Archive for April, 2012

bbq blues

April 29, 2012

We spent one of our finest days of the fall of 2010 in Roanoke, Va. A first obligatory stop is, of course, the Virginia Museum of Transportation, especially because of its impressive collection of vintage trains from the great days of American railroading. Part of the collection is stashed away safe and dry under a roof, and some of the steam monsters are even climbable uponable by ways of installed stairs and mini-porches.

Other items of interest are baking in the open sun, somewhat sadly left to rust away in wind and weather.

 

To climb about in an old GG1 electric locomotive from the Pennsylvania railroad may be exciting…

but it makes hungry too, and so we eventually leave the museum to find our way into downtown Roanoke in search of some real, true and authentick Southern food:

The Blues BBC Co, as we can read on their website, “was started in 2004 with $20,000, a truck and a dream. Two brothers, Patrick and Chris, decided to give the people of Frederick, MD “Real BBQ!” Most of the BBQ found in Maryland was less than average and mostly over-cooked. Dried-out beef and pork could be found at almost any BBQ Restaurant. Good BBQ needs to be smoked over wood. Great BBQ needs to be smoked over a wood blend for the perfect amount of time, at the perfect temperature-and lived! That’s what we strive to do.” Apart from their Restaurant in Roanoke, The Blues BBC Co can indeed be found in a truck in Frederick, Md., and they are planning to open in Carroll Creek, Md. and Jacksonville, Fl.

After reading the menu outside, we enter a dark, pub-style establishment and are greeted by bellowing music and a waitress with a hi-guys-what-can-I-do-for-you-today type of professional smile. A quick look around the yet empty place makes us decide to settle outside; a choice we do not regret, because the weather is brilliant and we are able to catch most of the afternoon sun.

Kelley, a prolific BBQ producer and connoisseur in his own right, suggests the dry-rubbed Pulled Pork; the rest is an eclectic mix of everybody’s choices, with hush puppies to start, and fries, collard greens (“Grandma style” with ham hocks and bacon) and creamed succotash (Lima beans and corn in cream sauce, actually) as sides. (more…)

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for the small appetite

April 29, 2012

I’ve been collecting little bits of papers, restaurant bills, recipe reminders and other culinary snippets for more than a year now, but was never quite ready to make the plunge. Things are settling, though:

After a fulfilled Postdoc in Southampton, I’ve changed scenery again,

moving away from here:

back to here:

(to be fair, the pictures were taken at different times of the year. But note that the first picture is black-and-white, while the second one is in full color)

I’m now in the last phase of writing up my research, which slowly lifts the lid off other plans that have been hissing and steaming in the background: the time has come to remember all the things yummy I encountered in the past two years. Or not so yummy…

Out of chronology, merely because it’s highest on my pile, I will return to the old military city of Kristianstad (where for reasons unknown all the restaurants that I have reviewed earlier have now vanished).

So there I was again on a Saturday evening, trying to find a place to eat in a city that is in the midst of constructing new government quarters. Half the town center, or more precise, the entire rådhuskvarteret, except its facades (because the renaissance character of the city must be underlined, says the City’s chief architectural designer), has been torn down. In its stead there is now a pit of great squareness, deepness and blackness.

After a slight detour around the abyss (why does all this remind me of the Lord of the Rings?), our company located the promising bistro Aptit (Appetite) in the venerable Kronhuset on the main square of the city. On entering, one is greeted by a friendly and competent waitress and invited to white tables with a decent setup of glasses, well lighted, and without too much musical interference. To sit there and converse is in fact possible.

My company of three orders various kinds of fish, and I choose the breast of corn-fed chicken. The southern province of Skåne has some excellent chicken farms and I am curious.

What I get is a nicely looking arrangement of chicken, Madeira sauce, quartered, deep-fried potato and some veggies. I should however mention the size of the portion, which consists of about half a side of a medium-sized chicken breast, with its skin, a tablespoon and-a-half of brown sauce, the equivalent of one and a half medium-large potato and about half a cup of greenery (at the point of writing I see that they offer a grilled corncob instead. Logical, in April…). Some random comparisons: a regular fish and chips over the counter at Bitterne triangle in Southampton is about three times as much in volume and a fifth of the price of my chicken (and almost inedible, it must be said). In American terms (whether we like it or not), we’re talking here about an appetizer-sized portion at its smallest; in Germany, it would be an item from the children’s menu. A large organic chicken from the store for two thirds of the price of my portion contains easily eight times the meat I’m having on my plate, plus wings, bones for soup and scraps for Rillettes. Swedish gastronomy, in short, is most of all about economy.

My company being jolly about the nice atmosphere and happy with their fish, I decide to make a friendly face and to chew thoroughly. It is a helpful trick. (more…)