Sunday, April 12, 2009

Alcenias' - Last Stop Before Flying Home

Alcenias' is a southern food restaurant, which I found via With BBQ now the devil, I opted for some fried catfish with black-eyed peas and Alcernias' corn. The catfish was very, very nice - flaky and moist with a crunchy exterior. The black-eyed peas was the best dish in this meat and vegetable offering. I would have a bite of the catfish, sometimes with hot sauce, maybe shovel in some of the excellent creamed corn, but I always came back to the black-eyed peas - ethereal. Alcenias', a quiant, eccentric, yet personal eatery, knows how to dish every layer of the meal, all the while with unique decor. The custard pie was heaven-sent. An excellent end to my mid-west venture.
We did have technical trouble connecting to the Internet and uploading large photo files while in Memphis, but I hope I caught up in time. Thanks to all who followed. Thanks to G-d for swine and hickory. Thanks.

BBQ Sauce Galore!

Steve left Wednesday morning. Tuesday night we hauled all of the BBQ sauce and dry rubs up to our room. 22 bottles of BBQ sauce. 7 jars of dry rub. If you participated, a bottle is yours. I already shared 4 bottles and 3 jars with the family.

Hanging with the Mayor of Beale Street - Wednesday, April 8

Cowboy Neal

Cowboy Neal performed at the King's Palace Cafe on Beale Street on Wednesday afternoon. I actually met him because I happened to choose a seat beneath the canopy, where his partner was sitting. I struck up conversation with both of them, and it continued throughout the afternoon. Ii had spent an hour beforehand at Memphis Music, a blues music store on Beale Street, and had purchased a few CD's. When I requested "The Thrill is Gone," by BB King, Cowboy Neal launched into a moving performance of this blues classic. If I had wanted to experience Beale Street and the Memphis music scene, this must have been it. I have an autographed 8x11 photo from Cowboy Neal, too. I wish him well. He made quite an impression upon me.

Mr. Matluck Getting Down with the Band

Miss Polly's Soul City Cafe - Wednesday, April 8, 2009

After a long an enjoyable day on Beale Street, I had dinner at Miss Polly's Soul City Cafe, right on Beale Street. While fried chicken, fried anything, seems an odd replacement meal for an individual who cannot stomach any more BBQ, the fried chicken and waffles hit the spot. They were even nice enough to let me keep a copy of their menu. As you can see from the before and after photos, my BBQ appetite may have been gone, but my stomach certainly had plenty of room.

One... More... BBQ... Place... To... Go...

Returning from our MLK experience, we noticed a noted rib place's signs - a sign of things to come?

Lamb Riblets - Rendezvous, Wednesday, April 7th

While I was reviewing photos for this blog post, many memories/details of Rendezvous' Ribs flooded back to me. But the lamb riblet recall was different. Sing with me along to Jingle Bells - "Lamb riblets! Lamb riblets! Lamb riblets all the way!" Disgustingly awesome. If you've had lamb, you know the luxuriousness of lamb fat. These riblets were too good, too rich, despite the BBQ overkill Steve and I had experienced! No sauce needed, only dry rub. I love it when my food glistens!

The Pork Ribs Arrive

Redezvous' ribs are charcoal broiled, different than smoking the meat. Just as important, Redezvous does not use BBQ sauce on their ribs. These are Memphis-style dry ribs! The dry rub sprinkled generously over the ribs after cooking (and before, too) is magical. Unlike previous dry rubs, there is not a hint of saltiness. I bought four bottles of this dry rub. Do I dare to use the exalteed adjective spectacular? Yes, I will. One just cannot put these ribs down. Steve and I were heaviily weighed down by just the thought of eating more ribs tonight. We know we did not make a mistake, which is a choice of a word entirely the opposite of this experience. Wow. Oh yeah, there were two side dishes, but I cannot remember what they were.

Me Ribs Rendezvous Like!

Rendezvous Ribs Is Where It Is At

Nothing Can Stop Me

Rendezvous - Two Toothpicks, the Last Toothpicks

Lorraine Motel - Site of MLK's Assassination

The Highlight of My Trip

If any one memory will stand out from this journey, if any one photo will be cherished, if there is any one thing about which I have absolute certainty, it the walk Steve and I made to the National Civil Rights Museum. Memphis is the city in which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. It happened at the Lorraine Motel. The Museum is closed on Tuesdays, and we arrived after the typical 5pm closing time, but considering it was only a few days since the anniversary of MLK's death, the scene was unexpectedly quiet. With bad weather behind us, the temperature now in the 50's and the sun shining upon us, having only the sound of chirping birds seemed unrealistic within such an urban landscape. We didn't talk much - what was there to say? Dr. King is one of my heroes, and being here meant the world to me - not just another tourist stop to check off the list. I am now older than MLK was when he died. Disconcerting. I hope to place a copy of this photo beneath the poster of MLK that graces the northern wall of my classroom. I was there. For a reason.

Another Photo of the National Civil Rights Museum

Walking Off Some 'Cue - Tuesday

Needing a stroll, any type of physical activity, we crossed the street from our hotel and checked out a scenic park along the banks of the Mississippi River. Tuesday afternoon, April 7th.

Neely's Interstate BBQ

Steve and I drove past Neely's on our way to Graceland Tuesday morning, and we knew would had a lunch destination for our return trip. If you ever watch BBQ specials on the Food Network or the Travel Channel, chances are that you at least caught a glimpse of this animated pitmaster. Neely's has been around about thirty years, which is not that old compared to some of our previous stops. Neely's Interstate BBQ is as good as advertised. Spectatcular? I think I am becoming jaded when it comes to discovering a sublime food experience. They are still out there, I know, but sometimes I look for the mistakes instead. I bought six bottles of Neely's BBQ sauce if that helps to clear any confusion about my opinion of this BBQ.

Barbecued Spaghetti

The first time the idea of a dish of spaghetti and barbecue sauce enters most minds, the reaction is usually disconcerted. That doesn't sound right, barbecued spaghetti. Fortunately, only one of the five senses is needed, and taste rules when the final judgement is rendered. Spectacular? No. Delicious? Yes. The chunks of pulled pork were tiny, golden nuggets dotting the sweet and spicy sauce that clings to every strand of pasta. Anyone plan on making this at home?

Smoked Baloney/Bologna Sandwich - Memphis Favorite

Barbecued Beef Sandwich

A Small Plate of Neely's Ribs

The Meat Came Right Off the Bone!

Neely's: Two Toothpicks - What Else?

I'm Going to Graceland

Graceland. Home of the King. Expensive to tour Home of the King. This is how we spent Tuesday morning, beating the crowds (not really) by taking an early tour. I guess everyone has to do this of you are spending time in Memphis, but it is over-rated. I was hoping for a round, leopard-skin covered rotating bed with mirrors and disco lights in every other room. Nope. In fact, the entire second floor is off-limits. At least there could have been a stop for us to witness the toilet upon which Elvis expired. No camera flashes allowed inside so half of my photos are unworthy. That's ok, because one tires very quickly of viewing 1970's "cutting-edge, high-end" paneling, carpets and furniture.

The TV Room at Graceland

Elvis' Pool Room

I Have One Just Like It

If I Wore This Would It Be a Distraction in the Classroom?

Gold Record - Hound Dog 45

Elvis' Awards

Elvis' Wardrobe (For Performances, I Assume)

The Gravestone of Elvis Aaron Presley

Beale Street - Blues at BB King's Club

We arrived in Memphis on Monday afternoon. It is still cold and windy, but the rain has stopped. After checking in at our hotel, Steve and I ventured down to Beale Street, the heart of the entertainment and tourist center of Memphis. A decent blues quartet played standards during the late afternoon. After catching a few tunes by a guest performer it was time to get ready for dinner - fried chicken! What follows below recaps the remainder of our adverntures on Monday.

Taking the Main Street Trolley

Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken

Wow. This is the second best fried chicken I have been blessed to have eaten (Willie Mae's in NOLA is the best). Spicy and crispy. Crunchy and juicy. For me, one of the gastronomical highlights of this journey. I miss this about living in Boston - on the Treasure Coast there is no such thing as the neighborhood eatery, at least not world class. The East Coast Grill in Cambridge was abour a one mile walk and worth it every time. I wish Gus' was in my neighborhood because I would save a heckuva lot of money on roadtrips. Anyway, if you think KFC is good, then you need to get yourself some decent fried chicken. Also, if your mother made the world's best fried chicken, then join the club.

Fried Pickles

Instead of pickle slices, Gus's Fried Chicken deep-fries pickle spears. Not bad.

Eating Fried Chicken in Slow Motion