Monthly Archives: March 2012
Eating High on the Hog – A Dinner Tale
I travel quite a bit for business. One of my favorite things about business travel is finding local Mom & Pop restaurants and trying some local fare. Tonight I thought- What would Little Rock, Arkansas be known for? So after a little Google action, I discovered Whole Hog Cafe, a local chain of BBQ restaurants owned by a World Champion Memphis in May BBQ chef. Chef Ron Blasingame, Mike “Sarge” Davis, and Steve Lucchi founded WHC in 2000. To date, other than boasting award winning BBQ, they have several claims to fame: Two Presidents have eaten there, they’ve been featured on Food Network and Fodor’s Travel America “Don’t Miss” in Arkansas, and President Bill Clinton has their serving utensils in his time capsule!! I wasn’t ever a big Clinton fan, but that’s majorly cool! They have four Memphis in May trophies (see the pic- those are some fine trophies!!), and a slew of other awards. And….drumroll…..all are very very well deserved.
Being a trained and previously certified Memphis in May judge, I took this meal seriously. I ordered the Whole Hog platter, which had ribs, beef brisket, pulled pork, beans, coleslaw, and a roll. The picture of my meal doesn’t do it justice.
They also boast seven different sauces, all made on site. The picture lists the different sauces. The sauce not shown in the pic is their Volcano sauce, their hot BBQ sauce. The sauces range from mild and sweet to mustard based. More on sauces in a minute.
In short, my meal was outstanding! The baby back ribs (they give you 3 or 4 bones on a platter) were tender, but kept their texture and separated from the bone with a gentle tug. Perfect! The pork was tender, smokey, and delicious. The brisket was good, and definitely tender, but if I had to choose, the pulled pork and ribs would win, hands down. The portions were generous, and I was stuffed at the end of my meal. Now about the sauces.
I tried them in order – The classic #1 sauce was mild and sweet, and smooth. An easy 3 fiery worlds. The #2 sauce, with it’s touch of vinegar, was a little tangy, but just a “normal” sauce. The # 3, touted as #2’s evil twin, was okay. Both 2 & 3 get 3/5 fiery worlds. Then we come to #4-Their Traditional Southern vinegar and spice sauce – it was delicious! a little smokey, tangy, and playful. It had just enough bite to be interesting, and I could discern multiple layers of flavor. It scored 3 1/2 fiery worlds. After trying #4, the dark, sweet, bold molasses #5 sauce was a nice contrast. If you like thick and sweet, this is your sauce. A solid 3 fiery worlds. Their #6 is a mustard based sauce and I can sum it up in two words…..Loved It! it was my favorite of the 7 sauces by themselves. It also earned 3 1/2 fiery worlds. Their hot offering doesn’t have an assigned number. It would be #7, but it’s called the Volcano sauce. I was able to learn that it uses cayenne powder and Dave’s Insanity Sauce, among others. They only provide it by request, and in small little containers. I asked for 2, and the staff was shocked!! It had some heat, but for a true Chilehead, it’s a medium heat. But the flavor reminded me of #4, and I really liked it. Another 3 1/2 fiery worlds. So I bet you’re thinking, “Okay, Ken, if this place is so good, why didn’t the sauce rate a higher ranking?” Simply put and in no way a slap to Whole Hog Cafe, but I’ve been blessed to taste a lot of good sauces, and I’ve had better. Volcanic Peppers LAVA Scorpion BBQ sauce and Jac’s Tailgaters Bayou Blaze Habanero BBQ sauce are my current favorite hot BBQ sauces. But Whole Hog’s were good, too. AND…….if they were to combine their Volcano and #6 mustard & vinegar sauce, the combo would come real close to 4 fiery worlds!!
My platter was topped off with a serving of BBQ beans that were slap yo momma good, a mayonaise based potato salad (a little bland…my least favorite part of the meal), and an outstanding North Carolina styled vinegar cole slaw. When I left, I had a smiling belly and a happy plate!!
So, the next time you find yourself in Little Rock, Arkansas, check out Whole Hog BBQ! Your stomach will thank you!! And besides….being an LSU fan, the thought of eatin a little butchered hog kinda felt good!!!! ;-). Have a good one, ladies and gents, and thanks for stopping by. And remember….It’s a Fiery World!!!
Did Someone Say Dessert?!
I love dessert! I love fruit, especially strawberries and blueberries! So logically, I love desserts with berries. I also love chocolate. And caramel. And yes, I love desserts with chocolate and/or caramel! So tonight I thought I’d share with you a couple of special, and spicy, desserts I whipped up.
With Spring having sprung, that means it’s strawberry season in Louisiana. So, in my house, that always means fresh Louisiana strawberries with angel food cake and whipped cream. Sometimes I put blueberries on angel food cake, too. And hold on to the chocolate and caramel shout out I made above. I’m gonna get to them in short order. I recently ordered some sauces from Red Hawk Premium Peppers: I bought Dan Lowenstein’s Strawberry Scorpion Sting sauce and his B3, or B cubed, sauce. The strawberry sauce also has a little vanilla and sugar in it, and the B3 is full of blueberries, bananas, and bhut jolokia peppers (Get it? B3? Nice play, Dan…) And just today, I received a care package from Renee and Ricky at Madison Chocolatiers West. They wanted my feedback on their brand new spicy confection, a dark chocolate and caramel dessert sauce infused with chocolate Habanero’s! Can you see where I’m going with this? It was a very good night at the Alexander house tonight!
As you can see by the pictures, I took an angel food cake muffin my wife made, a few Louisiana strawberries, and added Red Hawk’s Scorpion Stinger and B3 sauces, and filled the center with the chocolate caramel hab sauce! I added some whipped cream around the edge and even stirred some of the hot sauces into the whipped cream for a topper!
It was sweet, it was hot, it was tangy, and lastly, it was delicious! The pairing of the fruit based sauces with the berries and cake worked extremely well. The sweet of the berries, cake and whipped cream offset the heat (just a little) and any lack of sweetness from the sauces. Then add in the decadently smooth, creamy, rich flavor from the chocolate caramel habanero sauce, and I gotta tell you, my taste buds thanked me, my belly thanked me and I even think my pupils dilated a little when I took that first big bite!!! Just sayin………
Both of these companies have a lot to be proud of. Red Hawk has some very unique flavor profiles in their sauces, and Madison Chocolatiers West hit it out of the park with this Chocolate Habanero sauce of theirs. If they haven’t named it, they need to name it “Money” cause it should make them a lot of it! I will admit that Red Hawk’s B3 sauce is my favorite in their lineup. Not that I don’t enjoy the strawberry scorpion, because I do, but I find the B3 fruitier than the strawberry, and a little smoother, which made it an excellent pairing for dessert. And given that it has carrots in it, I was very pleasantly surprised! I’ve also had it on a Peanut Butter, Banana, and Jelly sandwich and it was superb! I didn’t enjoy it as much when I used it as a salad dressing. The banana flavor, which is discernable, and the texture didn’t work for me. And oh yea, on pancakes with syrup! The bananas and blueberries are a perfect complement! On the other hand, the strawberry scorpion makes an outstanding salad dressing, and that use should be promoted! I also enjoyed it on my PB,B, and J! Since this is a dessert post, i haven’t talked about their use with meat, but suffice it to say, it was outstanding on Chicken and fish!! And I didn’t do anything fancy with it other than turn the bottle upside down!
To round out my dessert theme, I threw in a picture of Ricky and Renee’s sauce on ice cream, and the B3 on ice cream (crazy good)! I’ve hyperlinked their website in the post, so go out and get you some soon!! And remember…..It’s a Fiery World!
Tah Dah! “It’s a Fiery World” with Ken Alexander is Finally Here!
I can’t believe it’s here. After months of friends telling me it was time to start my own hot sauce and fiery food blog, here it is! It’s rough, I don’t have the right logo yet, I barely know how to add and edit a post, etc. etc. etc., but it’s live and it’s mine! Don’t get me wrong-I love being a staff reviewer for Buddah at I Love It Spicy, and a regular contributor for Brian and Marilyn Meagher at Hot Sauce Daily, but I wanted the ability to branch out, publish content on my own timeline, and have my own creative outlet. As I’ve gotten to know so many new folks in the spicy food industry, I’m getting asked with increasing frequency to provide feedback, review spicy food products, educate, and hopefully entertain folks that share my love of all things spicy and flavorful.
How did all this happen? A year ago I was living a sheltered, hot sauce loving life in Baton Rouge, La. Tracy Carter of Jac’s Tailgaters, who has become a close friend, answered my inquiry to his Facebook ad and invited me to the NOLA Hot Sauce and Gourmet Food Show. It was there I met Al “Buddah” Goldenberg. I had an arm full of spicy goodness and was standing waiting on the Defcon Wing Challenge to begin and struck up a conversation with Al, who was talking to someone about being a reviewer. After a 30 minute visit and seeing my passion for spicy, flavorful, fare, he offered to give me a chance to be one of his reviewers, and the rest is history! After my first round of reviews (I’ve learned a lot since and hopefully improve every day!), I went to the Houston Festival as a “roving reporter” for Buddah, and had a blast! I visited with lots of great people, and got to know Tracy much better, who told me then I had what it took to be a successful blogger! After submitting a written review for consideration to Hot Sauce Daily, Brian and Marilyn Meagher welcomed me with open arms, and I’ve become a semi – regular contributor of written reviews for their site. And in pretty short order, I’ve been welcomed into a family of folks who share a passion for flavor, spice, and all things edible and fiery! I can’t thank Tracy, Al, and Brian & Marilyn enough for their friendship and encouragement. And to Rick Kazden, aka Chef Kaz, for his friendship and advice. And everyone else who I’ve encountered so far. It’s a great family to belong to!
So….? What can you expect from “It’s a Fiery World”? More of what I’ve been doing, and will continue to do, for ILIS and Hot Sauce Daily, but maybe with a little twist and turn. I’ll do product reviews, festival coverage, and feature articles for my readers here at IAFW, as well as continue working with ILIS and HSD. Al and Brian have graciously agreed to help me learn more about the technical side of blogging, maintaining sites, video/audio editing, etc.
Lastly, thanks to everyone who trusts me to fairly interpret their passion and provide feedback, both private and public, on their creations! You fuel my passion, and are quickly filling up my pantry!! Look for more content in pretty short order, and hopefully, it will only improve with time. If you have a product you want reviewed, write me at email@example.com . And always, I would love to get your comments, feedback, ideas, advice, etc.
Have a great week, and remember….It’s a Fiery World!