Saturday, June 25, 2011

Top 5 Sodas You've Gotta Try

Back in the day, and I mean WAY back in the day, drinking a soda every once in a while was considered a real treat for people. Now people guzzle sodas all day long and don't think twice about it. So how can we bring back that special soda feeling people once had?

I reached a breaking point where I was extremely tired of drinking the same sodas day in and day out. I was lucky enough that there is a place near me in Dallas called The Soda Gallery that sells soft drinks from all across the world. So I went there, loaded up a crate of different soft drinks, and I spent a month drinking some of the tastiest sugary beverages known to man. Below are my absolute favorites that you have probably never heard of. 

I encourage you all to find a soda shop near you and do the same experiment that I did. But beware - once you drink some of these sodas below those regular sodas will never taste as good again. 
5. Frostie Blue Cream Soda - Frostie has been around for awhile. They do a variety of other flavors, but the blue cream soda has a unique flavor that is unlike any of the mass produced sodas.

4. Manzana Lift - This is a soda from Mexico. It is light, flavorful, and is basically carbonated apple juice. It is great combination of juice and soda that is not overly sweet.

3. Boylan's Orange Soda / Boylan's Grape Soda - This is the way Sunkist and Welch's should taste. The flavors are vibrant, and smooth. They are made with pure cane sugar, which is why they taste so much better than their mainstream alternatives that are made with corn syrup. 

2. Bulldog Root Beer - This is a root beer made from the highest quality ingredients. There is a lot of care put into making this stuff and that's why it tastes top notch. They actually brew this stuff like real beer. It has a smooth honey flavor as opposed to a fake licorice flavor found in many mainstream root beers.

1. Henry Weinhard's Gourmet Sodas -  Its kind of a cruel twist of fate that my favorite sodas are made in Fort Worth about 20 miles from my house, yet they are only sold and distributed on the west coast. They currently make 4 flavors all of which taste absolutely amazing. If you only try one of my suggestions on this list make Henry Weinhard's the one you choose.

Bonus: Irn Bru - Pronounced "Iron Brew", this Scottish soft drink is so popular it outsells Coke in Scotland. Here in the states you'll have to order it online from their website if you want to try it. The version they sell here is different than the one over in Scotland. Apparently the food coloring they use over there isn't allowed by the FDA here in the US. The taste is really hard to explain because it doesn't taste like is looks - It actually has a strong vanilla flavor. sidenote: It goes wonderfully with some Blue Bell Ice Cream in a ice cream float!  

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Axiom 6: Life is a Race - How Do You Run It?

Five runners lined up at the starting line. The starting gun fired and the race had begun...

The first runner started very slow, he didn't appear to have his head in the race at all. I'm not sure why, but there could have been a number of reasons for it. Maybe he didn't think he could win, maybe he thought it was too much work, maybe he was having a good time hanging around the starting line, or maybe physically he couldn't keep up. When the race was over he had made a mockery of himself, and was soon forgotten.

The second runner started off slow as well. He was having the same problems the first runner was having. But at some point when he saw the how far the other three runners had gotten he got jealous. He starting running as fast as he could. He was so far behind the other runners though it would take a miracle for him to catch up.

The third runner started off making great time. However, halfway through the race tragedy struck and he stopped. Everyone was in shock that so much had been accomplished only to be lost in a flash.

The fourth runner started running as hard as he could. He was making great time. In fact he was in the lead the entire race. But he never slowed down to look around or enjoy the surroundings, or reflect on the situation. The race was over and he was praised for his greatness.

The last runner started the race as fast as he could. However, when he got pretty far into the race he slowed down a little. Running as hard as you can is tiring. He was happy with what he had accomplished, and his expected time was good so he decided to look around and enjoy the moment. When the race was over he didn't finish first, or did he?

To be continued in Axiom 7...

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Axiom 5: Checkmate! How the Difference Between Good Chess Players and Great Chess Players Can Change Your Life

"Luck is what happens when preparation meet opportunity." - Seneca

"For me they were steps, I have climbed up upon them  - therefore I had to pass over them. But they thought I wanted to settle down on them." - Friedrich Nietzsche  

I've never really played that much chess. In fact I don't really care for the game that much. However, the game parallels life in so many ways that its probably why chess has remained popular for so long.  Its no coincidence that the same players are successful year in and year out, and I believe that there are three factors that separate great players from good players. It is these three strategies that you can apply to your life as well.

First, all pieces (no matter what their rank) each have their own individual advantages and disadvantages. That means even a lowly pawn can take out a king given the right circumstances. A great chess player tries to set up situations that capitalize on the strengths of their own pieces and the weaknesses of their opponent's pieces.

We need to realize in life irregardless of if whether we are a king or a pawn that we each have our own strengths and weaknesses. A pawn cannot change into a king and vice versa. The real advantage lies in playing each piece to the best of its abilities, and staying true to its inherent form. 

Secondly, for every move made a new choice is given and another is taken away. The game board is constantly changing with each new move. Just like life all moves have their rewards and consequences. A great player focuses on looking for advantages and opportunities with each new move instead of dwelling on mistakes or failures. 

Lastly, great players see the board as a whole and think multiple moves ahead. I think the single biggest skill that separates great players from average players is their ability to plan multiple moves ahead. Every move is a calculated risk, well though-out, and well planned. Oh how we could learn from this strategy in life! It seems like sometimes, especially in youth, we fail to see the whole picture. We fail to look past the next move. Ask yourself frequently, "So what comes after that?" Take the time to run through the possible scenarios in your mind so that you are not caught off guard when things don't work out as planned. Remember that all moves are equally important, so make the most of each one! 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Corky's Versus Rendezvous: Who's Got the Best Ribs in Memphis?

First of all, I'm not a food critic. I am just a foodie that seeks out the best local cuisine wherever I am. That means when I'm in Chicago I'm eating deep dish pizza at Uno's, when I'm in the Pacific Northwest I'm eating fresh salmon from the fish market, in NYC I'm eating authentic Italian grub at Tony Di Napoli's, and so on... you get the picture.

So for years now I've dreamed about taking a road trip up to Memphis to pit their two best BBQ places against each other for a ribstravaganza like none other. And all I can say now is, "Wow" you kids need to pack up the car and try this one for yourselves! Growing up in Texas I thought I knew what real BBQ was, but trust me - in Memphis they take this BBQ stuff way more serious. 

A Brief History - The two places I picked to face off were Charles Vergo's Rendezvous and Corky's Ribs & BBQ. Now I'm sure there are people out there in Memphisland that have other BBQ places closer to heart, but the two I picked are the most well known. You can do the detailed homework about these two places for yourself, but here's the quick summary. 

Rendezvous has been around since 1948. Located in downtown Memphis they are said to have the best dry rub style pork ribs around. So good in fact that Elvis had their ribs flown to him when he was on tour. They've got multiple pitmasters that have worked there for decades. That's right, decades. All of that experience is the perfect equation for some damn good grub.

Corky's is much newer. Started in 1984 on the east side of Memphis they are said to have the best wet style pork ribs around. They have been voted the #1 BBQ place by readers in Memphis Magazine for 24 years straight. They have multiple locations around, but I had my heart set on only eating at the original location.  

So here's what I thought....

Best Ambiance: Rendezvous - Rendezvous is located in a downtown alleyway. The old smokestacks blow thick delicious smoke into the air. It felt almost like waiting to get into a speakeasy in the 1920s. Like everyone had discovered this little hidden alley and was anxiously awaiting to get into this BBQ hideaway. Inside the place just felt right. All of the old art and wood paneling - I could feel the ghosts of ribeaters past.

Corky's had a newer feel, but was still enjoyable. It had more of a country kitchen feel to it with lots of wood paneling. The walls were covered with pictures of celebrities that have been there like Bill Clinton. 

Best Service: Tie - Both places have about an hour long wait on the weekends, and both places were packed. The wait at both places was enjoyable because of all the free BBQ smoke pumped into the air. The wait staff at both places were very friendly, very well dressed, and a bit cocky. They knew that the food they were serving was some of the best around.   

Best Sides: Tie - The sides at both places were good. Rendezvous had an excellent slaw made with a hint of BBQ sauce, but their rolls were cold and not appetizing. On the other hand, Corky's rolls were hot and delicious, but the slaw was nothing spectacular.

Best Ribs: Corky's - 

After eating at Rendezvous before Corky's, I really didn't think Corky's had a chance at winning this competition. The ribs at Rendezvous were seasoned perfectly with a very mellow, smokey flavor. My only real complaint was there wasn't a lot of meat on the bones and you really had to work for every mouthful.

Then I ate Corky's. It changed my life, it made me want to get on the top of a mountain and scream, "Corky's" for the whole world to hear. The ribs were meatier, juicer, and more flavorful than Rendezvous. They were .... perfect. Perfect in every way, except for the fact that I seemed to hit a small section of ribs where the bones were broken up. Other than that, it was so good that from now on I will refer to all other BBQ places as "Not Corky's".

So there you have it - In my opinion Corky's has the best ribs in Memphis.