Having grown up in a middle-class household in a middle-sized city in America, there was plenty of chocolate around. If you had asked me when I was 10, my definition of chocolate would have been a Hershey bar or Hershey’s kisses. As I got older I tried a Nestle bar (solid milk chocolate, not Crunch) and found it to be a little bit smoother. I ate a good bit of World’s Finest Chocolate when my school had fundraisers. On a trip to Memphis I tried a Toblerone bar bought at the Peabody and thought it was really fancy.
When I was 16 my mother went to an employee Christmas party at the Arkansas Gazette where she worked. She brought back a box of leftover chocolates. They were shaped like miniature liquor bottles, and wrapped in foil to appear to be liquor brands like Jack Daniels and Captain Morgan. She let me have a couple, and they were unlike any chocolate I had eaten before. Up to that point in my life I had never had booze, and I felt the ZING! as the flavors of the chocolate and the whiskey or rum interacted. I really liked it.
Yesterday, I fulfilled my promise to introduce my friend and BBQ team sponsor Chicken Fried Steak Rodger to the Brass Door. I got there a bit before Rodger, who was having trouble getting an Uber. The bartender told me, “I brought you chocolate from my country,” as she had said she would a couple of days before. She placed a bar in front of me.
“Before you eat it, Paul, I have to tell you, many Americans do not like Romanian chocolate,” she told me. “It is different. It has kind of a rum flavor.”
“Is it solid, or is there a filling in the middle?” I asked.
“There is a filling,” she told me. “It is a rum-flavored creme filling.”
I unwrapped the bar, noticing “Bucuresti” on the wrapper, denoting Bucharest, the country’s capital. I bit into the bar and was immediately thrown back to the miniature chocolate liquor bottles I tried that night as a teenager. I like Romanian chocolate! There was one difference though – the Romanian chocolate was dark chocolate, as opposed to milk chocolate. The taste of the dark chocolate mixed with the rum flavored smooth creme in the center made for a delightful experience. Here’s an article about the chocolate.
You know, I have talked about my “Big Five” on here a lot, the five Downtown bars at which I spend the most time. Since last Wednesday, I have been back to the Brass Door five times, and every time I have been treated with the utmost kindness and respect by Seamus, Diamond Dave, the chef, the bartenders, the servers, everyone. I found that I knew more Brass Door regulars than I thought I would, and that I have friends who want to go there now that they know I go there. So, for the first time in four and a half years, I am announcing a change to the “Big Five.”
My “Big Six,” in order from north to south: Brass Door, Bardog, Blind Bear, Flying Saucer, Silly Goose, Max’s Sports Bar. Understand I am not saying that these are the best six bars and every other place Downtown sucks; that is not the case at all. I am saying that these are the six places that have happened to become my homes away from home.
As for Chicken Fried Steak Rodger, he talked with the bartender about Romania and said that he had been stationed on Romania’s coast next to the Black Sea when he was in the military. He said he really liked the country and remembered there being lots of chocolate. He told me he really liked the Brass Door and would come back. He liked the food they served too, although it escapes my mind at the moment what he ordered to eat.
The Metal Museum just south of Crump has a Cosmic Trunk Show today from 10 to 5. There will be art vendors, a food truck, and a cash bar. Participating artists include Susan Senogles Mildred Schiff, Katie Dan Lisa Butts, Pat Chaffee Helen Russell, Lisa Ritenour Virginia Fisher, Michele Price Theresa Childress, Dale Strand, Louise Coulson, and Paula Mistretta. Admission to the museum’s galleries and grounds is free for this event.
The New Daisy continues to prove that it has stepped up its concert game considerably since new management took over last year. Bone Thugs-n-Harmony play the Daisy tonight. Tickets are $22-29. The doors open at 7, with the show beginning at 8 and ending at 10.
The Grizzlies host the L.A. Floppers Clippers tonight at 7 at FedExForum.
Congratulations to Justin Turner, a Memphian who won Thursday night’s episode of “Chopped.” Justin was Shane Battier’s private chef, and he opened Bernie’s Burger Bus in Houston. He is currently the chef at new restaurant Catfish Blues in Hernando. You can catch reruns of the episode on the Food Network Tuesday at 9 or Wednesday at midnight.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Roots Farm Academy, an organization dedicated to educating and empowering the next generation of farmers. Roots has a CSA (community-supported agriculture) subscription where you can pick up freshly-grown veggies weekly at 387 Pantry on South Main, with subscriptions running $20-50 a week depending on your needs. High Ground News has an article on how Roots is shaping the next generation of local farmers. Cheers to those learning to cultivate Mother Earth’s bounty, and perhaps I will see you at the Memphis Farmers Market in two weeks.
Onix is moving out of Downtown. Their current space at 412 S. Main has become too cramped, with the jazz bands that perform in particular needing more room. They will be going into the space at 1680 Madison that was formerly Dragon China and a laundromat. I’m happy Onix is succeeding but man, I hate to hear Dragon China is no more… when I was a Midtowner in the 1990s, that was the spot my friends and I went. As for 412 S. Main, that is prime real estate for someone who fits the space. Main and Huling is about as good a corner for a restaurant or bar as anyplace Downtown.
I saw the best quote about Donald Trump ever on social media yesterday: “Basically, Donald Trump is what would happen if the comments section became a human and ran for president.” Here’s a list of all of Donald Trump’s business failures. If you didn’t realize what a narcissist Trump is, just read through this list. People compare him to Hitler, but I don’t agree; Hitler wouldn’t allow a cult of personality to be formed around him. I think Stalin might be a better comparison.
Moody Ques members coming to the MEAT and Greet tonight, here’s a sneak peek of your dinner.
If you’re not a Moody Ques member but would like to be a part of all this, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We still have a few team spots open. Dues are $350 individual/$500 couple (must be a real-life established couple, not two random people joining together to save money). Both dues rates go up $50 April 1. Team membership gets you free admission to the park during the three public days, Thursday, March 12 through Saturday, March 14. You will have full access to the Moody Ques booth during public park hours, including BBQ, side dishes, dessert, beer and liquor. We usually also have Jello shots, spiked gummy worms, and other alcoholic treats. Our music is selected by Cody who DJs at the Silly Goose on the weekends. For each of the public BBQ Fest days, you get a couple of guest wristbands so you can invite friends to have the Moody Ques experience. You also get a ticket to Wednesday Friends & Family Night, a teams-only event not open to the public. Our booth is a two-story structure that, while not facing the river, the second story offers river views. We compete in the Shoulder division, but we will be serving more than pork shoulder to our teams and their guests. Ribs, burgers, beer can chicken, and hot wings are commonly seen on the Moody Ques serving table. We have four consecutive top three finishes for Best Booth, including two first-places. Although we have really stepped up our cooking this year and are said to be a dark-horse threat to the top ten, we have a reputation as one of the best damn parties in Tom Lee Park. We’re also a younger team. Although we have members of all ages, I would guesstimate the average team member age at about 35. Long-lasting friendships and business connections as well have been formed in our booth. To get a taste of what the Moody Ques are all about, have a look at our 2015 photo album.
Interested in sponsoring? Assuming you don’t conflict with one of our other sponsors (95% of businesses out there wouldn’t) we would love to have you. email@example.com if interested.
One more thing about the beer: We always have kegs, which we purchase from Memphis in May, but this year we will have canned beer as well that I am very very very excited about. (Consider that a hint as to what brand of beer.)
Plans for today: No day off for the team’s Director of Public Relations. I have a meeting with teammate John D at 11. He is cooking at the Atoka BBQ Festival we are doing the first weekend of April, and he wants to talk strategy. He suggested this place called “Bardog” to meet. A couple of hours later I have an important meeting with one of our sponsors at the Blind Bear. Around 4:30 I will take the sponsor to The Edge for the MEAT & Greet. I have my camera fully charged and will be taking photos for the team website. I’m no longer team workhorse “Mr. Load-in” but I still have a plate full of responsibilities. Time to hit Publish and get this long day started.