Day 281 – National Barbecue Month

I told you yesterday that today was National Clean Your Room Day and it was. I had all intentions of doing that today. I was either going to dig out an old “I’ll Clean My Room” coupon that I made for my Mom for a Mother’s Day long ago or if I couldn’t deliver there, I would clean out a room that Lola has been asking me to clean out for a while. I had plans. I had vision. I even took the before pictures so I could compare the room as it looks now to when it gets cleaned. It’s a room that we have recently started calling the Room of Requirement because it kind of ends up being the spot where we put everything we don’t know where else to put. It’s new name comes from its ability to produce something that we are looking for that we can’t seem to find. “Check the Room of Requirement.” (That’s a Harry Potter reference for any of you Muggles out there.) It needs to be cleaned out and while I’ve been dragging my feet on that particular project, I kind of felt that National Clean Your Room Day was the perfect occasion to get started. Then life started moving fast.

Nothing crazy happened; nobody got hurt or sick or anything like that. Just things started to heat up in the career arena and it required my attention. I don’t want to get into the exact details just yet, but in the mixed up ways the earth continues to turn, I found myself on the clock needing to make a few decisions by the end of the day after having spent the last few months of searching and coming up empty. Feast or famine, as it were. No matter, I needed to be on alert so I stayed near my computer and phone for most of the day. I had messages out to some key life advisors throughout the day and was also weighing their feedback. It’s nice to have people to turn to to help guide you. Makes you feel supported. Emails, calls, texts – they all came in and I had to weigh each one in regards to a fairly important decision that needed to be made by the end of day. Plus I had Lola there too to give me her input and of course her love and comfort. It was a day that was generally pretty hectic on the important scale and also a particularly impractical day to clean out a room. I didn’t have the time to allot to room cleaning nor did I have the mental capacity to decide if we really need to hang on to the box of used pens. So I skipped the room cleaning today.

While there was a bunch of holidays being celebrated today, there wasn’t much else I could participate in because they were either not celebrate-able or I didn’t have the time. It was National Shrimp Day but as I’ve said before, I don’t really like shrimp and I didn’t feel like forcing down some prawns just to notch another day of celebration. Today deserved some celebration of note, so I looked at my other options. I realized that May is also National Barbecue Month and that was something I could work with. I’m sure May beholds this honor because the barbecue season kicks off on the last weekend of May with Memorial Day. However I consider that kind of gathering to be a “cook out.” Barbecue to me is more about ribs, chicken, sauce and that kind of food. A “cook out” is more burgers and dogs. Barbecue is about smoked meats, open pits and slathers. That I could get behind. And so could Lola.

We have yet to find a “go to” barbecue place in the area. There’s a spot in Middletown that’s been there for about 20 years which is ok, but not our favorite. There are a few places in the heart of Newport which are actually pretty good but not very convenient, especially for take out. There used to be a spot in Bristol that we tried once that was pretty good too, but they are long gone now. When we lived in New Hampshire, there was a spot in Portsmouth (NH) that we used to love and crave called MoJo’s. When they first opened up they were housed in a little shack that was decorated to look like a rib joint you’d find in the Mississippi Delta, complete with Blues music being cranked throughout the space. It was small, but great food. Moe, who was kind of famous in town for being a bouncer and that face you’d see every time you went out, was one of the owners and he had his own barbecue sauce. Great ribs, but what Lola liked best was their Buffalo Wings. In fact, the wings there are still one of Lola’s all-time favorites (and she knows a thing or two about wings). In any case, getting take out from Mojo’s was always a treat. They eventually moved into a bigger place and became more of a bar. Still great food but just different than the rib joint flavor of their previous home. That was the barbecue fix we were craving but that was almost 200 miles away. After some searches online, I ended up finding a spot in Fall River called Ed’s Famous BBQ which was only about fifteen minutes away. Their online menu was pretty simple but looked good so I figured they were worth the shot. I placed the order for a rack of ribs with two sides and then jumped in the car to go pick it up.

I’m not sure if it was Ed that answered the phone, but whoever it was was super nice. Not over the top, just friendly. A kind voice. That made me feel good about the place. It sounded like I was ordering from an old friend. No attitude or hard sell, just good friendly service. It was right off the highway too which made it super convenient as well. Then I finally got my first glimpse at the building.

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Ok, so it wasn’t a very extravagant facility. That’s ok. Sometimes on the search to find hidden gems, you can’t get distracted by what the building looks like. The sign was what caused me the most confusion. Was it Real BBQ that featured smoke or was it Real Smoke being used on the BBQ (as opposed to fake smoke)? Where was Ed and why wasn’t his name on the building? In truth, had I been just driving down the road, I don’t think I would have stopped. I would have passed on by without a second thought, but I had already placed my order and Ed seemed nice enough, so I was in. I walked in and there were a few tables in the place that were empty. The place was clean and well lit. Then I got hit with that smell of smoked meats and barbecue sauce. Drool started to form in the corner of my mouth. That’s when Ed popped out from the kitchen to say hello. After I told him I was there to pick up our order, he headed back into the kitchen and started to put our order together. The ribs came out in a big square clamshell box. He scooped out the sides, potato salad and coleslaw, and then handed over the side of French Fries which also had the corn bread packed inside. Ed asked if I wanted any sauces and I opted for the regular BBQ plus some Blazing Hot sauce too. I was in and out within minutes and on my way home. I kept the order in the back seat so I couldn’t get tempted to dive right in. When I got home, Lola was on her walk so I put everything on a tray in the oven to keep it warm. When Lola was back, I put everything on plates and set us up for a rib feast (including an empty bowl for bones and a whole roll of paper towels at the ready).

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Ed seems to know his stuff. The ribs had to have been seasoned and smoked for a good long time because the outside was encrusted in a delightful mix of flavors while the inside was moist and tender (fall off the bone tender). You can see how the flavor seeped into each rib by checking out the smoke ring on the rib meat. Lola took a bite and then paused and said “these are really good.” That was a good sign. The barbecue sauce brought that extra sweet flavor into each bite and our only regret was we didn’t have more. The Blazing Hot sauce was good but not exactly what we wanted with the ribs. It had a strong vinegar taste, although spicy – almost like a homemade tabasco sauce. Good but not the taste we wanted here. The cornbread, which is always one of the criteria in which you judge a good rib place, was great too. It was buttery and had good corn taste. I was disappointed that they did not offer mac and cheese as a side but I can’t hold that against them – just a preference. However, I will say the coleslaw was top notch with a little tang of vinegar which was soothed by a bit of sugar sweetness. It compared to my Mom’s coleslaw, so I really liked it. The potato salad was good too. There was an ever-so hint of mustard to it, but it was still tasty and fresh with big chunks of well cooked potatoes. I’m calling it a success. We were particularly hungry tonight when we sat down to eat, so I’m not sure if that affected our judgement. Would it have been that good if we weren’t famished? They only way to discover that would be to try them again which we will do in the not too distant future.

The Room of Requirement still remains full of stored boxes and other flotsam and jetsam that we have acquired over the years. I’ll get to it someday and see if I can finally uncover Rowena Ravenclaw’s Diadem (which was last seen next to Lola’s dead crab collection). Today just wasn’t the day for it. Things were happening. Life was moving. Advice was being sought. Ribs were smoking. Sometimes that just how days go, but one of the things I’ve learned throughout this quest is that there’s always something to celebrate. It may not be what you planned, but there’s always something. I guess that can be said about life too. Today I learned to appreciate my support system, which even though I don’t always notice it, it’s always there for me. It’s part of the network of people I can turn to when I need a little help. That’s a good thing to celebrate every day. So yeah, today was a good day and it was topped off with a finger-licking dinner. I’ll toast to that any day.

Next Up: National Eat What You Want Day

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