More Adventures in Cooking

Last Sunday I spoke a bit about my visit to Hamil's in Jackson, MS. After getting my taste of authentic southern cuisine, I had a powerful lust for some "soul food". Having done my research ahead of time I decided to visit Peaches which was chosen as the best soul food in town. After telling people about my desire to eat there I was told it was not a wise choice as it was not in the best area of town.

Now don't get me wrong, I am not the kind of person to shy away from going somewhere because it may not be in an appealing area of town. Hell, some of the best places are in the most rundown areas. It's called tradition, or so I tell myself. Needless to say I was told that there was a good chance I could be injured if I took my pretty self down there so I opted not to go. Mel kept telling me over the phone to "don't get dead". I figured I should heed her advice and stay clear.

I decided instead to visit one of the highest rated restaurants. Many of the people I spoke to said that Julep is the restaurant that best describes Jackson, Mississippi. Located on a busy intersection, the building and signage said young, hot and trendy. The interior looked like any restaurant interior that I had seen a million times. Covered in dark color and unimaginative. I sat at the bar and spoke with some of the other patrons. I'm told that the housemade buttermilk fried chicken with rosemary and honey is the best in town. I order one and ask the bartender for a recommendation for a wine to go with it. He pours me a Pinot Grigio that was light and delicate. My entree arrives and the chicken is sweet, moist and flavorfull and pairs well with the wine. Then I taste the blackened green beans. Damn! They totally overpowered the chicken and turned the flavor of the wine to bitter ash. The people around me seemed so proud of their restaurant and I just wanted to leave. It just seemed like they were playing around with food and the customers had to pay the price.

Since I arrived in Jackson, everybody I met mentioned that I needed to go to Stamps Superburgers. I get some directions online and I head off for some dinner. You may have heard my posts from my adventure.
The next day I made it to Stamps which was literally around the corner from Julep. The restaurant is family owned and is located in a strip mall. The interior looked like a big empty space with tables and a small squared off area for the kitchen that looked more like a snack bar at a bowling alley than a restaurant. I approached the counter and told them of my troubles in finding the place which got a few laughs and ordered my "small" Stampburger, a side of fries with lemon pepper seasoning (which I was told was the best) and a sweet tea. A few minutes later, my small burger arrived. It was bigger than my head and made me wonder what the regular size was. It was juicy, flavorful, messy and above all damn good. The fries tasted like they had malt vinegar on them (which I love) but it was just the tart spice of the lemon pepper. The sweet tea was so sweet that I had to mix unsweet with it so I could drink it. This says something about the sweetness. When I lived in Savannah I believed the sweeter the tea the better it was. This tea took top prize in sweetness. I tasted like a pound of sugar in each glass.

One of the last days I wanted to find Sweetdaddy's BBQ which I found online before I left. I was told it was the best BBQ in Mississippi and conveniently was located at an Exxon Fillin' Station. When I arrived I saw the small little smokehouse and knew I was in for some good eats. As I got out of the car I wondered about the dangers of having a smokehouse so close to gas pumps but the overwhelming smell of pork drew me closer.

As I entered the gas station convenience store there was a tall black man standing next to a hot box. Attached to it was a menu board. I got in line and when I got to the cash register I ordered a half slab of ribs and a pork chop (which I was told was worth its weight in gold). I took my receipt to the man at the box and showed it to him. He wrapped my order up for me with speed and accuracy. I told him I was visiting from Florida and he came highly recommended to which he replied "Of course. You can't get no better barbecue anywhere." He told me he was also from Florida and he has lived in Jackson for the last 13 years and has been making barbecue everyday since. He took me over to his smokehouse and showed me around his set up. The little building smelled of hickory and pork. It was wonderful. It is moments like these that make me love food. Here is a man who loves what he does and puts himself into everything he cooks and was happy to share his experience with anyone who will listen.

Oh, and by the way his barbecue was the best I have ever had.


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