Monday, April 16, 2012

Central BBQ - Memphis, TN

First off, I have a confession to make, Central BBQ has been open for 10 years & this was our first visit.  I know right?  But let me say this, there are a lot of BBQ restaurants in Memphis & when a new one opens up we have a tendency to assume that they are just like all the others.  Well, let me set the record straight...Central BBQ is NOT like the others and with each bite, we quickly realized why they have been around for more than 10 years.   This place is TOP PIG!!!  They are making everything from scratch, from their homemade potato chips to their BBQ Caesar house dressing (not pictured).  And when my eyes fell on Mac & Cheese, as a side item, my heart knew I had found a new home.  They are of course, Project Green Fork certified & composting just outside in their backyard, yeah!!!  

Homemade Potato Chips with Blue Cheese Dressing

We started off with their homemade potato chips.  These crunchy, lightly salted delicious bites, perfectly complimented the savory blue cheese dipping sauce.  We consider potato chips a great exercise technique for the belly, you have to stretch out those tummy muscles to prepare them properly for what's coming next.
Pulled Pork Sandwich

And next...this more than a mouthful BBQ sandwich (buns are huge, you will love them) was so tender & smoky. And my hubby added some of their "hot" bbq sauce on top.  Get this, their "hot" is made with just a hint of bourbon, oh yeah!!!  And it's by far our NEW favorite BBQ sauce, not too spicy at all and packed with all the right spices.  And they do sell both their regular & hot BBQ sauces, so I highly recommend picking up a few bottles, to keep in your fridge, for your next BBQ.
Potato Salad

My hubby & I do not agree on Potato Salad.  I love American Potato Salad & he loves Mustard Potato Salad (which for me usually has too much of a bite).  Well, finally our 2 tastes came together in harmony.  And we both fell in love with theirs.  Just a slight hint of mustard, mostly for color.  Very creamy, bite size potatoes, a little celery for a great crunch and a some creamy mayo that brought it all together, so good. 

BBQ Portabella Sandwich with Mac & Cheese
Awww, now for the piece de resistance...the Portabella BBQ sandwich.  I have heard so much about this sandwich, that even though I do in fact eat pork, I decided there was no way I was leaving without trying this.  Funny thing is, I have actually made this at home, thanks to The Chubby Vegetarian-BBQ Portabella Sandwich, which is a tribute to this magnificent masterpiece.  And Justin did a really fantastic job of recreating this so that we can make this at home.  But anytime you need the real thing, it's only a few miles down the road & you will be in great company.  

The way this restaurant is laid out, contributes to it's overall success.  Let me explain, you stand in line to order, don't worry it goes by super fast.  They even handed us our appetizer before we ever left the counter.  They gave us a # & then we went to sit down.  You get your own drinks & beside the drink station there are dispensers of warm BBQ sauce, waiting for you to pour, oh yeah baby!!!!  As we waited for our # to be called, we munched on those yummy homemade potato chips & before we knew it, our food was ready.  They don't have servers & in my opinion they don't need them.  The manager, Scott, (who I worked with at Rafferty's many years ago) was great & we really appreciated him taking the time to make sure we had everything we needed.  We will certainly be back, very soon, can't wait!!!!

Central BBQ on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Blue Cheese, Leek & Mushroom Soup

As I am working more, my need for quick weeknight meals has greatly increased.  The only challenge is, I haven't had much time to take pics.  So, I am giving you 2 NEW recipes, in hopes that you can forgive this no pic post ;).  This idea hit me because I have been working on a Blue Cheese Mac & Cheese with this same Bechamel sauce.  And I wondered, if I could make this into a quick soup recipe, by thinning out the Bechamel with stock.  Well, it worked and I was thrilled when a super delicious dinner was on the table in about 20 minutes.  Blue cheese is great option because it doesn't take a whole lot to make something taste really fantastic.  And when it's melted it makes a very creamy sauce.  

I would love your picture (full credit & a link back to your site, if you like).  So if you would like to make this soup, take a pic & email it back to me at, I would be honored to share your picture here.  Can't wait to see your delicious dish!!!!

2 cups Bechamel sauce (recipe follows)
2 tablespoons butter
1 leek, washed & sliced
1 4oz package "gourmet blend" mushrooms
1 cup stock (whatever you like, I used beef for it's robust flavor)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Bechamel sauce
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons blue cheese
season to taste with salt, pepper & cayenne
***for mac & cheese, just add sauce above to 1lb noodles, plus stir in 1 cup smoked mozzarella***

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add flour & cook for about 1 minute to cook out that raw flour taste.  Slowly add milk til it thickens, then add blue cheese.  Season to taste with salt, pepper & a little cayenne.  In a skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter, add leeks & mushrooms, saute for several minutes til leeks are soft & translucent.  Add leeks & mushrooms into Bechamel sauce.  Pour in stock & Worcestershire, allow it to simmer for about 10-15 mins.  Serve with salad & cheese toast. 

Serves 2-3 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen - Memphis, TN

I am sure you are discovering the trend here, as we are making our way through Project Green Fork restaurants.  We seek them out specifically because of what PGF means to us & what they are doing for Memphis.   

Our latest visit is to Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen.  Owners/Chefs and good friends, Michael Hudman & Andrew Ticer are setting the bar high for Memphis restaurants.  Both guys left Memphis to head off to college at the very prestigious Johnson & Wales University.  Then they returned to Memphis to intern at Chez Philippe under French Master Chef, Jose Guitierrez.  And in 2008 they opened their doors.  As you look at each picture, you can see how their hard work & love for food, clearly resides in the presentation of each dish.  Please keep in mind that their menu changes regularly because having farm fresh ingredients means adapting to what is fresh & available.  

Truffled Chicken Livers
white wine, shallots, garlic, parsley & crostini
I was a little scared, I admit it.  But from the first bite, I quickly realized everything I had ever thought about chicken livers, simply originated from not having them prepared properly.  This delicate blend of shallots, garlic & white wine brought this dish together in a savory celebration of something that was 35 years in the making.  Now I know just how good a dish like this can be.

A/M Salad
farm greens, buffalo mozzarella, balsamic reduction, shallot vinaigrette 

& confit tomato

I saw the words "confit tomato" and knew this was a must. A tomato cooked in fat, enough said. I would have eaten an entire plate of just the tomatoes, had they let me. And the balsamic reduction gave the piled high fresh farm greens a slight hint of sweetness which complimented the buffalo mozzarella, that practically melted in my mouth.  
Maw Maw's Ravioli (small plate)
meat gravy

I wanted to show you how big these ravioli are, so you won't think "small plate" means small bite.  They give you a mouth full, for sure.  Although I gave up red meat years ago, I had no problem tossing that out for one night.  And when I took a bite of this, I most certainly thought twice about why I gave it up, in the first place.  This is one of those dishes that you will always find on the menu & by all means, a must try.     

Chestnut Agnolotti (small plate)
duck confit, parsnips, ginger, walnut panna gratta

I almost don't want to give away why it's so special.  But I am not one to keep my mouth shut (go ahead & laugh for those of you who know me well).  Ok, here's goes.  This pasta dish is both savory & sweet.  Bet you weren't expecting to hear that.  Sometimes being caught off guard, is a good the case here, it's a GREAT thing.  Discovering mid bite that the walnut panna gratta that finishes off this dish is actually sweet, was what made this dish so special.  And definitely something, I would love to recreate at home.  (Michael & Andy: I would love to know how this was made, if you are willing to school me, I would be honored & delighted).  The complexity of flavors from savory to sweet, made this my favorite dish of the evening.     

Want more from Andy & Michael...

Opening soon:
a NEW restaurant from Andy & Michael  

Hog and Hominy, 707 W. Brookhaven Circle
Memphis, TN 38117

Join us on April 29 for the kickoff event, can't wait to see ya there!!
Facebook Page Invite (more info)

Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen  on Urbanspoon

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