Apr 212017

This is part of an ongoing series reviewing hot wings in the Huntsville area. Visit #HsvHotWings for a comprehensive linked list.

tbwings0(Edited from the original post below to include review of new hot wing lineup. Strikethrough denotes obsolete material.)

I just did a full-up review of Toy Box Bistro at Rocket City Mom, and enjoyed it very much. I went back for wings yesterday for lunch. This is where Beauregard’s used to be on the southwest corner of Jordan and Holmes.

At Toy Box Bistro, the hottest wings listed on the menu are simply “hot.” When I asked if those were the hottest, I got “nope, we have ghost pepper butter too.” Ah. Yes, please. You can order six, twelve, or twenty wings. I did twelve, which turned out to be eight flats and four drums. They were served with a few carrot sticks, and they were $14.16 before tip. Our server Joseph did a fine job.

Quality: 9/10. These were lovely wings of considerable quality. They were meaty, uniformly sauced and cooked, and served at ideal temperature.

Flavor: 6/10. These are not buffalo wings, but they don’t really fit into any ready variety. There is a basic flavor profile here of chili peppers and sugar that doesn’t ever really change. They’re fine—I ate them all—but they’re very simple.

Heat: 4/10. Well, shoot. We’re regressing on heat again. There is a small but immediate punch, so I’m thinking something else accompanies the ghost peppers in this sauce. The back side heat comes online quickly, but unfortunately peaks much too soon, never getting above a smolder. The tingle is on the lips and tongue. I didn’t need a drink.

These are the prettiest wings I’ve had so far, but they could use a little passion. Double the heat, or maybe a good shot of garlic? Or both?

The new hottest wings in the Toy Box Bistro lineup are known as B.Y.F.O., which I expected to have a much less tasteful meaning than Bite Your Face Off (what it actually stands for). I partook with the family last weekend. Ask for Kayla; she did an awesome job.

Quality: 9/10. We have here supplier and best practice continuity. As with the earlier wings, these were plump, meaty, and came out ready to devour.

Flavor: 7/10. Building much more of a story here, with flavorful peppers grounding onion and garlic notes. There might be a hint of celery salt? There is a melody here, where before there was mostly a rhythm track.

Heat: 6/10. Yup, these are slappin’ the bass a little bit. I suspected habanero, which was confirmed, as well as a little ghost pepper powder. I never had any significant discomfort, but C. chinense lag-then-build is unmistakable.

Toy Box Bistro’s B.Y.F.O. wings are a solid offering indeed. Now, if you’re feeling daring, and Bill is around, ask him if there’s anything hotter in the house…

 Posted by at 9:00 pm
Apr 202017
  • If you feel led to contribute, you can help with Ashleigh Jones‘ medical expenses here. It must surely be a blessing she’s made it this long. I hope we hear some much better news soon.
  • Tad Cummins has been arrested, and Elizabeth Thomas is safe!
  • After a validation visit today, I am ready to say that the pho tai at Viet Cuisine on Jordan Lane is the equal of the pho tai at Saigon in Madison. Great stuff, both places.
  • Slaughterhouse-Five was a good place to start catching up on the classics. I didn’t realize it was so short. Love Vonnegut’s way with a phrase.
  • Well, there’s already a substantial breeding population of Burmese pythons in southern Florida. Shall we try for the monocled cobra next?
  • Part of what’s made it unnecessarily difficult to work on our bathroom remodeling has been the sorry state of the garage (and the shop portion therein). I’ve begun reclaiming the space in earnest.
  • Watch for a couple of review updates soon, including a word or two on the Cacao variety of Soylent and a revamped hot wing lineup for a local eatery.
 Posted by at 12:48 pm
Apr 192017

Pulling for East Limestone second-grader Ashleigh Jones tonight, who darted back into traffic after getting off her school bus with her brother and was struck by a car yesterday afternoon. She was airlifted to UAB, where she remains in critical condition as I type.

It can go so wrong, so quickly. Prayers for her and for her family. Please get better, Ashleigh.

 Posted by at 9:36 pm
Apr 172017

My parents divorced six months after MTV went live. I was not quite 11 years old. And Martha Quinn, Alan Hunter, J.J. Jackson, Mark Goodman, and Nina Blackwood were my foster-parents. I’d lie in my dad’s black beanbag chair in his den and watch/listen nonstop for eight and ten hours at a stretch.

And there Greg Kihn always was, you know?

At that age I never jumped out there and identified myself as a huge fan, but I knew I dug the hell out of “The Breakup Song.” That live video that MTV played so much was just how I thought live music ought to be: true to the album recording, but more. Hey, you’ve already sweated all of the details in the studio getting it just right, so don’t suddenly distrust that vision…but give it more. A little crunchier. A little harder on that snare. A little more growl.

I’ve said for years that if I ever have a rock ‘n’ roll band, we’re opening with “The Breakup Song.”

Of course, it wouldn’t be too long before he’d have his huge FM and video hit “Jeopardy,” with its infectious riff and zombie video (decades ahead of its time, it turned out).

Now here comes Rekihndled, the first all-new Greg Kihn Band recording in a presidential administration or three. And it happens that Mr. Kihn and I follow each other on Twitter, so I got to hear about it. I might have missed it otherwise. I’m sure glad I didn’t, because I love this record. It’s my favorite of 2017 so far.

The common thread is, perhaps, the one you’d expect—honest, guitar-based rock, solidly infused by a love of the 1960s. Any of these eleven songs will sound fantastic live, with big, singable choruses seasoned with an occasional spicy riff. There is also impressive range, though—pushing the envelope without losing the narrative. Songs like “Cassandra” and “A Place We Could Meet” have an almost British quality (Nick Lowe? maybe even a splash of Graham Parker?), while the album opener “The Life I Got” is toe-tapping heartland power pop. I think Cheap Trick fans will find that one near and dear quickly.

With other titles including “Big Pink Flamingos” (the first single), “The Brain Police,” and “Trained Monkey,” you can rest assured we don’t have a record that gets lost in its own pretention. “Flamingos” and “Monkey” are as much fun to blast on my morning commute as anything in the past several years. And listen for a little Lizard King vibe in the “Brain Police” vocal. I don’t know whether it’s on purpose or not, but it’s tasty indeed.

Speaking of blastability, longtime readers may remember that I’m sensitive to overproduction. I’m delighted to report that Rekihndled gets it right. This is rock ‘n’ roll, not a debutante ball. Get rid of the boulders, if any, but the occasional pebble tells me it’s real. Bravo! Just the right level of dirt, with nearly completely unmolested rock the primary deliverable. This record could have come out 20, 30, or maybe even 40 years ago sounding just like this, and I mean that as a substantial compliment.

I’ve had the record on for three days straight. Another week or two is likely. It’s fine work, with a lot of midnight oil burned. Any rock ‘n’ roll fan is going to find this a fine use of a few dollars. Go get it now.


 Posted by at 11:19 pm
Apr 142017

Yesterday, Thursday, April 13, 2017, at 11:40 am, at 4100 University Dr. NW in Huntsville, AL, I verified that Arby’s will indeed sell you a $10, limited-time-only sandwich called the Meat Mountain.

(I’m also relieved to report that when you ask the fellow at the counter for it, there aren’t spotlights, sirens, and a big booming voice that says “one Meat Mountain to go, please! And you really look like you need one, fat ass! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!“)

On a star-cut bun, the Meat Mountain includes, top to bottom: pepper bacon, roast beef, cheddar cheese, Angus beef, smoked brisket, corned beef, pit-smoked ham, Swiss cheese, roast turkey, and chicken tenders.

(Burger King used to have a web site that would let you build whatever you wanted with the restaurant items’ ingredients, and I had some fun with it. But this is an actual item.)

Across a broader fast food context, the Meat Mountain may be even a little disappointing in its supposed excess. The nutrition information smacks you in the carotids with 51g fat and 1,030 calories—definitely not on the DASH diet—but (alarmingly?) not so far out of line with what’s already being passed through several other windows across the land. Burger King’s Double Bacon King packs 69g fat and 1,040 calories, while Dave’s Triple at Wendy’s hits you with 72g fat and 1,090 calories. And these are regular menu items.

Hey, clearly the Meat Mountain is the sensible choice!

So how to deal with this? Well, I’d already sort of decided to pick the chicken tenders off and eat them separately, because they didn’t really “go” to me. I used Arby’s new (to me) three-pepper sauce for those. They were fine, and I like that sauce, though it was sweeter than I expected. For the rest, I’d gotten both Arby’s and horsey sauce. I alternated between them, just dabbing a little on per bite rather than trying to apply it to the whole sandwich.

Was it good?

Well, how could it be bad, really? I mean, you have to work very hard to screw up meat and cheese, you know? It was fine. I ate all of it. There were a lot of subtle flavors going a lot of different directions, however, and beyond the baseline meat-and-cheese vibe, it was kind of a muddle. I don’t think I would get another one just for the taste. I would have enjoyed it more had it been all roast beef, or perhaps all beef ‘n’ cheddar.

But, it was definitely fun. It was fun for me to chuckle at having Ving Rhames ringing in my ears during my lunch (at one point I imagined he was standing right beside my car and yelling “WE HAVE THE MEATS!” in at me), and it was fun to get this post out of it. But I think any future $10 sandwiches I eat won’t be Meat Mountains.


 Posted by at 7:15 am