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Saturday, January 1, 2011 @ 08:01 AM


Well it’s officially 2011 and I want to wish you all a very Happy New Years!  I hope everyone had a fabulous time celebrating with friends and family and that everyone stayed safe on one of the craziest nights of the year.  2010 was a very momentous and crazy year for Adam and I, and it brought lots of great memories.  PCC is coming up on a year old and really has become something we cherish as a journal of all our wonderful travels.  It’s amazing the wonderful adventures we’ve had and all the new cuisine we’ve tried in the name of Winking smile research.  Hopefully, the coming year will be another year of good changes and we are looking forward to whatever those might be, as well as finding new ways to branch out with Pop Culture Cuisine.

New Years is one of those holidays that typically has a lot of hype and lots of parties & events all in the name of celebration; and everyone who knows me knows I’m a person who loves a good excuse to celebrate.  And what better way to celebrate with others than with a festive drink?…of which we’ve encountered quite a few of along our travels, some famous, others just a part of the experience.  Still, I wanted to share a glimpse of some of the gems we have discovered and the places we found them at throughout this past year.  So with festive cheer and no further adieu, I give you the Year in Drinks for PCC…Cheers!


Pat O’Brien’s – Orlando, FL and New Orleans, LA

Drink: The Hurricane


Created during WWII with a bunch of fruit juice and rum, this drink has been their most popular drink and a favorite place for many to hit up at any of their locations.  We have visited 2 locations and every time we are near one we have to stop in for at least 1 hurricane…and usually many more! Smile  These babies are potent, but delicious, and can be enjoyed on their beautiful patios during the day or hopping piano bars at night!





Mariano’s – Dallas, TX

Drink: “The Frozen Margarita”


You may remember Mariano’s from our review earlier this year, but being the originator of the frozen margarita, it’s hard to not include them again in this drinks feature.  Sweet and tangy like any good margarita should be, this one definitely was tasty and stood out in our minds as one of the better ones we have ever had.  We are now glad to say we’ve tried the first ever created (more than once) and can from now on compare it to our hometown Hacienda margaritas.



The Pump Room – Chicago, IL

Drink: Cosmopolitan, Chocolate Martini, and White Russian

We lucked out on on my birthday trip a couple weeks ago that our hotel was attached to the famous Pump Room.  Popularized by many celebrities of yester-year like Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack friends, this spot still has the old time feel of a great crooner bar.  We were glad we could enjoy a couple of cocktails their throughout the weekend.  Great atmosphere and really well made drinks.



Tujague’s – New Orleans, LA

Drink: Shock Top, Abita Brand Beers

One of the oldest bars in the whole USA, this New Orleans’ landmark in the French Quarter is a must stop if you are into history, old bars, or just want to take a break and cool off.  On both of our trips to N’awlins we have enjoyed grabbing a beer and hearing some of the fun stories the bartender (who has been there all most as long as the bar and has become a New Orleans standard) has to tell.  Although I am sure you can get any New Orleans staple drink you want, we opted for a nice cold beer on a nice hot day, and it was a welcome withdraw.




Cheers – Boston, MA

Drink: Blue Moon


I am pretty sure everyone out there is familiar with good ol’ Cheers….yes, that sitcom bar from the 80’s with Sam Malone and NORM!  And if you didn’t know that the show was based off a bar in Boston, you must have been living under a rock or you are REALLY young. Smile  Nonetheless, I was lucky enough this past May to be able to pay a visit to the original location in Beacon Hill with my best friend Emily.  I probably could have been adventurous and tried a real Bostonian beer, but already knowing I don’t like Sam Adams, I stuck to something I know and love…Blue Moon!  It was fun to be in the atmosphere, although now pretty touristy, but still fun to look around and see all the old memorabilia.  However, be forewarned, this place is nothing like the “Hollywood” set bar that we all know from the TV show….it’s MUCH smaller.  So you may be in for a shock.





Epcot Food and Wine Festival – Orlando, FL

Drink: Leffe


This next spot I will go into way more depth in a future post, but since drink was one of the components of the whole event, I wanted to touch on in briefly.  Each year, Epcot and Vanity Fair put on an International Food and Wine festival throughout the park where culinary dishes and drinks from around the world are matched and can be purchased.  Although we opted not to drink at most of the stops, when we saw an old favorite being featured in Belgium, we knew a small taste was in order.  It was deliciously refreshing on that hot day.


Jasper’s – Plano, TX

Drink: Jasper’s Triple Chocolate Martini


Jasper’s is another restaurant we have already given our glowing review too, but this martini was so OUTSANDING I still compare every chocolate martini to it and often dream about it. Ok…not literally about the dreaming part, but ladies (and gentlemen too I suppose Winking smile) this drink is purely sinful!  Not only is it chocolately, it is also creamy and extremely rich.  They are sweet and probably a million calories, but who cares…this is what a sweet martini should taste like!


The Walnut Room – Chicago, IL

Drink: Poinsettia


We had the pleasure of dining at the the famous Walnut Room inside Macy’s during my birthday weekend.  The food and experience are another whole post in and of themselves, but again with drinks being the theme, I must share my beautiful festive poinsettia that I REALLY enjoyed.  The perfect blend of champagne and cranberry juice, it is a drink I am certainly going to be making in years to come, and it was a perfect cap to a perfect birthday weekend.

Anheuser Busch Brewery – St. Louis, MO

Drink: Shock Top, Michelob Brands



Growing up in St. Louis I was unfortunately never of an age where I could enjoy touring a landmark that was so close to home.  I was glad Adam and I were able to visit the brewery on a trip a few years back and really see the whole process at work.  He and I are Bud people in preference, but it was this trip where I first got to try a Shock Top for the first time and it has quickly become one of my favorite beers.  In fact, since that time, I’ve been seeing it in bars more and more.  We had a great time learning about the history, the beer making process, and most of all enjoying some brews.


The Silver Palm – Chicago, IL

Drink: Silver Palm Cabernet Sauvignon



Although the wine brand and restaurant name are just a happy accident, the wine was every bit as enjoyable as the meal itself.  We gave our rave reviews of the restaurant this year and one of the great features was the great atmosphere, especially where we enjoyed a few drinks after our meal.  I highly recommend this bar (and the tiny Matchbox next door) for a sort of a little unknown jewel for a night out in Chicago.


Hula Hut – Austin, TX

Drink: Pink Lemonade


Unfortunately I can’t remember or find the name of this drink I ordered at the Hula Hut, but suffice it to say, it was their version of a pink lemonade with a kick.  It was very sweet and refreshing from what I remember, but also tasted too much like juice so it went down way to easy. Smile


Louie’s – Dallas, TX

Drink: Lindeman’s Framboise


This was a spot in Dallas that we were so happy to stumble upon when we lived there.  Louie’s not only had great food, but their ambiance truly made us feel at home as former Chicagoans.  Because it was Valentine’s Day that weekend, I was looking for a little something special to drink so I was very happy to discover they have one of my all time favorite items on their menu…Lindemans’ Framboise.  Although they are super sweet, I love the berry flavor and how they a just a fun change up from a typical beer.


Well, I hope you have enjoyed our brief recap of some of the wonderful beverages we enjoyed in 2010.  I’m sure there were others along the way, but these were certainly the most tasty, most famous, or most memorable.  I am going to forgo a traditional review of each, but know this…each of these drinks stood out to me or Adam either because of the drink themselves, the experience that went along with them, or both.  We truly love every minute of our culinary adventures and the life journal that Pop Culture Cuisine has become for us.  I hope you all continue to follow our crazy foodie adventures each week…and hey…maybe tell a friend or two. Winking smile  So “For Auld Lang Syne”…HAPPY NEW YEAR! 

Thursday, April 22, 2010 @ 08:04 AM


It’s no secret that I love ribs.  In fact, I’ve made it one of my life goals to try as many of the “best” ribs this world has to offer; and living in the DFW area, there is no shortage of BBQ joints to try, and even some non-BBQ places as it turns out.  Jasper’s in Plano, TX (North suberb of Dallas) is one of those places. 

My dad is also a bit of a foodie and is always on the lookout for great new spots to try, often based on reviews he’s read in various publications.  So when my parents moved to Plano a few years back, he instantly heard about Jasper’s, which literally happens to be just down the street from their home; and when Bon Appetit magazine released it’s “Top American Restaurants” list in 2008, and Jasper’s was #2 on their list of ‘Best BBQ Ribs (Pork),’ we all knew it was an instant must visit. 

It just happened that Adam’s birthday fell right in the midst of our own move to Plano two years ago, and Jasper’s instantly came to mind as a fitting birthday dinner.  Well, let’s just say that first visit surpassed expectations and we have since been back a few more times, our most recent coming a couple of weeks ago, and happens to be the only visit since the beginning of PCC.  Therefore, I’ve chosen to primarily feature that visit in my review of Jasper’s this week. 

Located at the ‘Shops at Legacy’ complex in Plano, Jasper’s is the creation of well known Dallas based chef Kent Rathbun, whose first restaurant, Abacus, is also a popular dining attraction in DFW.  Jasper’s (along with Rathbun’s other restaurants) is well known for it’s gourmet approach to “backyard” cuisine…basically your go to BBQ & backyard grill-out favorites kicked up a notch for presentation, flavor, and creativity.  It is because of that unique factor that Esquire Magazine named Jasper’s one of its “20 Best New Restaurants in America” in 2003 (along with, as previously mentioned, Bon Appetit’s distinction in 2008).  In addition to his food being featured in a variety of publications, Rathbun and his brother (a chef in Atlanta) have also been featured on a variety of television programs, including competing against Bobby Flay on Food Network’s “Iron Chef America;” and HE WON….


Needless to say, I was pretty hyped up to try Jasper’s out the first time; and now after being there a time or two, and with it’s upscale location (Shops at Legacy), I always get excited when I get to dress up and go out for a “nice” meal.  This night was no exception, although I may have gone a bit overboard….whatcha think? 😉

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What brings such energy to Rathbun’s restaurants comes from his idea of how a meal should be enjoyed and his experienced background working for various high-end restaurants in and around Dallas; and having been there before, we both already had a sense of what to expect.  Being an extremely popular place, the only reservation I could get was at 9 p.m.! :(  Yes people…be prepared to wait or call ahead if you want to eat there during prime times, and you could be like us, make a reservation and STILL have to wait a bit for a table!  Oh well…gave us time to enjoy a little drinky-drink and do some people watching (which is ALWAYS a good time in Plano! :)). 

So by 9:30, we were one drink in (just look at my little Rico Suave :)), and getting a little impatient.  We were a little surprised that it was taking so long because in our past experiences, we had never had a problem getting seated on time, but they seemed especially chaotic that night.  Needless to say, although it was late, by the time we finally sat down to eat, I was really hungry; and after perusing the menu, I knew I wanted to start with Priscilla’s Sink Salad.  Also, luckily for Adam, they were featuring his favorite soup, Beer Cheese; and being a “special night,” we opted to order the Maytag Blue Cheese Potato Chips to share.

002 004 010 The salad was delicious!  It reminded me of a greek salad with a little more pizazz.  All the flavors came together so well, and I eagerly cleaned my plate.  Adam loved his soup, yet again, and was so happy that each time we have visited it just happens to be the feature soup.  Uniquely topped with popcorn, it is a rich, creamy, delicious cheesy goodness lovers dream!  And those blue cheese chips…I’m not typically a fan of bleu cheese, but these are down right yummy!  I sought out the ones not smothered in cheese, but they are salty, thin, crispy, chips with a hint of that bleu (feet) cheese flavor that is to die for…they didn’t stand a chance against us! 

We already knew that the ribs were legendary, but having ordered them on other occasions, I felt compelled to try something new (bad idea Katie!)…Texas Peach Barbecued Pork Tenderloin with Bourbon Creamed Sweet Corn.  Adam was not in the mood for changing up a good thing, so he went with the award winning Barbecued Baby Back Ribs and “Baked Potato” Salad.

016014 I have to admit that when they sat Adam’s ribs in front of him, I knew I was going to be disappointed. :(  There is just something about how they are presented and that potato salad…just plain awesome.  I just knew that nothing was going to come close to beating that for me.  Still, not one to judge before I take a bite, I happily dug into my meal; but being after 10 at this point and having devoured my salad and those chips, I have to say I was no longer all that hungry.  I did take a few bits of the pork, but as I feared…I was disappointed.  I was expecting more of a peach flavor, and frankly I had a really hard time finding any.  Also, the pork was a bit spicy for my tastes and I think actually distracted from the overall flavor.  Finally, the creamed corn was like no creamed corn I had ever had.  I’m not sure there was any cream in it at all (although once I told my mind what it really was, I actually really enjoyed it.  It is a whole melding of sweet and spicy and salty tastes that came together quite well).  I may have snuck a few bites of Adam’s Potato Salad too :), which he was actually disappointed with this time around. :(  Having had them before, I am not going to take away from the good review I have had of them, but I would agree with him that this time they were a bit overcooked. 

Now I mentioned that they seemed a bit overwhelmed that evening, and although I don’t know if that had anything to do with it, I won’t completely fault them for how the food was this time around.  Because as I’ve eluded to, the ribs have been fantastic every other time.  I’m talking about “fall off the bone” good, but still with that slight pull you want so they are not complete mush.  They are excellently seasoned and the sauce complements them perfectly.  I have tried a lot of ribs and so far I must admit, in my lifetime…Jasper’s have been my favorite!  So although we were disappointed with our meal that evening, I know we would go back again in an instant. 

Regardless, the main courses didn’t totally ruin our evening.  I still enjoyed my company tremendously (Wink, Wink), and the night ended on a very happy note…with the BEST chocolate martini I have ever had!  It is a work of art and dessert in a glass…

020022 I want to be fair for my review of Jasper’s, because it is truly a great restaurant that I’ve enjoyed on multiple occasions; and having worked in the restaurant industry, I know there are sometimes “off” nights.  Therefore, I chalk our last visit up to one of those. 

So for those of you wanting to visit Jasper’s and are looking for their signature dish, I would say it is definitely the ribs.  Even talking to people around town, these ribs are well known and well worth it.   Outside of the lone pork dish (which ultimately made an out-of-this-world Cuban sandwich the next day :)), their food is outstanding.  Between the ribs, sides, and starters, I am totally won over by their food. 

The ambiance….well, it’s superb.  Being an upscale restaurant, they’ve definitely put some effort into the decor, and it shows.  Most of the restaurant has a dark sultry feeling that is flanked by wonderful dim mood lighting for the seating areas.  There is a wonderful mix of at home comfort and high-end appeal; and for you ladies like me who like to get all dolled up and make the scene, this is the place to do it.  Their service is typically above and beyond and they make sure you are always taken care of.  That evening our server was sub par (a little TOO formal as well) and I would again chalk that up to them being swamped and possibly understaffed.  Still, typically be prepared to be totally taken care of. 

Finally…their prices (EEEKK!).  This is honestly where I think most people are thrown by Jaspers.  To say that It is a bit pricey is an understatement!  Their entrees, (although fitting for its location, the type of crowd it draws, and its ambiance) typically run between $20-30.  Definitely a little salty, huh?  That being said, I think for a special occasion where you still want a decent amount of food for your dollar, this is a great spot.  Also, there are special nights during the week where they offer some of their signature items at a reduced price…definitely something to look out for. 

So looking at Jasper’s as a whole for all our visits…I love this place!…and give them 4 1/2 Little Piggies.

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