woman left with two men, but the men returned minutes later and stabbed the victim in the neck.

Two other people in the theater came to the victim's aid and also were hurt. The man was hospitalized with serious injuries.

The sheriff's office says it knew the weapon used was a meat thermometer because the suspects left it behind. No further details were released.


So who carries around a meat thermometer to a picture show?

Music Thursday: Let It Rock

One week from today we will be competing in Little Rock Arkansas at the $100,000
USA Barbecue Championship.

In an ode to those competing in Mobile this weekend and in preparation for Rockin' in Little Rock here is some Chuck Berry for ya:

10 March 2010

BBQ SAUCE OF THE WEEK: Williamson Bros

Williamson Bros is a big barbecue outfit in the suburbs of Atlanta. Alabama natives Danny and Larry Williamson opened the first location in 1990, and it has since become a Cobb County institution. I have never been to the restaurant, but I'm happy to give their sauce a go.

This sauce is an attractive bright red, but it's far from the consistency of ketchup. It's thinner than most that you find in the grocery store - not too much thicker than water. It's got a lot of bits of stuff suspended throughout - some bits of onion, but mostly spices. The sauce is immediately sweeter than you'd expect such a thin sauce to be, but the vinegar definitely makes its presence felt, too. It packs a pretty potent peppery punch, but won't light you up by any means. And there is a distinct fruity essence to this sauce that I can't quite put my finger on. Overall, not a great sauce, but definitely different. 

Grade: B

BBQ IN THE NEWS: Old Timer's Robbed at Gunpoint

Old Timer's Pit Bar-B-Que & Fish on Clarksville Highway in North Nashville was the victim of an armed robbery on Saturday morning. A masked man entered the building and put a gun to an employee's head and told him to call his boss into the room. Owner Howard Owen sensed trouble and grabbed his pistol, but the surprise of seeing a masked marauder caused him to fall and hit his head. In the end, the robber left with the cash while Owen and his employee counted to sixty.

WTVF's website has surveillance camera footage and an interview.

You can read our review of Old Timer's and the rest of the Clarksville Highway barbecue joints here.

03 March 2010

BBQ SAUCE OF THE WEEK: Jack Daniel's Original No. 7

In 2001, the Jack Daniel's name was licensed to Heinz to create a line of barbecue sauces, steak sauces and marinades. The Jack Daniel's-Barbecue connection is well established, with Lynchburg and JD annually hosting one of the most prestigious barbecue cookoffs in the nation. Heinz developed a line of products using "Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey Flavoring (Natural & Artificial Flavors)". They made the plastic bottles in the shape of Jack Daniel's bottles. And voilĂ ...let's go make some money.

Honestly, for a sauce that hangs its hat on a whiskey brand, it seemed to lack any real whiskey flavor. Allegedly the "Master Blend" flavor contains a stronger whiskey flavor...fyi. There are also Honey Smokehouse, Hickory Brown Sugar, Spicy, and Steakhouse flavors to choose from. Mostly what this sauce is is smoky and sweet. It's very very thick and dark burgundy colored, with a smooth texture. And like I said...smoky. This is one of the smokiest barbecue sauces that I have yet tasted. The sweetness is strong as well. It's a dense molasses sweetness that seems to enhance the smokiness. There's not much more to the flavor than that...a little bit of vinegar, a little bit of mustard, and maybe if you tilt your head just right, a little bit of whiskey.

Grade: C