Category Archives: Uncategorized

Hometown Barbecue Is Good Eats, but …

Perhaps I’m getting old, lazy, spoiled or all three, but my first impression upon walking into Hometown Barbecue in Red Hook was, “Not this bullshit seating situation.”

I know some places in Texas do it. I know Mighty Quinn’s in Manhattan does it. That doesn’t make it okay. And what is it? First you stand in line for 30 minutes or so to get your meat — which I’m perfectly fine with — but then you face the possibility of standing there with a tray of meat hoping someone vacates a table. Not quite as bad as Mighty Quinn’s, but it immediately adds a level of stress to the experience. Or, as one of our party said, after watching people snake tables or sit there for entirely too long, “It makes me think people are dicks. I don’t want to go to a place that makes me think people are dicks.”

I was also a little stressed by the fact that a few people who know from food absolutely raved about this place. I was hoping they were right, that I wouldn’t have to completely re-engineer my opinion of their opinions. As it is, I’m never taking Pete Wells seriously on the subject of barbecue again after I finally ate at Fletchers, which was some of the worst barbecue I’ve had in the city.

Thankfully, my friends aren’t crazy people with deluded taste buds as the product at Hometown is solid. Well, the meat on MY plate was good. All four of us ordered brisket and it wasn’t exactly consistent — some of it moist and delicious, some of it dry and chalky. Brisket, of course, is tough to get right. The pulled pork was excellent. The pork belly was good. The spare ribs were … they were out of spare ribs. Which is fine. This happens at barbecue places. The jerk baby-back ribs, on the other hand, had a nice flavor but also seemed like they’d been drying out in an oven somewhere.

The sauces, which I don’t usually go for, were excellent.

There is no wait service in the traditional sense, but we were definitely taken care of while waiting in line, with a bartender taking drink orders and checking on us from time to time. Nice vibe in the backroom thanks to live country music.

I’d definitely recommend giving it a shot, especially if you happen to be in the neighborhood. It’s better than Dinosaur, Wildwood, Blue Smoke — and I’d probably rank it above Mighty Quinn’s. But if I’m being honest, with Morgan’s a couple blocks from my apartment and a Hill Country in downtown Brooklyn, I’m not sure I’d make a special trip out to Red Hook. Like those other two, it’s a great neighborhood barbecue place — but because of it’s location, it’s a pain in the ass to get to (which, I know, is one of Red Hook’s charms), and I am a lazy person who isn’t a fan of taking two slow buses to get to a place. Of course, you can take a car — it was $11 from Park Slope — which isn’t horrible and the ride was fairly quick.

Meat: Fair to excellent.
Service: Good.
Ambiance: Felt like a barbecue joint, but seating situation may stress you out.

That’s my two cents — and I’ll throw in a couple of smoky barbecue burps.

 

Things You Can’t Do Without a Thumb

When I need to slice things, I almost always reach for a knife. I’ve spent good money on some very sharp knives and I get a certain joy in using them.

But last week, looking to bake some potato chips on a week night, I thought to myself “Why make things so hard. There’s a mandolin somewhere in this kitchen. Use that.”

So I found the thing, fiddled with it and puzzled over it like a monkey trying to figure out a plastic water bottle, then started slicing. Things were going great and I was wondering why I’d never used it before.
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Talkin’ Funny: Louisiana Style

"My mama, she went to the store, her, and just left me out here."

“Mais, yall come see my new tricycle, cher!”

I must have been 17 years old before I ever uttered the phrase “come here.” And I did so only to make myself understood to what I thought was a somewhat dense Northerner, a Long Islander who couldn’t understand basic English.

In my part of the world, in South Louisiana, for some reason or other, we never said, “come here.” Instead, we said, “come see.” Always and forever, with no confusions or misunderstanding.

Yet the very first time I said “come see” in Southampton, New York, in the fall of 1991, the response was — well, I don’t have to tell anyone who wasn’t raised in Louisiana what the response was.

Me: “Come see.”
Friend: “See what?”
Me: “What?”
Friend: “Come see what?”
Me: Pause. Thinking. “Uh. Come here?”

And thus I switched from “come see” to “come here.”

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The New E-Book Is Here! The New E-Book Is Here!

SweetasCaneAs an author, there’s nothing quite as exciting as publication day, when … well, nothing tangible really happens, because the print book hasn’t shipped yet. But the e-book has. And, let’s be real, if you’re like me, 95% of your reading is done on an e-reader anyway.

So e-reader people activate! Sweet as Cane, Salty as Tears is now available for your devices and for purchase via these fine outlets.

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Apple

Indiebound

Kobo

I’d much rather you get it, read it and review it on the web. But just in case you were wondering what other people might be saying about it, here are a couple of early reviews.

“Ken Wheaton’s got his Cajun on. His book is funny, raw, wrenching, a heartfelt tale of the complexities of family, love and that place we call home—and, at the end of it all, how stories help heal and restore the wounded spirit in us all.” —Ken Wells, author of Meely LaBauve and Crawfish Mountain

“One of the best novels I’ll read this year. Under all the little ruptures in our lives is a mud fight for the soul. For Wheaton the balm for it all is the story and storytelling, an essential inquiry in search of the flashes of angelism embedded in the dirt and grit of our human passage.” —Darrell Bourque, author of Megan’s Guitar and Other Poems from Acadie and former Louisiana poet laureate

“An absorbing and delightful read.” — Booklist

Saturday May 31: Robicelli vs. Wheaton in a Literary-Cupcake Smackdown!

RobicellisCupcakes

Okay. That is not at all what is going on Saturday at the Bay Ridge branch of the Brooklyn Public Library. But it sounded like a good headline. (Also: Whatever it is, I’d lose.)

But Allison Robicelli, co-founder of Robicelli’s and co-author of Robicelli’s: A Love Story With Cupcakes, will be on a panel at the library on Saturday. And I will be on a panel as well. So please come out to Bay Ridge for the following event.

MEET THE WRITERS OF BAY RIDGE
Saturday, May 31, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
7223 Ridge Blvd. at 73rd St.

Brooklyn, NY 11209
718-748-5709

So come on out. There will be something for literary people, foodie people, history buffs, literary foodies who like history, Brooklyn people and fans of free air conditioning. A little more information.

Featuring ALLISON ROBICELLI of Robicelli’s, RAWIA BISHARA of Tanoreen Restaurant, ALLISON KAVE of Butter & Scotch, SARAH ZORN, author of Brooklyn Chef’s Table, Authors KEN WHEATON and CARA ALWILL, The L Magazine Culture Editor HENRY STEWART, and Harper-Collins Executive Editor KRISTEN PETTIT. Moderated by Folio Literary Management’s MELISSA SARVER WHITE.  With special guests Louis Coluccio Jr. from A.L.C. ITALIAN GROCERY, Katarzyna Ploszaj of Petit Oven and a surprise guest from Leske’s Bakery.

Find out more here

And afterwards, stick around and check out the neighborhood. Perhaps go to the Lockyard for some excellent hot dogs and great beer. Or get yourself some cupcakes. Or just go for a walk in one of Brooklyn’s best neighborhoods. (And if you’re a Bay Ridger reading this, leave suggestions in the comments!)

 

Now, am I from Bay Ridge? No. I’m from Louisiana. Do I live in Bay Ridge? Technically, no. But it has a Popeyes, Robicelli’s, a Century 21 not crawling with tourists, The Lockyard and all sorts of other things that make me wish I did. And I jog TO Bay Ridge from time to time. At any rate, hopefully no one will ask me any deeply rooted historical questions about the neighborhood.

 

I Saw Something but Didn’t Say Something at the Brooklyn Half

 

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Yesterday, while walking by the vast cattle pens that serve as security at New York Road Runners’ major races these days, I watched a guy simply hop through where two of the fences met. Anyone who knows me knows how I like to tweet and Facebook everything, especially if it involves an entitled, self-important twat — likely a cyclist from Manhattan, he just had the look — breaking the rules.

I didn’t. Because he wasn’t carrying anything other than his bad attitude. Also, I figured if I did, and someone at NYPD or NYRR saw the tweet, they’d shut the whole thing down — 25,000 people out of a race due to one douche.

But Runner McDouche hopping through the fence just goes to show how ludicrous these security measures are. It’s security theater — a lot of money and effort spent to make it appear people are safe, when in fact they’re no safer than before and in fact may be in more danger.

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Look! Up in the Sky! 70s Mom!

"Is it almost night time yet? I want to come in the house."

“You done taking the picture? I gotta ride down to the ditch and play in it.”

A friend of mine sent me a link to this blog post yesterday: If 70s Moms Had Blogs. It’s the funniest thing I’ve read this week — and I’m reading the Autobiography of Mark Twain. Here’s a taste.

About an hour later Matt came back crying that Mrs. Johnson had spanked him because he was throwing rocks at cars.

“Good,” I told him, “I hope you learned your lesson. If I hear of you doing that again I’m going to bust your ass too, so you got lucky this time that you only got one whipping.” Then I sent him back outside while I continued to clean.

Little while later, here come the girls saying they’re hot because it’s 80 degrees and sunny. I gave them some more red Kool-Aid and told them if they were hot to stay in the shade and stop whining about it.

Read the whole thing. It’s funny. Unless you’re the humorless sort who sees something like this and feels a need to lecture everyone on the harmful effects of cigarette smoke, sun exposure and child-beating, as if you’re the only person in 2014 who realizes these things, like you’re alerting the rest of us to a scientific discovery. Maybe your own parents left you in a car too long with the windows rolled up as a child and it fried the humor right out of your head.

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Sleepy Hollow Half 2014

I apologize if  you’ve seen this on Daily Mile or Facebook already. Just spreading the love.

SleepyHollowHalfMedal

Sleepy Hollow Half Marathon. Official time 1:58:52.

No heads were lost during the running of this race. Though I did wish at times for a man on a black horse to come back and end the misery.

I’ll be honest. Was a little disappointed with this time. It’s over a minute slower than last year’s (1:57:07) and I figure I’m in much better shape this year. Definitely weigh less.

But I did stop to take a picture. And to use the bathroom in the first mile. And I ran a half marathon last weekend. And did a couple of decent workouts this week. And it was supposed to be a training run. So it’s all good.

And, hey, another 13 miles in the books.

It was a beautiful day for a run. Warm enough for shorts. And by warm enough I mean upper 30s, lower 40s. I did have gloves and hat. At those times, they felt like a little much, but never enough that I had to take them off.

Wish I would have had my heart-rate monitor on this one to see what the hills did to me.  And even though the course was changed, the hills were just as bad. There was a good 350 feet of elevation gain between start and mile 5. And that little bastard of a trail hill — which I thought wasn’t on the course — they sneaked in there. Brooklyn Half will be easy compared to this.

This is NOT the hill at the last mile. But this is what it felt like.

This is NOT the hill at the last mile. But this is what it felt like.

1    9:52.9     <–Hills + lolly-gagging at the toilet and taking a picture.
2    8:36.6     <– Hills
3    9:12.0     <–Hills
4    9:11.2     <–Hills
5    8:57.0     <–Downhill stretch starts here
6    8:26.4
7    8:33.2
8    8:44.8
9    9:06.3     <–70 feet of elevation gain in less than a quarter mile.
10    9:21.9
11    9:09.3
12    9:17.6     <—There is a giant fucking hill right before mile 13. 65 feet or so in a quarter mile. Fuck you, end-of-race hill.
13    9:08.1

Not Half Bad: New York City Half Marathon

NYCHalf1

Tomorrow I’m running the Sleepy Hollow Half Marathon, but I figured I’d slap up some deets (I’m modeling my speech off of Geico’s spokespig, Maxwell) about the New York City Half that I ran last Sunday.

This was my first time doing this race. And it’s almost a pity I ran it as a training run instead of hauling ass. Felt really good for this one–certainly better than the Manhattan Half earlier in the year. It helped that it wasn’t 19 degrees. Amazing what rested legs and a stomach full of carbs will do. (Oh, and some training.) I was tempted to start speeding right out of Central Park, and likely would have if I didn’t have the Sleepy Hollow tomorrow. (The end goal in all of this is to PR at Brooklyn Half in May.)

I was scheduled to do a long-distance progression run. So I tried to do that. The course lends itself to that, what with the Central Park hills giving way to downhill and flats for the entire second half of the race. I stopped in Times Square to take a few pics. And the Garmin acted up in a few places — and obviously didn’t work in the underground portion toward the end. Pretty sure the last two miles were both under 8. (But that 8th mile was slower than Garmin showed).

Anyway, negative split and it felt pretty damn easy. Probably could have pushed harder, but like I said, scared of Sleepy Hollow.

Was also my first time wearing the South Central Brooklyn Runners shirt. Heard a couple of smart-ass remarks from other runner’s clubs cheering sections, to the effect of “Whatever that is.” It’s a group with me in it, so it’s automatically better than yours, you little turds.

My perts…

1 9:02.4
2 8:50.6
3 9:03.6
4 8:54.9
5 8:48.8
6 8:48.7
7 9:33.2 <—Stopped to take pictures
8 8:13.8 <—Likely not that fast
9 8:26.8
10 8:32.1
11 8:13.8
12 7:56.0
13 9:26.5 <—WRONG

Play the Hot New CNN Game Show: Is It Preposterous to Think…

Is it preposterous to think Flight 370 is in the old LIRR tunnel in downtown Brooklyn?

Is it preposterous to think Flight 370 is in the old LIRR tunnel in downtown Brooklyn?

Could a black hole have taken down Malaysian Airlines Flight 370? Is it preposterous to think that?

This was a question posed on CNN last night. As you may know, when the network is not taking 90-second breaks for commercials or 30-second breaks for lighter fare such as possible World War being sparked in Crimea, it’s been providing nonstop breaking news coverage of the disappearance of Flight 370. This is harder than it looks, because there has been no news. So last night the gang discussed some of the crazier theories, including the possibility of a black hole.

Let’s not give CNN too hard a time. The reason they’re doing this is because it’s what the people want! The ratings tell them so. Fess up. When was the last time you watched CNN this much? But why let them have all the fun? You can play “Is it preposterous to think…” at home. I’ll get you started:

Is it preposterous to think that a great white shark jumped high into the sky and brought the plane down?

Is it preposterous to think that Cheryl Ladd is coming back from an overly polluted future to steal healthy humans for breeding stock? (We should ask Kris Kristofferson.)

Is it preposterous to think that it was langoliers?

Is it preposterous to think that Godzilla could have been responsible?

Is it preposterous to think that it was a kangaroo strike?

I’ve got more, but I don’t want to deprive you of all the fun. Go nuts. And remember, when it comes to cable news coverage, it might not be preposterous to think that flying monkeys took down an airplane, but it apparently it is preposterous to just think.