Oct 312017

I missed it. I didn’t think about it last night. I didn’t think about it when I got up this morning. I realized it when I was talking about evening plans with Lea and she said “the boys have practice, and it’s Halloween…”

Oh yeah. I guess it is. I didn’t even do so much as wear an orange polo or watch. We didn’t buy punkins. Some years we have and just haven’t gotten around to cutting them, but at least they looked autumny and harvesty sitting on the porch. Nope. Didn’t even get that far. Lea says we have candy to hand out. That’s cool. The boys do that now that they don’t go out.

I imagine a lot of Stranger Things 2 will get watched tonight. We need to get with it, because enough people are ahead of us now that they’re starting to talk about it on the interwebs. I used to watch House of 1000 Corpses while Lea was out with the boys, but that’s probably a little much for wholesome family viewing.

Y’all trick-or-treaters be safe. It’ll probably be just barely warm enough that your mom won’t wreck your costume by making you wear your coat. I wish you many Snickers and Reese’s cups, and a minimal number of Bit-O-Honeys and those nasty orange and black wrapped things no one ever eats.

 Posted by at 9:55 am
Oct 292017

The Tabanero people have an advertising campaign on Facebook offering a free bottle of their Extra Hot sauce. You pay $3.99 shipping, and it comes to your door. (Still cheaper than I can buy it at Publix, so why not?) Mine came yesterday.

I have known of Tabanero but not tried it before today. It is a habanero-carrot blend, which is a common Central American motif for hot sauce. I’ve been in no particular hurry to try it because I’m so familiar with Marie Sharp’s sauces, and I assumed it would be similar.

Well, it is…and it isn’t.

Ingredients: Select habanero peppers, agave, carrots, onions, Key lime juice, pickled garlic, and spices.

Ah, I missed something in my previous cursory glances: agave so high in the list. Also, note there is no vinegar and no water. I guessed this would have some gustatory common ground with Marie Sharp’s, but also go in its own directions.

It’s about the same thickness as Marie Sharp’s, which is maybe halfway between Louisiana hot sauce and ketchup. There are a few small vegetable chunks evident, with the most obvious being an occasional habanero seed. It’s a medium orange.

There is some heat here, but not as much as you might guess from habs leading the ingredient panel and the sauce being labeled “Extra Hot.” I had no problem eating it straight without a drink. There is a little cumulative effect to the heat, so the uninitiated should be cautious.

The sauce has a botanical burst, with a little sweetness from the agave and no sour undercut from added vinegar. Frankly, it’s priced impressively on the lower end of things for a sauce that has no cheap extenders. I had it on my eggs this morning, and it was an excellent selection for that. I’m looking forward to trying it on Mexican. It seems like it’d be particularly good on my favorite quesadilla—grilled chicken and sharp cheddar.

I’ll get a bottle of this from time to time in my larger shipments. It’s a good, versatile, milder sauce.


 Posted by at 7:21 pm
Oct 262017
 Posted by at 10:53 am
Oct 232017

Lea, the boys, and I just got back from the soft opening of Earth and Stone Wood Fired Pizza in Madison.

This is the dawning of a new age.

In all seriousness, we’re delighted the Madison store is finally open (the boys especially). This is a good dinner play now. This is a good ball game play now. It’s barely eight minutes from the house (in the shopping center near Madison Hospital on 72).

The Porkalicious.

Earth and Stone is some of the best pizza you’ll ever put in your mouth (read my reviews here and here). It is a gourmet, hand-crafted product. It cooks at 850 degrees exclusively in wood-fired ovens that are manufactured, installed, and maintained to exacting standards.

The Madison oven.

They also have homemade ice cream, including adult varieties (with liquor). The bourbon butter pecan is absolutely outstanding.

The counter and main dining area.

The alternate area—for events, private parties, and such.

Stan Stinson and Tina Ford, Earth and Stone’s owners and operators, are some of the most talented and hardest-working restaurateurs in the area. I congratulate my friends on the tremendous growth of their endeavor to date, and wish them all the best as they launch this new flagship store. Good luck and God bless, Stan and Tina! We’ll certainly do our parts!

 Posted by at 8:19 pm
Oct 232017

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

The third location of Big Shake’s Hot Chicken & Fish, and the first outside the Nashville area, opened not long ago on Martin Rd. The boys and I did a full review for Rocket City Mom.

The restaurant is fast casual, with one wing size (three whole wings, so three drums and three flats, plus a side) available for $8.71. (White bread and dill pickle chips accompany also, as is customary for Nashville hot chicken.) The hottest of five heat levels on the menu is Executioner, and that’s what I got.

Quality: 8/10. Of respectable size, these wings were uniformly breaded and retained minimal oil from frying. Serving temperature was ideal. There were no rubbery bits, and no excessive fat was in evidence.

Flavor: 6/10. There is a straightforward fried chicken vibe here, without the common foul of excessive saltiness. Most of the flavor is that of chile pepper, with perhaps a slight garlic undercurrent.

Heat: 8/10. I expected little from a restaurant that is clearly cultivating mass appeal as part of its business model. That was a miscalculation. These wings start with their foot on the floor and don’t let up. Call it top of the middle or bottom of the top, but there was enough heat here to have my full attention. Yet, clearly the heat is all peppers. There is no significant extract in these, because there is no bitterness. Good work, Big Shake’s.

I’ll be back to try some other Big Shake’s offerings soon. Pro tip: if you’re going for lunch during the week, be there by 11, or your wait may be lengthy.

 Posted by at 12:57 pm
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