Visit The Ring of Fire Home Page
A service of
netRelief, Inc.

This site is a member of The Ring Of Fire
A linked list of Chile websites

Next - Skip Next - Next 5 - Prev - Skip Prev - Random Site

Join the ring or browse a complete list of The Ring Of Fire members

If you discover problems with any of The Ring Of Fire sites,
please notify the Ringmaster

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Two Brothers BBQ in Presto PA is a Hidden Gem

Three signs that a BBQ joint will serve excellent food:

1) It's a trailer

2) Cash only

3) It shares a parking lot with a beer store

Two Brothers BBQ in Presto Pennsylvania (motto: "We let the Kindergarten Class name the town"), right outside Pittsburgh, shares all of the above qualities.

In addition with sharing a parking lot with a beer store, Two Brothers is also directly across the street from a fire department. So when you really sit down and think about it, Two Brothers has the best and most strategic location of any BBQ joint anywhere in the free world.

But Spicy Food Guy soooooo digresses.

Three more reasons to make the trek to Two Brothers: baby back ribs, pulled pork, and BBQ nachos. All excellent, smoky, juicy, tender. SFG usually orders a full rack of ribs, a pound of pulled pork, a container of cole slaw, and sides of cornbread cake and mac & cheese. Not all for himself, of course, for all the non-vegetarian family members of SFG (5 out of 6).

The one problem Spicy Food Guy has with Two Brothers is that the pungent smell wafting around the parking lot makes SFG's middle aged tummy growl like a pride of lions. But if you can get through that and a maddening drive home with BBQ smells attacking all your senses, the reward is ample and just.

Two Brothers, you want this. So says Spicy Food Guy.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

All American Soup -- Cheesy, Hearty, Delicous

OK, first of all, Spicy Food Guy acknowledges he is in the midst of a soup creation frenzy.

Recently, SFG picked up a copy of "365 Easy Soup Recipes" at the Half Price Books Store and decided to give one of the recipes, All American Soup, a little spin.

Because SFG is revealing the recipe without the express and written consent of Cookbook Resources LLC, SFG fully expects that lawsuits will fly, financial institutions will fall, and the balance of the universe may fall out of alignment.


Start by sauteing an onion and the strips of 3 chicken breasts in a favorite saucepan. SFG had no chicken, so he subsituted 2 turkey breasts instead. Also, SFG added 3 to 4 cloves of garlic (off recipe). He also added a cup of chopped celery (off recipe). Set aside.

In a great big pot, put in about 4 cups of chicken stock, 1 10oz can of tomatoes with green chiles, and 3 cubed russet potatoes. SFG subbed in Yukon Gold potatoes instead of russet potatoes for the flavor factor.

Add the turkey/chicken, onion, celery, and garlic to the big pot. Boil all that stuff up until the potatoes are nice and soft.

Next add a can of creamy celery soup, a can of milk, and a teaspoon of basil and a teaspoon of salt. Off recipe, SFG added a teaspoon of onion powder and a teaspoon of garlic powder.
SFG added about 6 oz of Velveeta, and about 6 oz of sharp cheddar (off recipe). Finally, stir in a half cup of sour cream. Spicy Food Guy let all that get happy for another 30 minutes.

After ladling into bowls, SFG garnished with bacon bits and garlic flavored dried fried onions.

Everybody ate like hungry dogs.

Soup's on at SFG's house.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Roasted Red Pepper Soup for a Wintry Day

On a recent snowy and icy Pittsburgh December day, Spicy Food Guy cooked up a terrific roasted red pepper soup from a Giada De Laurentis recipe on

SFG is attaching her picture here so we can all be reminded of sandy beaches and warm sunshine.


To get her full recipe, click on this link:

Now here are some additional hints from your local neighborhood Spicy Food Guy:

Double the garlic, add a can of tomato paste; these additions will add a nice depth of flavor. Also, add a teaspoon of onion powder and a half teaspoon of garlic powder. Instead of a regular blender, puree the soup with an immersion hand blender. Why? Because it's a way funner kitchen toy than a blender. The hand blender is basically the kitchen equivalent of a vibrator, so using it brings a naughty sort of sexual connotation not often found in soup preparation.

But Spicy Food Guy sooooo digresses.

Spring for the mascarpone cheese (as the recipe calls for) because it has the correct consistency and flavor to marry with the pureed soup.

The soup is excellent, but not as hearty as SFG's version of creamy chicken green chile soup. Serve the red pepper soup with warm garlic bread.
Fabulous for a winter day.

Word out, spicy fans.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Best Green Chile Soup for a Snow Day

Spicy Food Guy woke up to the first dusting of snow in the 'burgh this weekend, so it was time for some hot and hearty soup.

The day called for something creamy and spicy at the same time, so SFG elected to prepare a creamy green chile soup. To see the original recipe as it is written at, click on this link below.

Creamy Green Chile Soup.

Credit to Sandra Lee (pictured here for sheer bibliography purposes -- riiiiiiiiight) for supplying the recipe to, but SFG deemed it in need of some extra punch.

Sandra's recipe calls for a teaspoon of crushed garlic. SFG increased that by at least threefold, maybe four. The recipe suggests three cans of diced green chilies, so SFG added one. Then Spicy Food Guy added a couple of chopped up fresh jalapenos. SFG would have thrown in a couple of habaneros, but Kids of Spicy Food Guy (KOSFG) planned on eating the soup, so SFG reigned himself in a bit.

Instead of the Mexican Crema, SFG used a clever substitution of cheddar and jalepeno sour cream dip.

Nowhere at all does Sandra's recipe call for a rotisserie chicken, but Spicy Food Guy thought the addition of pulled breast meat from a roasted chicken would take the soup from appetizer status to winter entree worthy. SFG was correct.

Finally, SFG used corn that had been grilled on the cob over the summer and then frozen for just this purpose. And next time, SFG suspects he will add additional flavor to the dish by roasting fresh peppers as opposed to using canned chilies.

Creamy green chile soup is everything you want in winter -- hearty, hot, spicy, fattening, and delicious. So says Spicy Food Guy.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Bone-In Bison in Rhode Island and an Apology to Munch

We interrupt this blog entry for the following announcement.

Spicy Food Guy had an "Oh Shit" moment this week when Munch posted a comment on SFG's recent blog entry. As my 3 regular readers probably know, Munch is a REAL food writer for a REAL newspaper, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

Now Munch's comment was nice and helpful enough, but SFG sensed an underlying recalcitrance toward SFG that is wholly deserved.

See, when SFG started this blog a couple of years back, he copied Munch's literary device of referring to himself and his friends in the 3rd person and using initials. For example, Third Rate Food Blogger Fan of Munch would be designated as TRFBFOM in Munch's column. SFG should have published a disclosure about this when he began his blog, but frankly, SFG never thought anybody would ever give his blog any meaningful attention.

So anyway, Munch, I apologize for not having acknowledged how I copied your literary device. To correct this, I have added a permanent disclosure box to the left of my posts and below the blog labels. Let me know if this disclosure brings justice to your Munchly heart. And, also, if you don't mind me asking, what the hell do you think of my blog?

OK, SFG has soooo digressed from the subject at hand, which is bone-in bison.

But first, let's start by stating that for reasons best left unknown to the American public, Spicy Food Guy found himself in Providence, Rhode Island (Note to Munch, this "best left unknown" thing is an oft repeated phrase in SFG's blog. You''ll be happy to know I made it up).

So anyway, SFG and a group of Very Polite and Gracefull Colleagues of Spicy Food Guy (VPAGCOSFG) went to dinner at the ultra-swanky, superbly elegant, and rather arrogant (really) Mills Tavern. Mills Tavern has won a ton of awards and accolades, and the waiter's state, with very real confidence, that "the lamb will be the best lamb you have ever tasted". He said that. Really.

Now, on this particular evening, the entree in discussion between the waiter and VPAGCOSFG was the wood grilled 28oz bone-in bison tomahawk rib chop glazed in peppadew ketchup. The waiter insisted it was an experience not to be missed, that, cooked medium rare, the bison chop would be one of the most succulent culinary experiences of our collective lifetimes. VPAGCOSFG were concerned about the serving size -- 28 ounces -- it seemed like too much.

So the waiter said, with a straight face, and SFG swears he is not making this up:

"The bone itself weighs about nine ounces."

VPAGCOSFG nodded thoughtfully and graciously. Spicy Food Guy gurgled a sort of high pitched choke. Because, in his boyishly immature soul, SFG was shrieking hysterically.

"The BONE weighs nine OUNCES", silently shrieked Spicy Food Guy, the operative word being silently, "That's what SHE SAID. Maybe for YOU, little man! Maybe you need a NEW BONE!" SFG was convulsing.

"Are you OK?" VPAGCOSFG asked politely.

"Ummmpphh,huhhuhhuh," SFG answered, desperately trying to keep the lid on.

In the end, SFG and VPAGCOSFG agreed to order the mixed shellfish platter, bison, the lamb, the venison, and just kind of split it up so that everybody could try everything.

Let it be said Mills Tavern has earned the right to be arrogant. The roasted lamb, encrusted in horseradish and mustard, served on a bed of goat cheese mashed potatoes, was indeed some of the best lamb SFG has ever tasted. The bison was rich and delicious, and SFG Noted that one of the VPAGCOSFGs didn't share as much of the bison as SFG had anticipated. The venison was spectacular. For sides, the group had pan roasted mushrooms, mac & cheese, and old fashioned baked beans.

All in all, Spicy Food Guy considered Mills Tavern one of his finer dining experiences, an experience that could almost make SFG a Foodie. A real Foodie. Like my buddy Munch.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Best Hot Sauce for Italian Food

Even the most ardent of Chileheads hesitates to juice up a classic Italian dish like a fabulous lasagna or a great veal parmesan with hot sauce. Often, the hot sauce fights the oregano, basil, or rich tomato base of the dish. Trust Spicy Food Guy when he says cayenne and scotch bonnet pepper based hot sauces simply don't work.

Likewise, a strong garlic hot sauce can simply over flavor an Italian dish, and a sauce that is too hot overpowers and masks the Italian flavor.

Spicy Food Guy has searched the nooks and crannies of the hot sauce world looking for the elixir that can both enhance and add heat to a great plate of spaghetti.

So pleased as punch was Spicy Food Guy when he discovered "Sheriff Jim Taylor's All Natural Garlic and Herb Hot Sauce" that professes to "add zest to any Italian dish." And Spicy Food Guy is here to testify that Sheriff Jim Taylor tells no lies: his hot sauce is indeed the perfect complement to a penne and bolognese entree. Not overly hot, nice touches of garlic and basil and oregano without being overbearing. It has a slight saltiness and vinegar that really works with marinara.

But there are some mysteries.

First, just who was Sheriff Taylor and what was his role in hot sauce development? We know from the bottle that "Sheriff Jim Taylor was the true and real sheriff of Surry County North Carolina in the 1960s and 1970s and lived in Mount Airy, North Carolina."

That's it. That's all we know. There are no references to how the Sheriff of Surry County came to be associated with a hot sauce, either on the label or on the Internet. Did he wake one night in the midst of an epiphany filled dream and yell "Tabasco peppers with Italian herbs, that's the secret to the elixir?" Spicy Food Guy does not know.

Second mystery? Sheriff Taylor's hot sauces are not widely available. Google searches turn up only "The Rustic Barn" as the venue to order Sheriff Taylor's products. And even more mysterious, the Garlic and Herb hot sauce is not one of the products available to order.

Which brings Spicy Food Guy to his third and final mystery: just how in the hell did SFG end up with this particular hot sauce in his collection? Spicy Food Guy has no earthly idea. Did he get it in a North Carolina airport? Possibly. Or at Zestfest 2007 or 2008? Maybe. But he doesn't really know. Not at all.

Spicy Food Guy suspects it was smuggled into his collection by Elves. It is the season, after all. And Spicy Food Guy has been soooo nice as of late. And full. Lasagna with Sheriff Jim Taylor Hot Sauce. You heard it here.

Friday, November 27, 2009

An Unexpected Arrival, a Seattle Scramble, and a Spanish Tapa Featuring Octopus

As usual, for reasons best left unknown to the American General Public, Spicy Food Guy found himself on the road again last week. This time the trip was to Seattle, via Detroit on Northwest Airlines.

The plane lands about 6:00 PST, a tad early, and the pilot makes the following announcement:

"We will have to wait a few minutes before we can deboard the plane. The Ground Crew wasn't expecting us."


Spicy Food Guy has a very difficult time buying the Pilot's story. The flight had been in the public record for at least six months; some passengers on the plane had made their reservations over 100 days ago. And if the public record was too enigmatic, it turns out that there are dozens of electronic signs throughout the airport that say "Arrivals" with all the flights and times right there for any casual observer can see. Spicy Food Guy posits that a Grounds Crew would have to try very hard not to be aware of the inbound Northwest flight from Detroit.

Spicy Food Guy imagines two guys playing cards in the jetway having the following conversation:

HANK: "Was that the doorbell?"

BOB: "Sure was. Were you expecting anyone?"

HANK: "No. Let me look out the window."

BOB: "Who's there?"

HANK: "I'll be damned. It's a big airplane, and it's full of people!"

BOB: "This is so unexpected."

But Spicy food guy sooo digresses. The trip to Seattle was actually a great success, and it all started with some great hotel food at the Airport Marriott. And as us frequent travelers know, finding great hotel food is right up there with a unicorn sighting: happens rarely to never.

First, there were the Buffalo Tempura Wings from the lobby bar, which were actually strips of chicken breast fried in a light tempura batter. Add some hot buffalo sauce and blue cheese. Fabulous after a transatlantic flight. SFG had three orders. Really.

Then there was the breakfast at the Aquaterra restaurant right next to the lobby. SFG had the Seattle Scramble: smoked salmon, lightly scrambled eggs, and cream cheese, all mixed together and seasoned with dill. All in all, a salmon lover's dream, though SFG ascertained that the payoff ingredient was the cream cheese (it looked to SFG that the chef used about 2 eggs, 2 tablespoons of cream cheese, and about a 1/2 cup of smoked salmon, for those of you who want to try this at home).

As it happens, this hotel dining was all a warm-up for what turned out to be a culinary extravaganza at the downtown Spanish Tapas restaurant, the Harvest Vine.

But first a bit about the company joining SFG. The leadoff batters were two Female Midwestern Colleagues of Spicy Food Guy (FMCOSFG), bringing their Pennsylvania taste buds to a west coast culinary show. Also joining SFG were two West Coast Colleagues of Spicy Food Guy (WCCOSFG). WCCOSFG are snazzy dressers with sharp shirts and jackets. Spicy Food Guy always feels like a slob when he is with them. Rounding out the company were Elk Hunting Friend of Spicy Food Guy (EHFOSFG), a long-time friend of SFG with a sharp and peculiar sense of humor, and Falsely Modest Colleague of Spicy Food Guy (FMCOSFG), who ordered the wine. SFG details all this because, at the end of the day, this was a company worth keeping. Had the food been horrific, which it was not, SFG would have enjoyed his table. And it's not always like that, out on the road.

The dinner began with FMCOSFG insisting that he wasn't qualified to order the wine, given how little he knew about the nectar of the gods. "I really don't know much," shrugged FMCOSFG, "except what I learned during the two months my wife and I lived in the vineyards of Northern Spain."


Turns out the wine was an excellent surprise. Nessa Albarino. A Spanish white wine with medium body, citrus overtones, and hints of European Basketball. SFG loved it.

The tapas were beyond fabulous. SFG was shocked at how much he enjoyed the "Ensalada de Remolachas", red and yellow beet slices with garlic and vinegar. An off-the-menu tapa was grilled vinison with chard, and the bitterness of the greens was the perfect offset for the wild grilled taste of the deer. The fois gras melted in SFG's mouth. And the Octopus! The "Pulpo da Feira" on crackers made even the conservative FMCOSFGs re-think their culinary disposition regarding eight legged entrees.

So Seattle was splendid, the food was rich and delicious, and the company couldn't be beat. So says Spicy Food Guy.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Decent Airport BBQ and Business Travel Musings

Spicy Food Guy lives in the grey area of business travel; just enough trips to make air travel frustrating and painful, not enough to enjoy the perks that come with heavy accumulations of reward miles and points. This grey area is puzzling to SFG, given that his colleagues travel at about the same rate he does. Here is a typical conversation with Bright and Smiley Colleague of Spicy Food Guy (BASCOSFG):

BASCOSFG: "This past summer I flew me and my family to Asia and Antarctica using my frequent flyer miles! We went first class!"

SFG: "Antarctica?"

BASCOSFG: "And on the way home, we stopped in London and stayed on the grounds of Buckingham Palace using my Marriott Reward points!"

SFG: "Buckingham Palace?"

BASCOSFG: "And we had tea with the Queen!"

Spicy Food Guy does not have tea with the Queen. Instead, Spicy Food Guy has a Boarding Pass. It is a familiar Boarding Pass -- Row 23, the back -- Seat B, the middle -- Zone 4, boarding last. Spicy Food Guy knows from experience that 23B Zone 4 is a code, code for a familiar phrase that haunts the business traveler, code for "no more overhead space available".

Indeed, the airline representative is waiting for SFG at the end of his trudge down the jetway:

"There is no more overhead space, Sir. We will need to check your bag, Sir. What is your final destination, Sir?"

And so Spicy Food Guy responds:

"All things taken in the balance, I'm afraid the final destination is looking a lot like Hell. But tonight I was hoping to make it to Newark, New Jersey. My guess is that the airport code is the same."

This does not even get a smile form the airline representative, given that Airline Union rule 213 provision a1(c) subsection D does not allow for the use of humor on airport premises. Ever.

So Spicy Food Guy checks the bag. Interestingly, though, on the march back to 23, Spicy Food Guy notices that there is plenty of overhead space available from about row 15 on. Lots of space. Scads of space. Spicy Food Guy could have thrown his daughter's high school graduation party in the amount of space available in the overhead bins. SFG decides not to let the issue pass.

"Excuse me," SFG says gently to the passing flight attendant, "I notice there is lots of overhead space. I was told there was none."

The flight attendant looks at SFG blankly. "Who is this creature?" her eyes seem to say, "Why is he speaking such nonsense to me?" She says nothing.

"Well I was told I would need to check my bag because there was no space."

No response.

"Well, there seems to have been a fundamental breakdown in communications in the 32 linear feet it takes to get from row 15 to the front of the plane."

No response.

"Well, this concerns me, in so much as you and your crew are responsible for my personal safety when this big metal tube gets 30,000 fucking feet in the fucking air!"

OK, Spicy Food Guy didn't really say the last one, but he thought it. He thought it very loudly.

But Spicy Food Guy has digressed from the subject at hand, which is whether or not decent BBQ is available in any airport in the Continental United States. Fortunately, the answer is "yes", as long as you are connecting through Charlotte, NC.

It's in the food court, and it's called Brookwood Farms North Carolina Pit BBQ. Get the pulled pork sandwich with the vinegar based bbq sauce. Make certain you get the cole slaw on the sandwich, not to the side. Your official side should be the baked beans, fried okra, or mac and cheese. Get an extra fried dill pickle because they rock the house. For a drink, you get a Budweiser; not a soda, not an import, an American Budweiser.

Now, take your tray and sit down. Take a deep breath. Bite into the pulled pork sandwich. Tender, it is, with a nice bbq tang from the sauce. Take a pull from the Bud.

A little bit of heaven, Brookwood BBQ, right in the middle of business traveler hell. Because your flight is delayed, and your boarding pass is 23B, Zone 4. Again.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Different Diner, the Same Daughter, More Deliberations

Athens, Ohio, just off campus of Ohio University

It's a dreadfully humid August day in southeastern Ohio. Spicy Food Guy and Intellectual Eldest Daughter of Spicy Food Guy (IEDOSFG) are visiting the campus of Ohio University, where IEDOSFG will be matriculating as a freshman in the Honors Tutorial College in just a few weeks. We are taking a break from the heat to have lunch at the Court Diner.

The diner is old school; a trailer style New Jersey diner with chrome fixtures that have rounded edges. SFG's booth sags in the middle and is partly held together with duct tape. Right next to SFG's left leg, foam sticks through a fist sized hole in the seat. The Court Diner has clearly fed thousands of OU students at all hours of the day and night through countless sleepless semesters. If the diner was a car, it would be a run-down jeep with 190,000 miles. It would qualify for Cash for Clunkers.

But Spicy Food Guy digresses.

It is a serious conversation, between Dad and Daughter, here in this diner. There are some upperclassmen milling about campus. IEDOSFG is only a couple weeks away from living here.

It's getting real.

IEDOSFG is contemplating her decisions. She wants to love it here, she wants desperately to have a joyful and rich experience. She doesn't say that in so many words, but her eyes scream it.

The waitress is here.

SFG orders the four cheese mac & cheese on penne pasta with breadcrumbs and garlic toast. At $7.49, SFG notes wryly, this is the most expensive item on the menu. IEDOSFG orders a cheeseburger and fries. The food arrives and it is excellent. SFG wolfs down the mac & cheese. IEDOSFG is more tentative with her food, pushing it around her plate; to match her mood, perhaps.

Spicy Food Guy is not really that worried. IEDOSFG is hardwired to enjoy herself wherever she is. This is the kid who had the "best Christmas ever" every Christmas. She will be fine, here in the Honors Tutorial College at OU.

SFG thoughts are more about time and self-reflection. "I was just here," he says a bit incredulously, softly to himself, "Not this campus, not this State, but I was here, here in a place just like this."

"I was young and strong and scared and delirious. And it was like, only a few months ago. My parents should be dropping me off here. Where in the world did almost 30 years (that can't be right!) go?"

Spicy Food Guy supposes he is not much different than the Court Diner. We both sag a bit in the middle. Some foam is starting to poke through the holes. And Spicy Food Guy has some duct tape on his soul.

But Spicy Food Guy stays silent about all that. There is too much promise in the humid air today. Despite her uncertainty, IEDOSFG eyes gleam. She wants challenge. Demands it. She is eager to move in with her roommate, go to class, embrace the experience. Today, SFG is here as a driver, and this trip is all about his passenger. Today, there is a sense of rightness, of scary excitement, a sense of no limits.

Good luck and godspeed, IEDOSFG. Inhale it all. And if Dad has a piece of advice, it is to savor your food. A good mac & cheese can provide a great deal of perspective if you are paying attention. And a good meal with close friends in a romping college restaurant is a treasure. So is lunch with Dad in some old diner. And to paraphrase a good writer named Luke, "wherever your treasure is, there will your heart be also."

I'll miss you.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

SFG Answers the "Red Chile Sauce Versus Green Chile Sauce" Debate

There are debates so fundamental in nature that, when resolved, will unravel those mysteries that represent the very fabric of the universe. These debates are so critical that the fates of living worlds lie in the balance. You know the questions: 1) does string theory represent the key to unlocking grand unification in the field of physics, 2) is the designated hitter an abomination to the game of baseball, and 3) is red chile sauce or green chile sauce the best topping for huevos rancheros?

By the way, the answers are yes, yes, and red chile sauce (but just barely). Is Spicy Food Guy good, or what? He is the Judge Judy of quantum physics and the culinary judicial system. You set 'em up, SFG will knock 'em down.

Lest you think Spicy Food Guy did not apply critical analysis to the red chile sauce versus green chile sauce debate, consider the picture above. SFG prepared a plate of rancheros: flour tortilla topped with refried beans, two fried eggs (over easy), jalapeno peppers, and white cheddar and monterey jack cheese. He topped half of this delectable dish with New Mexican Red Chile Sauce, and half with New Mexican Green Chile Sauce. Spicy Food Guy is also the modern day Solomon of culinary justice; split it in half and the truth will come forth. But does the end result look like the best breakfast ever, or what?

The contest was, in racing terms, a photo finish. The green chile sauce had a tad more authenticity and the better texture. The red chile sauce had a more pleasing and complex flavor; some sweetness and smokiness with a lick of garlic and onions -- with the right amount of heat. And the red color made a more arresting visual presentation, for you uptight foodie types that care about that sort of thing.

The debate is over, the question is answered. Red chile sauce by a nose. So says Spicy Food Guy.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Arthur's Tavern is a Carnivore's Dream

For reason's best left unknown to the American public, Spicy Food Guy recently found himself hungry and thirsty in Morris Plains, New Jersey. The motto of Morris Plains is "A Community of Caring". It should be "A Community Where Meat Eaters Gather to Gorge Themselves". But Spicy Food Guy digresses.

Fortunately, Spicy Food Guy was accompanied by Fun Meat Loving Friends of Spicy Food Guy (FMLFOSFG), and we had reservations at Arthur's Tavern. Arthur's is a meat lover's place, with a menu filled with steaks, ribs, pork chops, and burgers. The decor is western tavern with red and white checkered tablecloths. And best of all, the draft beer comes in 34oz "mugs" reminiscent of Bavarian beer steins. There is zero chance Spicy Food Guy or FMLFOSFG are going to leave with available space in their bellies.

Spicy Food Guy ordered the full rack of ribs, and the FMLFOSFG immediately across from SFG ordered the 24 oz ribeye. And for the hell of it, SFG and three other conspirators ordered the award winning cheeseburger, get this, as a side.

So Spicy Food Guy ate the ribs (which were succulent), a portion of his neighbor's award winning ribeye (medium rare, flavorful and juicy), and part of the famous cheeseburger (to die for), all of which was washed down with a really big beer. SFG then waddled home, happy and ready to hibernate.

Arthur's Tavern is not where you take your vegan girlfriend (who you should probably break up with anyway). It's a place you go to pig out. On meat. So says Spicy Food Guy.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Crab Cakes and Eggs at Richmond's River City Diner

As my two regular readers will attest, Spicy Food Guy usually does not disclose the purposes behind SFG's travel. SFG is elusive that way.

But it is the height of summer. The car is hot, the kids are irritable. Great time for a family vacation. The road beckons. Specifically, the road says "Come down to the Outer Banks and gorge on warm Duck Donuts", but that is the subject of another post.

So we have a family of five packed into Spicy Food Guy's Lincoln Navigator. There would have been six, but Intellectual Eldest Daughter of Spicy Food Guy (IEDOSFG) wisely opts out of what is shaping up to be an eight day Survivor game of out-whine, out-cry, and out-pout the other family members.

The ride down and it is dinner time in Richmond Virginia. The Family of Spicy Food Guy decides to try the River City Diner in the north part of the city. The diner is brightly lit in a 50's style car motif. Friendly staff, great menus, hard place not to smile.

And the food is hearty, delicious, and filling. Spicy Food Guy orders the Crab Cake and Eggs on the grounds that he likes crab cakes, likes eggs, but has never thought to combine the two. The combination works in that odd kind of "I never would have thought of this" kind of way. Added bonus: SFG gets to eat in relative silence because kids and step-kids of Spicy Food Guy cannot speak with their mouths gorged with eggs, bacon, grits, and other southern comfort foods. All in all, a big hit. The kids order thick, frosty milkshakes to go.

Some seven days later, the Spicy Food Guy family would hit the River City Diner again on the way home. That's extra bases in the world of dining, and that's a baseball metaphor in a summer story. Spicy Food Guy is just clever that way.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Duck Donuts Deliciously Decadent

Spicy Food Guy has long been a fan of the Outer Banks in North Carolina. About a hundred years ago, in the 1980's, Spicy Food Guy would oft travel to the Outer Banks to surf fish when the Bluefish ran every November and March.

But along with terrific fishing and the natural beaches, the Outer Banks also sports what may be one of the finest donut shops this side of the Mississippi.

Duck donuts. Served warm and freshly dipped in the coating of your choice. Spicy Food Guy loves the vanilla. The chocolate is incredible. Have both. So says Spicy Food Guy.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Diner, A Daughter, and Deliberations

So it's last Saturday, a rare golden Pittsburgh spring day, and Spicy Food Guy is enjoying a Father Daughter breakfast at the Dor-Stop Restaurant in Dormont, PA. A comfy establishment, the Dor-Stop. Been on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on the Food Network.

Spicy Food Guy is enjoying perfectly cooked sunny side up eggs, bacon, and french toast topped with gobs of butter. Intellectual Eldest Daughter of Spicy Food Guy (IEDOSFG) is munching on some banana chocolate chip pancakes. The food is scrumptious and hearty. The company is better.

The occasion is IEDOSFG's 18th birthday, which isn't technically until the next day. It's OK, though. Father Daughter meals have become a tad more infrequent over the past couple of years. A busy high school career, scads of friends, and the ability to drive have made IEODSFG a young lady in demand. Graduation is weeks away, and the start of college is a hazy horizon that is coming into focus as each day passes. Spicy Food Guy looks thoughtfully across the table at this tall, slender, attractive young lady. SFG is smart enough to soak in these moments into his heart. Remember this, he whispers to himself, this is the good stuff.

Spicy Food Guy watches IEDOSFG as she chats and catches him up on the latest scoop. Socially, she is graceful and relaxed. Able to engage the biggest introvert in easy conversation. All of that from her Mother. But her eyes dart perceptively back and forth, a manifestation of a powerful and curious intellect that is almost relentless. Her eyes miss little, she is already a critical thinker. This from her Dad.

All of this gets SFG to thinking about his own youth, his summer after high school graduation. Summer of 1981. SFG worked as a ride operator at Kings Island; a water ride with a spinning platform. For SFG, a lot of walking, a lot of mopping, and hours of sweeping with an old straw broom. The sweeping was needed because there was a lemonade stand next to the water ride. The lemonade came with half a lemon. Folks would wait in line and drink their lemonade, invariably tossing their cups and half lemons onto the concrete pavilion that represented the waiting area for the water ride. So there Spicy Food Guy would be, 11:00 pm, sweeping up mounds of lemons and watching the end-of-night fireworks. Head cocked upward, feet sore from standing all day, and a small pool of sweat in the middle of his back -- that's how SFG's evening usually ended.

God SFG loved that summer. The big crowds, the laughter, the heat and humidity. Friends made over hard work, and friends lost over silly arguments tied to beer we weren't accustomed to drinking. And crushes. Big crushes on teenage girls with deep tans and sly smiles. Working all day shifts on our feet and popping back up the next day as if we had rested for a week. Fireworks every night. I think that summer about lasted forever.

Which gets Spicy Food Guy to thinking. He posits that a commonly accepted myth is that the wisdom associated with aging leads us to be better decision makers. We are older, we say, we are wiser.

But is our judgment better? Spicy Food Guy ponders this. At age 17, SFG's passions were pure and his heart was clear. The people SFG loved and admired at age 17 have by and large turned out to be terrific people -- teachers, volunteers, honest attorneys (yes, they exist). Some of the people SFG admired in his thirties and forties were assholes, but they had cash and heady titles so that made it OK. 17 year old SFG had no time or place for assholes and he gave them no quarter. He has not been so consistent almost 30 years later.

Spicy Food Guy loves his life, and he is particularly proud of his family and accomplishments. But he wishes, sometimes, that he had his SFG's 17 year old heart -- full of power and piss and vinegar and passion. SFG also understands that a yearning for one's youth is inevitable, and it is one of those things that can be triggered by a morning breakfast with a beautiful young lady that shares one's last name.

Spicy Food Guy supposes he is just jealous of IEDOSFG, with the power of youth radiating from her soul and an long open paths in front of her. She will make choices, discover treasures, savor a wide world. But now is breakfast with Dad. IEDOSFG is a beautiful young lady, Dad is quietly proud, and the breakfast is good.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Excellent Ribs at Jaspers

As always, for reasons best left unknown to the American public, Spicy Food Guy found himself flung far from home; this time landing in a restaurant named Jasper's in the Lone Star Sate., which bills itself as the tourism site for Texas, uses the tagline "Texas. It's like a whole other country." Is it just Spicy Food Guy, or does everyone else snicker when they here that because it sounds like Forrest Gump talking to Jenny when he's about to go to Vietnam? But Spicy Food Guy digresses.

Jasper's, which rightly sells itself as "Gourmet Backyard Cuisine", placed Spicy Food Guy in a state of agonizing indecision when it came time to select an entree. On the one hand were the baby back ribs, listed in the menu as one of "Bon Appetit's Top Choices for America's Best Ribs." Sounds like a gimme, eh? Bon Appetit, knower of all things in savory foods, crowning king the ribs of Jaspers. An absolute no brainer.

However, throwing a giant wrench into the culinary cogs of Spicy Food Guy's decision making was another possibility, the chicken fried bone-in ribeye. Spicy Food Guy loves chicken fried steaks. Spicy Food Guy loves bone-in ribeye. And here at Jasper's some inspired genius combined the two.

Spicy Food Guy had Menu Paralysis.

In the end, Spicy Food Guy went with the ribs, so as not to walk away from one of America's best. And delicious they were, crispy blackened edges, juicy and pink in the middle, tender, falling off the bone. Spicy Food Guy did not regret any part of the entree decision.

Bonus? The aged Gouda-ham mac 'n' cheese as a side. Creamy with smoky cheese. Melted in Spicy Food Guy's mouth.

Great menu, great backyard food. Jasper's is Spicy Food Guy's kind of place. Go there.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Best Ice Cream Shop in Pennsylvania

Canonsburg, PA needs a motto that fits its identity. The current motto, "The future is now, It is here in Canonsburg" rings hollow.

Technically, the motto is incorrect. The future is not now! By definition, it's later. That's why it's called the future. Spicy Food Guy supposes the leaders of Canonsburg could make the motto more factual -- "The present is now. It is here in Canonsburg." More accurate, but stupid.

If Spicy Food Guy ruled Canonsburg, he would, in an instant, change the motto to "Our Sarris Ice Cream Parlor kicks ass! Come get some." Spicy Food Guy would soooo get re-elected.

Sarris Candies is a rather serious western Pennsylvania regional business that specializes in great chocolate. Spicy Food Guy kids have been finding Sarris candies in their Easter Baskets for years. But as good as the Sarris folks are at chocolate, they are even better at ice cream.

The Sarris ice cream parlor is an old-fashioned, family fun type of place. It has one of those cool western style pianos that plays itself over in the corner. And the ice cream? Homemade, creamy, delicious, and lots and lots of it.

Spicy Food Guy had the Odd Couple, a giant scoop of vanilla covered in hot fudge, an even bigger scoop of chocolate topped with marshmallow sauce; the whole thing topped with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles. That night, Spicy Food Guy lay on the couch and rubbed his purring tummy.

The future may not be now, but the ice cream is. Go to Sarris. So says Spicy Food Guy.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Spicy Food Guy Takes on Reading Station

As usual, for reasons best left unknown to the American public, Spicy Food Guy found himself away from home this past week. Specifically, SFG found himself in the Market Street Marriott in the City of Brotherly Love. Directly across the street from the Reading Terminal, better known as Palate's Paradise.

Reading Terminal originally was built as a market to serve the downtown pit stop of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad (yes, the same railroad you can buy for $200 5 places after the Go square). Reading Terminal, smack in the middle of Center City, is now home to over 80 merchants, mostly food related.

On a tip from Smart and Sweet Colleague of Spicy Food Guy (SSCOSFG), SFG began his culinary adventures at Dinics, a heavily trafficked hole in the wall serving a broad array of three sandwiches: roast beef, roast pork, and roast veal. Spicy Food Guy went with the roast pork and sharp provolone sandwich -- juicy, tender, simple. The sharp tang of the provolone was the perfect offset to the roasted flavor of the pork.

Next Spicy Food Guy tried the place voted "Best in Philly" for hot dogs -- Franks a Lot. The name is funny, but the hot dog is snappy and delicious. Spicy Food Guy didn't much care for the chili used as a topping, but a plain dog with mustard is well worth a couple of bucks.

Finally, on the last morning, Spicy Food Guy tried a breakfast scrapple sandwich from the aptly named Dutch Eating Place. Spicy Food Guy had his scrapple served with egg and cheese (a white cheddar, SFG thinks) on wheat toast. Nothing quite like being served scrapple, a meat patty of pork trimmings and specifically designed to clog the arteries of middle aged white guys, by a sweet young Amish lady wearing a bonnet. It's worth a trip to Philly, even if you have to come from far away, just to eat a scrapple sandwich on wheat toast from the Dutch Eating Place.

So says Spicy Food Guy, who has traveled to Reading Terminal, and has returned feeling quite full.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Scotch Bonnet Peppers Make Killer Hot Sauces

Spicy Food Guy is a huge fan of hot sauces made with Scotch Bonnet peppers.

Scotch bonnets are natives of Jamaica, and are commonly found in many jerk seasonings. They are also known to keep away ghosts, or "duppies", as they are referred to on the Island. How a high-powered chile pepper that packs up to 350,000 scoville units came to be viewed as mystic protector against ghosts called duppies is a mystery to Spicy Food Guy, but he suspects that the early origins of this superstition have something to do with another powerful Jamaican plant called Cannabis Sativa. But Spicy Food guy digresses.

A superb example of a Scotch Bonnet Hot Sauce is Bodine's Fire in the Hole. Bodine's is known for its variety of fresh garlic, and they pack a lot of it in Fire in the Hole. The Scotch Bonnet Pepper brings the tart and smoky sweet-to-heat element that is so unique to the Scotch Bonnet.

Try it on chicken pot pie. Really. You'll thank me. So says Spicy Food Guy.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Spicy Pizza Done the Right Way

The thing about spicy pizza is, it's tough to do the right way while maintaining the authenticity of a Neapolitan pizza.

Sure, Spicy Food Guy is known to slather hot sauce on the standard delivery pizza, or order a pizza with hot peppers from the local pizza joint, but the effort rings hollow. It's bringing the heat without adding any value, if you get Spicy Food Guy's meaning.

Enter a cool little neighborhood haunt in the South Hills of Pittsburgh called Il Pizzaiolo. Known for authentic Neapolitan pizzas. The oven was purchased in Naples. The cheese is imported. The owner spent quality time in Italy. All that stuff.

And they serve the Diavola. According to the menu, it's a pizza dusted with chili powder and topped with a spicy pepperoni sausage. To Spicy Food Guy, it's heaven. Beautiful Spouse of Spicy Food Guy (BSOSFG) gets her Italian fix and Spicy Food Guy gets an authentic spicy pizza.

Everyone goes home happy and full. A great restaurant experience, so says Spicy Food Guy.
Your Gateway to Barbecue Information
A service of
netRelief, Inc.

This site is a member of The Smoke Ring BBQ Webring
A linked list of BBQ websites

Next BBQ Site - Next 5 BBQ Sites - Prev BBQ Site - Random BBQ Site

Join the BBQ ring or browse a complete list of The Smoke Ring BBQ Webring member's BBQ sites

If you discover problems with any of The Smoke Ring BBQ Webring sites,
please notify the Ringmaster