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Real Deal Mexican Tacos at Foley (AL) Indoor Flea Market

7 Apr

Real deal Mexican food is often hard to find in Alabama. And you certainly don’t expect to find it at a flea market. But that is exactly what happened during a recent visit to the Foley Indoor Flea Market in Foley, Alabama. Foley is a familiar stopping point for travelers en route to Gulf Coast tourist towns like Orange Beach and Gulf Shores. It is also home to the Tanger Outlet Mall. Some folks get really excited about shopping. I get fired up about food. And I was especially pumped when I saw the skewer (pictured above) jam packed with pork, fresh pineapple and sliced onion.

The condiments at our table were another sign we were in for a treat. The lime, cilantro and onion were garden fresh. The salsas homemade and delicious. The tablecloth and the general surroundings of the place gave it a nice, homey feel. For a moment, I felt transported to some border town in Texas. The help speaks very little English and there was a Mexican soccer match playing out on TV.

Pork Tacos – Carnitas @ top & Pineapple & Onion version at bottom

Mandarin Orange Jarritos soda with chipotle salsa & pico de gallo.

This fiery salsa rojo made for a nice addition to the pork tacos.

The homemade pico de gallo was riddled with chopped jalapeno.

The sheep stew seen above was a special treat. It was not on the menu and we did not order it. The restaurant’s owner offered it up free of charge as an added bonus to our lunch. It was good — and hot — both in a temperature and spice way. The gent smiled broadly as he presented the stew in 2 large styrofoam cups. He at first seemed hesitant to reveal what kind of meat was used … and appeared relieved when we let him know that we liked it. Another couple of gringos converted. Mission accomplished.

The dark & dangerous roasted chipotle salsa was mui authentico.

The pork under the heat lamp (above) was chopped fresh to order. Both pork tacos I devoured were bueno. I especially loved the one sliced fresh off the metal skewer. It was lean and sweet — you could really taste the pineapple.

These colorful Mexican style pastries were fresh out of the oven.

These babies (above) were not nearly as colorful, but equally tasty I’m sure. We were just tickled pink that we had found this place. The owners were very nice, the joint was clean, and the food & atmosphere was authentic. We will return soon and trust you will give them a try sometime this summer. It’s worth the trip.  And who knows — maybe you’ll find a bargain at the flea market. I usually do — and it’s normally of the vinyl variety. Yes, that gets me fired up too!

Taqueria Las Camelinas – 14809 Highway 59, Foley, AL

251 970-1234 or 251 943-6068

Touring the Tabasco Hot Sauce Factory and Scenic Avery Island, Louisiana

15 Nov

Entry to the world famous Tabasco Plant on sleepy Avery Island, Louisiana.

Some of the stunning scenery we enjoyed on our recent visit to Avery Island.

The brick facade of the Tabasco plant — looks a bit like a military stockade.

We toured on a Saturday afternoon, so the bottling plant was not in operation.

Eileen and the boys enjoying the tour & learning more about Scoville Units.

The company store truly does offer all things Tabasco — bring lots of $$$!

These former oak bourbon barrels are used to age the spicy red pepper mash.

Interesting choice of bait, huh?

You can even try Tabasco ice cream — sweet & smooth with a fiery finish!

Avery Island is home to a massive salt dome — first discovered back in 1862.

www.tabasco.com

Another interesting tour nearby is the Konriko Rice Mill …

The Koriko (Conrad Rice Company) mill is technically in New Iberia, LA.

Konriko’s rice (stored in the above silo) has a fresh, nutty taste.

These rustic sacks of Konriko pecan rice make for great take-home gifts.

www.konriko.com

Southern Soul BBQ Sauce is 1st Rate

15 Dec

Buttery, brown sugar sweet, tangy tomato base with a hint of mustard and a black pepper kick. A competition-quality grilling sauce and condiment, made from a family recipe with all natural ingredients and containing zero high fructose corn syrup or msg. They are the perfect enhancement to any grilled or smoked meats and seafood.

I recently became acquainted with Griffin Bufkin on Facebook. Griffin is the force behind Southern Soul BBQ in St. Simons Island, GA. I’ve been hearing good things about the joint — and good things about the BBQ sauce they are cranking out.

Bufkin was kind enough to offer us a sample bottle for our review. Their Sweet Georgia Brown sauce is simply delicious. We made a killer BBQ chicken and enjoyed the heck out of it. The sauce is slightly reminiscent of the mustard-enhanced sauce made at the legendary Johnny Harris BBQ in Savannah. However, Sweet Georgia Brown offers a smooth buttery finish that is difficult to find with most mass produced sauces. Small batches often = high quality and that is certainly the case here.

We look forward to visiting this cool looking dive (seen above) on our next trek along the Georgia coast. Get your own bottle of this dandy BBQ sauce at www.southernsoulbbq.com if you can’t wait for your next drive by!

Thanks, Griffin … keep up the fine work!

Mississippi’s Legendary Hoover Sauce

22 Aug

hoover 1

I have long heard of this magical elixir, but I’ve never tasted it.

Maybe that day is coming soon — I hope!

By CHRIS TALBOTT
ASSOCIATED PRESS
September 19, 2007 

LOUISE, Miss. — Hoover Lee’s small batch honey-brown Mississippi Delta marinade imparts a flavor that reflects its maker — a dash of the Deep South with nuanced notes of Asia.

“My main thing was trying to get a sauce that tasted like roasted Cantonese duck — that type of taste,” the 73-year-old native of China says in a booming baritone with a distinctively Southern cadence.

And that blending of cultures has proved hugely popular, despite Lee’s unwillingness to market by more than word of mouth.

It’s also putting this fading farm town of about 300 people on the culinary map. Recipes and stories featuring the sauce have appeared in regional newspapers and magazines, and Southern Living magazine recently named it an editors’ pick.

“It’s surprising to me that it’s beginning to move fast,” says Lee, who has been concocting the sauce from a secret recipe and selling it out of his Lee Hong Co. general store since the early 1980s. “In the past I’ve just been dealing with local people.”

Now he even gets recognized on the street 1 1/2 hours away in Jackson.

“‘That’s Mr. Hoover, the Hoover Sauce man,’” Lee says he often overhears people say. “It was just a hobby that turned into a working hobby now. I’ve just been blessed.”

Salty and sweet

Hoover Sauce blends the saltiness of soy sauce with the sweetness of, well … Lee won’t say. Whatever it is, it works magic with chicken and baby back ribs, and he says people drive for miles to get it.

Though he has yet to sell Hoover Sauce online, Lee increasingly finds himself packing up jugs of it to ship to customers around the country and beyond. He’s sent it as far west as Hawaii and as far east as France.

“You know, the guy could make a damn fortune if he’d market it,” says Billy Ray Adams, a Hoover Sauce customer who uses it on steak, ribs, hamburgers, wings, pork, venison sausage and nearly anything else.

Lee seems about as versatile as his sauce. In a region not known for prosperity or for a tolerance for minorities in the past, he not only has run a successful business in a town where few remain, he also served as the community’s mayor and an alderman for many years.

Lee was born in 1933 in the Canton region of China, but less than a year later he and his family moved to Mississippi, where his father had run a store since 1917. Tensions between China and Japan prompted the return to the U.S.

Running the store

After a stint in the Army and graduation with a business degree from Mississippi State University, Lee returned to Louise at his father’s request to take over the family store. He decided to honor his parents after his brothers declined to return to Louise.

“I said, ‘I tell you what, I’ll come back here for five years. I’ll run it for five years,’” Lee says. “And I’ve been here ever since.”

Today, the store is one of the few remaining businesses in Louise. Several Chinese families carved out lives in the area as storeowners, but most have since moved on. The Lees stayed, saying they found a greater acceptance than others in the Delta.

Lee gave the store to his sons in 1997, but the Hoover Sauce hasn’t let him slow down. Not only won’t he say what’s in it, he makes it himself and hesitates to even show outsiders the room where he mixes it.

“Visualize,” he says. “I have a line of mixers, which I use to blend basically soy sauce plus a sweetener and other spices.”

Even his wife must mostly visualize. She’s not allowed to help make it.

“No, I just have to clean the pots and the pans,” the 70-year-old said. “He loves it. He does it all himself. I can’t even fuss about the area. He keeps it a mess, but I clean up behind him.”

Lee became interested in cooking watching his mother and sisters, and the men who cooked stir-fry at parties held by the area’s Chinese families. He began his search for the right sauce after sampling several uneven attempts at Cantonese duck.

“Some would hit the mark and some wouldn’t,” Lee said.

He refined his sauce during the 1970s, when he first got into local politics and often found himself cooking for volunteer firefighters and church gatherings. Only later, after many requests from fans, did he consider selling it.

Today, he sells it in quart-size glass canning jars and large plastic jugs for $6.95 a quart or $21.50 a gallon. He sells enough to keep him busy, but doesn’t track exactly how much he moves in a year.

The sauce draws folks such as Alan Holditch, of Jackson. Holditch mixes the marinade with honey, then spreads it on steaks while grilling. He stocks up every few months, when his job takes him to Louise.

“I’ll stop and get a gallon,” Holditch says. “We’ve got so many friends that use it, it doesn’t take me long to get rid of a gallon. Once every three or four months I’ll have to get another gallon.”

If you can’t get down to Louise, Miss., to get a jar of Hoover Lee’s sweet and salty Hoover Sauce, he suggests making a similar marinade out of bottled hoisin sauce (check the grocer’s Asian section), onion powder, minced fresh garlic and chopped fresh cilantro.

hoover 2

Hoover’s Chicken Drummettes

Start to finish: 40 minutes

Servings: 4

3 pounds chicken wings

2 cups Hoover Sauce (or similar sweet-and-salty marinade)

2 cups cold water

1 cup ketchup

1 teaspoon yellow mustard powder (more or less to taste)

Vegetable oil

Place the chicken wings in a large stockpot. Add the Hoover Sauce or other marinade and cold water. If the liquid doesn’t completely cover the chicken, add more water. Bring the chicken to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 12 minutes. Remove the chicken, drain well and discard the liquid.

While the chicken simmers, make the dipping sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together the ketchup and mustard powder. Set aside.

In a large, deep skillet, heat 1 inch of oil over medium heat until it reaches about 350 degrees. Carefully add the chicken in a single layer (you may need to cook in batches) and fry until just starting to brown, turning for even cooking, about 4 minutes.

Remove the chicken and drain on paper towels. Serve with dipping sauce.

— Recipe from Hoover Lee, maker of Hoover Sauce in Louise, Miss.

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