Thursday, July 24, 2014

Gastronomy Domine

It is difficult looking back over the road trip to forget a key highlight being the various regional things we ate and drank which are of exceptional note.  Here they are in no particular order:

Chicago Pizza 
Probably the stodgiest thing I've ever eaten in my life.  In London 30 years ago there was a restaurant called the Chicago Pizza Pie Factory (closed now sadly) which I went to often.  Their pizzas were certainly deep dish but not this deep dish!  The pizza takes 45 minutes minimum to cook through but its worth the wait.  It just amazes me how even slim and small people can wolf back immense hunks of this pizza.  We shared a one person pie and left barely able to waddle, let alone walk!

Giordano's deep dish offering

Memphis BarBQ
Memphis BBQ is dry which is just how we like it.  That way you can taste the meat not the sloshed on sauce covering up any fault in the cooking.  It was great particularly when sprinkled with the dry rub after being taken off the grill just prior to serving.  That gave a wonderful extra something to the meat, usually ribs and brisket for us.

Lamb Ribs
Why hasn't anyone thought of serving lamb ribs the same way as pork ribs?  You get the trimmed down, so called French cut, racks of lamb which are nice in their own right.  But just wait and try lamb ribs barbecued the Memphis (i.e. dry) way.  Fantastic.  When you think about it lambs have exactly the same rib set up as pigs so why wouldn't they have spare ribs too?  Well they do and probably its the butcher that knows just how lovely they are so doesn't allow them to get out to the public at large.  He gets to keep them for himself instead.  Don't blame him at all.

Rendezvous BBQ in Memphis' dry rubbed lamb ribs

St. Louis Pizza
The other side of the coin to the deep dish is the wafer thin, hellishly crispy, cut into squares piece of deliciousness that is the St. Louis Pizza.  Lord knows why they do it this way, I am just glad they do.  Just fantastic.  We had one for breakfast one day which is a really good time to eat this type of pizza.  I think any time is good to eat this type of pizza actually.

Toasted Ravioli
What?  It happened by accident when a chef accidentally dropped a ravioli into a deep fat fryer.  OK its fried and anything fried tastes good, right?  We only had it once and it was ... OK.  Crispy for sure on the outside which is interesting but the inside remains a bit on the stodgy side.  Glad to have had it but I won't rush back for more.  And the title... no idea why its called 'Toasted' as its actually deep fried.  Could be because it sounds more healthy to be toasted.

And what we missed, again in no particular order:

St. Louis BQ
This is the wet cousin of dry BBQ with gushing amounts of sauce sloshed all over the cooked meat.  To be honest we didn't try that hard to eat it.

Frozen Custard Pie
Huh?  Just as it sounds except place in freezer and cut chunks off to eat... like an ice cream.  Never saw it.

Alligator and Shrimp Cheesecake
Honestly.  We went to a good cajun style restaurant and this was on the menu.  A bunch of guys came in after we'd eaten and went through a bunch of Louisiana favorites including steamed crawfish, oysters done a variety of cooked styles and this.  Imagine a cheesecake covered in shrimp and alligator and that's exactly what it was.

It would be wrong to talk about eats without what should wash it all down so in no particular order:

Mint Julep
I'd practiced by having a julep with coriander in Cayman a short while before which was ... well ... so when we were in Kentucky we just had to have the real thing that is served in gallons at the Kentucky Derby.  Made with bourbon, mint and sugar syrup over ice, this drink is not to be taken lightly at all.  I cannot imagine drinking more than two of these without the ability to retire to a quiet, cool, dark room for a nice lie down.

Old Fashioned
Made with bourbon, syrup again and something else, I think sweet vermouth, this tastes like velvet and warms you from the inside top to toe within two minutes.  About this time you also lose the feeling in your teeth so probably have another which really is a bad idea without the ability to retire to a quiet, cool, dark room for a nice lie down.

Old Fashioned on the left and Mint Julep to the right
This of course is unfair as there are hundreds of varietals all made with the same loving difference as the finest scotch whiskies.

This drink is made to different recipes in different places.  The basic ingredients are gin, campari and sweet vermouth but if you delete gin and add bourbon, you get the Peabody Hotel Memphis twist.  However if you take some port, put it in a barrel for 4 weeks and then add the aforementioned traditional ingredients you get the Missouri Athletic Club twist.  Both are really scrummy and if you are wise, you definitely have another and abandon further plans for the evening but instead seek out a quiet, cool, dark room for a nice lie down.

Barman Robert's Negroni from the Missouri Athletic Club
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