Thursday, June 3, 2010
Walkin' in Memphis
I never get to travel to cool places for work. You know those glamorous business folk that sit sipping lattes in airport lounges, suits perfectly pressed, hair perfectly coiffed? I bet they're on their way to Milan or Paris. Me? I'm off to nowheresville, hair in a ponytail, lugging a giant file that weighs more than me, praying to God I don't slip in my heels. Oh, and let's not forget the ever so attractive, red indentations on my face because I fell asleep with my face pressed against the disgusting airplane blanket. Wait, did I mention I generally fly at 5:30 a.m. to get to court at 8:00 a.m.?
The few times I've had the opportunity to visit interesting cities, I haven't had a chance to check out the sites because I go from the airport to court and back to the airport. My meal of choice is inevitably airport fast food. Good times. That is why going to Memphis, TN was so exciting. Now I know that Memphis ain't no Paris but Memphis BBQ may give them Paris croissants a run for their money. This trip was going to be my chance to explore the city, eat the food, mingle with the locals (oh, and learn something for work). The hubster was on board as soon as he heard BBQ was going to be involved.
As soon as the plane landed, I thought, "How do I go about getting some BBQ in my belly?" First stop, Corky's BBQ. The place consistently ranks amongst the top BBQ joints in Memphis and it's pretty clear judging from the lack of parking and long wait for a table. I made the mistake of asking if the ribs were pork ribs (because the giant pig picture on the wall wasn't enough confirmation) and the waiter looked at me like I was from Mars. I figured that wasn't the best time to inform him that lots of places had beef ribs. Before he could throw me out, I quickly ordered the beef brisket with double fries as my side. What? I already explained that I like fries. The beef brisket was spectacular. Moist, perfectly seasoned and coated with their famous BBQ sauce. There's also a bottle of their interesting apple BBQ sauce on the table.
Day 2 involved some learning for work but more importantly, involved Neely's BBQ and some more beef brisket. Yup, those Neely's. The beef brisket wasn't as great as Corky's. The famous sock-it-to-me cake, on the other hand, was quite possibly the best cake I've ever had. Think cinnamon bun but in cake form. Heaven.
Day 3 involved more learning for work but also involved, wait for it... more BBQ. It's clear someone on the conference organizing committee shared my love of BBQ because the conference happened to be on the same weekend as the Memphis in May BBQ Festival. Concidence? I think not. The BBQ festival is a giant playground of people from all over the U.S. cooking and competing in various categories. Add in some crazy displays, live music and food stands and you have one giant, delicious party.
On the last day in Memphis, we did what every tourist must do. Visit Gus's World Famous Hot & Spicy Chicken and pay homage to the King. Gus's Chicken is a down-home joint (complete with a jukebox) specializing in, you guessed it, fried chicken. Not hamburgers, not steaks, not sandwiches, fried chicken. They also sell chicken tenders but truth be told, they were kinda disappointing, particularly when compared to their fabulous fried chicken.
I'm not a huge fan of dark meat but even I'll admit the dark meat was awesome here. Plus, how can you not love a place that serves sliced white bread? The sides aren't great but then again, the place isn't called Gus's Sides. Go with a couple of pieces of the fried chicken and you'll be a happy camper. Oh, and come early. By noon, there was a solid 45 minute wait.
Having had a meal the King would've approved of, we made our way to Graceland. The marketing geniuses behind this place have done a great, wallet-emptying job. Expect to pay amusement park prices to see the King's two airplanes, giant car collection, boat load of gold records, and of course, his lovely home. Hey, no one said history was cheap, particularly when it concerns the original baller, Elvis Presley.
On our way to the airport, I contemplated getting some BBQ to go but decided against it because I gotta' have something to come back to Memphis for! Here's to hoping I get to go to more food-friendly destinations for work because let's face it, no one wants to read about how I ate at the airport Taco Bell on my last work trip.
Labels: food adventures