Category Archives: 100 Things to Eat Before You Die

World Famous Huey Burger & Sweet Potato Fries from Huey’s

This is most definitely not the first time I’ve had a burger from Huey’s, nor is it the first time I’ve eaten sweet potato fries, but it is the first time I have photographic evidence of both these things.

This story takes place on January 22nd, 2013.

#78 on 100+ Things to Eat in Memphis – Burger from Huey’s

#94 on 100 Things to Eat Before You Die – Sweet Potato Fries

huey's

photo by DiscourseMarker

The first time I went to Huey’s, it was the downtown location. Mary had taken me downtown to her job and we went to lunch with two of the developers, Troy and Andy. I ordered a World Famous Huey Burger with regular fries. Mary ordered something with sweet potato fries. Since that time I haven’t ordered any side other than sweet potato fries.

The second time at Huey’s was the Cordova location. We took our wedding party out to eat there before heading to Beale St. That night I believe I got a Señor Huey Burger, and sweet potato fries again. One of my friends got their dessert with sweet potato fries, which from my quick taste test was delicious!

The third time was at the Midtown location, soon after I arrived in Memphis in December, 2012. Our friends from Nashville were in town visiting family, and we all decided to catch up and get lunch at Huey’s. I think I got a Bluez 57, and once again… sweet potato fries.

The most recent time is when this story takes place. The same day on which I’m writing this! It was lunch at Mary’s office and, in what could only be described as deja vu, Huey’s was decided as the place to eat. Now, as you can see by the reference to the 100+ Things to Eat in Memphis list, it’s quite vague in terms of what burger you should have at Huey’s. There’s a reason for that… they’re ALL delicious. It’s hard to go wrong with a freshly made burger, cooked to order. This time I decided to go with the original, the World Famous Huey Burger, and, as usual, the sweet potato fries.

Sweet Potato Fries and Huey Burger

The World Famous Huey Burger is, quite simply, a very tasty cheeseburger. Is it the best I’ve ever had? It might be. If you define a cheeseburger as a ground-beef patty, a bun, cheese, and a couple of condiments, then it would definitely be up there with anything else I’ve eaten that resembles that description. I believe one of the reasons for this is that you can stipulate how you want your beef cooked. This is the only burger place I’ve been to where this is an option. You don’t have to put up with a dried out, overcooked disc of meat that you get from a fast-food restaurant.

The sweet potato fries, as you can see, are waffle-cut. This means more surface area in the frier, more crispiness, and (fortunately or not depending on your perspective) more delicious grease! These fries aren’t greasy, though. They balance on the line of salty and sweet like an expert tight-rope walker. I’m unaware if they put any seasoning on them aside from salt, but they are mouthwatering regardless. They provide with them some sort of dipping sauce. Honestly, I haven’t asked what kind of sauce they provide, but I believe it’s a variation on ranch dressing. With or without, these sweet potato fries provide your mouth with a crunchy on the outside/soft on the inside, sweet/salt flavour wave of love.

Huey's CeilingHuey’s is a fun place to come to, and I’ve never had a bad experience. The service is always excellent, and the food has never disappointed. Perhaps the best part? That pick in your burger? Put it in your straw, aim at the ceiling, and blow!

All my friends love Huey’s, and you will too. Head to any of their locations and have yourself a burger.

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Ribs from Central BBQ

Barbeque, Barbecue, BBQ, or simply Q – They’re titles for a method of cooking that is buried in history and superstition. Whatever you call it, though, it’s delicious. I was obsessed with the idea of BBQ from watching untold episodes about it on Food TV. I had even built a ceramic hot-smoker courtesy of Alton Brown and used to to smoke a Boston Butt for the Super Bowl back in 2008. Now, you can barbeque almost anything, but this story looks specifically at ribs. Not my first time eating ribs cooked this way, mind you, but arguably one of the most important.

This story takes place on July 28th, 2010.

#7 on 100 Things to Eat Before You Die – Barbecue Ribs

#76 on 100+ Things to Eat in Memphis – Ribs from Central BBQ

It was a lovely summer day in Memphis. I was in the middle of my trip to the U.S.A. to see my girlfriend. We had driven from California through to North Carolina, and come back to stay at her house. The plan was to explore Memphis a little bit and hang out with her friends. I had a plan of my own, though, and today was the day I would action it.

We were planning to get a Sno-cone from Jerry’s, so she went out to the car. I tried to rush around and set everything up, and what you see below followed:

The day I proposed to my now wife :). To celebrate, we got sno-cones, and we headed to Central BBQ!

As I mentioned before, this wasn’t my first BBQ ribs experience. During our cross-country roadtrip I had tasted ribs in Texas from RailHead BBQ, and also in Asheville, North Carolina from Luella’s Bar-B-Que. This, however, was the BBQ experience I was most excited for. I had heard amazing things about Memphis BBQ, specifically about the ribs, so I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed.

Central BBQ Ribs

We went to the Central on Central, a small location but it felt authentic. There was a line just poking out of the door, but we made our way inside relatively quickly (a good thing as it was a scorcher). At the counter I ordered ribs, with mac’n’cheese and potato salad as my sides. The server asked if I wanted them wet or dry, or half & half. Half & half sounded good. Took a seat, and soon enough the glorious site to your right greeted me.

My reaction?

Disbelief at amazing ribs

These ribs were amazing. Fall-apart tender, moist, flavourful, savoury-sweet, and messy. These ribs were the ribs I was looking for. They had that pink smoke ring penetrating the meat to the bone. The quintessential BBQ rib. I have to admit, though, that the wet ribs were much tastier than the dry. That BBQ sauce just balanced everything out and made it a true & proper BBQ experience.

And that BBQ experience left an impression on me. My new-fiancée and I decided Central BBQ would cater our wedding, so we could share the experience with our friends. And when we got married, that’s exactly what happened.

If you’re in Memphis and haven’t had this staple of Memphian cuisine, head down to any of their locations and grab some ribs!

Baklava

#6 on Things to eat Before You Die – Baklava

This story takes place on March 7th, 2009.

Baklava

For the longest time I had wanted to try Baklava. I had seen it on tonnes of Food TV shows (the N.Z. version of Food Network), it looked amazing, and it seemed relatively simple. Nuts, butter, syrup and pastry. How could you go wrong? I can’t remember which Food TV show I took this recipe from, or whether it was from a food blog, but it was amazing.

Phyllo dough was something I was introduced to with a recipe for chicken strudel that my mum made. I was taken by the thinner-than-paper pastry, so delicate yet infinitely versatile, andoccasionally temperamental. I knew you had to be quick, keep it moist, or it will dry out on you quickly. With baklava being my first time manipulating this pastry I was a tad nervous. I remember having my phyllo under a damp teatowel, my baking dish next to me, the melted butter ready to go, chopped nuts in front of me, taking a deep breath and going rapid fire to assemble the dessert. I realised quickly that once the butter was brushed onto the pastry it would stay moist.

One change I made to the recipe was the omission of rosewater. I know it is a traditional part of the recipe, but I had heard so many bad things, and one Food TV show (with a real greek person) said it was fine to leave it out. I also had no idea where to get it. So, I had baklava without rosewater.

Why have baklava? Why not have baklava should be the real question. But I did have a reason. It was my birthday. I had baked my own birthday cakes for the last 4 years or so by this stage, and I wanted a change. It was the perfect excuse really. You can’t eat a tray of baklava by yourself, so I HAD to have friends around to eat it. And eat it they did! Most people loved it. Some said they couldn’t have more than a piece because it was so sweet, others went back for thirds. I, myself, had three pieces if my memory serves correctly.

How would I describe it? Well, the upper phyllo is playfully crackly as the layers separate and don’t receive as much of the syrup as the other layers. The phyllo in lower levels becomes moist and unctuous. The nuts burst through the phyllo as you bite and their flavours seem more intense. It’s a wonderful sensation and I’m wondering to myself as I write this why I haven’t had this more often.

That evening I also ended up cooking Jambalaya, and like most birthdays, we had too much alcohol to drink. But baklava was the star.

Absinthe

When I first filled out the Facebook survey for 100 Things to Eat Before You Die, I had not partaken of the green fairy. I had been interested in absinthe since I read For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway. In it, he described a mirky, milky liquid, and mentioned wormwood. A little search online led me to believe it was banned, and it was in some countries at some point in history, but more recently it has seen a revival.

This story takes place on August 17th, 2002.

#2 on 100 Things to Eat Before You Die – Absinthe

It all started with the wedding of my friend, Steven. We had recently gone on a snowboarding trip to Mt. Ruapehu, my wife and I, Steven and his then girlfriend, and our other friend Part and his girlfriend. On the way home, he proposed. WOO! Then came the bachelor party…

Absinthe

It was a pretty standard evening. We went to a vietnamese restaurant close to his house. Drove back there as his fiancée was having her hens night elsewhere, and proceeded to drink a lot of alcohol. We started with beer, as we usually do, and soon it became time to toast our soon-to-be-married friend. What better way to toast someone than with shots of alcohol?

As you can see, we had some Dimple Whiskey, Nuvo (I think it’s a liqueur of some sort), Belvedere Vodka, St. Remy Brandy, and Mata Hari Absinthe. Aside from the Nuvo which was simply delicious, I found the absinthe to be my favourite of the spirits. The very light anise flavour was refreshing, and to be honest, who cares what alcohol tastes like when you’ve had 6 beers and 4 shots already?

I felt like I was missing out on the ritual of absinthe, though. From my prior research on absinthe, I knew about the sugar-cube, and the dripping of ice cold water over the top. It might have even been mentioned in For Whom the Bell Tolls. I wanted to partake in that feeling of anticipation, of history. Instead, it was a quick pour and down the gullet.

The night ended with the man-of-honour asleep in his bed, his fiancée coming home and smashing her window accidentally, and then having a few drinks with us before we let them get some sleep.

One of my friends, present that evening, has also expressed a desire to drink absinthe again, properly. So I think I shall be meeting with the green fairy at least one more time before I die.

Fried Catfish & Picked Green Tomatoes from Soul Fish Cafe

Some of these entries will be for things I have eaten in the past, and this is one of them. However, I’m of the mindset “pics or it didn’t happen”, so I will only be ticking things off the list for which I have photographic evidence. Also, sometimes posts with intersect, as is also the case with this one.

#36 on 100 Things to Eat Before You Die – Fried Catfish

#37 on 100 Things to Eat in Memphis Before You Die – Fried Catfish from Soul Fish Cafe

#71 on 100+ Things to Eat in Memphis – Picked Green Tomatoes from Soul Fish Cafe

This gastronomic adventure took place on the 31st of July, 2010 (according to my flickr account). Summertime in Memphis. I had recently proposed to my then fiancée (now wife), Mary, and we were going out to eat lunch with some of her friends who had recently celebrated their 1 year anniversary.

Soul Fish Cafe

photo by ilovememphis

The name threw me off for a start. “Soul Fish Cafe“. To me, cafés were places where you drank coffee and ate pastries, maybe the occasional sandwich. My schema for the word café has been defined by hundreds of trips for coffee with my mum in New Zealand. This was clearly a restaurant. Why was it trying to trick me?

Mary had advised me that Soul Fish Cafe was known for its catfish, so I had to give it a go to rid myself of my horrible memories of the dual-species beast.

My first experience with catfish was when I was around maybe 10 years old. There was a catfish pond near the airport where you could bring a fishing rod and fish for catfish. If you caught one, you could pay to have the on-site restaurant cook it for you, or you could take it home to cook yourself. As money wasn’t in abundance for us in those days (nor these days, either), we took it home. We put it in salt water to try to kill it… didn’t work. Fresh water… didn’t work. Hammer to the skull… didn’t work. Hammer to the skull 8 times in a row… done.

Preparation of the fish was left to my mum. She came out of the kitchen 45 minutes later with a dish that did not appeal to me at all. Granted I was very much a chicken nuggets and fish fingers (fish-sticks, insert Kanye joke) child, but I think the trauma of trying to kill that zombie of a fish scarred me. So from that day until the 31st of August, 2010, I had not looked at another catfish.

Over time I developed a love of new foods, and so I was ready to give catfish another go. What made it even better was that this catfish was breaded and deep-fried! Apparently this is usually the way people eat catfish in the south… southern food became even more appealing.

Catfish, Picked Green Tomatoes, and Cajun Cabbage

The catfish at Soul Fish Cafe is delicious in an ambiguous way. The breading is similar to what you might find on fried chicken – crispy, savoury, and moreish. What distinguished the catfish from chicken, though, was the tartare sauce they provided. Creamy, with a little tangy bite to it. I’m not sure if it’s house-made or not, but it was enough to make it a seafood experience.

The picked green tomatoes were a revelation. My tomato experience at that time had been limited to the colour red, and either left raw, canned, or made into salsa or sauce. These picked green tomatoes sweet, sour, tangy and refreshing. They were unlike anything I had tasted at that time, and the perfect accompaniment to the heavy catfish dipped in creamy, rich tartare sauce.

As you can see in the photo, I also had the Cajun Cabbage as my other side, another delectable treat worth a taste if you ever make it out here. We also got an order of pickle chips for the table, which I loved and my wife hated (she hates pickles).

I highly recommend taking a trip to Soul Fish Cafe at 862 South Cooper, Memphis, TN 38104, ESPECIALLY if you’ve ever had a bad experience with catfish. It will change your mind on the half-breed zombie-fish.