Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Lincoln Good Eats: Phat Jack's BBQ

It's hard to fake me out when it comes to food. I'll know probably before I take a bite of something whether or not it was made on the premesis, or flash-frozen and shipped from some salmonella factory Guatemala, or Sam's Hamburger Patties in Dung Pile, GA (E.Coli Free since March!). Fake food annoys me. It's easy. It insults our intelligence as consumers. But, what's to be expected? Haven't we been lulled to sleep over the decades from companies and restaurant chains who know that the vast majority of Americans could give a shit less where their food comes from, let alone how it even tastes half the time? Is it cheap? Is it fast? We buy it. We drive away from the drive-thru window.

It's safe to say that's not how things are done at Phat Jack's BBQ. It's a great success story (at least a story that hasn't had a quick and abrupt ending, like so many start-up restaurants). Matt and Jackie started out as a competitive BBQ team, cutting their teeth around the Kansas City area beginning in 2004. Like most winning teams, practice patience and time brought them some success, with such accomplishments as taking home 4th place in the 2007 World Brisket Open. Others include reserve chamption at the 2007 Cookin' on the Kaw, and 2008 Eagle, NE Days Grand Champion. With their success, they were drawn as an invitee to the prestigious Jack Danilel's Word Championship Invitational in 2008. "The Jack" is one of the crown jewels on the competitive BBQ circuit, but due to a scheduling conflict, they were unable to attend.

In 2009, they took their passion to the next level, and opened up their own restaurant, committed to offering "competition-quality" BBQ to the masses. While they can't cook in such quantity as some of the others, their quality certainly makes up for it. They make all of the usual favorites: Brisket, ribs, pork shoulder. I can't say that any of these selections are anything less than above average to excellent. Personally, I'm a sucker for their brisket. Tender, but not mushy, great flavor, perfect smoke.

Another favorite is a daily special, featuring slices of smoked sausage serving as the bed for a mound of pulled pork, drizzled with sauce. Heaven.

As for the crowds? Get to this place before Noon, otherwise you'll be standing in line....sometimes out the front door. The seating area is fairly small, but I like that. And have patience trying to get to the's not the easiest to pull into, depending on which direction of Cornhusker Road you're traveling.

A full, ringing endorsement for this tremendous hidden gem for BBQ fans around Lincoln, although it's popularity is catching on. It may not be the exact same consistency from day-to-day, but that's the nature of cooking competition BBQ. I wouldn't want it any other way.

Phat Jacks BBQ on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 24, 2010

"Football" fans in a Football Town

I'm not really sure how to react to this. Check that.....I do know how to react to this: With complete shock, bewilderment and disgust.

How did we allow this to happen? for so long, we've looked down our noses at such an inferior game. Men running around aimlessly on a field far too large for what's needed. 8 shots on goal.....per 90-minute game.

Shake yourselves, Lincoln....Midwest.....America. You have The National Pastime, AND America's Game. You live in one of the most revered college football towns in America. You've got everything you need as a sports fan.

Then you go and act like this.

I was in a downtown bar in November of 2001 when Eric Crouch caught the touchdown pass from Mike Stuntz to beat OU. This didn't happen. Drinks were not thrown. Barstools were not wielded. Scarf thingies were not swung over heads. Yes, everything in my pockets flew out in a frenzy, but, in my defense, it was freaking NU-OU. You expect things to get broken when a play like that happens.

But soccer? Cheering for soccer like you're living in Brazil? In Lincoln, Nebraska?

Here it is: Captain Jack's Bar in Lincoln, and the reaction to Landon Donovan's game winner over "world powerhouse" Algeria, to punch a ticket to the round of 16 in the World Cup. Apparently that's a big deal or something.

I don't know what town, let alone what country I'm living in anymore.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Chipps Cooney: Magic Genius

Looks like the secret is out: Chipps Cooney's magic is now a Nationwide phenomenon. See Chipps in his element, before he lowered his standards and went on America's Got Talent, and marvel at this master of illusion.

A New Holiday for Me

It's Father's Day, my first. Actually, it's been Father's Day Weekend. I received a laminated card made from construction paper made at daycare by the girls; a cutout of Blaine's hands glued to it, with the message 'Daddy's Helping Hands". I think back to a time no longer than 6 months ago when I would be the cynic about parents constantly fawning over their kids. I would instantly recoil, desperately wanting to say aloud what I was thinking at the time: Nobody cares. Your kids are not special.

Crude scribbles in various crayon colors, a stick figure family drawn with markers, the dry macaroni glued to a paper plate resembling perhaps what Picasso might create with similar materials, all of these covering bulletin boards or file cabinet drawers of proud parents at the office. Memo to all of you that I have looked down on for your open and outward pride in your kids: I get it now.

((Note: There IS a line here, mind you. The above memo does not include parents that cover the back window of their minivan with dance, soccer, football, softball, track, cross-country, basketball, and golf stickers, embazoned with their kids' names and numbers. Or my new personal favorite, the family of stick figures, including the dog, cat, hamster and goldfish. All of them, just plain stupid.))

Here's the man recently joining the foray of cereal consumption (sloppily, as you might imagine), and hopefully a lifetime of the enjoyment, love and reverence of food. Preferably barbecue. Preferably not anyting in a blue box. This pasty, flavorless groul will have to suffice for now.

Oh, and Happy Father's Day, Dad. I see what all the fuss is about now. Smile, will ya?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Froggy went a-courtin' he did ride...Crambo!

Few things take me back to childhood quicker than this particular Tom & Jerry skit. Few things still crack me up like this skit, as well. Trust me, you'll be singing this song just like Uncle Pecos next time you're stuck in traffic. This one's for you, Thad.