Monday, October 20, 2008

From Michelangelo to Memphis

So we continue the Pork-O-Rama with . . . Cozy Corner, another of those bare bones, low overhead, order-at-the-counter “joints”.

During this outing, both Chuck and I ate outside the box, and I may have difficulty figuring how to include this restaurant in our final ranking. Known for their smoked Cornish game hen, I felt it my obligation (it's hard work but someone has to do it), and Chuck ordered the rib tips (also one of their specialties). Both came with slaw, beans, and plain white bread.

To start, the beans were the standard--very good--and not at all different from most of the restaurants in Virginia and Tennessee. The slaw was heavy on the vinegar and too tart for my taste.

Chuck’s rib tips came topped with a good amount of very good barbecue sauce, and I dipped some of my bread in the puddles of Memphis-style sweet sauce on his plate. Rib tips are the meat at the very end of the bone and contain a large amount of both cartilage and fat. But, once you have extracted the succulent meat from the fat and cartilage, the rib tips have excellent smoked pork flavor and can be the moistest of the ways to eat and prepare ribs. My samples from his plate were those pieces with the crustiest exterior (which also seemed to be the leanest pieces) and the contrast of the crust and moist meat was rib heaven.

At first I thought that my Cornish hen was on the small side, but there turned out to be a lot of breast meat on that little darlin’. I asked for the hen to be naked--no sauce--and a wise decision that was. The same sauce that worked so well on Chuck’s ribs would have overwhelmed the smoky goodness of the breast meat. Also, the taste of the spicy rub that coated the hen would have been diluted with the sauce. This was the best meat rub to date--the tongue tingled and the lips burned.

We received a nice smile and well wishes as we left.

So we're in Florence, Italy standing in line in a cold drizzle to enter the Academia to view Michelangelo’s David, when I heard a group with southern accents--and I’m not talking Southern Italy--right behind us. Since I’ll start a conversation with anyone at any time, I got talking with the group and learned that one man had spent time living in Memphis. So I asked about barbecue and he recommended that, should we ever get to Memphis, we had to eat at Germantown Commissary. So, as a part of our visit with Dora and Rebecca, off to Germantown we went.

Chuck and Rebecca both ordered the pork barbecue sandwich--a regular for Rebecca and a jumbo for Chuck. Dora ordered the half slab of ribs, and I threw all caution to the wind and got the hot smoky sausage links. All four of our orders came with the standard beans and slaw, along with a deviled egg.

(I stepped outside for a moment and found Chuck engaged in truck talk with one of our fellow campers. For some reason, men love our modified Ford 550 to an extent that has led me to define this condition as “truckis envy”. It causes grown men to drool, chase us across parking lots, and want to engage in technical conversation about such esoteric topics as gear ratios. Now Chuck is a brilliant man, but his knowledge of the internal combustion engine is limited. But I give him credit--he’s learned to fake it well.)

Back to barbecue. Chuck has developed a theory that a person’s favorite barbecue is served at the restaurant nearest his/her home. This is not to say that Germantown Commissary was not good, just that--to me at least--this was suburban barbecue for the suburban eater. The pulled pork contained a small amount of bark but not enough to make an appreciable difference in the overall taste. The ribs were lean and meaty but lightly smoked. My smoked sausage was also good but not much different from Hillshire Farms. Good food, reasonable prices, but nothing outstanding.

The quest continues . . . .

No comments: