Southern Hot Wing Festival’s new location: Good idea, but needs improvement

About 2 yesterday afternoon, I walked down to Jefferson Davis Park for the Southern Hot Wing Festival. I was pleased to find that the festival was not only in the park, but that they’d closed off Riverside from Monroe to Jefferson, and that’s where the team booths were. The park itself held entertainment and vendor booths. I like the new location. Festivals by the river – Memphis’ biggest natural asset – are always nice. There was plenty of room to walk around, and the booths weren’t blocking anyone’s home or business, as was the case with the previous South Main location. I had fun at the team booths I hung out in and enjoyed the wings. I especially want to thank those involved with The Chris Vernon Show booth, where I spent much of my time.

I took a few pics and will post them later. However, I want to keep this post short and draw attention to a couple of problems I observed with the festival:

1) Not enough trash cans – It’s a hot wing festival. Hot wings by their very nature are messy. There should be a trash can every 100 feet for a festival like this. There weren’t. I didn’t see any on Riverside and had to walk my empty plates all the way to the park to throw them away. I observed some people littering because trash cans weren’t conveniently placed.

2) Not enough bathrooms – As far as I could tell, there was only one row of eight or nine porta-potties, out of the way at the far north end of Jefferson Davis Park. Not enough and too hard to find. There were single porta-potties here and there on Riverside, which was just weird. There should have been another row of 8-9 porta-potties at the midpoint, Court Avenue, and at the southernmost point, Monroe Avenue. I ended up walking home to use the restroom, since I live only 2 blocks away, but not everyone has that convenience.

This competition started as a small contest in a parking lot, and grew to its current 60-team size. My advice for the organizers would be to hire a consultant who has done successful festivals of this size, to fix the problems with trash cans, bathrooms, and anything else that needs improvement.

Overall though, great idea to move it to Riverside, and a fun Saturday afternoon. I look forward to coming back next year.

Mike’s f’n run because f’n Cal won

Last fall, as the NCAA basketball season started, our friend Mike didn’t believe Kentucky could win a national title. “If Kentucky wins,” Mike said, “I’ll run down the Main Street Mall, wearing a tiger head and a Speedo, sipping Thousand Island dressing out of a cup.”

Guess what? Kentucky won. Most Memphians aren’t happy about that, but it’s time to pay the piper.

Mike will start his run at the Flying Saucer today, Sunday April 22, at 3 PM. He will stop at the Green Beetle for a beer then end at Max’s Sports Bar. After realizing he had to live up to his bet, he did a very smart and generous thing and made it a fundraiser for Wounded Warriors, all branches of the military. So come see Mike run and pitch some $$$ in the bucket.

Quick post

If you’re wondering why there are thousands of people in town wearing badges, it’s an archaeologists’ convention that is said to have drawn 4000 people. Here’s a link to more info. I went to the Saucer last night and the crowd was huge. Lines three deep at the bar most of the time I was there (6-10 PM) and sometimes as many as seven deep. They seemed like nice people but DAMN there were a lot of them. They’re in town through tomorrow.

I have a new post on my poker blog for those of you who like to keep up with it. It covers some mistakes I made as a new player, and an awesome poker math app I found for the iPad. There are also iPhone and Android versions.

There’s a Corvette show on Beale today.

Plans for today: Hot Wing Fest at Jefferson Davis Park, Riverside at Jefferson, $10 cover. It starts at 11 but I’ll probably pre-game at the Saucer for a beer or two (Christina gets mad if I don’t come in). Especially excited about meeting Seth from the Best Memphis Burger blog today. I’ve never met him in person, and he’s invited me to stop by his team’s booth for wings and a PBR. I’d prefer not to make a return visit to the Saucer tonight after the wing fest, since the huge archaeology crowd will likely be back, but it’s Lil’ Kim’s last day so I pretty much have to go. Look for me at wing fest – unless it warms up considerably I’ll have the PBR hoodie and shorts on.

Yazoo beer dinner @ Flying Saucer 4/19/2012

The Flying Saucer held a beer dinner Thursday night, featuring beers from Yazoo brewery in Nashville. I decided to skip opening night of the Peabody rooftop party season to attend the dinner, and it did not disappoint.

The menu

Saucer GM Kirk welcoming everyone to the dinner

Amy, Danielle, and Bob

Opening beer: Yazoo Rye Saison

Ivan “Cellar Man” Chester discussing the Rye Saison

During the tasting of the opening beer, I got called over to the window at the Saucer. Elizabeth wanted to point out that she had a tube top dress on.

First course: Fried green tomatoes and a crawfish-stuffed jalapeno, paired with Yazoo Dos Perros. Ivan explained that the smooth, fairly light Dos Perros was chosen to relieve some of the heat from the jalapeno. “If we paired this dish with an IPA, your mouth would be on fire.”

Ivan then told us that we were just getting started with the heat. “If you think the jalapeno was hot, wait until the main course,” he said. “You may think you’ve had spicy chicken, but you haven’t until you’ve tried Nashville spicy chicken.”

Second course: Sausage and cheese plate paired with Yazoo Hop Project batch 63, a Belgian IPA. Every batch of Hop Project uses different ingredients, and you can read about the batch you’re drinking on the brewery’s blog.

Third course: Nashville spicy chicken and waffles, paired with Gerst. Coming into the dinner, I wasn’t sure whether I would like this dish. I tried chicken and waffles a couple of years ago at Onix, and my reaction was “Meh. I don’t get it.” The dinner’s pairing totally worked though. The chicken was delicious, and the waffle was a perfect counterpoint. Both went well with the beer.

I have to disagree with Ivan though: That chicken was not burn-your-mouth spicy. I’d rate it slightly spicier than medium. That said, I really enjoyed it and the amount of spice it had was perfect for the combination with the waffle.

I honestly had no idea hot chicken was a “thing” in Nashville the way BBQ is here and gumbo is in New Orleans, but damned if Nashville hot chicken doesn’t have its own page on Wikipedia. Here’s a link to a Serious Eats post on Prince’s, a chicken shack in Nashville that Ivan mentioned several times.

Fourth course: Sly Rye Porter flavored ice cream atop a brownie, paired with SUE. Yazoo SUE is a 9% ABV smoke beer.

At the end of the dinner, there was a drawing for some Yazoo door prizes. Amy won a pair of socks. (Slow down, Amy, I’m trying to take your picture!)

Danielle won a Yazoo trucker hat.

Joe, who works down the street at Kooky Canuck, attended his first beer dinner ever. He won a Yazoo T-shirt.

The only minor glitch was that they forgot to bring out silverware until halfway through the first course. Not a problem though; I didn’t mind eating the fried green tomatoes and jalapeno with my hands. Overall, this was an excellent dinner. There was plenty of food, it was all delicious, and I learned a lot about how the beer paired with it. I can’t believe that I only paid $25 to go (the price for UFO members). That is one heck of a value.

Rating: Five stars out of a possible five. Thanks to Ivan, Kirk, and everyone else involved in organizing the dinner. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Fri update: Burgers, Africa in April, Uncle Lou’s, tube tops, BBQ Fest guide, Memphis in Southern Living magazine

The Yazoo beer dinner at the Saucer last night was excellent as always. Probably their best one yet as a matter of fact. I took photos, but posting them right now would kill my entire lunch break. I’ll try to get them up this weekend. I learned a thing or two about beer, and also about Nashville hot chicken.

Just in time for Memphis in May, Seth has posted a Downtown Memphis burger guide on his Best Memphis Burger blog. Lots of good information in there.

Africa in April happens this weekend at Robert R. Church Park, on Beale just east of the entertainment district at Fourth. Mali is the honored country this year. Memphis Connect has more info.

The Memphis Flyer’s Hungry Memphis blog tweeted (@HungryFlyer) that Uncle Lou’s Fried Chicken has a food truck at Africa in April. Downtowners who’ve wanted to try Uncle Lou’s but haven’t made it to the Whitehaven restaurant, this is your chance.

After the Saucer beer dinner last night, I stopped by the Blind Bear. There I received a compliment on the 38103 shirt I bought from Hoop City Memphis. The compliment was followed by a request – “You should ask them to make a 38103 tube top,” she said. “I’d wear it. I know a lot of people who would.” Hoop City is known for using high-quality materials in their T-shirts. However, if they decide to run with the tube top suggestion, the elastic that holds the top in place might be one thing on which they could cut corners. That’s not a very important part of the tube top.

The BBQ team Too Sauced to Pork friended me on Facebook, and sent me a link to their guide to BBQ Fest. Whether you’re a first-time attendee or someone who goes every year, this is worth reading.

If you pass by a magazine stand, pick up a copy of Southern Living. There’s a spread on Memphis in the current issue, and they said Cockadoos is the best place Downtown for breakfast.

Plans for tonight: Watch the Grizzlies road game at a bar. Probably home before midnight, in order to rest up for Hot Wing Fest tomorrow.

Thur update #2: Van Halen and milkshakes at the FedExForum, 25 cent trolley rides, DNA Happy Hour Patrol, Metal Museum spring festival, Boys and Girls Club shirts

Van Halen is coming to the FedExForum on August 6. This is their first tour with David Lee Roth since 1984. Bob Marley’s son Ky-Mani Marley will open. More info on the MBJ’s site.

In other FedExForum news, I’ve learned from a trusted source that milkshakes are now available there. Go to the Snax concession stand on the Plaza level.

25 cent MATA trolley and bus rides all day tomorrow, Friday, April 20.

The Downtown Neighborhood Association has its monthly Happy Hour Patrol at the bar at Wang’s Chinese Bistro on the Main Street Mall. You do not have to be a DNA member to join them for this event.

The Metal Museum will host Spring Arts on the Bluff this Sunday, April 22. Performances with include Bach to Basics (a string quartet), the Mobile Music Machine, “Lynnie” the storyteller, and Ballet on Wheels. There will also be hula hoopers, face painting, blacksmith demos, and food. General admission prices apply: $6 adults, $5 seniors, $4 students, and 5 years and under are free. Price includes admission to the museum as well as the festival.

Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis T-shirts are being sold, with an updated version of the organization’s 1950s logo (back then it was just the Boys Club). $6 of every sale goes to BGCM. Purchase them here. They have women’s tees, long-sleeve tees, and hoodies too. Too bad they don’t have a tube top option.

Almost time for the beer dinner! I’ll try to take some good photos.

Thur update: Rooftop parties, Grizzlies/playoffs, Saucer beer dinner, Pat Summitt, Hot Wing Fest tip

Today is the first day of the season for the Thursday night Peabody rooftop parties. FreeSol with special guests Neon Trees and Chris Rene will be the featured entertainment. Doors open at 6, ladies free before 7, party goes on until 11, $15 cover includes your first drink, VIP passes available for the season for $100.

Buffet theme for the party is “Spring is in the Air.” There will be asparagus spears wrapped with ham, deviled eggs, miniature quiche Lorraine, and spinach dip with chips. If you’re in the VIP area you’ll have access to a second buffet with miniature lamb chops with mint julep, crab stuffed mushrooms, herb cheese potatoes, and mixed Greens with strawberries, red onion, toasted nuts, goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette. VIP pass holders will also have access to beer tastings in the VIP area.

Over at the Madison, it’s the second week of their rooftop party series, with the Memphis All-Stars performing. 7-11 PM, $7 cover, cash bar, small plates, sunset view.

I won’t make it to either rooftop party tonight, but I have a very good reason. I’m attending the Yazoo beer dinner at the Flying Saucer tonight at 7. Menu sounds amazing – view it here. I’m not sure if the dinner has sold out or not, but if you want to go, you can call 901-523-8536 and see if there are still tickets. They cap the number of tickets they sell so that the brewmaster has time to talk to everyone and answer questions.

Congratulations to the Grizzlies on clinching a playoff berth with a win last night over New Orleans. If the season ended today, we’d be a 5 seed in the West, playing the L.A. Clippers. With four games left, we could end up as high as 3 or as low as 7. Playoff tickets go on sale Tuesday at 10 AM.

Normally I love to hate on the University of Tennessee in this blog, but I have to give them major respect for the classy way they handled the retirement of women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt. Keeping her on as Head Coach Emeritus will allow her to still be involved with the program, and for players to learn from, and associate with, the most legendary women’s basketball coach of all time. Her decision to step down is very reminiscent of Lou Gehrig’s decision to retire in 1939. Both could have hung on to their jobs for years if they desired, but instead chose to do the best thing for their program. Classy, classy lady.

Interesting to note that new coach Holly Warlick made $204,000 as an assistant. That’s about what Pastner made when he was an assistant for Cal at Memphis, and he was considered very highly paid at the time. It’s a sign how seriously UT takes women’s basketball.

Pro tip for those attending Hot Wing Fest on Saturday: Start stocking up on dollar bills. That way, you’ll have money to tip the teams at the festival when you sample their wings (tip money goes to the Ronald McDonald House). Just pretend you’re getting ready for a visit to the strip club on Saturday, but then go to the hot wing fest instead.

Looks like there’s enough news for a second post this evening, so check back.

Wed update: BBQ Fest, Hot Wing Fest, Sports 560 app, Life Is Good store, Bike to Work Day and more

The Flying Saucer's annual 4:20 glass goes on sale tonight at 7 PM. This appears to be a pretty cool design and will probably sell out, so get there early if you want one.

If you plan on attending any part of Memphis in May – Music Fest, BBQ Fest, or Sunset Symphony – for the first time, Kerry’s I Love Memphis Blog post on the ABCs of MiM is a must-read. She does a fantastic job laying out what you can expect, and what you need to know.

After an experience last weekend, I’d propose adding one to her list, though: E is for Evernote. Evernote is the free app for smartphones, tablets, and computers that can be used to take notes and sync them “in the cloud” to your other devices. Sunday I was at Rajun Cajun fest, and I had a couple of people tell me, “you’ve got to come visit our booth at BBQ Fest” and proceeded to tell me their team name. Like an idiot, I thought I’d remember the team names. You know what? It’s not easy when nearly every team has a name that’s some kind of cute play on words on pork, swine, hog, or barbecue. Add in the fact that I had a little beer to drink Sunday, and the result is that I have absolutely no idea what teams I was invited to. Since I always have my iPhone with me, I’m going to create a BBQ Fest Invites note in Evernote, and update it anytime I get invited to a booth. I’ll be able to use that list in combination with the Memphis in May app to find booths. The same thing could probably be done for Hot Wing Fest, Italian Fest, and other festivals involving cooking teams.

Anyway, that wasn’t the only extremely useful Kerry post today – she also put up a guide to Southern Hot Wing Fest in Jefferson Davis Park this Saturday. Great info on how the festival works, and proper etiquette to observe.

By the way, I’m looking for invites to hot wing team booths – send ’em to or hit me up on Facebook.

Sports fans: AM 560 in Memphis now has an app for iPhone and Android, and will release one soon for CrapBerry users. Listen to all the shows, including Edmiston and Askew in the mornings, the Sports Bar in the afternoons, and MSL Live on Saturdays.

The Life Is Good store in the Peabody Place office building (entrance on Main Street) will open this weekend, and will have a grand opening April 27-29. The store is family-owned by people who love Memphis, so please support it.

Friday, May 18 is Downtown Memphis Bikes to Work Day. Last year over 300 Memphians learned how easy it was to ride their bike to work within the 6.5 square miles of Downtown. There will be a Downtown Bike Expo from 11 AM to 1 PM in Court Square that day. “Like” the day on Facebook to keep up with the latest news.

I fully support the Bike to Work day but won’t be participating, because I won’t be riding my bike anywhere on the 18th! I’m off the entire week of the 14th-18th for BBQ Fest. This year I’m going to be more open to helping out with stuff that needs to get done the Saturday-Wednesday before BBQ Fest, although I’ll avoid heavy physical labor and anything that involves driving a car that week. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of bar time too!

Some of my teammates got talked into going to karaoke Saturday night after BBQ Fest last year. I tried to warn them but they went anyway and had to endure some of the most atrocious singing the human race has ever witnessed. I have good news: You won’t have to worry about karaoke this year. Thank goodness!

Plans for tonight: Nothing definite, other than a stop by the Blind Bear to get details on something I heard happened last night. Will most likely stop at the Saucer at some point too.