Monday, November 12, 2012

Game #6: vs Texas A & M

(this post is under construction)

Posts Really Are On Their Way

Thirty minutes ago I thought this post would begin with "hallelujah, hallelujah." Thirty minutes ago I discovered that the reason I have had so many picture loading woes was because of the cord that connects the camera to my computer. Evidently, if you have to hold the cord completely still while watching Monday night football and drinking a nice pinot noir for 1 picture to properly load in about 1200 seconds. Finally it's working! The problem, we take at least 50 pictures a game and I am 5 games behind. So, I found another electronic item in the house, steal the cord and voila instant downloading! I was moving quickly along and it all starts to lock up again . . . lame. I was able to get 4 games downloaded. All but the Texas A & M game. My apologies to my State of Texas friends, but this game must be skipped for the greater good.

I promise I will come back and cover it, but for today in the words of the Muppets "I'm Moving Right Along" [A.D.D. MOMENT] if you ever wondered I always have this song and video playing in my head :o)

Please take a moment to enjoy this video while I write some blog posts!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday Food: City Grocery

Well, Rebels, you're gonna have to think back a long way to help me revisit this review: THREE WHOLE WEEKS back to the Texas A&M game.  I have no excuse, except that I've been busy...and for a week in there, out of the country.  But, better late than never, right?

Ok, so, we always looks forward to eating at City Grocery.  After all, it's the most highly acclaimed restaurant in Oxford--the restaurant that started it all, when it comes to exciting food in Oxford.  John Currence had a vision, and he's made good on that vision over the past two decades.  So, needless to say, expectations are always high.

When we arrived for our 8:00 reservation, the hostess passed along that our table wasn't ready.  I instantly got flashbacks of our dinner at McEwen's.  And just like that evening, we fell prey to a restaurant's second seating.  This time, it was a good half-hour until our table was ready.  But again, restaurants don't have much control over that, so we trudged through the wait and finally got to the table.

The restaurant fills a single room, adorned with classic Southern finishes.  Of course, wooden floors and wooden ceilings don't do much to dampen noise, which does make City Grocery a fairly loud eating experience on football weekends.  It's best to just join in the boisterous fun.  The wait staff at City Grocery is very well-trained, but again, the football weekend does take them down a notch.  They always seem a bit harried by the crowd, unlike the staff at, say, Snackbar, which somehow takes the masses in stride.  Fortunately, our waiter appeared to be one of the best of the bunch.  He was very attentive and visible.

City Grocery hasn't always emphasized its wine list, but these days you'll find probably the most extensive wine list in Oxford.  It also provides a broad range of price points, if you're wanting to splurge.  And, if you're wanting something a little more stiff with your meal, there's also a nice selection of whiskeys to choose from.

After we ordered, we learned what the real reason for the delays were.  The kitchen was backed up.  And that's really too bad, because it creates a deficit that the food has to make up.  Thankfully, City Grocery's food really is stellar.  It's genuinely a notch above the rest of Oxford, and you'd have to drive to Memphis or Birmingham to find something that could rival it.  My meal consisted of shrimp & corn soup, guinea hen, and a deconstructed caramel concoction, and each course was amazing.  Other highlights around the table were pickled peaches, pork loin, sauteed fish...everything we ate.  In addition to superb execution, the dishes impress because they're thoughtfully composed.  Starches and vegetables are perfect matches for their respective proteins.  Even garnishes are chosen to truly compliment the plate.   Both Heath Johnson (chef d'cuisine) and Dwayne Ingraham (pastry chef) have great talent, and they turn out delicious, delicious food.

And that's why eating at City Grocery during football season is a mixed blessing.  You're pretty much guaranteed that the food will surpass the rest of the experience.  We didn't have a bad time--quite the contrary--but a restaurant that hangs multiple James Beard Awards in the dining room does have to live up to higher expectations from its patrons.  In the spirit of full disclosure, some friends of mine also ate at City Grocery the night we were there.  Whereas we were on the front end of the second seating, they were further down the line, and they suffered for it.  As in...a two-hour wait from their reservation time until they got their first bite of food.  At that point, it doesn't matter how good the food is.  It's just unacceptable.  Additionally, whereas McEwen's is a fairly new restaurant to Oxford, John Currence has two decades of experience dealing with football crowds in Oxford.  His kitchen shouldn't be overwhelmed by them.

So, what's the takeaway?  City Grocery is at its best on a non-football weekend.  And if you can, wait until such a weekend to enjoy the restaurant.  It's a special restaurant when the place isn't jam-packed and the staff has time to breathe.  Of course, the food is always the point that it shines a spotlight on any other facets of the meal that aren't.  If you do want to brave it on a game weekend, definitely eat as early as your stomach will let you.  You'll be glad you did.

Ole Miss's next home game is November 10 (Vanderbilt), but you'll get another blogpost from me a week earlier.  I'll be tagging along with Madeline and Charlie to the Georgia game, and we're eating at another Southern flagship--Hugh Acheson's Five and Ten.  So, that will make two James Beard Award winners in a row!  We like to keep it classy. ;)

Monday, October 22, 2012

More Posts Soon :oD

Hello all! I promise that I haven't given up on the blog. A lot has been going on at the White House (in Tupelo, not D.C.) and sadly blogging has taken a back seat.

Good news! For those that don't know, I have a new job!! That's reason #1 for not blogging. I am working as a Compliance Auditor at Bancorp South, I started last week. With a short time between offer and start date, I devoted all my extra time to tasks around the house. I'm really excited about the position.

Reason #2: Charlie has used our one off weekend to go pheasant hunting in South Dakota. I hear he did well and had a great time, but I'm glad he'll be back Tuesday. When he's gone my schedule is always off. He is the timekeeper in the family and I'm always behind on all thing when he is out of town.

Last excuse of the evening: in all the posts I really enjoy adding pictures and honestly it takes a long time to load each photo. I don't know if it's because the picture size is so big of if our internet connection isn't the fastest. Regardless, it's time consuming, and considering with C out of town my time management skills dwindle I've had to accept that the Texas and Auburn posts just weren't going to happen until he got back.

All this to send my apologies. I'm not a big fan of excuses, but sometimes that is just how it is. Don't forget good things come to those that wait. The early bird may get the worm, but it is the second mouse that gets the cheese.

I'll be back soon, Hotty Toddy!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Game #5: vs Alabama aka Roadtrip #2

HOTTY TODDY to all!!! No this posting wont only be about a moral victory. If you saw the game or read anything in the paper or online, then you know Ole Miss played big. What I saw in person, our defense was amazing and our entire team played 60 minutes. When there was less than a minute in the 4th quarter, there was no doubt we would lose, the Ole Miss Rebels were playing like it was the first minute in the first quarter of a bowl game. Leading up to the game, I heard many fans grumble when the game time was announced saying things like "great, now the nation can watch Ole Miss be stomped in prime-time." The Ole Miss Rebels gladly took the stage in prime-time and proved to college football that we're a team to be watching. People around the country turned their tv's on Saturday night to watch Alabama, but they turned them off thinking about Ole Miss.

Saturday was a long day for Charlie and me. We got up early, drove to Alabama, enjoyed the day in Tuscaloosa, watched a great game, and then drove back to Tupelo. This was my 3rd time to attend the Ole Miss game in Tuscaloosa and Charlie's first. If you've never been to Tuscaloosa, it's a big place. The city around it is spread out and the campus itself is big with massive buildings.

Regardless of your opinion about the University of Alabama, this is a ridiculously large football stadium; Bryant-Denny stadium seats just over 100,000. On a side note, after marrying Charlie White I developed a soft spot for the University of Alabama, rather at least their football progam, because Charlie White's grandfather Charlie Fitts played college football there. Futher, Charlie Fitts's parents, grandparents and great-grandparents are buried in the cemetary on the other side of the stadium that is as close to the stadium as we are in this picture, if not closer. Click here for pictures.

During the day we just goofed around Tuscaloosa: walking around campus, finding the tastiest place ever to eat, 5 Bar (I dedicated an entire post to it, click here to read). While walking around Tuscaloosa, and we walked a TON, I was surprised to discover one thing: Alabama fans aren't as open-arms, hospitality driven as Ole Miss. I understand that I'm biased, being an Ole Miss fan, and no one was ever rude to us; but we were invisible. Granted not all Ole Miss fans fit this mold; but if myself or my family see an away team fan we strive to always: tell them to enjoy their time in Oxford, usually offer them food and a beverage, ask if they need help finding somewhere, and at the least tell them to travel home safely. I won't lie, there may be some friendly football banter thrown in, but the point is we notice them. We take it upon ourselves to be ambassadors, not only of our good names, but also of the University and the town. And I will say considering the sheer number of Alabama fans that were in Tuscaloosa, there were probably some open-arms, hospitality driven fans and we just didn't get the opportunity to meet them.
Moving on to the game . . .
One thing I have to say out the Alabama fan base in their stadium--it reminds me of the old chant "I've got spirit, yes I do; I've got spirit, how about you!" Alabama fans show up, are loud, and are truly engaged with the game. It's not just that they have spirit; they have unified spirit. Some Ole Miss fans may remember that several years back, I think '06ish, Ole Miss had a professional group come in and evaluate the Ole Miss game experience to help us reach other schools number of crowd retention and the like. Anyway, every student was just cussing mad when the report declared that Ole Miss fans didn't have "spirit." We have spirit. I think what they intended to say is that Ole Miss fans don't have "unified spirit throughout the entire game." The Are You Ready at the beginning is a great start, but in the past it's stopped there. This year we're definitely getting better. Who is leading this unity? The Pride of the South.
Here is their Grove warm-up from the first game this year:
Super kudos, snaps, praises and brags for the Ole Miss band, The Pride of the South. I don't know what changed in the past few years, but I like it. In person, they were the Ole Miss spirit--the only spirit most of the time (I will save that rant for another day, but I wish at away games our fans would act like it's a home game.) Anyway, earlier Charlie and I were re-watching Saturday's game and I heard a band constantly playing between snaps. Had I not sat next to the band at the game and watched them steadily play, I would have thought it was Alabama's band I was hearing on tv.  They sounded awesome on tv. THANK YOU--THANK YOU--THANK YOU--THANK YOU Ole Miss Band for traveling to the away games. More importantly, thank you for teaching Ole Miss fans to unify our spirit, we're not quick learners but you're getting us there!
Back to the game . . .
In case any of you didn't know, there was a time during the game that Ole Miss was beating Alabama. I'm so glad I told Charlie to take this picture quickly because the lead didn't last too long.
I don't know why, but Alabama is a common enemy of many SEC teams--maybe it's because of their winning record or some would say their ego (if Ole Miss won that much I think we'ld have bigger egos), regardless some days you route for them because they are an SEC Western Division team (the more they win the more money comes to our conference and division) and other days you route against just because you can. This kid was a few rows behind us, and I was impressed with his initiative to make his choice early.
Yes, he is decked out in purple and gold, jersey and all.
All in all it was a good day. Don't get me wrong I had hope that we would win, but seeing an end score like this with a team like that, I'll take it this year.
Hotty Toddy to all, and to all a good night!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Road Trip #2: Tuscaloosa Food Review

Sometimes you make reservations, sometimes you take good recommendations, and then other times you just stumble upon a great restaurant. The last is what happened to Charlie and me in Tuscaloosa. We were hungry and started walking towards an area approximately a mile or less east of The Strip (central bar and pre-game area near the stadium) that I remembered going to 2 years ago when I came to the Ole Miss-Alabama game '10. Anyway, like Tucan Sam we followed our noses, instincts and growling stomachs to 5 Bar.

First: if you are ever in Tuscaloosa and want a Snack Bar-esque place to eat, go to 5 Bar. Second: if you are ever driving through Tuscaloosa and want yummy, classy take on bar food classics, go to 5 Bar. Third: if you have nothing else to do, are hungry, and like unique coctails and fun flavors, go to 5 Bar. I know, I haven't even mentioned what we had, and I'm already pushing the place pretty hard.

Let me set the scene. Picture a shot-gun size room with 20' high ceilings covered in chandeliers--not 2 looked alike. A large dark hardwood bar with intricate carvings and a large mirror. On the side of the room a massive chalkboard with their limited but precise menu artfully displayed. Then, a collection of booths, pub tables, and bar stools scattered about the room filled with Southern, football loving patrons munching on appetizers and sipping on cocktails.

We sat at the bar because of the crowded tables and it's availability. For a drink I had the strawberry lemonade cocktail, it was fruitili-delicious. I watched the bartender "salt" the rims of several glasses with what I later found out was Tony ChaChere's seasoning. For an appetizer we had the baked avocado.

This picture does not do it justice. Warm, smooth avocado with shrimp topped with crispy breadcrumbs and bacon bits drizzled with a mildly spicy, slightly sweet sauce. (Ahhh, give me a moment)
After we devoured this tastey treat we ordered an entree, the cheeseburger! Charlie asked if I wanted to take a picture, I declined because I said 'it is just a cheeseburger and fries' (and I was starving and just wanted to dive into it). I was so wrong. It was so much more thatn just a cheeseburger and fries. First the french fries: super thin, hand sliced pieces of potato fried until perfectly crispy . . . we ate every single one, and there were a lot. The burger: two beef patties topped with American cheese, I've never had American taste so good, with "5 Spread" which came in 2 parts: a thin comeback sauce and a tomatoe onion chutney . . . we quickly ate every single bite. Neither dish had a scrap left to send to the trash.
The atmosphere was fun but casual, and the food was nothing fancy but perfect. Someone knows what they're doing at this restaurant. It wasn't until I looked up their website to link to the first paragraph that I found out that this is only 1 of 3 locations. There is another one in Athens, GA. I'm not making any promises but there is a good chance that we'll stop in there for a least a snack.

Link to 5 Bar website.

Game #4: vs Tulane aka Road Trip #1

WE WON!!!!! We have a better win record than last year!! I'm sure many of you think that yes with a 2-10 record last year, topping it this year shouldn't be too hard--but it wasn't a guarantee. And to the critics that say we should have won the game anyway, I have to add, in the past several years Ole Miss has not been known as the team that would always win the games we were "suppose to win." Going into this season we were all excited about a new coaching staff and A.D., but there was still the question of whether Coach Hugh Freeze would have enough time to work the existing team members into shape and then concern of how the new recruits would turn out.  It looks like there was definitely enough time to make something happen.

The game was at a bright and early 11:00 a.m. Everyone has their favorite game time, and this time usually isn't it, but it was the perfect time. We were able to sleep late, make it to the stadium, get settled with a bowl of jambalaya (sold just behind our seats and it was fantastic) for lunch, and then cheer the Rebels to victory.

I've never been in the Superdome before; it was a site to see. If you've never been, I recommend seeing something in there at least once. The entry area reminded me of a trendy mall I've been to in Denver--not because of stores--but because the time spent on the design of the details from floor to ceiling. Once in your seats, you feel so small in such a large place but after thousands of fans fill the seats around you, it's really cozy.

After the game began, Charlie walked over to the Tulane side to smap a picture of the Ole Miss crowd. Considering the distance from Oxford and that all the Greek students were tied up with Rush (couple thousand), I was really impressed with the turn out. In a way it nice to be surrounded by more fans and alumni than students. I would also like to point out that the full Ole Miss band, The Pride of the South, was in attendance and they did a great job!! I love it when the full band travels with the team; they make a big impact. It wasn't until after the game did I realize that the band would be playing at half-time during the New Orleans Saints game.

In the end we were victorious. I'm so glad that Charlie and I got to share the weekend with my cousin Blake and Sloane, his girlfriend. By the way, she gets super-cool girlfriend points for wearing blue (shhhh, don't tell anyone but she went to Mississippi State). I would claim her as a Rebel any day and I think she would accept, as long as it's not the Egg Bowl.