Friday, September 23, 2011

Bub's BBQ in Western Mass

Well, it's been a while. It's not that I haven't been dining out, or traveling. Rather, thinking about my blog has become like thinking about revising my dissertation proposal, or thinking about emailing that adviser I really should email; it's too overwhelming to even begin. And so, here I am, back at it. The only way to get something done is to do it, right? Deep thoughts right there. Take it in.

Anyway, back in June before I left Western Mass for the summer, I went to a restaurant that I have passed daily for the last two years: Bub's BBQ in Sunderland, MA. I know what you're thinking: BBQ? Massachusetts? Don't worry, I'm with you. This is why I never stopped there. Additionally, I'm incredibly reluctant to try new places in my area. Most ventures, beyond the three establishments I frequent, are huge disappointments.

Bub's ended up being worth the stop. The restaurant is a good distance from Amherst and the UMass campus. As such, the clientele seems a weird mix. Mostly biker dudes on day trips from I have no idea where.

For between $10 and $16 you pick some sort of meat, or meat combo, and get unlimited hot and cold sides. We went with the baby back ribs and pulled pork + kielbasa link. The baby back ribs were not as moist as I would have liked, nor did the meat easily fall off the bone. The pulled pork was a much better choice. Neither sauce was terribly memorable, but they were still enjoyable.

Quite possibly the best part of Bub's was the aforementioned unlimited hot and cold sides. These sides were bangin'. They weren't throw away sides, or "eat these while you wait for your number to be called because you're really hungry, but they aren't even good" sides. No way. They were awesome. Collards, peas, corn, mashed potatoes, rice, sweet potato something. Awesome.

We decided to get the hush puppies as well. For $3.95, sure, why not. Sadly, they were dry and tough to get through. Many went uneaten. After my recent trip to Charleston, SC, Bub's has no business even thinking about making hush puppies (foreshadowing future blog post).

In the end, Bub's was absolutely worth a visit. I wish I had managed to get there sooner. I used to wonder about Bub's as I'd drive by on my way to and from Bikram yoga. Now, I think about whether or not I want to ruin the 1.5 hr workout I just endured by stopping at Bub's for some pulled pork.

Bub's BBQ
676 Amherst Road
Sunderland, MA 01375
(413) 548-9630

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Pacific Northwest, Finally

This past December, which yeah, I know, was last year by this point, I went to Washington and Oregon for a little fun. Again, football brought me there, but I managed to parlay the trip to Spokane (which is 5 hours from Seattle) into a little drinking and eating time in the oft-romanticized locals of Seattle and Portland.

Even though I visited during the worst month of the year, I still managed to fall in love. But as an East Coast person at heart, I don't know if I could ever forsake our hurried, irritable and incessantly driven lifestyle for one of idyllic beauty, coffee and beer heaven and ever-so politeness. But, for now, I'm tied to Massachusetts (3 years to go) and must simply debate the prospects of a westward move with every one I know.

My stay in Seattle was short. The day after a perfect dinner, at the home of my welcoming hosts (pâté, cheese, king salmon, sugar snap peas, steamed rice and wine), we all went to brunch at Spring Hill in West Seattle. I had Saimin for the first time ever: smoked pork belly, six‐minute egg, pork & ham broth, fish cake, scallion. It was a distinctive form of almost-Pho heaven. This bowl was huge and I did my best to kill it all. The meat was awesomely tender and the broth was spicy and tastily developed.

After this short stay in Seattle, I took Amtrak down to Portland, OR. All of us in Philly know the hype about this alleged "beertopia." I've been known to refer to it as the "other Portland." Portland, ME being first and foremost in my heart. But, this Portland was awesome too.

The foodcarts were perhaps the MOST glorious thing I've ever seen, and my mouth is watering just writing this sentence. I wish that this was something Philly could really embrace (I think I understand the licensing issues that exist in Philly). Some might say that Philly does have foodcarts; certain places around Penn's campus and the other hospitals do have them. But that is not the same thing. Also, a food truck by one of Philly's most famous chefs doesn't count either. Whole blocks are devoted to pods of foodcarts, 20 or so in one place. Complete awesomeness. The one cart I went to offered one sandwich: porchetta, local arugula, and lemon on a hearty roll. Done. Perfection. Purity. Heaven.

Anyway, enough gushing. For simplicity sake, I'm just going to do a photo rundown of my trip:

Deschutes Brewery

BridgePort Brewing Company

VooDoo Doughnut

The People's Pig Foodcart

Horse Brass Pub

Belmont Station Beer Store

Also, the first night I had dinner at Higgins. The second night I ate at LePigeon. Both locations were too dark to take photos. I'm seriously against using flash in restaurants. I draw the blogging-line right there. Both meals were good, but dinner at Higgins was really spectacular. Thanks to Dr. Joel and S&V for this one. The bartender was friendly, and the charcuterie plate was probably the best I've ever had. All of it done in-house.

In the end, I ate as much as one person could possibly eat on this trip. I had to keep the drinking to a minimum, as navigating a city by yourself isn't the easiest/safest thing to do while drunk. And yes, the good beer was plentiful. I searched hard for all the beer spots to hit, but I couldn't make them all on foot or by public transportation. Next time, a car might really be worth it in Portland. And obviously, I shorted Seattle. But with my new found intense love of the Pacific Northwest, I'm most certainly making a trip back.