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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Atlanta's Final Four Best Taco's

Warning:  The following may be inappropriate for children under the age of 13 and people that view "On the Border" as fine dining

Click on Bracket to Enlarge

After much deliberation, we are down to Atlanta's Final Four Best Taco's.  Here is a rundown of the Last Taco's Standing:

Bone Garden Cantina's Beef Barbacoa Taco is representing the Clint Eastwood Division.
It's made with slow-cooked BRISKET topped with salsa verde, cabbage, cilantro and onion.  It's a great taco and even a better venue.

The Bone Garden Cantina was reviewed by the Dry Rub Previously and has "Atlanta's Best Quesadilla" as well.  You have to try the Adobe Steak Quesadilla as well.

I'm still not sure how "Over the Top" didn't catapult arm wrestling into the mainstream
The Philly from Taqueria Del Sol is representing the Sly Stallone Division, though it's an obscure special. For the love of all that's holy, please get this Taco back into the rotation people.

"Quality Carnita Steak, Grilled Onions, Mushrooms and Melted Queso"
Taqueria Del Sol has also been reviewed by us before as well.

The Mole Pollo Taco at Nuevo Laredo is representing the Erik Estrada Division.  Their Mole sauce without question is the best I have ever had.

Nuevo Laredo has received the Dry Rub Treatment previously as well.  More known as our "Best Mexican in Atlanta."

The Pork Taco at Hankook Taqueria is representing the Bruce Lee Division.
“Dae ji gogi” pulled pork with spicy korean bbq sauce is pretty close to perfection.

Hankook has been featured on The Dry Rub as well!

Good luck to our Final Four Contestants!  Again, the winner will face off against Dan Martinez's Shrimp Taco's.
Dan and his shirt await the winner

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

NOMA- The Worlds Best Restaurant

Warning:  This is the first guest blog entry for the Dry Rub and it's an outstanding piece.  Sarah and John did it right.  Though next time, I suggest John just burns six $100 bills, he may get more out of that.  Knowing John for as long as I have, I honestly thought the closest he would ever get to Copenhagen was the chewing tobacco he used to use in college.  Thankfully, he met Sarah, which I can honestly say is the best thing that has ever happened to John.  To say she "classes up the joint" is an understatement.  

And I'm also not shocked he got lost on his way there.  Some of my epic "getting lost" moments have been with John in Cape Cod and the Bahama's.  Neither experience I can put in writing to protect the innocent.

So here is Sarah and John's entry.  Enjoy!

Two distinct accounts of dining at the number ONE restaurant in the world NOMA

The Dry Rub has been so gracious to let my fiancé and I do a guest blog about Noma in Copenhagen Denmark. For those who don’t know Noma is a two Michelin star restaurant run by chef René Redzepi in Copenhagen. Opened in 2003, the restaurant is known for its reinvention and interpretation of the Nordic Cuisine. In 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014, it has been ranked as the Best Restaurant in the World by Restaurant magazine.

It’s the Dun dun DUNNNN!! of food!    

Let’s begin at the beginning. I was working in Sochi for the Olympics. My fiancé, Sarah and I had a plan after the games to visit Moscow, St Petersburg, Copenhagen and Stockholm. Not knowing a thing about these cities I was open to any helpful recommendations.  When I talked of my future travels to “foodie” friends and they freaked out about going to Copenhagen and the restaurant Noma. They were adamant about going there!   They said, “with all due respect…

How don’t you know about this place?”  Now with my interest peeked I went online and attempted to make a reservation.  Noma politely wrote back and said it takes a least month to secure a reservation. This was cutting it close.  In my mind I thought we’d never get in.  The Olympics ended Sarah and I went on our merry way never thinking about Noma again. Then one afternoon I got an email from Noma saying we had secured a reservation at their communal table for one of the nights we were in Copenhagen.  I was totally shocked and happy but more shocked because I never thought we would get a reservation and this was going to put a major dent in my wallet. I did research on Noma and found out roughly what it would cost to dine there and just my luck WE got a reservation.  Noma was a cutting edge restaurant that foraged for food. So I knew it was going to be a different type dinning experience for the both of us.  My fiancé Sarah would like to say she has a more refined pallet while my taste is more like Atouc “Leader of the Stone Age.”

Our experience could go either way.  We weren’t sure what to expect!
Here is a first person’s account of what went down.

Interviewer’s question: Walk me through the start of the night and getting to the restaurant?

John: I was excited and nervous all at the same time. I was planning on having the greatest meal of my life but I knew it could be the weirdest food I ever had as well. I didn’t know what to think. I was like Chastity Bono!  I mean Chase.

Sarah:  John’s dragging me down this sketch alley… what’s he getting me into now?

Interviewer: What was it like when you finally got to Noma?

John: We got lost! It’s in this dark alley tucked behind some apartments on the water. With the help of another couple, who we’re equally as lost, we finally stumbled upon it.  Just in time!  How could we get reservations to the greatest restaurant in the world and not be able get there? We approached Noma like a teenage girl who stumbled upon Justin Bieber. We were like crazy fans. We snapped selfies under the restaurants sign.  We were so excited!

Sarah:  After we posed for selfies we entered Noma.  As we walked into the front door I was completely surprised we were literally greeted by the entire staff at the entrance.  I was under the impression they had us mistaken for Paris Hilton.  Could they possibly welcome all of their guests like this?  Anyway we got the full tour… walked through the kitchen and we were introduced to the head chef.  Really cool! After they sat us down John announced that we would not be doing the wine pairing because it was an additional $300 per head.  Cheap A$$!!!

Interviewer: Tell me about sitting down and the first dish?

Sarah: We were the first people seated at the communal table, the place has a great vibe and the waiters are on point.  We ordered drinks while we waited for the rest of the table. 

John:   As the table was being seated we meet people from Ireland, Switzerland, Australia, Japan and American. Everyone was there for the same reason… to have our taste buds blown away!!   We waited in anticipation for the first dish to arrive.  I’m pumped I’m ready to have something from the best restaurant in the world. They place the first dish on the table and voila it was cherry on a stick. 

Interviewer: Talk about the cherry on the stick?

John:  It was a cherry on a stick! I know the cherry was dipped in something and the stick was carved especially for me but it was an F#$*ing cherry on a stick. I was in for a long night.

Sarah:  Let’s just say it wasn’t an actual cherry but an edible gooseberry foraged in the woods.  The stick was hand carved by one of the 45 interns that work for Noma.   However, it was only a berry on a stick.  When it was presented I could tell by the look on John’s face this was going to be an interesting evening.  After we quickly ate the berry we were presented with our next course.  Which John would appropriately say was a cracker.  An exceptionally great cracker that was made from cheese, rocket and stems but I started to feel as if we were going to leave hungry.  The third course on the menu was a Nordic coconut…  basically a large radish hallowed out with a straw and an interesting juice inside.  Needless to say after one sip John passed his coconut my way.  I now have two exceptionally large roots in front of me.  Well maybe I was mistaken I might not leave this place as hungry as I thought.   

Interviewer:  What was next and did you like the Nordic Coconut?

John: This radish/Nordic coconut tasted like warm dishwater. I was literally handed a radish pulled from the ground with a straw in in it.  It was horrible. The next few courses that were served were even less distinct. I tried each one of them and then passed them along to Sarah. This was going to be the most expensive dinner that I didn’t eat!!!

Nordic Coconut
Sarah:  The meal wasn’t that bad.  In fact I quite enjoyed it.  We were served an interesting dish of fried moss and cep, basically a fried moss ball that tasted like a potato chip.  Did I mention I’m southern so you can fry anything and I’ll love it!  The fried moss was followed by pickled and smoked quail eggs, which had a similar taste to smoked Gouda… so I was ok with that as well.  Not to mention the presentation was beautiful.  Tiny little eggs still smoking served on a bed of straw.  The food just kept on coming caramelized milk and cod liver, chestnuts and lumpfish roe (delicious), urchin toast, burnt leek, and apple (interesting), scallop and watercress, onions and fermented pears, beets and aromatic herbs, cauliflower whey and horseradish, potato and lojrom, and wild duck with pear and kale.  Every dish was quite unique in flavor.  I was not only eating my meal but also my fiancé’s meal.  Pretty soon it became a running joke and the Aussies were trying to pass what they didn’t want my way.  I love food!  

Quail Eggs
Interviewer:  Did you like anything?  
John:  The Duck was good and so was the fried moss. I mean who doesn’t like fried moss.  There’s a reason no one else serves fried moss.  It’s because it moss and it’s not meant for consumption!  I’m glad that they like to forage and make uneatable dishes eatable but this was “ just a bit outside”, of my strike zone.

Fried Moss
I basically tasted everything but handed it over to Sarah. I felt like I was being fleeced. Finally the desert came out! I was so excited, I thought maybe we’d get a Danish or a sweet treat but once again I was bamboozled.  I was served potato/plum puree.  It was ok.  But who wants plums for desert?  How about chocolate! Danish, we’re in Denmark for Christ sakes!  The potato/plum puree had the consistency of baby food.  It was like I was the Gerber baby without the benefit of eventually having teats stuck in my face to wash down the puree.

Potato and Plum Puree
Everything they gave us was the opposite of what you thought it was going to be. If you thought it was suppose to be cold it was warm.  If it was suppose to be sweet it was sour.  I was so ready to jump into the Baltic Sea.

Sarah:  As John mentioned we were served desserts consisting of aronia berries and sol (funny and suiting because when John saw this dish he was SOL $h*t out of luck no Danish here) and a potato and plum puree.  Both desserts were surprisingly delicious.  Then I made the mistake of ordering a coffee.  I’ll let John explain.

Interviewer:  Tell me about the coffee?

John:  It wasn’t just the coffee it was the water as well. I’ll get back to that in a minute.
I’d like to first to say how great of an experience it was. The service was legendary the people we met were amazing.  I had an unbelievable time.  The problem was the food or my taste buds.  When I got the bill I knew what to expect but I saw an additional charge that threw me off.  I called the waitress over and I asked her, “It’s $50 for coffee and water?”  After spending what I just spent you’re going to charge me $50 for water and coffee?  Granted I did have one cup of coffee.  It was good but not mind blowing.  The waitress didn’t bat and eye yes you ordered both.  I signed the bill and was ready to run the hell out of Noma. It was like nothing I had ever experienced I spent close to a grand and they charged me an additional $50 for water and coffee.  No offense but I thought they could include that into the cost of the meal.  Am I being cheap? That’s a rhetorical question because I just spent a thousand dollars so I can’t possibly be cheap!

Sarah:  All and all it was a wonderful dinning experience and I would recommend it to anyone visiting Copenhagen.  The service was incredible, food was interesting and the company as always amazing.  It was a dinner I will remember forever.  We forgot to mention after dinner we were given a full tour of the kitchen where the magic happens and indeed it was magical.    

John: It was magical!  The people were great, the food was unique and we got a glimpse of what was behind the wizard’s curtain to boot!  They took us back and showed us the testing kitchen where all the crazy mad scientist creations occur. They also showed us what was on the menu for following night. It was a giant Crab like the ones on Deadliest Catch. It was huge and still alive. Why couldn’t we have that to eat?  They explained to us how they have 45 interns who get a opportunity to create a unique meal every night for the staff . If it’s good enough they then serve it to the customers.  Unfortunately for me when the curtain was pulled back all I saw was an old man who likes to serve twigs! “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.” I’m kidding! It was pretty cool!

Big Crustacean
I ended up having a great time. Was it my favorite eating experience?  No, but it was the probably greatest dining experience to date. I’m typically the type of guy who likes my meatballs round, my steak medium and my eggs over easy. I’m not fond of overpaying for twigs and berries! Even if they are from the greatest place on earth! It’s not for everyone but everyone should go so if you happen to be in Copenhagen it’s a must see but make sure you know what you’re in for.

If you do happen to be in Copenhagen I recommend stopping by John’ or dop’s. They’re both hotdogs stands and they are delicious. So good!  Off the chart’s good!

John's Hotdogs
dop's Hotdogs
Sarah:  We had to eat at the hot dog stands after that dinner since that’s all we could afford.  ;) Well worth it though!

Thanks Sean for letting us write on the Dry Rub.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Atlanta's Best Taco: The Great 8

Warning:  The following may not be appropriate for children under the age of 13 and those who have never seen "Enter the Dragon"

After much deliberation (okay, the 6 day stomach flu and 2 busy trips), we have finally paired down our tacos to the Great Eight.

In the Clint Eastwood Division, Holy Taco's Pork Belly made it through as did Bone Garden Cantina's Barbacoa offering.  Both would do Harry Callahan proud.

Would today's Anti Hero, The Wire's Stringer Bell, James McNulty, or The Shields Vic Mackey be here without Dirty Harry?  Probably, but Clint blazed the trail for these guys.  And if I haven't implored you in the past to watch it, The Shield is the Best TV show ever made.  Take the summer to watch it and thank me later.
This Millenniums Anti Hero
In the Bruce Lee Division, Hankook wins both matches are are GUARANTEED a spot in the Final Four.  It is just a matter of Fish or Pork?  Korean's rejoice!

In the Stallone Division, The Philly at Taqueria Del Sol made it to the next round and will face Verde's Short Rib Taco.  Though if TDS doesn't get their act together and make the Philly their special soon, as in REAL soon, their days may be numbered.  I do love that Buffalo Shrimp Taco at Tin Lizzy's though.

"Yo, Miss Piggy, I like pork, so youz better watch out"
In the Erik Estrada Division, The Tacos La Villa Chorizo and the Mole Pollo at Nuevo Laredo both advance. This is going to be a tough division to make.

Erik wants to take on the Bruce Lee Division
Today's Footnote:  The Champion Taco will face off against Dan Martinez's homemade shrimp taco with a Level D Celebrity Panel.  It could be epic.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Peter Luger Steak House: An Iconic Icon

Warning:  The following may be inappropriate to to children under the age of 13 and those who would order a salad here.  If you do go to Peter Luger's and order a salad.  Just stay at home.  Don't embarrass yourself.

Peter Luger Steak House was established in 1887 just 4 years after the Brooklyn Bridge was built. It is not just iconic establishment, it is an integral historic piece of fabric in American culinary history. At the time of its inception, Grover Cleveland (XXII) was president and the actual town of Cleveland was still the worst sports town in America (the 2nd part may be a slight exaggeration, but probably true).

For the past 30 years Peter Luger has been named New York City's Best Steakhouse according to Zagat.  This was akin to Barry Bonds hitting 70 home runs at age 36.  I think someone needs to check Mr Luger for HGH.  I think the proof lies below.

Shockingly, "The Total Package" Lex Luger is not related to Peter
They also have there own Cabernet made in Napa Valley.  It's pretty good and for $54 it's actually a steal.

The bacon appetizer is regarded as one of the best appetizers in the country and it did not disappoint.  The flavor just oozed out of this.  I'm salivating as I revisit this.  TMI?

This thing was as juicy and delicious as it looks
Technically it's Canadian Bacon, but came without the accent and the Mountie, ey.

The steak was dry aged and cooked perfectly.  They give you one choice of steak to order, a Family Selected Dry Aged Prime Beef Steak. If you don't want it, go to Applebee's and have them cook up a nice leather shoe for you.

And they have their own proprietary steak sauce that is nothing like A-1 or Worcestershire sauce.  It's a tinge sweet, but not overpoweringly sweet.  It has more than enough body to cling perfectly to the meat.

We also had a new Dry Rub crew in NYC!  We were up there for the Peabody Awards as guests of the Grady School at the University of Georgia.  They also happen to be the best Advertising Program in the country and home of the largest and best Advertising Mentoring Program in the country as well!  (full disclosure:  it is sponsored by ABAC and run by yours truly).  And of course the company at dinner was great.  Frank eloquently said, "it's about time you f*ck#ng included me on one of these dinners."

Channing Jones, recent graduate and former President of UGA's Ad Club pretended like it was her birthday!  What people will do for a free dessert..........

Maybe we shouldn't put that in writing.

You would think for what we paid, we would have gotten real gold coins, but we gladly settled for chocolate coins.

Also, one of the unique things about servers at Peter Luger and their brethren in NYC is they are career waiters that are taking care of you.  These are people that know their craft and have it honed to perfection.  That is something we miss the mark on here in Atlanta outside of The Palm, Bones, Chops and the Lobster Bar.  These guys know what their doing.  Trust them.

Today's Footnote:  I have had the privilege of being a part of the largest (and best) advertising mentorship program in the country.  Because of this I have had the honor of being UGA's guest at the Peabody Awards the last two years.  And this year I got to meet the person who helped inspire The Dry Rub!  I also owe him some creative license on some level I am sure.

Yes, I'm grinning like I'm 16