Friday, April 20, 2012

The Hot Dog Man

Street meat.  Mobile food trucks.  Hot dogs stands. 

These were all very foreign to a kid like me who grew up in the suburban setting of Lilburn, Ga.  It was only on television, where a NYC hot dog cart ever provided me with such an illusion of greatness. 

So, it was during my freshman year at UGA when I first discovered a real life “hot dog man”.  Walking out of Justin Eisle’s bar, Hollisters, I’d make my way down to the corner of College and Broad, and be greeted by a kind gentleman, of eastern European descent, that was always willing and able to serve me a fair priced dog, with a smile.

As the months went by, I found myself on that corner pretty regularly.  Thursday nights became my weekly residency at Hollisters, and I’d belt out tunes to throngs of underage products of the Greek system, mainly taking advantage of the $1 Coors Light special.  My friends, Tom Seward and Kyle Rhodes consistently referred to the place as “dolla-keers”, which I suppose is a fitting name, and an actual rhyme when spoken from their South Georgia accents.

Yet, when the bars closed, and the kids scattered from downtown, I’d always find myself spending more and more time with the “hot dog man”.  While waiting for my Sabrett - lined with kraut, mustard, and relish, Matt Barnett and I would sit on his coolers and talk shop while our dogs were expertly prepared.  We’d tip him generously on nights when crisp $100 bills lined our pockets after a gig - getting paid to drink beer, sing, and hang out with your friends?  Yeah, we were pretty lucky.  

Anyways, no matter what happened, the “hot dog man” was always there for us.  Over the years, we’ve shared many of experiences.  He’s seen me puke my guts out on Broad Street, after imbibing on too many Red Snapper shots after the ZETA Halloween social.  I introduced him to countless girls I was trying to impress at the end of each evening.   He also witnessed, along with Booger, my infamous race throughout Athens at 2:00 a.m. with Captain Spangler, my Military Science teacher at the time.  Hell, Booger still owes me a white Levi’s western shirt from the day he borrowed mine, only to spill mustard down the front while ranting  and raving about the latest JB/Houser tape he’d bootlegged from the 96’ Sit and Ski tour

As the years passed I befriended the “hot dog man”.  Particularly Barnett and I, who’d stop by his stand at the end of a long evening of throwing back Sweetwater 420’s to tell this man that we loved him.  And to be quite honest - I do.  

His name is Rumen.

It’s been many years since those days at “dolla-keers”, so many that I hate to even do the math.  During that time, I’ve seen Rumen put forth work on a computer science degree and I’ve met his lovely wife, and his family.  

Yet, I suppose what I love most about Rumen is his attitude.  18 - 22 year olds can be belligerent assholes after a night of drinking, and to say that Rumen is always treated with respect from his patrons would be a severe understatement.  Yet, his attitude, smile, and genuine personality always prevail.  He’s that kind of guy.

So, once again, it was my pleasure to spend several late-night hours chatting with Rumen last weekend in Athens.   Come to think of it, students graduate, restaurants and bars change, but Rumen still remains.  So long as he’s there, I’ll keep making the effort to relive my college glory days.

Thank you, Rumen.

And, I do love you!


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Time to Clean Up!

I've been hinting at this for a while now, but I'm happy to finally announce that MOONSHINE soap is finally here!  Coming off the heels of the popular MOONSHINE cologne, MOONSHINE soap is an all natural, 4.0 oz bar of soap that's studded with sea salt as a natural exfoliant.  The woodsy aroma awakens your senses, while the notes of black pepper, patchouli, leather, gin, and tobacco burn clean upon walking out of the shower.  It's a great way to start your morning, or smell great for a night out on the town.

Most importantly, all bars are handmade right here in the USA by talented soap maker, Heidi Goldberg of bodygoodies.  We couldn't be more proud of the final result - the quality (and kick-ass packaging) speaks for itself.  Pick up your bars (and cologne) at



Monday, April 9, 2012

a retrouvé sa santé

I've been shaking off my winter haze over the past few weeks.  I suppose it's the time change, warmer weather, and the prospect of sitting pool side here in the next few months which have re-inspired me to get focused on eating, and living healthy again.  In other words, shedding off those extra 5 - 10 winter pounds is now a priority.

But damn - those comfort foods and winter ales of a few month's past sure were a good time.

With that said, I always like a change in season.  I eat better.  My workouts are stronger.  I feel better.  I look better.  Quite frankly, I believe it's okay to live in seasons.  I enjoyed heartier foods and took a break from the 15 mi runs over the winter to enjoy myself.  Nothing out of hand, but also not as strict as usual.

Now, my time has come to enjoy lighter foods, and take advantage of the better weather by extending long runs, and entering the summer marathon season in the best shape possible.  I enjoy life's ebbs and flows.

Over the weekend, I took advantage of an early morning half marathon out at Percy Warner park here in Nashville.  It's a 13.1 mi run that features undulating hills, breathtaking scenery, and wildlife just around every corner - it's quite peaceful and beautiful.

Inspired to eat a light, healthy meal, I put together this post-run dish to fuel back up on lean protein, and healthy vegetables.  It was fantastic.

So that begs the question . . . what are you doing to look and feel your best?



Sauteed Shrimp

1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 lb Large Shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 Lemon
1/2 Teaspoon Creole Seasoning

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium high heat, add oil.  Next, add garlic and saute for 30 seconds, careful not to burn.  Add shrimp, cook for 1 - 2 minutes.  Finally, add lemon juice and seasoning - cook until shrimp are bright pink and firm.  Serve.

Squash + Haricots Verts

1 Handful Haricots Verts
Kosher Salt
1 Yellow Summer Squash, sliced
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Fresh Cracked Pepper

Bring a shallow pot of water to a slow boil, add salt.  Add haricots verts and blanch for 30 seconds.  Remove to an ice bath until chilled and crisp.  In a separate skillet over medium high heat, add squash and drizzle with olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper, and cook until just tender.  Add haricots verts with the squash to heat through - taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.  Serve.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Beef Kebabs

Kebabs - ready for the grill!
I've always been a fan of summertime grilling, especially when skewering up chunks of meat and vegetables and placing them over an open flame.  For me, there's nothing better than a summer evening spent feasting on roasted meat and charred vegetables.

I had that craving yesterday - coming off 80 degree weather and blue skies.  I went to the store and picked up some top sirloin filets, onion, sweet peppers, and all of the other necessary ingredients to pull off a tried and true family recipe.

My grandmother passed this recipe along to my mom, and though it's seen some variations through the years, every time I make up this marinade it makes me think of being in her old house.  It's funny how smells and tastes can transport us back to another place far back in our memory.  Fortunately, they are always good memories for me.

In Lebanese tradition, I like using plenty of fresh garlic, allspice, lemon juice, mint, and even a dash of cinnamon to my steak kebab.  The flavors are bold, timeless, and delicious.

As summer approaches, give this a try the next time you are considering cooking hamburgers or hotdogs.   Trust me - your guests (and you) will be happy.

Lebanese Style Beef Kebabs
(Prep 15 minutes, Marinate 3 - 4 hours, Cook 15 minutes, Serves 4)

1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar

2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
1 Lemon, juiced
10 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons Fresh Mint, chopped

2 lbs Top Sirloin Filets, cut into chunks
1 Large Red Onion, cut into chunkcs
Assorted Sweet Peppers, seeded and cut into chunks
2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
1 Tablespoon Fresh Cracked Pepper
3 Pinches Red Pepper Flakes

1 Teaspoon Allspice
1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon

Add all ingredients to a zip-lock bag and marinate for 3 - 4 hours in the fridge, or overnight.  Preheat grill over medium high heat.  Skewer ingredients evenly on metal or bamboo skewers (soak prior to using).  Place skewers over direct heat, grilling for 2 - 3 minutes on each side for medium.  Remove and rest for 5 minutes prior to serving.  Serve.