Monday, July 26, 2010

Beaches, Bikes and BBQ - What a Weekend!

It was hot, hot, hot but that's what summer is all about! We knew the heat was coming so husband and I had some well laid plans! I escaped to the beach with my sister in law and niece while he took of with his buddies for a motorcycle ride. We all hooked up later in the day at a friends house for a poolside BBQ. Cold beers, hot food off the grill and my favorite loaded baked potato salad! AHHH life is good!

Erika's Loaded Baked Potato Salad.

First and foremost let me say that when I first came up with this recipe I used russet potatoes that I cubed and roasted in the oven with some salt and olive oil. Since it was in the mid- to upper-nineties this week with near 100% humidity there was no way in hell I was turning my oven on to make this. So, this time around I used red skin potatoes that I boiled the day before and let cool in the sink overnight. Either way tastes good to me and is a nice break away from all those mayo based salads.

3 lbs potatoes cubed and roasted or boiled and cubed. However you cook them make sure they are cool before you add the rest of the ingredients
1 generous cup sour cream
6-10 strips of bacon cooked crisp and chopped
3/4 Cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
4-6 green onions, chopped
salt and pepper to taste - don't be shy with the salt!

Mix the sour cream, chopped bacon, cheese, green onion, salt and pepper and gently fold mixture into the cooked potatoes. Adjust seasonings to taste. I find that this recipe usually requires more salt than one would assume. Hey, potatoes need salt. What can I say! Let chill or serve right away.

The following Sunday was still warm but not nearly as oppressive as the day before and since my spearfishing trip with Dad and been canceled due to the threat of thunderstorms, husband and I managed to round up a few friends that weren't too hungover to take a ride and try out a new BBQ joint in the area - Hilltop BBQ.

We were familiar with the location since it was previously a biker bar and were happy to know a BBQ joint was now located so close to our doorstep. But was it any good? You see good, true BBQ is an art form in my opinion. A skill people spend their lives mastering. True BBQ, being more of a southern and western delicacy, is hard to find in New England and GOOD, true BBQ is even harder to find. There have been more BBQ joints popping up in the area lately, and admittedly, I haven't tried many so Sundays lunch was a real treat for me. As far as BBQ in New England goes, Hilltop was good. Not the best BBQ I have ever had but solid nonetheless.

We started with the mesquite chicken quesedilla rolls for an appetizer. They were surprisingly spicy which was a plus in my book because I like it spicy!!! I ordered a brisket and rib combo with cole slaw. The Hilltop offers 2 styles or ribs - Memphis and St. Louis. Both are dry rubbed but only the St Louis are smoked. This being a BBQ joint, I opted for the St. Louis style because in my book BBQ = smoke, accept no substitutes. The ribs were served unsauced with three different sauces offered on the table - another plus in my book. I like to taste the meat and the smoke and quite frankly, good BBQ doesn't need much sauce. The three sauces offered were house, sweet and hot. I preferred the house sauce and found the sweet to be a little too sweet and the hot not hot enough. The house sauce was juuuusst riiiight! The ribs were good, perhaps a bit dry but meaty and flavorful. The brisket, in my opinion, was the real standout of the meal. Moist and tender and full of flavor, I was left wanting more.

As for the sides the coleslaw did not disappoint. It was tangy, not too mayo-ey and not at all bland. The cornbread was also good and had a strong corn flavor without being too dry. The meal also came with a refreshing slice of watermelon, which was an unexpected surprise.

To finish off, instead of the standard moist towelette, we were presented with warm towelettes at the end of the meal. I thought this was a nice touch since these towels were much larger and softer than the standard scratchy square one normally receives. All in all, everyone enjoyed their meal and I do believe we will be visiting again.

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