Monday, December 27, 2010

A Sad Day For Methuen Eaters

Shadi's Restaurant & Lounge caught fire on Christmas morning. The flames moved rapidly and the building is a complete loss. You can read the whole story here.

Out here in Suburbia chain restaurants rule. Methuen has an Outback, Texas Roadhouse, Olive Garden, T.G.I. Fridays, and all the typical fast food garbage. The sad part is that these places are always packed. People flock to these restaurants. So, for a small Mom and Pop place like Shadi's to survive in that environment for 20 years is quite remarkable. But sadly, Shadi's is now gone.

I have been enjoying Shadi's Middle Eastern food for a long time. Kris and I were there on Thursday night. We would eat there often; once, sometimes twice a week. Kris' sister worked there as a bartender for five years back in the late 90's. We've gone there for Christmas parties, birthday parties, anniversary parties, and we've held many company parties there as well. I have many fond memories of just sitting at the bar and enjoying the scene. But what always kept me coming back was the fresh, homemade food. The tabbouleh, tahini, hummus, raw kibbe, and I just recently found out how amazing kafta is. Last Thursday I enjoyed a fattoush salad with grilled lamb. Kris had the grilled tenderloin of beef with rice pilaf. But above all of that great food one of their dishes always made me happy. It was a steak cheese and salad wrapped in fresh syrian bread served with the best fries ever. A simple meal, but so good. The syrian bread was sourced out every morning from a local bakery, the salad was always fresh and dressed perfectly, and the fries...The fries were hand cut then soaked in water overnight. Then they were twice fried. First in low oil to cook, then in hot oil to crisp. The only way that a fry should be made! This is the meal that I will truly miss the most.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Menu

Blue Cheese and Chive Breadsticks
Spinach and Artichoke Spread
Creamy Mac and Cheese Cups
Goat Cheese Bruschetta
Mini Grilled Cheese with Roasted Tomato Soup
Deviled Eggs

Soup and Salad:
Potato and Ham Soup
Garden Salad

Certified Angus Beef Rib Roast
Boar's Head Glazed Ham
Scalloped Potatoes
Cheese Ravioli with Pomodoro

Chocolate Torte
Banana Cream Pie
Mini Pastries

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Some Highlights From The 2010 BBQ Season

Here are some of my favorite moments from this years BBQ season. In no particular order.

Finding a Hotel at The Troy Pig Out
With highs in the 90's and the humidity off the charts it was nice to have a hotel room within walking distance of my pit. It was our third year competing in Troy, NY and it has always been one of my favorites. But, being able to get out of the heat once and a while, and taking a shower anytime, made this comp that much better.

'Tedfest' at Norwalk, CT
An impromptu late night gathering spawned by Ted Lorson sitting in a random chair in somebody's site. Other people followed suit, and the next thing you knew, we had a party on our hands. Quickly dubbed 'Tedfest', we hung out for hours with people joining in. People brought chairs, Jack Daniel's, and we even dragged over a keg. Someone even carried over an already blazing fire pit.

Finally Competing at Pork in The Park
For years I've heard about Pork in The Park in Salisbury, MD but never made it down there. Until this year. It was a great contest and the biggest on the East Coast. The sun was out and the temps stayed in the 70's all weekend. Not bad for April.

School of Rock at Green Lane, PA
After we took a beating from the judges at Green Lane, PA, we had a blast. With the backdrop of a giant bonfire, School of Rock (PA) took the stage. And these kids rocked! They played great rock songs from past and present...and no one wanted to fight anyone. It was a much different experience than what we saw at the NEBS Holiday Party.

Half Naked Guy in My Site at 2:00AM in Norwalk, CT
Upon returning to my site after Tedfest I saw something unbelievable. There was a guy sitting in my site, passed out, with his pants on ground. So, I did what anyone would do: go get witnesses! Steve, Brendan, Charlie, and myself laughed like school girls as we woke up the mystery man up. He was dazed and confused as he pulled up his pants and walked out into the darkness.

The Resurrection of Cape Cod
This competition was only gone for one year, but it seemed like so much longer. It was one of the longest running comps in New England and one of the most loved. Thanks to Ted for bringing it back and making it even better.

Victor's New Shirt
Victor The Golden Pig is Troy, NY's traveling trophy. It was given to us in 2009 for winning that comp. This year we had to bring it back to New York for the next Grand Champion. Like many native New Yorkers once Victor visited the Boston area he fell in love. So much so, in fact, he now wears a bright red Boston Red Sox's shirt and currently resides in Woburn, MA.

Having a Good 'Chicken Year'
Like many competitors, I've struggled with chicken for years. This year it finally came together. We got quite a few calls for chicken in 2010. Including 3 first place calls, a few top 5's, many top 10's, and a 7th place at The Jack. We also took 2nd place in chicken for the 2010 NEBS TOY awards.

Late Night Partying at Eliot, ME
I'm not sure why Maine is one of my favorite comps but it is. We always seem to have a blast there. This year a bunch of us got together at the Meat@Slim's site for a spontaneous dinner. Brendan got a keg of beer from Blue Hills Brewery. Lunchmeat had an epic gathering for Damn Dip. And the judges liked our food way better than I did.

Harpoon Helps Beer-B-Q
Here is the anomaly on the list. It's not a BBQ competition. But it is an event that I really look forward to every year. It has almost all the same elements of a BBQ comp though. All the same people we see on the BBQ trail are there, it encompasses 2 days, and we're all cooking some killer food. The only differences are, we're not being judged (kinda) and we're raising money for a charity.

Sunday Night 'After Hours' at Norwalk, CT
Wow, looks like I had a lot of fun in Norwalk this year! It was Sunday night, the competition was over, and almost everyone was gone. But a couple of us (I'm holding back names to protect the innocent) did not want to call it a night. So armed with a little info and a finger point as our directions we wandered into the night. What we found was awesome! and that's all I'm gonna say about that.

Getting Back Down to Lynchburg
Getting invited to compete at the Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational Barbecue really felt great. There's not a particular moment that sticks out in my mind as the highlight. For me the entire trip was special. We drove straight through and got to Lynchburg, TN a day earlier than planned. The weather was just unbelievably nice: sunny, warm, and not a single drop of rain. We hung out with some great people all weekend. We ate at Miss Mary Bobo's again. The Parade of Teams, the party on the hill, the distillery tour...everything. It is all just one big fantastic memory. And I relished every minute of it.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Are Blogs Dead?

Well, if they're not dead, maybe they're just dying. Especially this one: Updates are less frequent. Content is lacking. And by the time something is actually posted, it's old news. Why? I've blamed it on a lot of things. The offseason, work has been real busy, not enough food porn, or I just don't have anything interesting to say. But I do think that one reason why some blogs are dying is because of Facebook. And it makes perfect sense. Many BBQ bloggers just use Facebook to get their info out now. It's quicker and everyone you know (except me) is on it. You know where everyone is, who they're with, what they're doing, and how they feel. What they're cooking, what they're eating, and if they liked it or not. At BBQ contests the results are up on Facebook in real time. As people walk up to get their trophy, the BBQ world already knows about it. The info goes viral among your Friends instantaneously. For me to go home after the contest and write about it on Monday or Tuesday seems kind of laughable. I'm two days late to the party. (Even though I was there).

So, if everyone's connected and news travels in real time on Facebook, what's the problem? Why am I late to that party too? Well, I wasn't. I was on Facebook a few years ago. And it just wasn't for me. It just seemed like way too much info. For every cool picture, or interesting update, there was 20 things I could care less about. Like getting 'poked' or getting a 'gift'. I know I'm in the minority with this, and I'm sure a few people will even get mad at me for criticizing Facebook. But, what one of your 'Friends' had for breakfast, really isn't a 'News Feed'. Sorry.

I guess the title of this post should have asked: Is This Blog Dead? Should I start posting more? (When's the last time I did a Try This Beer post??) Can I win readers back with some Food Porn? Or is it too late? The BBQ community loves Facebook. All the players are on there posting daily (sometimes hourly). Why not me? I can't fight off Facebook forever, can I? Well, this blog might not be dead, but it's definitely on life support.