Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, Gatlingburg, TN

Anita and I stopped in Gatlinburg on our way to my parent's for Thanksgiving. We did a little shopping and went to dinner at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. We've eaten there before, and really enjoyed it.

We started out with some calamari. It was fried in a nice tempura batter, and also included fried red bell pepper strips and pepperoncinis. I would've never thought of tempura pepperoncinis or bell peppers, but they were both excellent. I'll be making them at home soon. The calamari itself was also good, and included a nice dipping sauce.

Anita ordered the same thing she did the last time were there, Mama Blue's Southern Charmed Fried Shrimp. They really are one of the best things on the menu.

I changed up my order this time from the New Orleans Shrimp and went with the Shrimper's Heaven. If you're going to go, go big, I always say. The Shrimper's Heaven comes with coconut shrimp, chilly you-peel shrimp, fried shrimp, and tempura shrimp. You're not going to leave hungry, I guarantee! The three dipping sauces complement the shrimp perfectly.

As always, service at Bubba Gump's is very good. The staff is pleasant, attentive, and fun. If you change the sign on your table from 'Run. Forrest. Run.' to 'Stop. Forrest. Stop.' any wait staff that passes by will stop and get you whatever you need.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mo's Milk Chocolate Bacon Bar from Vosges

Oh me. I can't even begin to tell you just how good this chocolate bar was.

Milk chocolate. Hickory-smoked bacon. Alderwood-smoked salt. So good. Smokey and sweet. From Vosges.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Augusta Canal, Locks and Headgates, Evans, Georgia

While we were in Augusta, GA, for Thanksgiving my dad had us drive down to the locks along the Savannah River. The weather was great for late November, nearly 70 F.

The locks along the Savannah River were built in the mid-1800s to facilitate river traffic, much of it hauling cotton. The headgates, built in 1875, are still used today. There's a remodeled cottage by the canal that was once used by the lock keeper. The cottage is now a museum. There's also a pavilion nearby that can be used for get-togethers.

In between the canal and Savannah River is the old tow path used by the mules to tow the barges up and down the river. The tow path is now a pleasant running/walk path. You can canoe or kayak down the canal, or during certain times of the year, take a boat tour.

It was a pleasant day to walk around the canal and buildings, and even enjoy some of the Spanish moss on the trees, something we certainly don't see here in Indianapolis!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Newfound Gap Great Smoky Mountains National Park

A few years ago, Anita and I spent a few days in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. We spent a day driving around Cades Cove, and really, really enjoyed it. We so recommend it (specially on days when the park isn't busy). We went the week before Labor Day, and the park was quite pleasantly empty.

This year, we decided to stop in Gatlinburg on the way to my parent's home in Georgia. Instead of going back to the interstate to finish our trip, we decided to drive through the park and up to Newfound Gap. It was the Monday of the week of Thanksgiving. I counted only 10 or so cars on the road, making this another great trip. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is so worth visiting.

The trip up to Newfound Gap from Gatlinburg is not as steep as the trip down the other side into North Carolina. Both sides are equally fantastic, with lots of places (mostly on the Tennessee side) to pull off and enjoy the view. The Newfound Gap is really worth the stop. There was a fog bank down in the valley below us that made for some great photos. Next time, we'll pack a lunch and enjoy an afternoon at the peak.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Laguna Seca 1977

My mom recently discovered some black-and-white negatives from when she and I went to the 1977 Can-Am races at Laguna Seca. We were living in Monterrey, California at the time. I was a young teen, and really into cars, so going to Laguna Seca was a dream come true. There were other divisions racing too that day. It has been too long ago for me to remember them all, but I still enjoy looking at the pictures.

We set up along the corkscrew, the famous set of diving corners. Mom used her Pentax camera, which she still has today.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Infrared-Cooked Thanksgiving Turkey

Well, truth be told, we made it before Thanksgiving. I bought this cooker a few weeks ago and wanted to give it a trial run before the big day. Its a Char-Broil Big Easy Infrared Turkey Fryer. I was going to get an oil-based deep fryer, but I was leery of using oil, so I went with this cooker instead. No oil, and beyond easy to use!

To make the turkey I injected it with a simple sauce (see below). Then I mixed a few tablespoons of Todd's Original Dirt with a little olive oil and rubbed the outside down good. I fired up the cooker and lowered the turkey inside. Exactly two hours (10 minutes/pound), the turkey was done perfectly with a great crisped skin! You don't have to check on it, adjust the temperature, baste it, rub it, hover over it.... nothing! And the meat was soooo tasty and soooo tender and juicy! The dripping ban underneath captured all of the dripping yum-yums that I needed to make a gravy.

This is definitely the way I'm doing all future turkeys! Did I mention the easy cleanup? And the fact that it frees up your oven for making sides?

(As an aside, you can fit up to a 16 pound turkey in this cooker. If you have a really big get-together, you'll want to buy 2 of them!)

Basic Butter-Based Injection Sauce
Printable Recipe

  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

1. Melt butter in a small saucepan. Add remaining ingredients and mix. Add fresh ground black pepper and salt to taste. Add enough salt to make the sauce taste a little on the salty side.

2. Load sauce into meat injector and inject the turkey every 1/2"-1".

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Pizzology Pizzeria and Pub, Carmel, Indiana

Anita and a coworker and I met up for lunch yesterday at Pizzology. I've heard a lot of talk about Pizzology and we finally got around to eating there.

We ordered the pizza rossa (red sauce) with mushrooms, sausage, and mozzarella. The pizza is wood-fired, and comes out crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. I actually thought it would be crunchier. The toppings were definitely quality. I could've eaten just the mozzarella, it was really, really good. Anita loved everything about the pizza.

Pizzology has a nice selection of pizzas and toppings. Not overwhelming and not crazy.

I like Pizzology's philosophy towards their food. They know the sources of their ingredients, the farms, and the families that run them. This isn't your corporate who-knows-where-the-food-comes-from kinda joint. You have to like that and their commitment shows in the quality of their food. We'll definitely be returning soon!