Tag Archives: Guy Fieri

Grading The Food Network Stars

20 Jul
 
I’m gonna do this very quickly — call it a “gut” reaction:

So let’s hear it, folks. I want your own ratings on this.

Who’s first???

Manci’s Antique Club – Daphne, Alabama

18 Jun

Manci’s Antique Club is essentially a bar and restaurant, not an antique store. Let’s get that straight right away. It had me confused for a short while, until my friend Chris Kalifeh dragged me in for a quick look around. I have long since become a convert. Manci’s has really tasty burgers and po-boys. They also live up to their Italian ancestry with some mighty fine pasta dishes. And the bar has a comfy, neighborhood pub feel to it. You might say it is the Cheers of Alabama’s Eastern Shore. They serve draft Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan Ale too — that is a definite plus.

This freshly painted mural outside of Manci’s (above) is part of a larger city arts project in Daphne. I believe this particular image was lifted from an early photo of one of the Manci women. It is very well done and adds to the overall charm of the building’s exterior. My arsty wife Eileen has recently been asked to create a similar mural, so I’m anxious to see what she comes up with.

Horses like the one seen above will keep an eye on your vehicle while you’re dining/drinking at Manci’s. This joint is in a cool little part of Old Town Daphne. If you’re a foodie, you’ll also want to check out Will Hughes’ Catering & Market (www.willhughescateringandmarket.com) located directly across Daphne’s Main Street. It is a gourmet’s dream with a wide assortment of sandwiches, soups and other take-home treats. I am especially partial to Will’s New Orleans-style bread pudding. It’s about as good as it gets this side of the Crescent City. There is also a pretty unique cigar/wine bar (De-Cuba) and a cupcake bakery (Something Sweet Bake Shop) just a couple doors down from Hughes’ building.

The Menu Board (above) outside Manci’s entrance. Their Bloody Marys are notorious in these parts. In fact, Manci’s is often billed as “The Bloody Mary Capital of the Eastern Shore.” Beyond that, Manci’s also houses one of the world’s largest collections of Jim Beam decanters. Very impressive. We spent a few minutes before dinner strolling around the restaurant’s cool, dark interior. It was pretty darn interesting and kept the boys occupied as our meals were being prepared.

The lucky horse shoe on the front door at Manci’s Antique Club.

The handsome wooden Indian (seen above) just inside the front door at Manci’s — on the lookout for stogies? Either that or he’s seeking a “mansierre” to support his well-developed chest. Dusty relics like this can be found throughout the tavern. Honestly, it could take hours to have a real close look at all the “doo-dads,” “chotchkes,” and “brick-a-brack” they have collected over the many decades.  

Guns, booze, and gasoline — what a combination! I snapped another photo of an antique gas pump inside Manci’s Antique Club, which once was a filling station back in the ’20s. So in many ways, I guess this truly is an “antique club — although I don’t believe any of the items are actually for sale. Who knows? Make ‘em an offer and see what happens.

A vintage gas pump from days gone by. American Pickers would love this joint!

Clutter? Yup. Eye catching? Yer dern tootin’! The main bar at Manci’s Antique Club. Alex Manci, the club’s current owner and resident barkeep, quietly holds court — all the while sporting his signature driving cap. This is his little kingdom and he reigns calmly but proudly. Barack Obama’s address concerning the Gulf Oil spill was on the bar’s lone TV as we took our seats. It was all a bit surreal. We were right in the heart of the affected area and preparing to dine on the type of seafood treats which have long made the Gulf region nationally famous. My visiting mother-in-law Pat is a Baltimore native. She declared the soft shell crab sandwich (aka “The Spider Sandwich”) to be first rate.

Boxing’s Rocky Marciano – still a major source of pride for Italian-Americans.

Minnie Pearl greets the female diners seeking rest — “HOW-DEEEE!!!”

Yes, Food Network’s Guy Fieri has been here to film an episode of Triple D. His signed poster adorns the door of the “GENTS” room. Manci’s is also prominently featured in one of Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-ins,  and Dives” cookbooks. Of the 3 choices, I would say Manci’s would fall under the DIVE category. You don’t see many tourists or out of towners in here. It’s pretty much a locals hangout. And I guess that’s the way they like it. It’s something of a secret dining society and I consider myself fortunate to finally be in on the secret.   

Combo Fried Gulf Oyster and Shrimp Po-Boy at Manci’s — get ‘em while you can! Manci’s po-boys have been praised by the likes of Southern Living and Coastal Living. The Bayou La Batre oysters were obviously fresh and the shrimp were fat and meaty — unlike those puny little frozen cocktail shrimp you find in some lesser po-boys. The bread, which was freshly baked, was slathered from end to end with a homemade tartar sauce. I am normally not a big tartar sauce guy, yet this was quite well done and, more importantly, not overdone. A little bit of mayo goes a long way. Local tomatoes, iceberg lettuce, and red onions completed the symphony of complimentary ingredients. A little splash of hot sauce won’t hurt either!

Retro newspaper ads as seen on all the tabletops (pictured above) at Manci’s. Anyone need some Princess Bust Developer? Hey, maybe this is where our old friend the wooden Indian re-enters the storyline??? I’ve seen this kind of designer touch before, but it is right at home at Manci’s. In many ways you’ll feel like you have been transported back to the 1930’s in a time machine. A time machine, I might add, with really cold beer and really memorable chow.

Never heard of “Alabama Water before?” Neither had I. Tap water, lemon, and Sweet-n-Low — mmm, mmmm! I’m not sure how many of these drinks they actually sell each day. I didn’t bother to ask. However, it makes for a nice conversation starter if nothing else.

A dusty old carriage inside Manci’s.

Early prototypes of iPods on display inside Manci’s main dining room.

A vintage ROCK-O-LA juke box – check out the primo selection of tunes!

http://www.manci.net/

Fairhope’s Viper BBQ Sauce Delivers a Bite

24 Apr

 

We first spotted locally made Viper BBQ sauce at Hazel’s Farm market on Route 98. We later saw it at the nearby Allegri Market. And then ran into them at the Baldwin County Strawberry Festival. These guys were everywhere! Something must be going on here, I thought.

I reached out to Viper founder Kim Mayfield and he was a very nice dude — not a snake at all. In fact, Kim offered to deliver some product samples to our doorstep. Mighty hospitable of him! The care package included 3 different varieties of sauce (Mild, “Sweet No Heat” and Original Spicy). It also contained a BBQ spice rub (you can really taste the brown sugar) and an Asian spice blend (nice cumin aroma). Interesting, huh?

The first sauce we sampled was the Sweet No Heat. Really nice — and smoky — and very sticky. Betcha this stuff would be killer with chicken breasts on the charcoal grill. Gonna try that out real soon! The Mild sauce (our favorite of the 3) was a bit of a misnomer — it was terrific, but not as mild as you might expect. It brings a subtle peppery kick on the back end. The Original Spicy is indeed spicy, but not overly so. Hey, their mascot’s a venomous serpent for crying out loud — it’s gonna bite ya a little bit.

We support locally made, small batch foods and encourage you to do the same. Variety after all, as they say, is the spice of life. Don’t fear the viper!  

Welcome to the Mayfield family, home of the Viper Sauce Barbecue line of gourmet products. Our founder, Kim Mayfield, started five years ago experimenting with making a good barbecue sauce for our family. We love to entertain and cook for our family and friends, so buying an off-the-shelf barbecue sauce was not an option. It wasn’t long before our friends all said, “this is the best barbecue sauce we have ever had, you should sell this!” He started by creating our original spicy sauce, which today is still our number one best selling sauce.

Since then he has developed an additional two sauces, mild and sweet no-heat and a line of dry rubs, one which is original spicy and the second an exotic blend of asian spices called our Asian Viper Rub. The Asian Viper Rub was born as a result of a trip to China, where we experienced some of the best food and spices we had ever had. He along with an interpreter searched through the Chinese market places to find the exact spice blend and brought them back to our home and began blending what is today one of the best rubs for chicken, beef, wild game and seafood. His search for the best spices, all-natural and quality products is the secret to our success.

Viper’s Kim Mayfield with Chef Guy Fieri

We also have developed the only “dry pack” gourmet barbecue sauce we know of. By packaging the wet and dry ingredients for you, you can cook your own barbecue sauce in your home in just 5 minutes. You can also tailor it so that you can make it just how you like it with more cayenne, black pepper or a substitute sugar product if you are a diabetic. We have many diabetic customers who tell us, “it is just as good with a brown sugar substitute.” Many of our customers also use our sauces as marinades, salad dressing and dipping sauces. Today, our customers include restaurants, professional barbecue cooking teams, wild game extraordinaires and gourmet barbecue enthusiasts. Beware, we have been accused of putting crack cocaine in our sauces, because once you try it, it is addictive!

Viper’s BBQ Rub

We are honored that you have visited our website. We hope you will too become a Viper Sauce fanatic. We welcome your feedback, testimonies and recipe ideas so that we can share them with others through our website and Facebook Fan page at Viper Sauce BBQ Sauce.

From our family to yours, Happy Barbecuing!

Chap’s Pit Beef in Baltimore

6 Aug

Guy gets it — Duff digs it — good enough for me!

Panini Pete’s Impresses on 1st Visit

26 Jul

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I was extremely impressed on my first visit to the highly-rated Panini Pete’s in Fairhope, AL. Everything we had was excellent and obviously made with great attention to detail. Case in point, the fries you see above were certianly not your run of the mill deep fried potatoes. Pete keeps the whole potatoes in a water bath until it’s time to serve them. The taters are then removed from the pool and sliced nice and thin. They are then immersed in a hot oil until they emerge golden brown and super crispy. Almost like those Durkee’s potato sticks, but much fresher and better.

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Panini Pete’s is tucked away in a courtyard inside Fairhope’s French Quarter retail district. Just look for the above sign out front and Pete’s legions of loyal diners streaming towards his popular eatery.  

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Reach for this door — you won’t be sorry you did!

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My iced tea resting next to Pete’s laminated “folded napkin” menu.

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My amazing entree consisted of medium rare roast beef, field greens, onion confit, tomatoes, Dijon, and gorganzola cheese on a perfectly baked panini bread. I told my kids it may have been the best meal I’ve had since we arrived on the Eastern Shore some 3 months ago.

If I could buy a franchise from this place I would — in a heartbeat. Panini Pete is going places and I want to be along for the ride. www.paninipetes.com

Mofongo Recipe Getting Lots of Attention

27 Jun

Benny’s in Miami, FL is said to make one hell of a mofongo. Or should I say they make a “mofo” of a mofongo??? The restaurant was featured on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive Ins and Dives” and has been generating lots of attention ever since the episode first aired.  It doesn’t look pretty, but it reportedly is a taste sensation. Look for McMofongo at your local McDonald’s in the near future.  

According to Wiki, “Mofongo is a popular meatball dish made with fried plantains or yuca. The dish is part of various Caribbean cuisines including Cuban cuisine (where it is known as fufu), Dominican cuisine and Puerto Rican Cuisine.”

Benny’s Mofongo

6 large plantains
6 small garlic cloves
3/4 cup pork rinds
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt, or to taste
1/2 cup pure olive oil, plus more for frying

Peel the plantains and cut into 1-inch slices. Put the plantains in a bowl of water with a pinch of salt to keep them moist until ready to cook.

Mash the garlic, pork rinds, 1/4 tablespoon of the salt, and 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a mortar with a pestle. Transfer the garlic mixture to a bowl.

Heat about 5 inches of oil in a deep, heavy-bottomed pot (or in a deep-fryer) until a deep-fry thermometer inserted in the oil registers 300 degrees. Line a plate with paper towels.

Drain and pat dry the plantains. Fry without crowding, in batches, if necessary, until the plantains are cooked, but not hard, 15 to 20 minutes. It’s best to check the plantains after about 15 minutes; to do so, remove a slice from the oil and cut into it – if the center is still pink, keep cooking; if it’s yellow, the plantains are ready. Transfer the plantains from the oil with a slotted spoon, and drain briefly on the paper towels.

Mash the fried plantains with the remaining 1/4 tablespoon salt and 1/4 cup olive oil until just soft. Add the garlic mixture and continue mashing until the mofongo is completely blended. Serve hot.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Guy Fieri’s Favorite “Dives”

27 Jan

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There’s nothing quite like a dive. That’s how celebrity chef Guy Fieri views the food universe. Sure, Fieri, a California restaurateur-turned-Food Network favorite (The Next Food Network Star, Guy’s Big Bite, Ultimate Recipe Showdown), can probably afford to eat out these days in the fanciest of establishments. But he prefers places with character — or, better yet, that are run by characters — where the cooking is hearty, the atmosphere gritty and the lines always out the door.

The spiky-haired Fieri, himself no small character, pays homage to such places in what is arguably his best Food Network series to date, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

The show’s simple philosophy?

“If it’s funky, we’ll find it,” says Fieri, who explains that he searches for restaurants that serve “real” food (“I don’t care if it’s just a chili dog, but let it be a righteous chili dog”), and those that have a story behind them.

We sat down with Fieri on a sweltering morning during the 2008 South Beach Wine & Food Festival — he was kind enough to offer us a towel so that we could wipe our brow — and asked him to name a few favorites among the dozens of diners, drive-ins and dives he’s profiled.

Here are his picks:

Benny’s
2500 S.W. 107th Ave., Miami, Fla.
305-227-1232
Puerto Rican cuisine in a luncheonette setting.

“A nondescript joint, run by a family,” says Fieri.

But the food?

It was so good, says Fieri, “I just about lost my mind.”

The menu is heavy on seafood, but the house favorite is the mofongo, a dish made with mashed fried plantains and any number of additions, from pork to chicken.

Pizza Palace
3132 Magnolia Ave., Knoxville, Tenn.
865-524-4388
Yes, pizza in Tennessee — in a decades-old establishment run by Greeks, no less.

But Fieri says it shouldn’t be so unexpected: Greeks are among the best cooks around, known for their expertise in running diners.

At this Knoxville establishment, “Everything they make, they make from scratch,” Fieri notes. And in case you’re not in the mood for a pie, they’re equally known for their — you guessed it — Greek salad.

Mike’s Chili Parlor
1447 N.W. Ballard Way, Seattle, Wash.
206-782-2808
A Seattle fixture since 1922.

“They put chili on spaghetti, chili on [hot] dogs, chili on grilled-cheese sandwiches,” says Fieri.

To top it off — no pun intended — it’s not your everyday chili. “It’s more like a meat sauce,” explains Fieri, adding that it’s made from a secret recipe.

Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge
2519 Marshall St. N.E., Minneapolis, Minn.
612-788-9069
Don’t let the name scare you: This place is “a real funky joint,” converted from an old motel and coffee shop, says Fieri.

The food fits the spirit, from battered and deep-fried hot dogs (“Red Rockets,” they’re called) to a Hawaiian-inspired pizza with rum-soaked raisins.

Duarte’s Tavern
202 Stage Rd., Pescadero, Calif.
650-879-0464
The restaurant takes up about “three quarters of the town,” says Fieri, noting that the 104-year-old eatery has a “humongous” garden where they “grow everything from berries for the pies to artichokes for the dips.”

Plus, they make a cioppino, the popular California seafood stew, that Fieri promises is “to die for.” (“And I’m a cioppino junkie,” Fieri adds.)

Bayway Diner
2019 South Wood Ave., Linden, N.J.
908-862-3207
This eight-stool Jersey diner has special significance for Fieri since it’s the first location the series ever shot.

Plus, Fieri is a diner fanatic: “You pack everybody in there, they cook right in front of you,” he explains of the appeal of such eateries.

As for this one, he doesn’t wax poetic about a particular dish or two so much as the impossibly small setting, replete with a cramped basement where the roasted turkey is prepared.

Such places, Fieri concludes, are all about “a love affair with food.”

Guy’s Twice-Fried Plantains

27 Sep

This is a recipe from Guy’s Big Bite on Food Network. Good, spicy island stuff.

To tour Guy’s Food Network set, click on http://blog.foodnetwork.com/fn-dish/

What is This Thing?

27 Jun

“ALIVE!!! … IT”S ALIVE!!!!” With flavor, that is.

This is actually a “TurDucKen” from Karl Ehmer’s Alpine Steak House in Sarasota. I have heard so much about the mighty turducken … especially the version prepared at the Alpine. It is said to be one of the best you’ll find anywhere. Football’s John Madden (a big turducken guy) has not stopped in yet, but Guy Fieri (Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives) from the Food Network has tried it and he was totally blown away. The turducken is a man-made beast — a brilliant combo of turkey, duck, and chicken that is tightly wrapped (maybe mashed is a better word) together with sausage & dressing and then roasted (nearly bursting at the seams) to crispy brown perfection. You might say it’s the Frankenstein monster of Cajun cuisine. 

A turducken platter is now offered for lunch at the Alpine for $15. Not a bargain lunch by any stretch of the imagination, but the time has come for me to take on one of these tasty beasts. The whole turducken as seen above runs about 23-26 pounds and costs around $10 per lb ($230 plus shipping). I’ll be stopping in for a little taste next week, so stay tuned sports fans! In the meantime, read about the Food Network’s visit at  http://store6.geomerx.com/alpine/index.cfm?fuseaction=storePage&customPageID=8

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