Archive | 4:47 pm

Texas-Made Talenti Gelato is a Winner

24 Apr

The highlight to my Friday this week was not the arrival of the weekend. It was the arrival of 11 (count ’em, eleven!) pints of delicious gelato from our new found friends at Talenti of Dallas, Texas. Yes, y’all — the Lone Star State is now in the gelato bizness. And as you know, Texas never does anything on a small scale.

The slick, clear packaging is very appealing to the eye, but the product contained inside is far more appealing to the taste buds. We started our gelato-fest with a taste of the Mediterranean Mint — sort of a Mint Chocolate Chip for the Riviera set, if you will.  This gelato has a very clean, fresh taste that is not overpowered by the smallish chocolate chunks. It is clear that Talenti is using fresh mint in this recipe — quite a difference from ice creams in a similar vein. You might even find yourself checking your dental work for greenery. It’s not there, but it will taste like it is.

The next flavors to hit our tongues were Carribean Coconut and Double Dark Chocolate. Once again, we were first taken by both product’s freshness. I can also add that all these gelatos are very light, a term not used very often when describing products in the ice cream family.  Next up was Dulce de Leche … and this one turned out to be my absolute favorite so far. It featured an incredibly rich, natural tasting caramel flavor not normally associated with mass produced ice creams and gelatos.

Exotic flavors like Black Cherry, Blood Orange, Roman Raspberry, Lisbon Lemon, Tahitian Vanilla, and Caramel Cookie Crunch are still lurking unopened in our deep freezer as I type this column. In fact … shhhhh, quiet … yes, they are calling my name. Gotta run … more on this later!

The company claims as its source of inspiration Bernando Buontalenti, a famed Florentine artist and architect with a penchant for fine food. “Talenti,” as his friends called him, delighted the court of the Duchess Catherine de Medici’s in the early 1500s with a frozen dessert he called “gelato.”

The current Talenti was the first gelato to appear in the famed holiday catalog of luxury retailer Neiman Marcus. It is notable for its attractive, clear plastic packaging and its use of its quality ingredients, including fresh fruit and nuts, imported flavorings, real blocks of Belgian chocolate, melted on the Talenti premises and freshly pasteurized milk that is free of the controversial growth hormones, rBGH and rBST. The company also avoids high fructose, levulose, and corn syrup, instead using extra-fine pure cane sugar. In addition, the company reports that all of its sorbettos contain three primary ingredients: water, pure cane sugar and fresh fruit.


Among the most popular of flavors in the Talenti line are: Tahitian Vanilla Bean, made with vanilla beans imported from Papua New Guinea; Belgium Milk Chocolate, made with Callebaut chocolate; Caribbean Coconut, using Coconuts shipped from the Philippines; Argentine Dulce de leche (“milk candy”), and Sicilian pistachio, which uses pistachios shipped from Sicily.

Fairhope’s Viper BBQ Sauce Delivers a Bite

24 Apr


We first spotted locally made Viper BBQ sauce at Hazel’s Farm market on Route 98. We later saw it at the nearby Allegri Market. And then ran into them at the Baldwin County Strawberry Festival. These guys were everywhere! Something must be going on here, I thought.

I reached out to Viper founder Kim Mayfield and he was a very nice dude — not a snake at all. In fact, Kim offered to deliver some product samples to our doorstep. Mighty hospitable of him! The care package included 3 different varieties of sauce (Mild, “Sweet No Heat” and Original Spicy). It also contained a BBQ spice rub (you can really taste the brown sugar) and an Asian spice blend (nice cumin aroma). Interesting, huh?

The first sauce we sampled was the Sweet No Heat. Really nice — and smoky — and very sticky. Betcha this stuff would be killer with chicken breasts on the charcoal grill. Gonna try that out real soon! The Mild sauce (our favorite of the 3) was a bit of a misnomer — it was terrific, but not as mild as you might expect. It brings a subtle peppery kick on the back end. The Original Spicy is indeed spicy, but not overly so. Hey, their mascot’s a venomous serpent for crying out loud — it’s gonna bite ya a little bit.

We support locally made, small batch foods and encourage you to do the same. Variety after all, as they say, is the spice of life. Don’t fear the viper!  

Welcome to the Mayfield family, home of the Viper Sauce Barbecue line of gourmet products. Our founder, Kim Mayfield, started five years ago experimenting with making a good barbecue sauce for our family. We love to entertain and cook for our family and friends, so buying an off-the-shelf barbecue sauce was not an option. It wasn’t long before our friends all said, “this is the best barbecue sauce we have ever had, you should sell this!” He started by creating our original spicy sauce, which today is still our number one best selling sauce.

Since then he has developed an additional two sauces, mild and sweet no-heat and a line of dry rubs, one which is original spicy and the second an exotic blend of asian spices called our Asian Viper Rub. The Asian Viper Rub was born as a result of a trip to China, where we experienced some of the best food and spices we had ever had. He along with an interpreter searched through the Chinese market places to find the exact spice blend and brought them back to our home and began blending what is today one of the best rubs for chicken, beef, wild game and seafood. His search for the best spices, all-natural and quality products is the secret to our success.

Viper’s Kim Mayfield with Chef Guy Fieri

We also have developed the only “dry pack” gourmet barbecue sauce we know of. By packaging the wet and dry ingredients for you, you can cook your own barbecue sauce in your home in just 5 minutes. You can also tailor it so that you can make it just how you like it with more cayenne, black pepper or a substitute sugar product if you are a diabetic. We have many diabetic customers who tell us, “it is just as good with a brown sugar substitute.” Many of our customers also use our sauces as marinades, salad dressing and dipping sauces. Today, our customers include restaurants, professional barbecue cooking teams, wild game extraordinaires and gourmet barbecue enthusiasts. Beware, we have been accused of putting crack cocaine in our sauces, because once you try it, it is addictive!

Viper’s BBQ Rub

We are honored that you have visited our website. We hope you will too become a Viper Sauce fanatic. We welcome your feedback, testimonies and recipe ideas so that we can share them with others through our website and Facebook Fan page at Viper Sauce BBQ Sauce.

From our family to yours, Happy Barbecuing!

Ed’s Red is indeed an “Oyster’s Best Friend”

24 Apr

The story of Ed’s Red begins in Port St. Joe, Florida. Ed Creamer grew up a true Gulf Coast native, and his roots are anchored deep in the seafood industry. His father was a commercial fisherman and his mother shucked oysters. As a young man Ed joined the Navy and traveled all over the world but later returned to Port St. Joe because that’s always where his heart was.

As an avid seafood enthusiast, Ed was looking for a hot sauce that fit his taste. His travels in the Navy allowed him to try different hot sauces at every port. Ed had long used many brands and varieties of hot sauce but none were perfect. He finally came to the conclusion that if he wanted the perfect sauce he would have to make his own.

After years of trial and error in his kitchen, Ed’s relentless pursuit of hot sauce perfection culminated in his immaculate Ed’s Red recipe. Originally Ed intended to keep his recipe a secret, only giving out free bottles to family and friends. But once the word spread about how superb his hot sauce was, he couldn’t keep Ed’s Red a family secret for long.

The more people tried Ed’s Red the more the demand for the sauce began to grow. People began inquiring about the wonderful hot sauce that didn’t even have a label yet. Restaurants wanted to find out what they had to do in order to start serving Ed’ Red in their establishments.

Ed’s Red officially hit the market in 2001. Ed began selling his hot sauce to local grocery stores, restaurants and directly to enthusiastic consumers. Even though the demand for his product started to grow statewide, Ed continued to bottle his sauce out of his kitchen to ensure that each bottle met his strict standards. It took several years but Ed eventually found the right partnership that is as protective of the quality of the Ed’s Red recipe as he is. This partnership has allowed Ed to bring his unique recipes, which include Hot Sauce, XX Hot, Cocktail Sauce, and Pepper Sauce, to the masses.

Ed Creamer has succeeded in creating a unique hot sauce that tastes as good as it is hot. His desire for hot sauce perfection has guaranteed that every bottle tastes as good as if it were made in his kitchen. And in Port St. Joe, Ed’s outgoing and easy to relate to personality is just as popular as his sauce.

Ed’s Bloody Maria Recipe

  • 1 jigger golden tequila
  • 2 ponies cold tomato juice or V-8
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice several drops of Ed’s Red, or to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon celery salt
  • Cracked ice
  • Lemon slice for garnish (optional)

Prechill an eight-ounce Old-Fashioned glass or other suitably squat container. Pour in the tequila, tomato juice, lemon juice, Ed’s Red and celery salt. Put two or three pieces of good hard cracked ice into the glass and stir well. Fill the glass with more ice, stirring again. Garnish with a slice of lemon.

Austin’s Stone River Boys are Making Some Noise

24 Apr

Fans of the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Paul Thorn, Junior Brown, and Chuck Prophet will dig this tasty Texas stew of blues, honky tonk, and country funk. Take a few minutes to view the videos provided here and you’ll get the general idea. It is a s#%t kicking, boot scooting party y’all — and you’re invited!

When Dave Gonzalez put together a band to support the release of the Hacienda Brothers’ final recording, it was a tough job. Dave’s musical partner and co-founder Chris Gaffney had recently passed and Dave wanted to get out there one last time to pay tribute to his close friend. When Dave turned to Mike Barfield to fill out a band made up of Austin s finest pickers, the Stone River Boys’ seed had been sown.

Love On The Dial , the debut release from the Stone River Boys, firmly establishes this band as is powerhouse in the roots music world. Dave and Mike are ably assisted by a cadre of talented musicians including Dave Biller, Scott Esbeck (Los Straitjackets), Hank Maninger (Hacienda Brothers) , Kevin Smith (Dwight Yoakam, High Noon), Fuzzy Blazek, Justin Jones and Damien Llanes.

Produced by Dave Gonzalez, it’s some of the funkiest country and countryest funk to come up the river in a good while! In addition to his work in the Hacienda Brothers, Dave Gonzalez was the driving force behind the San Diego-based Paladins for over 20 years. He s toured all over the US and Europe and is as roadworthy a player as you ll find. Mike Barfield previously led the Houston-based Hollisters and released two solo albums that earned him the title The Tyrant of Texas Funk. Love On The Dial achieves a cohesive mix of hard country and Texas funk which includes ten original compositions along with four choice covers. From the opening riff of Steve Bruton’s Bluebonnet Blue to the final notes of Boomerang, this is one hard hitting debut. And don’t miss out on the latest dance craze, it’s called the Struggle!

Stunning New Otis Redding Live Release from Concord

24 Apr

Simply put, the late, great Otis Redding was a pure firecracker on stage. His live shows were riveting — whether he was backed by the MGs, the Bar-Kays, or “His Orchestra.” Yet very few quality live recordings exist to document Redding’s meteoric blaze across the 1960’s sky. I have long wished that I could hear Otis and the boys ripping it up in a small club setting. And now, several long decades later, my wish has been granted.

The sound quality of these 1966 live recordings is excellent, the horn section is blowing, and Otis is obviously in peak form. You can close your eyes and almost see Redding prowling the stage like an uncaged tiger, all the while testing the limits of his far-too-tight polyester slacks. Many of the classic songs you’d expect are featured in this 2-CD collection. “Security,” “Satisfaction,” “Respect,” “These Arms of Mine,” “I Can’t Turn You Loose,” and “Mr. Pitiful” are all gifted with the high-octane Redding approach.  

Listeners will also be rewarded with a few delightful surprises — most notably the Chips Moman penned “Destiny” and a 10-minute workout of James Brown’s “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag.” It is also a joy to hear the onstage banter between the 24-year old Otis, the band, and his audience. His radiant personality shines through — as does his legendary sense of humor.  

I honestly cannot recommend this new release highly enough. If you count yourself as a fan of 1960’s pop culture, Memphis Soul, or simply American Popular music, this may be the best $20 you spend all year. I am just left scratching my head as to why it took so doggone long for these performances to finally see the light of day.

This rare live album from Otis Redding was recorded at the Whiskey A Go-Go on April 9 and 10, 1966. This is the first time the recordings have been released as a complete package.

In 1966, Otis Redding had emerged not only as the star of Stax Records but as one of nation’s most influential soul singers. With his version of “Satisfaction” climbing the charts in April 1966, Redding arrived in Los Angeles to play both the Hollywood Bowl (as part of a KHJ-AM listener appreciation concert that also featured Donovan, Sonny & Cher and the Mamas & the Papas) and a four-nighter at the legendary Whisky A Go Go on the Sunset Strip. According to Taj Mahal, whose ’60s band the Rising Sons opened the Whisky shows, “At that time, Otis was it.”

Live on the Sunset Strip, release on Stax Records through Concord Music Group, captures Redding in the white heat of transition, when his star power was undeniable and it was still possible to catch him backed by his own road band in the tight quarters of a smoky nightclub. The 2-CD set features three full live sets that have never been previously available in their entirety. A definitive live statement from Redding, the songs are sequenced exactly as they went down, complete with an emcee and spoken introductions by Redding. The booklet features rare photographs as well as extensive liner notes by Ashley Kahn, author of music biographies and a contributor to NPR’s Morning Edition.

Live on the Sunset Strip highlights versions of Redding’s best-known songs: “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long,” “Security,” “I Can’t Turn You Loose,” “Satisfaction,” “Respect,” “These Arms of Mine” and “Just One More Day,” to name a few.

As Kahn points out in his notes, “In 1966, Redding was 24 and defined not only the sound but the style and look of a true soul man. Tall and lanky, he was ready to drop to his knees and tear off the thin-lapelled jacket of his sharply pressed suit when it was time to deliver the goods. His ten-piece band was his personal, traveling amen-corner, urging him to testify night after night . . . His out-of-breath stage patter was warm and downhome. ‘Ladies and gentlemens,’ he addressed his fans, ‘holler as loud as you wanna – you ain’t home!'”

The Whisky A Go Go was known for its integrated booking policy and for helping bring awareness of R&B and blues to rock audiences, who attended shows by the Doors, Love, and the Standells at the venue. On April 7-10, the club booked the Otis Redding Revue for the Easter weekend that followed the Hollywood Bowl appearance. Redding’s entourage included an emcee and a full 10-piece band (led by saxophonist Bob Holloway) along with three up-and-coming singers performing one tune apiece before the headliner hit the stage. Engineer Wally Heider, the West Coast’s leading recorder of live performances, was hired to tape the three nights.

The shows did not go unnoticed by the Los Angeles Times, which noted: “Drawn by his growing popularity, a fervid audience shoe-horned into the club . . . Redding was assured of an In Group [sic] following Thursday night when from among his spectators emerged Bob Dylan, trailed by an entourage of camp followers.” (Legend holds that Dylan offered him “Just Like a Woman” as a possible cover that night, though Redding thought the song was a little wordy.)

Redding achieved even greater heights in the months after the Whisky performances, chalking up two new hits (“Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa [Sad Song]” and “Try a Little Tenderness”). He played San Francisco’s Fillmore Auditorium, took part in the Stax/Volt Revue through Europe in March ’67 and stole the show at the historic Monterey International Pop Festival in June of that year. The ultimate tragedy happened on December 10, 1967, when, as eloquently stated by Kahn, “his death in an airplane crash . . . dramatically froze his star forever in its perfect, meteoric apogee.”

In 1968, Stax posthumously issued the LP In Person at the Whisky A Go Go, with liner notes by Los Angeles Times critic Pete Johnson, who’d also reviewed the live show. In 1993, the CD Good to Me: Recorded Live at the Whisky, Vol. 2 expanded on a largely forgotten 1982 LP, Recorded Live. While those releases juggled selections from different shows, Live on the Sunset Strip stands out as a historically true document, offering the last three consecutive sets capturing Redding and his band in top form.

A little taste of Otis tearing it up at the Monterey Pop Festival 

Sinatra & Jobim – Complete Reprise Recordings

24 Apr


I am a massive fan of both Old Blue Eyes and ACJ, so any combination of the two legendary performers really sends me. I have long owned an LP copy of their first 10-song collaboration and it remains a frequent visitor to my aging turntable. Their 2nd 10-song effort was killed by Sinatra shortly after its planned release by Warner-Reprise. Frankie apparently was just not comfortable with 3 of the tracks and, being Frank, he squashed the project in true Sinatra-style. “Kill it, baby.” I can just hear him saying that to a non-plussed Warner executive. The two artists were white hot in the 1960s and I’m sure the Warner-Reprise brash had big $$$ in their eyes.

But, as we now know, Sinatra was a perfectionist and a pretty persuasive cat to boot. So, the “lost recordings” lingered in darkness for many years to follow. Some tracks have been added to various collections thru the years, but not until now have all 20 tunes been gathered in one, professionally packaged release. It’s quite a compelling contrast of two very different men who somehow found common ground in the bossa nova sounds of Brazil. Frank was loud, opinionated, and full of Hoboken bravado.  Jobim was sensitive, thoughtful, and shy. Jobim: “I am often afraid. You do not know fear.” Sinatra: “I guess you’re right. I don’t know much fear.” Bada bing – zoom! 
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — In 1967, Frank Sinatra teamed up with Brazilian singer, pianist, guitarist, composer and songwriter Antonio Carlos Jobim to record an album that married the Chairman’s signature vocals with rhythms from the master of bossa nova. The resulting album, Francis Albert Sinatra/Antonio Carlos Jobim, reached #19, remaining on Billboard’s rock-dominated album chart for 28 weeks.

Forty-four years later, on May 4, 2010, Concord Music Group, on license from Frank Sinatra Enterprises (FSE), will release a deluxe reissue of the Sinatra/Jobim classic including all ten songs from the original album plus seven songs from a subsequent collaboration between the two, and three songs from that session that were not released until decades later, when they were included in a box set. Sinatra/Jobim: The Complete Reprise Recordings features digital remastering and expanded liner notes by Stan Cornyn, longtime head of creative services at Warner/Reprise and author of the book about the Warner Music Group, Exploding.

Sinatra and Jobim gathered at Hollywood’s Western Recorders for three nights, January 30 through February 1, 1967. Jobim brought the beat in the form of bossa nova percussionists and arrangers. Sinatra supplied the producer (Sonny Burke), the string arranger/conductor (Claus Ogerman) and the rest of the orchestra. The resulting session produced ten songs including the classic “The Girl From Impanema” plus “Dindi,” “How Insensitive [Insensatez],” “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars” and six others. (After bidding até a vista to Jobim, Sinatra, on the high of making one of his finest albums ever, stayed at the studio to record a duet with daughter Nancy that would reach #1 on the charts, “Something Stupid.”)

Two years later, Sinatra and Jobim returned to Western Recorders to record ten more bossa novas for a shorter-titled follow-up: Sinatra-Jobim. Replacing Ogerman was a 26-year-old long-haired arranger named Eumir Deodato (later to be known for his 1973 jazz version of Richard Strauss’ “Also Sprach Zarathustra [2001]”). The songs were all written or co-written by Jobim, many with unusual melodic twists. Producer Burke enlisted conductor Morris Stoloff to ensure a pop feel to the session.

After three nights, the album was wrapped, and was readied for release in the fall of 1969. The eight-track version of the album had shipped when the call was placed to Warner/Reprise’s Burbank, Calif. offices. It was Sinatra, demanding that the label “kill the album,” so Warner recalled most of the recordings. A 2005 Goldmine story reported that the rare eight-track would command $5000.

Sinatra later agreed to permit Reprise to release seven of the Sinatra-Jobim vocal tracks on the album Sinatra & Company. It reached #73 and remained on the album chart for 15 weeks in 1971.

The cover of classic first Sinatra-Jobim duo release

More than 40 years later, the airport in Rio has been named Antonio Carlos Jobim International. And an American postage stamp honored Frank Sinatra. And the Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim and Sinatra-Jobim albums have been combined to form Concord’s Sinatra/Jobim: The Complete Reprise Recordings set.

8-Track Packaging of rare “killed” 1969 recording

An amazing video peek at the Sinatra-Jobim collaboration

Frankie and “Tom” Jobim listening to playback