BBQ Nachos from Central BBQ

Central BBQ menu

I recently posted about an experience I had in 2010, eating ribs at Central BBQ. The primary purpose at that time was to compare ribs cooked in various States (I had some in Texas, Tennessee, and North Carolina). This time I was coming to Central to cross something off the list that I had heard so much about.

This story takes place  on January 24th, 2013

#18 on 100 Things to Eat in Memphis Before You Die – Barbecue nachos (on homemade chips) from Central BBQ

#45 on 100+ Things to Eat in Memphis – Barbecue nachos from Central BBQ

This was just an ordinary day. We went to work, and came home. On the way home, we had discussed dinner. The lists came up, but we decided on just eating something at home. Arriving at home, we assessed the pantry situation… no coconut milk. We couldn’t have the Thai Green Curry we wanted. Go get coconut milk… or go get some BBQ?! As you can tell, BBQ won out!

I’ve been in Memphis for just over a month now and I STILL haven’t had BBQ. And living in Memphis, you smell BBQ almost everywhere you go. It’s been horrific! So when my wife asked what my number 1 pick from the list would be, it was BBQ Nachos from Central.

The first time we went to Central, my first trip to Memphis, my wife told me about their BBQ Nachos. At the time I was disgusted. BBQ sauce and cheese wasn’t something that went together in my head, but she insisted they were amazing. I was focussed on my ribs mission, however, and couldn’t be swayed. Time passed, my palate grew, and when the list came along I was ready and rearing to get my gob around a plate of BBQ nachos.

Central BBQ nachosWow. Look at that badboy. That is a stack of Central’s homemade chips, covered in pulled pork, slathered in BBQ sauce, drizzled with nacho cheese, and sprinkled with shredded cheese and jalapeños. I was in for a good time.

First things first, let me just say that I don’t think you would have the same experience if eating these nachos on tortilla chips. I think it would be tasty all the same, but Central’s homemade chips make this dish something special. The seasoning blend on the chips melds so well with the smokiness of the BBQ and the sweetness of the sauce that whenever I had a bite with every component it was like a sensory overload in my mouth. Each component is there for a reason, building and adding to each other to become an ornate tapestry of flavour.

Central BBQ nachosWith that said, miss 1 or 2 of those components and you’re brought back to earth quite quickly. My nachos had a small pool of BBQ sauce to one corner, and a portion of the pork was without sauce. It dropped the nachos from being food of the gods to something mere mortals could ascend to. I think if the construction of the nachos meant pre-mixing the pulled pork with the sauce it would allow for more even distribution, and a better experience in my opinion.

Considering that one minor exception, this dish is easily one of the best things I’ve eaten from these lists so far. And DO make sure you order it with their homemade chips, an option that I would not have known about had I not seen the list. Central BBQ continues to impress, so if you haven’t already, head to one of their locations and order some BBQ Nachos now!

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.

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!

Blueberry Donut, Maple Bacon Donut & New Orleans Buttermilk Drop from Gibson’s Donuts

This story takes place on Saturday, 19th of January, 2013. The day we killed 3 birds with one stone and discovered a new list.

#26 on 100 Things to Eat in Memphis Before You Die – New Orleans Buttermilk Drop

#46 and #140 on 100+ Things to Eat in Memphis – Blueberry Donut & Maple Bacon Donut

Gibson's SignWhat a marvelous day this was. My wife and I went to Gibson’s Donuts with the mission of tasting their Blueberry Donut and their Red Velvet Donut, as these were on the 100+Things to Eat in Memphis list. It was our carb day, and I figured I should at least knock a couple things off the list while I was here in Memphis.

Upon arriving, we discovered they were out of the Red Velvet Donuts (located at #15 on the 100+ Things list). This scared me a little as I honestly wasn’t looking forward to trying the Blueberry Donut. I’m not a fan of blueberry muffins, or blueberry cupcakes. I like blueberries themselves, but for some reason, in muffin and cupcake form they don’t hit the spot with me. I made sure to inquire about the Red Velvet Donuts, hoping that they may have some out the back, recently cooked. The server advised they were all out for today, but to come by tomorrow. I mentioned the list to her, which was when she let me know about the 100 Things to Eat in Memphis Before You Die, and the fact that the New Orleans Buttermilk Drop was on that list…

Gibson's Interior

My wife and I had a quick discussion, and we purchased the donuts you see in the title (I didn’t realise at the time that the Maple Bacon Donut was a part of the 100+ Things list). Two words: donut heaven.

Blueberry Donut & New Orleans Buttermilk Drop

(L-R) Blueberry Donut, New Orleans Buttermilk Drop

Let me start with the Blueberry Donut. Firstly, it blew away my fears of tasting like a blueberry muffin. It was delicious, fluffy, doughy, and sweet. Granted, blueberry flavours weren’t assaulting my tastebuds with ferocity, but they were certainly there. The glaze was very thin, which I liked. Overall, deserving to be on the list.

Next up was the Maple Bacon Donut. Wow. It’s only recently that bacon has become a part of my sweet vocabulary of flavours. Before trying bacon with french toast and maple syrup, I don’t think I would have attempted this. I would have dismissed it as some crazy American attempt to be noticed (Baconnaise, anyone?). This was no attention seeker, this was an attention grabber. I believe they use hickory smoked bacon, because there was an intense smokiness coming through. Add to that the thick maple glaze, balancing out the salty bacon. Place it all on a canvas of deep-fried dough and you have, my friends, a masterpiece.

Maple Bacon Donut

Maple Bacon Donut

Finally, we went with the server’s recommendation of the New Orleans Buttermilk Drop. Now, I have no experience with this type of donut to compare this to. It apparently has a rich history in New Orleans, but my trip to New Orleans didn’t include this delicacy. And it is indeed a delicacy. I honestly am hesitant to describe it. It’s like a deep-fried ball of cake. But it’s unfair to compare it to cake. It’s not quite as moist, but it’s certainly not dry. It’s slightly crumbly, but in a good way. You definitely get a hint of buttermilk running through the donut. And the slightly crunchy exterior makes it a much more interesting experience than cake will give you.

Do head to Gibson’s Donuts on 760 Mount Moriah Road,  Memphis, TN 38117. They’re open 24 hours a day! You won’t regret it… unless you eat 10 in one sitting. Then you’ll probably regret it. But that’s your fault, not Gibson’s.

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.