Reviews

Caribeque Spicy Calypso Kick-Rubbed Chicken Wings (And More)

Kurt Halls from Caribeque is making magic happen with his seasonings and rubs. Even his smack sauce. I haven’t tried the buffalo barbecue sauce he released over the last year or so, but I eventually hope to.

I bought a 3-pack of the Caribeque Spicy Calypso Kick seasoning.

I’d never tried the Spicy Calypso Kick (nor the original Calypso Kick), but I bought the 3-pack on the merits of Caribeque alone. I love the Caribeque Honey Heat rub for pork and chicken as well as the Caribeque “Honey Heat” Smack Sauce that is incredible with just about anything (but with French fries or potato wedges is my favorite).

I gave one of the seasonings to my girlfriend Dana’s dad, the man who is responsible for giving us the Caribeque Honey Heat rub and Smack Sauce.

I was so eager to try out the Caribeque Spicy Calypso Kick seasoning that I cut up three chicken breasts, liberally seasoned them with it and pan-fried them in my cast iron skillet with coconut oil. To my tastebuds, the seasoning isn’t very spicy; it’s more sweet than anything (even though it’s sugar free). I don’t know what kind of flavors are at play, but it has a delectable flavor profile that is generous to the tastebuds.

We made chicken tacos/burritos. I should’ve added some diced onions to mine, but I forgot (at the time) because I was so impatient, wanting to try this kickass seasoning! For some spice (I’m a spice fiend), I added Mrs. Renfros habanero salsa to the mix. What a great combination right there ~~ Mrs. Renfros habanero salsa and Caribeque Spicy Calypso Kick. One company is based out of Texas (Mrs. Renfros) and the other is out of Florida (Caribeque), but they should collaborate on something!

Indoor cooking, using Caribeque Spicy Calypso Kick: a success!

Firing up my STOK drum grill!

This past Thursday, I fired up my STOK drum grill!

I’d purchased a 14-ct family pack of chicken wings from Food Lion since they were a manager’s special item at about $7 bucks.

I’d planned for Thursday to be the day I’d do the grilled wings. You might think it’s blasphemy to grill wings instead of deep frying them, but who gives a shit? Good food is good food! I added some cherry wood to my coals for extra flavor.

I also cooked for my mother and my aunt. My mother despises chicken, so I grilled some burgers for them.

What happened was, I ended up being the only person eating the wings! That was fine by me. They turned out to be delicious. The cherrywood worked out perfectly with them. The Caribeque Spicy Calypso Kick gave it a nice flavor all over the skin. It was some fine bird eatin’.

I love Caribeque products. Kurt Halls knows what he’s doing. I’ll be doing another post about them soon.

Advertisements

The Charcoal Chimney is the Number One, Most Essential Grilling Accessory

The Weber charcoal chimney on my STOK drum grill.

Outside of a top notch thermometer, invest in a Weber charcoal chimney.

A lot of people who switch to gas grilling say that one of the reasons why is because charcoal takes too darn long to heat up, and they don’t feel like investing so much time in the evening to lighting and waiting on charcoal to be ready.

Well, the charcoal chimney takes a 35-40 minute wait into a 10-15 minute wait.

I like to use old newspapers or old charcoal bag fodder to start my fires, but a lot of people don’t, because it does produce a ton of ash. Have no fear, because there’s another alternative that doesn’t produce ash:

I don’t know about your part of the country, but here in southwest Virginia, at Walmart you can get a pack of the Weber lighter cubes for $3. They are down from the original price of $3.92. I keep these around, because they kick ass. They are probably the best way to start your charcoal. Simply place two on your charcoal grate, light them up, place your charcoal chimney full of coals on top and they’ll ignite.

Don’t bother with any other brand for a charcoal chimney. The Weber one is the best. I’ve read negative reviews about the other one not having sufficient airflow or they’ll fall apart. This Weber charcoal chimney is damn sturdy. As the saying goes, “buy the best and only cry once”.

I might sound like I’m thumping the Weber company name, but really, they are a top notch grilling company. The customer service is fantastic, and I personally stand by their products. Like I said in a previous post, I only endorse what I believe in. If I didn’t believe in it, I wouldn’t endorse it! And no, I’m not getting paid to shout the company name! Believe me, I’d love to, but that isn’t the case.

The reason the Weber charcoal chimney is so damn efficient is due to the holes in the side that allow a maximum amount of oxygen to come through and feed the fire. Be sure to wear gloves and maybe some eye protection when you use the chimney. I didn’t use any gloves during my Father’s Day cook, but the handle was pretty damn hot. I did wear sunglasses, however, because I didn’t want ashes flying up into my eyes. Also, title the chimney sideways when you pour out the hot coals; you don’t want to turn it straight over, in front of you, or else the fire could come back up and be in your face.

Happy grillin’!

T-Town Wings (Talladega, Alabama) Review

A few weeks ago, I was in Alabama with my girlfriend, visiting her family and enjoying each other’s company. I love her family to death. They’ve showed nothing but love for me. My little lady and I met online, and I met all of her family at once in May 2015 when I drove to ‘Bama and stayed a few days. I’m grateful to have been taken in and accepted by a family who loves me. While my little lady and I aren’t married, there are a lot of people out there who have struggling relationships with their in-laws. To not deal with this is a relief. There’s a sense of security about being quasi-‘adopted’ by your little lady’s parents. Oh, and they also introduced me to outdoor cookin’, like smokin’ meats.

I’ve had this shirt for years and only wore it for the first time here.

Hole-in-the-wall type restaurants tend to deliver the best food in many cases, for whatever reason. Maybe it’s because of a small team of close-knit employees working together in a concentrated way that makes the food taste so damn good, because it’s not some processed garbage being warmed up in a microwave or oven in mass quantities. That’s not to deign T-Town Wings, to call it a hole-in-the-wall place; it’s just to categorize it how it seems to be from the eye of the beholder.

T-Town Wings is a tiny place. There’s maybe about three or four (I can’t remember now) tables in there. They have a pretty damn big menu. I wish I would have taken a picture of it. You can order a whole Boston Butt for $28! But we weren’t there for pork shoulder. We were there for what the name implied. The little lady’s family ordered over 150-some wings. As a wing lover (I’m fatass-minded; I love just about all foods), it was like being in heaven.

The wings were placed in styrofoam boxes. We had to stop by Wal-Mart on the way home to eat ’em, to stop and get drinks. I had only ate at Jack’s (fast food restaurant that’s all over the upper bits of Alabama; so damn good) that day, chicken tenders and fries, and we’d spent the said day at the zoo, so I was famished. As a big eater, I wanted to tell them, “To hell with the drinks! Let’s go eat!” but I had to pretend to be civilized.

We’d ordered barbecue (I’m already going to say this: not my favorite, but I don’t like barbecue sauces on wings, anyway), sweet heat, Cajun (dry rub), hot, atomic (or fire… can’t remember what their ‘hottest’ flavor was) and lemon pepper. I figured the wings would be soggy since they were inside styrofoam boxes for a good bit, since we had to stop at Wally World.

The aftermath of at least 50 wings down yours truly’s ol’ hatch.

That was not the case (they were not soggy at all; very crispy!). I ate at least fifty wings. As stated earlier, I didn’t care for the barbecue albeit I ate a few. The sweet heat wasn’t as good as I’d hoped. I mean, hell yeah, it was good, but not my favorite. Lemon pepper isn’t my jam, either, even though it’s a favorite of my little lady’s… it just seems like the pepper is super strong in it, but I’ve never cared much for the flavor.

The atomic/fire or whatever the hottest flavor was, wasn’t as hot as I’d hoped it would be. It had an OK flavor, but it’s not something I’d care to get again.

The hot and Cajun dry rub flavors were easily my favorite. They had a nice flavor profile to them, and I enjoyed them immensely. I’d love to go back and get some more of the hot and Cajun. I could eat those daily and risk obesity.

I give T-Town Wings a thumbs up. I don’t know if the restaurant is family owned or not, but the man working was pretty damn nice to everybody. I assume he was the manager; he was getting everybody to work in synchrony, efficiently. Seemed, on the forefront, to be a damn good leader of those working in the kitchen. He was also respectful and courteous to all guests.

If, for whatever reason, you are in Talladega, check out T-Town Wings. You won’t be disappointed. I hope to make another return trip there next time I’m in ol’ ‘Bam’er.

Sauces n Such by Ryan Lindquist Review

Ryan Lindquist has taken over 25 years of experience to develop his own signature products. His mission is to spread his product’s flavors to as many people as possible and to know that his products will put smiles on people’s faces. He believes that good food bring people together. I agree with that. To buy Ryan’s sauces, visit his website: Sauces n Such by Ryan.

Asides from the fact that I’m a.. a.. “foodie”.. (Damn, I hate that made-up word, but I do love food and experimenting with ingredients and trying new things) there’s another reason I wanted to give Ryan Lindquist’s products a chance. Recently I posted three sauces I’d purchased from Buffalo Wild Wings (mango habanero, spicy garlic and hot BBQ) and, although I love their wing sauces, I thought about how I’d rather spend money with small businesses, given that I enjoy the product (of course). I’ve done so in the past with Lucky Dog hot sauce (I still need to review their sauce) and Pex Peppers.

Left to right: Scorpion Juice, Wild West BBQ sauce and Sweet Venom Hot Sauce


Ryan has four sauces available (bolded are the ones I have): Scorpion JuiceSweet Venom Hot SauceWild West BBQ Sauce and 757 steak sauce. I don’t particularly care for sauce with my steak, as I just like the flavor of the meat with a pat of butter, although I’d be open to trying his steak sauce one of these days. My package of sauces also came with a bit of his homemade “12 finger rub” that I ended up trying out on some steak.

I have yet to try the barbecue sauce. I’m waiting until I get a chance to smoke some baby back ribs that I have in my freezer. Those smoked baby backs will be a prime chance to try out that ‘Q sauce!

Upon bringing my package home and alerting Ryan on Facebook that I’d received them in good condition, it was about 2 or so in the afternoon and I hadn’t eaten anything all day. The chicken thighs that I’d grilled a day or two prior were still in the fridge; I had two remaining, along with three pork chops. I immediately throw the meats in the oven on 400 and waited impatiently.

The first sauce I tried is easily my favorite: Scorpion Juice. My mouth is watering just thinking about it right now.

Scorpion Juice


I was afraid that the citrus evident in the sauce would be overwhelming. I was wrong. I dipped a piece of pork chop in the saucy mixture in my paper plate and it was love at first bite. Maybe I was biased, since I was hungry and my tastebuds were pining for stimulation, but I couldn’t believe how full of flavor this sauce, Scorpion Juice, is. The citrus is not overwhelming at all. To my tastebuds, it’s actually in the background of the sauce, and the spice — labelled medium — is evident but it doesn’t overtake the flavor of the sauce itself. There are far too many hot sauces out there with heat that overpowers the flavor of the actual sauce and it becomes too dark. Scorpion Juice does not fall prey to that happening.

Scorpion Juice is a full flavored sauce. When my chicken was sufficiently hot, it was just as good with the Scorpion Juice as the pork chops were. It’s a “full bodied” hot sauce, I’d describe it, because it’s more than just one flavor. It’s an amalgamation of experience in your mouth. I love it. It’s already one of my favorite sauces and I can’t wait to use it on a leftover grilled chicken breast today.

On the other side of the paper plate, I drizzled some of Ryan’s Sweet Venom Hot sauce.

Sweet Venom is damn good, too. Expectedly, it’s hotter than the Scorpion Juice, but it’s not too hot to the point you want to chug ranch dressing. It’s hot to the point of, at least for me (take into consideration that I love spicy food and used to eat habanero peppers like grapes until they began affecting my stomach), where it makes its presence known as your tastebuds as though it’s saying, “Hey, I’m here, but I still pack flavor!”

To my palate, Sweet Venom delivers a mildly dark (I don’t like sauces ‘too dark’), comfortably tangy taste. I need to try it again, but by itself, with my food, because I believe the Scorpion Juice is stronger in flavor than the Sweet Venom, and eating them next to one another may have masked its flavor. Regardless, it is fantastic as well albeit the Scorpion Juice is still my favorite sauce between the two. I can’t wait to smoke some bologna again and make a sandwich featuring the Sweet Venom hot sauce on it. That will be the bomb. And if you’ve never had smoke bologna before, shame on you, because it’s an absolute revelation.

Dinner was a late decision. It was supposed to storm in the evening, but as I checked the weather report, it had changed to the night, so I defrosted the thin ribeyes that my little lady had purchased a month or so ago as well as two chicken breasts and some potatoes, and soon enough the grill was fired up.

After the ribeyes defrosted (since they were thin, they didn’t take long), I applied a good bit of Ryan’s “12 Finger Rub” to them. I didn’t apply the rub to the chicken breasts; I used Weber’s “Kick’N Chicken” seasoning. I simple hit the potatoes with some salt and pepper.

Chicken breasts

Another shot of chicken breasts.

Browning up the ribeyes with Ryan’s 12 Finger Rub.

The ribeyes, looking great with Ryan’s 12 Finger Rub.

I typically use Kingsford blue, but for this cook I used Royal Oak briquettes. They started much faster than Kingsford and burned hot, but it seems that they lost heat a lot faster despite filling my STOK drum grill basket just about to the top. I was hoping to get the temps to about 550-600 degrees to give the steaks a darker crust, but that’s OK. Next time I’m going to use lump when I grill steaks.

The 12 Finger Rub is pretty good. On steaks, it isn’t my favorite. I should have used it on the chicken as well, but I have enough left to use it on chicken, pork chops and other items next time. It had a nice profile to it, and as I chewed my steak it mixed in pretty well with the flavors of the meat. I could taste a variety of the “zings” it presented itself with.

I’ve also tried the Scorpion Juice with grilled burgers and hotdogs. Terrific on both!

I’m not a number rating kind of guy. Sometimes I am, but numbers, even on a 1-10 scale rating system, are completely arbitrary and only the user rating them can truly comprehend the meaning, method and motivation behind why they score something the way they do.

I will just say this: the sauces are damn good. No, they are great. The Scorpion Juice is easily my favorite, but that’s not to say the Sweet Venom isn’t up there as well! It’s just that the Scorpion Juice is out of this world fantastic. I still need to try the barbecue sauce, which I will, and I’ll update this post when I do, and I need to give the 12 Finger Rub another go on different meats. With that said, this has been a fantastic experience and I recommend those of you visiting and reading to check out his sauces and give them a whirl. I can tell his a grinder and stands on the hustle’n’grind daily with his sauces. He’s up late and back up early in the morning doing what he can to spread the word out about his sauces. He is not a charlatan pimping out weak products. These products are damn good, hand crafted and well worth checking out.

Full disclosure: I have no vested monetary interest in these products in regards to financial gain. Ryan contacted me a week or two ago about trying out his sauces and I finally decided to give them a shot. This post was written objectively and within the realm of my own, personal experiences that do not reflect the experiences of anybody else but my own. I’m simply a food, spice and hot sauce connoisseur that doesn’t mind supporting a small business if I believe in its products. I believe in Ryan’s, hence my free endorsement of Sauces n Such.