@Brian – I’m up to a streak of two now. W00t!
Most weeks when I travel it’s either to somewhere I’ve been about a million times (Tampa), or some little podunk town in the middle of nowhere (Altus, OK). This week was a change – somewhere new and somewhere cool – Memphis, TN. I must confess Memphis is a place that held a little interest for me, but yet somewhere I don’t think I’d have sought out to go visit. Having been here, I can say I’m still not sure I’d go out of my way to come back, but I very much dug what I was able to see of the town.
Memphis is of course famous for their barbecue, and I can attest there are BBQ joints a plenty here. I managed to stop by two, Rendezvous (which I’ll review below) and Corky’s. My trip to Corky’s was interesting mostly because of the fact that Matt Cain walked in than anything else (the food was good, but not up to the standard of Rendezvous, or even Famous Dave’s for that matter.
Memphis is also famous for their blues, in particular on a part of Beale Street in downtown. This was the one thing I wish I was able to enjoy more of, but as I’ve said (and blogged) many times before, I just have a hard time going out and roaming around a town on my own. I forced myself to go to BB King’s to listen for a while, and I’m glad I did. Playing that night was Preston Shannon (and the Preston Shannon Band), and he put on a great, high energy show, even with the small crowd of a cold Tuesday night.
The highlight of the week was being able to see Ronda and Mark, friends from college who I’ve been able to keep up with thanks to the magic of Facebook. We went out to a churrascaria in downtown called Texas de Brazil (a chain). Food was good, conversation and friends were much better, though. The one part that did take a little adjusting to was listening to Ronda, who’s from Minnesota but has developed a full southern accent. She still has the same infectious laugh that she had in college, though. I had a fantastic time, even if it was my second dinner.
Yeah, that’s right – second dinner. One downside to having a smart phone of any variety is you start to depend on it, almost to the same degree you do your brain. If my iPhone doesn’t know it, then I don’t know it. Any appointment that I need to remember, including outings with friends, I put into Outlook, which of course syncs with my iPhone. This time, though, I figured I’d just remember the fact that we had changed from Wednesday night to Thursday night. Big mistake. I went out to dinner at a nice little Italian place, went back to my room, changed into PJ’s and settled in for a relaxing night of reading my book. When I checked my email I got one from Ronda saying, “Sorry, we’re running late. We’re stuck in traffic.” Huh. Ok… So a quick change and I ran out the door to meat up with them for dinner. I think I’m still full from that night.
I don’t think eating BBQ counts as exercise, but if it did…
One trick I’ve learned is to ask my students where a good place to eat is; they usually steer me in the right direction. I of course asked where I should go get BBQ and without hesitation the consensus was Rendezvous. I knew I had to find good BBQ while I was out here, and while I won't be stringing a banner up and executing a carrier landing, I can safely say, "Mission Accomplished".
The restaurant is two levels, with the downstairs seeming to be the more fun area. I settled in at the bar and was greeted by a friendly bartender who hooked me up with a Yuengling. I asked her if I should go for the ribs & shoulder or ribs & brisket and was told to go with the latter. She did not steer me wrong.
The brisket was out of this world juicy, tender and flavorful. As is normal, it was served on Texas toast (something I've never quite understood as I never eat the bread, but I'm just a Yankee so what do I know?) The ribs are "dry ribs", meaning they're not slathered in sauce before being sent out. They were incredibly tender (near melt in your mouth) with a nice crust of seasoning on top. The sauce (I went for the hot stuff) wasn't quite as hot as I was expecting, but it still brought a lot of flavor to the party. The slaw and beans that it was served with were both very good, but I didn't have much room for it with all the delicious BBQ in front of me.
Every now and then I'll find something that will ruin that particular item or cuisine for the rest of my life. This may have just ruined BBQ for me. Well, probably not - but pretty darn close.
The Travel Note
Drivers in different areas of the nation are, well, different. In Memphis it seems two basic concepts eludes everyone: claiming a left turn and merging at a yield sign.
Not once did I see someone (other than myself) roll out into an intersection while waiting to take a left. As Gallagher once told us, “Three cars go through on a yellow”. The only way that happens is if you go out and claim that left turn.
The other basic concept that was foreign to Memphians was using the lane that’s about to end to maintain speed and merge into traffic. The freeway entrance/exit by my hotel featured a line of cars stopped at the top of the exit ramp waiting for an opening, rather than maintaining speed and merging in.
With the holidays coming up, there’s a 99% chance this will be my last Friday Five of the year. I just don’t see me sitting down on Christmas day or New Year’s day to peck out a Friday Five. Maybe I’m wrong, but if you were going to make book on me not posting a Friday Five, I wouldn’t bet against me.
Upon looking back at my previous Fives this time of year, it seems I’ve developed a Christmas theme. If you know me at all, you know I’m all for tradition, so….
- Travelling full time makes it harder for me to realize when Christmas time is approaching. Because advertisers and start hawking their Christmas wares around October I wind up treating that much the same way I treat anyone on a city street – I just ignore it. With that said, though, I feel very fortunate to be able to be home for Christmas.
- My favorite Christmas movie by far is the original Miracle on 34th Street. If you’ve never seen it, you owe it to yourself to do so – in the original black & white.
- If you have any chance, watch the Christmas episode of The West Wing titled In Excelsis Deo. You won’t be disappointed. Bring Kleenex.
- Every year I keep talking about doing a Christmas movie marathon. Still hasn’t happened yet.
- Let’s be clear. There is no “war on Christmas”.
And with that, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year. And thank you very much for reading my blog; one of my favorite four word phrases to hear are, “I read your blog”. Thanks.
 Well, my iPhone and Wikipedia.
 In deference to a particular reader who has a motherly themed blog, before television and movies were available in color they were available in shades of gray known, affectionately known as black & white.