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Saturday, November 30, 2013

First Carolina Deli: North Carolina's Best

Warning:  The following may be inappropriate to children under the age of 13 and those unfamiliar with Tobacco Road

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First Carolina Deli in Greensboro, NC is my favorite deli south of South of Katz's and the Carnegie Deli in NY.  They have some of the benchmarks that make a great deli.  In the south these are difficult to come by.

#1 Great Pastrami- Check
#2 Unique Sandwiches- Check
#3 Taylor Ham- Double Check.

Full disclosure, I went to college in Greensboro and we tend to romanticize things from the past and in particular, we tend to romanticize college.  I am more than guilty of this as well.  We waste ALOT of time in college and I wasted some of my best time at the FCD.  I wasted most of my time at the Corner Bar.  My buddy Hot Plate used to bring his books to the bar to study.

We also wasted alot of time making up great nicknames too.  MOFA (part man/ part sofa, he wasn't very active) and Mystery Meat (nobody knew his name, but he was at every party) were my favorites I can put in writing.

"The Big Chill" did a great job framing this point.  But it's possible "Old School" may hit a little closer to home.  But I always remembered the FCD being my favorite deli.  And you know what?  I didn't romanticize it.  It is really that good.

This has to be one of the greatest ensembles since the Godfather, right?

But for me, college was a little more like this

But the reason college was what it was for us leads back to the GREAT John Belushi.  Though it may cost me a few years on the back nine of life.  Totally worth it though.
And their menu has NEVER changed, it looks the same as it did in 1991.  They are the masters at what they do.

The majority of their sandwiches are named after towns in New Jersey, Dean who opened the shop in 1985 is surprisingly from..............Jersey!  In an unofficial poll, most of my college buddies favor the Hoboken.  The sauteed cherry peppers are what makes the Hoboken unique. In fact I ordered one today and it's exactly how I remembered from a long time ago.

My favorite?  The Italian Sailor.  Pepperoni with Pastrami?  You bet your ass that works.

After those, our other favorites (in no particular order) were the Sky Dog, Emerson, Continental and the Hackensack.  Then the Taylor Ham and Cheese is another classic.  Nobody south of Jersey cuts their taylor ham this thick.  Use a little ketchup and BAM, deli perfection.

Nothing makes me happier than sharing one of my college favorites with my daughter.

I have cursed my daughter into being a Redskins fan
The greatest cook in FCD History:  John Alperti, he went from making sausages to racing them this summer!
So if you are passing through Greensboro, NC or staying there, stop by FCD.  It's a true hidden gem.

Today's Footnote:  The iconic college movies of all time.

Animal House:  This is no longer your grandfathers college.  I blame this movie for our 1,000 people fraternity parties with a two story beer bong.  I'm sorry, our alleged two story beer bong.  I may still be liable for an incident that I would like to keep quiet.

Revenge of the Nerds:
A picture says it all
The Big Chill:  It was all fun in games until we find out William Hurt is a strung out Eunuch

Old School:  We all would like to hang on to the dream a little too long.  And I love it.

I really do have a great sand guy.  Maybe we do some bubbles too?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Fiorella's Jack Stack: Kansas City Magic

Warning:  The following may be inappropriate for children under the age of 13 and NY Yankee Fans

Zagat's and the Huffington Post both recognize Jack Stack as one of the Nations BEST BBQ venues.

So on my inaugural visit to KC for business what do I do?  I go to Jack Stack for an ungodly amount of meat.  Do not pass go, do not collect $200.  Also, I have never had "upscale" barbecue before either.  And Jack Stack pulls it off in spades.

And I can now unequivocally state I know why Andy Reid moved here.  And it ain't the weather.

Hands down the best Halloween Costume in 2013
There is a tradition that you rub the bull for luck before you dine.  Who am I to break tradition?

Thanks Patty for the great recommendation!
Growing up, I was an Orioles fan, but I had admired George Brett and his KC Royals.  Brett was the consummate competitor.  Kansas City is also happens to be the home of "Greatest Two Moments in Baseball Bat History."

This just goes to show that MLB will always rule in favor of the Yankees.  This was an atrocity that highlights MLB's years of stacking the deck for the Evil Empire (that's the NY Yankees for the baseball challenged).  Does the name Jeffrey Maher mean anything to you?  The Yankees encompass everything that is wrong with sports.  For example, just as they were fading, this year they actually let A-Roid suit up and play?  The next thing you know, we'll find out Andy Petite was on steroids and it will have been acceptable.  Oh wait...........

So let's go to the beginning.  We had the Onion Rings, which were "lightly breaded" to perfection.  Many places tend to over bread their O Rings.  These were perfect.

Stacked to Perfection
We also split the "Burnt Ends."  Searing meat is an underused method.  I loved seared fish, but rarely get my meat seared.  And these bite size chunks are one of Jack Stack's specialties.

Seared Perfection
For the entree, I went with two types of ribs, baby back (these were great as expected) and the lamb ribs.  I was shocked by how much I loved the lamb.  I am famous for going off the reservation and regretting it, but I LOVED these.  When you think of rack of lamb, we tend to think of a Mediterranean preparation.  These are prepared in the classic BBQ style, but if you like lamb, give these a shot!  They do a great job of pulling this off.

The MVP of my meal!
And of course any self respecting BBQ establishment need a signature side.  Jack Stack has the Cheesy Corn Bake.  I would tell you what's in it, but cardiologists may get together to ban this from our lives.  I for one am not willing to take this chance.

Take an extra Lipitor with this one, but it's worth it.  I may not be a doctor, but I sell commercials during TV shows with doctors
But unlike many BBQ joints, Jack has an outstanding dessert.  Their Mom's Carrot Cake.  It's served warm with cream cheese frosting.  This was a big and welcome surprise.

If you don't have room after the meal, make it.  This is ridiculous.
So the next time I go, I'll check out Oklahoma Joe's or Gates which I've heard are just as good.  But for "upscale" BBQ, Jack Stack is your joint.  Believe the hype.

Today's Footnote:  The Greatest Athlete Ever

Without question Bo Jackson was the greatest athlete I have ever seen.  Period.  This guy could not just do everything, he excelled at everything.  I've never seen a better raw defensive Outfielder and I've never scene a guy his size out run defensive backs.  If you haven't seen ESPN's 30 for 30 on him, check it out.

Here's a reel of Bo Jackson Highlights:

Footnote #2:  Kansas City's own Dan Quisenberry was a highly underrated relief pitcher.

When I was a child, the best relief pitchers were Goose Gossage, Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers and KC's own Dan Quisenberry.  What did they all have in common?  Great mustaches of course!  The 70's and 80's ushered in an incredible era of mustaches.  I'm glad to see Andy Reid keeping up the tradition for KC.

The Quiz lead the AL in saves five times and retired as #6 in saves.  He also finished second in the Cy Young Voting twice as well as 3rd in Cy Young voting twice as well.

Quisenberry was the premiere submarine pitcher in the league and quite a character in his own right.

He was once quoted as saying:  "I've seen the future and it's much like the present, only longer."  Unfortunately he passed way too young in 1998.

Ladies and Gents, "The Quiz"

Friday, November 1, 2013

Rumi's Kitchen, Persian Perfected

Warning:  The following may be inappropriate for children under the age of 13 and those who think Kublai Kahn was a guard for the 1986 Milwaukee Bucks

Rumi’s Kitchen takes Persian Cuisine to the next level.  Much like when Phil Jackson started coaching Michael Jordan’s Bulls.  You knew Jordan was great, but Phil took him (and more importantly the team) to the next level.  Rumi’s did the same with Persian and made it upscale and more importantly, they put their unique signature brand on it.  

Phil got these Hall of Famers to buy into, "The Whole is Greater than the Sum of its Parts"
Phil know you had to start with the fundamentals and building blocks.  In Rumi's case, they start with an impressive array of their appetizers.

Their shrimp seasoned with garlic, black pepper & saffron with a creamy feta sauce
Not a generously portioned dish but an incredible one.  The saffron makes it stand out from other shrimp.  In today's NBA, it's more of the Derrick Rose of the group.  Small but powerful!  It's a strong runner for our next app of the year.  As D Rose will probably end up the "Most Improved Player of the Year."

D Rose is going to bring the noise this year
 The Mirza Ghasemi is smoked eggplant with tomato and garlic was a delicious surprise.

I didn't expect my eggplant to be a dip!  But we  loved it.
The Dolmeh minced beef with rice, herbs wrapped in grape leaves was the best grape leaf wrap I've ever had!  
Granted, there is very little competition in the Grape Leaf space
The Hummus rounded out the apps.  The hummus was very good, not quite Cafe Agora good, but good.

Combined, these app's are the strongest we have had at any restaurant.  They really set the up the table (in this case meal) like my man Chris Paul.

Nobody dishes like CP3.  The Clippers should be strong this year.  But then again, they're the Clippers.
Every main course comes with a different rice.  

Rice Heaven
And we all liked different ones, though the dill (far right) was our least favorite.  The saffron offerings were the best.

And then there were the meats.
The lineup from left to right:
1. Lamb Kabob 2. Chicken Barg 3. Roasted Salmon 4.( and batting cleanup) Chilean Sea Bass
The Sea Bass was my favorite.  Granted, it's my favorite fish, but it was cooked to a moist perfection and the spices on it were perfect and not at all overpowering.

Beth and Leslie liked the Salmon best and I can't argue that because it was delicious and had that perfect hint of saffron.  The lamb was great too.  But if you are a self respecting Middle Eastern Restaurant, you can't f*ck up the lamb and have any street cred.  The chicken was a little dry and thus was the least eaten meat on the platter. 

The waiters hand may or may not have been on my ass
For dessert, they recommended the "authentic" ice cream sandwich.  It was god awful.  The bottom line is this, Middle Easterns and Asians make horrible desserts.  If you are east of Greece and want dessert, you are screwed.  I'm sure Marco Polo must have bulked up on the Tiramisu and then Baklava on his way to China.  I imagine a fresh Tiramisu in ancient Persia was worth at least 10 virgins to Kublai Kahn.

I love how Kublai always had an entourage around him in any rendition.  He would fit right into the NBA!
Of course Kublai Kahn was the inspiration for this modern day villain and this iconic William Shatner scene.

And Shatner owns possibly the best belly dancing scene in TV, Persian inspired of course

Overall, this was an outstanding venue.  It's unique, the decor was extremely upscale, the service was impeccable and the food was delicious.

Today's Footnote:  If you haven't noticed, I'm very excited for this NBA season.  Here are my predictions:

MVP:  Lebron, he'll have to carry his team more than the last two years, so his stats will be a career high.  But Kevin Durant will give him a run for his money and may average 35 points a game in November. Derrick Rose will be #3.  Dark Horse Candidate:  Demarcus Cousin's will finish in the MVP top 10

Comeback Player of the Year:  Derrick Rose, with Pau Gasol at #2

Eastern Conference Finals:  The Bulls over the Heat.  Since LBJ will have to carry his team this year, the deep and talented Bulls team will prevail as we  watch LBJ run out of gas.

Western Conference Finals:  The Houston Rockets over the LA Clippers.  I can't stand Dwight, but he's in the perfect spot with guys with actual courage, so he can do his rebounding and blocking all day.  If Blake Griffin stays healthy, they could win though.  James Harden will be the difference in this series, though they will have one hell of a time containing Chris Paul.

World Champs:  The Chicago Bulls.  They have the bodies to battle and get into the head of D Ho and the athletes to bother James Harden just enough.  This will be the Derrick Rose Coming out party.