Friday, February 17, 2017

Product Review: Silverton Foods Apple Rum BBQ Sauce

By Dru Chai

Although most of the country is still dealing with Mother Nature's cold weather spells of rain, snow (even hail in Southern California!), it's never too early to start thinking about the start of BBQ season. Officially, it's always been Memorial Day weekend -- but who's keeping track anyway?

I've been whipping up new recipes, trying new products, and figuring out which BBQ competitions to judge. Recently I had a chance to try a few BBQ sauces from Silverton Foods. With unique flavors like Cherry Habanero, Apple Rum, and Orange Vodka -- I wanted to dig right in and figure out which meat to pair these sauces with.

Out of the three flavors, the Apple Rum sauce was my favorite because of the balanced combination of sweet, tangy, and juuuuust the right amount of spice. Because the sauce is more on the sweet side, it is the perfect complement with meats like chicken and pork. It would be great on a grilled chicken sandwich, a dipping sauce for chicken tenders or nuggets, wings, pork chop, and of course on spare or baby back ribs.

The same line of thinking can be applied with the other sauces too. They all lean on the sweet side, so I don't see any of the sauces as a good pairing with beef -- unless it's a lean beef cut that doesn't have that much fat and could use more flavor from a sauce. Think beef tenderloin. Pairing fruits with alcohol isn't a novel idea, but proper execution is essential. Silverton Foods does it well.

Dirty Smoke rating: 4/5 stars
Apple Rum sauce: Highly recommended
Check out the Silverton Foods website

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Eating Out: Famous Dave's BBQ Restaurant

By Dru Chai

I used to love eating out at "BBQ" restaurants. I write BBQ in parentheses because this was over 10 years ago, when I wasn't very knowledgeable about food and I thought Tony Roma's fall-off-the-bone and Chili's baby-back-baby-back ribs were the best thing ever. Over time I began to educate myself on food, cooking, and of course, BBQ.

BBQ chain restaurants serves its purpose, feeding the masses who don't necessarily care about the quality and tenderness of the meat. If a BBQ restaurant doesn't have a smoker in their kitchen, in my book that's not real and legit BBQ, which is cooking meat with nothing more than wood and smoke. The same thing applies to grilling. If a restaurant isn't grilling their steak over an open grill, then they might as well use a boring, conventional oven.

Several weeks ago, I had lunch at Famous Dave's, one of the largest BBQ chain restaurants in the country. Now, I'm not some big-shot food critic or self-absorbed food Instagrammer with thousands of lemming followers (and no, they're not bloggers no matter what they say). There are instances where a restaurant will invite me to one of their media events, but generally I like to keep a low profile, pay for my own food, and dine without any special treatment.

Surprisingly, I enjoyed my meal. I say surprisingly because it was my first time trying Famous Dave's and had really low expectations. Like, mushy-tasteless-nasty BBQ expectations. The thinly sliced brisket had some nice flavor, although it tasted more "roast-beefy" than brisket. The pork spare ribs were good and had a good amount of meat on the bones. They were not overcooked, and the bit of smokiness was a nice complement to the sweetness of the BBQ sauce.

Dirty Smoke rating: 3.5/5 stars

Famous Dave's BBQ
13122 Jamboree Rd
Irvine, CA 92602