Posts Tagged ‘bbq’

By: Raul Parra
Email: rp@99sportsproblems.com
Twitter: ParraPalliative

I’m sitting here waiting for the last hour to wind down on my smoked wings.  I can smell the sweet hickory in the air.  Like a sacrifice, it burns so it can feed the gods and in doing so it creates milky white apparitions in the sky.  I’m pondering now as many ticks come and go, like random city buses zagging and zigging in fog infested nights.

What is it about BBQ that stirs my soul?  What is it about fine drink that pleases me so?  I kick back and wonder.  Sounds ring out around me.  The sickening off beat rhythm of a basketball being bounced is enough to drive any time keeping drummer mad.  The random yapping of a so called dog.  I hear rim, another shot and a miss.

I try to push my thoughts out, but I am not successful.  They keep coming at me like a desecrated zombie, shambling toward me without care to injury or death.

Again it hits me.

Why am I drawn to smoked meats and strong drink?

Then a flash of inspiration!

A strong beer and good meal is community.  A stranger in a new city may only have to find the right pub in order to belong.  After the first round, he is family.  Gathering around a well kept fire and chewing on the bounty of the day is enough to raise even the most foulest of spirits.  Strangers become friends, friends become tribe and tribe lifts up to realm of spirit.

We often share stories after a few rounds of good spirits.  This is becoming rare in the modern age of internet and “all you can view” TV.  We create myth and legend around the table,  something desperately needed in a time of 24 hour “realism.”

We tend to share in a BBQ setting.  The normal selfishness of everyday life seems to melt away.  We open our homes to others.  We act, even if it is untrue, as if our bounty could never end and encourage others to take their fill, often before we’ve had our own.

We experience the outdoors in a way that most city dwellers never would.  I know as well as you do, hanging in your backyard is not exactly the great outdoors.  However, in some cases this option is all certain people are left with.

When done right, merriment in the form of liquor and good food reminds us that we are together on this rock.  Not only are we together… we are OF it.  Not the masters of it.  We are not observing it.  We are it. We are the thing.

By: Raul Parra
Email: rp@99sportsproblems.com
Twitter: ParraPalliative

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The Joints

B.B. King’s Blues Club  –  This was the first place I stopped in on my little Southern Adventure.  When I first walked in, like many places on Beale Street, there was a band already in the throes of a Blues Orgasm.  A smile stretched across my face and I thought, ok this is it!  However, I was quickly whisked away to another part of the building.  Torn from the sonic assault of the band.  I was marched up a dark staircase into a modern day speak easy.

What I didn’t know at the time is BB is hiding a fine dining restaurant on top of his kick ass juke joint.  Try the Duck and waffles, they’re to die for.

If you’re not into the fancy pants stuff head down stairs to catch an earful of blues and eat some of the best ribs I’ve ever had.  Also, your visit would not be complete without drinking a Strong Island Ice Tea and having some snacks off the  Meat and Cheese platter.

Flying Saucer – A tad bit off of Beale, this bar turned out to be the missing link in my life.  Quirky, friendly, fun, sexy (love those skirts ladies) and full of beer!  You can’t miss with this place.  It is easily in my Top 10 favorite bars of all time.  Special thanks to Courtney and Tiffany for making our first night there special, we will never forget you ladies.

The Joints to Avoid

Alfred’s – This place completely avoids the gritty/dirty South blues vibe of most of Beale and replaces it with a frat boy ambiance that is normally reserved for a college town rape-huts (AKA bars.)  Let’s put it this way, when you’re located on one of the most historically significant sites in America in terms of Blues culture, you don’t play Daughtry through the PA.

Pig – From the outside this spot looks like a for sure winner.  They even have a trophy in front window claiming to have won “Best Ribs 2003.”  Well in my opinion the fire must have went out in their smoker since then.  “Best Cold Food, Filthy Dining Room and Shit Service 2012.” is the trophy I would set aside for them.  Just cause your slogan is “Pork With an Attitude!”…doesn’t mean you should act like a dick.

Things to do When You’re Not Drunk

Rock N’ Soul Museum –   Whether you’re a hard core fan of Rock or Soul or just getting into the mix, this place is for you.  The museum does a great job of giving you a fantastic overview of the impact the Memphis music community has had on the greater music landscape from 1930-1970’s.

Sun Studios – Say what you will.  I am telling you this is the birthplace of rock and roll.  If you don’t know the history of Sun.  Stop what you’re doing… get down to Memphis and ask El Dorado to school your punk ass in the history of our rock world.  End of Story.

My Top 5 Beers

While I was slinking and gallivanting the streets of Memphis I had the pleasure of sampling over 20 different craft beers.  The list below is what i enjoyed most:

  • Green Flash, Double Stout (American Double/Imperial Stout8.80% ABV):  Jet Black, smells of chocolatey malts and tastes of coffee and a tiny bit of fudge.
  • 1516 Brewing Company, NZ Victory Hop Devil IPA (American IPA, 6.70% ABV):  Orange like amber color, smells of citrus and hops and tastes of grapefruit.  Little bit of bitter mixed with a subdued sweetness.
  • Yazoo Brewing Company, Dos Perros (American Brown Ale, 3.50% ABV):  Pours a nice brown color, smells of  nuts and toffee and tastes earthy and sweet, very light cocoa.
  • Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu, Premium Lager (Munch Helles Lager, 5.20% ABV):  Clear, straw yellow, smells of grassy hops and hints of lemon.  Tastes of bread like malt.
  • Yazoo Brewing Company, Sue (American Porter, 9.00% ABV):  Pours black as night, smells of smoke and tastes the same.  I absolutely adore this beer!
By: Raul Parra
Email: rp@99sportsproblems.com
Twitter: ParraPalliative

Out of my side vision (for you Kat Williams fans) I spy him,  barb wire tat, mesh trucker hat with some ironic slogan on it (“I’m with stupid… and it’s your mom).  He proudly slides another dollar into the internet juke box.  I can’t see what he’s typing.  I can only imagine the auditory onslaught I am about to feel.  The over produced voice of Ke$ha… the weak one syllable rhyme schemes of Mr. West (Best, Rest, Crest…. Chest.), or Nickelback.  Just Nickelback, that’s its own insult.  In the future we will be saying things like, “Loser? Dudes a Nickelback…”

The Bro waddles back to his own babbling tribe.  I over hear the word ‘Bomb’ with a idiotic mumbled prefix in front of it.  I just realized I am at a Bro Bar.  There are Heineken signs on the wall.  Another brightly colored advertisement informs me that if I bring my own fishbowl on Thursday nights… they’ll fill it with any color alcohol I choose for only $10.50.   I bury my face in my drink and try to sip the last of my $12 ‘craft beer’…. “bro… they’re leinenkugel fireside nut brown ales…. killer.”.

I glance up.  The Bro Bunch is singing now and when I see the dude with the wallet chain and Affliction t-shirt reach for his Skol Dip, I make a run for it.  I jut passed something that looks like a Snooki and narrowly avoid the skinny jean-skateboarder-rapper-graphic designer-t shirt maker-blogger-DJ-I listened to Dub Step first- dude.  Through the door now I see street lights and hear traffic.

I’m walking across a frozen tundra of urban desolation. There are buildings and structures and there seem to be shapes moving in them.  Bumbling potato sack people grasping at brightly colored shapes.  Strip malls abound.  They’re exactly that, STRIP malls,  they have stripped my glorious town of personality and integrity.  Were does a modern man seek adventure?  Where can he boast of his tales?  Is there no mead hall fit for his songs of victory and iniquity?  These thoughts swirled around in my head, colored smoke that seemed obscure my vision.  Here I was on the famed Route 66… and I was bored and disgusted with my surroundings.

Just then, without warning or notice, the smell hits me.  The sweet and sappy smell of hardwood burning in the distant ink black night…. chicken flesh being charred to absurd level deliciousness.  A smile creeps across my face.  I just realized what I have been missing.  It was calling to me… beckoning me.  I will obey.

The front of Cigars and Stripes (6715 Ogden Ave, Berwyn, Il, 60402) is unassuming enough, unless of course you walk passed on one of the nights were the 8ft Frankenstein’s Monster is hanging out in front… smoking his stogie.  If that’s enough to scare you off, you will miss all of the smoked BBQ glory that awaits you inside.  If Dracula had a frat house… this is it.  Colored lights pour their saccharine slime on beer bottles and the slithering rapscallions that occupy every inch of the halo shaped bar.  Neon lights extend their icy grip across the haggard floor, itching to grab a boot or perhaps a leather high heel.  As your eyes drift to and fro… up ward and on ward… you will spy many a curious object.  Skulls, half naked women, a velvet Elvis painting and a myriad of other strange relics.  You have some how peeled back the fabric of space/time and peered into the very soul of a tricked out hot-rod.

THIS is a bar.

The heart of that bar? A collection of craft beers at your drinking disposable and the most succulent BBQ you have every dreamed of, you get the impression this was put together for just for  you.  Carefully selected with the utmost care to ensure maximum beer orgasm.  It’s hard to imagine that just a decade ago Cigars and Stripes was a place to just pick up your stogies and hot sauce.  If you were lucky enough to own a low rider or hot rod,  you could take care of all your custom paint jobs as well.  Ronnie Lottz (the ring leader of The Cigars and Stripes circus, AKA Bar Owner), might very well be Berwyn’s only Renaissance Man.  His bio reads like a man walking the line of artisan and mad man.  Custom Car illustrator, BBQ specialist, one time Professional Wrestling manager and now illustrious bar owner.  I know what you are thinking, what do these past occupations have in common and how could they lead to creating the ideal night spot?

According to Mr. Lottz, each one of those past lives played an indispensable role in the creation of C&S.  When you hear him reminisce about hanging with his wrestlers on the west side of Chicago and traveling across the country getting a first hand education on BBQ, you can literally see the spark in his eye.  That spark indicates a deep love for what he is doing… and no one does it better.

“Good food is culture… not technique…” he says.

That’s exactly what Ronnie and his staff are doing, creating their own culture to share with the world and in this world of five dollar foot longs, cardboard pizza, ice cold chicken wings from B-Scrubs and stale seven dollar Miller Lites.. we need you more than ever Mr. Lottz.

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