It was a stay at home weekend, but we weren’t without plans. Some friends were returning to town. Among the several things we planned to do was dinner and a show. We were able to score a table at The Funny Bone in West Des Moines for a Nate Bargatze stand-up show. It has been years since I’ve seen a stand-up show, even though I love it...and not-so-secretly want to be a comedian. We had beautiful weather at our home base. A walking tour of Gray’s Lake. A handful of beers on the patio at Confluence Brewing. Some of the best Des Moines has to offer. All of this was met with a much needed post-activity nap. After that we headed to the highest rated BBQ restaurant in the metro area. The weather turned and we had a brief rain storm, but we were sheltered in the safety of Smokey D’s BBQ. A multi-award winning pit master and he even has an appearance on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives under his belt. A potential Guy Fieri sighting wasn’t the only chance celebrity encounter to be had that Saturday night. Back at The Funny Bone Justin Smith kicked off the show and put together a hilarious feature set. After that was the real treat. For the last several years Nate Bargatze has been my favorite stand-up comedian. He caught my attention with a 30 minute set on the Netflix series “The Stand Ups”. After that, I found his live albums “Yelled At By A Clown” and “Full Time Magic”. Netflix wised up and he has since released two new hour-long specials “Tennessee Kid” and “Greatest Average American”. He absolutely crushed his hour at the Funny Bone and it was all new material he was trying out. I can’t wait to see how much of it makes his next special. What a way to spend a Saturday in Des Moines.
My favorite comedian preceded by my favorite side dish.
Smokey D’s Whole Pit Family Platter. Feeds 6 to 8. Or the 4 of us that came to eat. It was a sampling of every meat they smoke and every single one of them was good. Especially good sausage and burnt ends. But you’re here for the sides. It’s what makes or breaks a BBQ joint. This platter gave us the option of 3 pint sized sides. One of those had to be their beans. A large portion served up in a clear plastic container. This particular dish did appear to be from a can. It was a small, single-bean variety. But these small beans were cooked to near perfection. To help with the consistency of the dish, there was finely chopped onion and bell pepper added in. Those, too, were cooked down well. There was still some substance to the vegetables, but were easily consumed and their flavors contributed to the dish nicely. In addition to the vegetables the creatives in the kitchen had added meat to this side. As far as I can tell, it was bacon. A classic addition to baked beans. The mouthfeel suffered a point in it’s overall consistency. There was too much liquid in the dish and it bordered on too soupy for baked beans. The sauce that they did come in had a nice sweet flavor to it that also packed a touch of black pepper heat. I am not making the definitive statement that these were premade beans from a can, with some minor adjustment, but their consistency appeared to be more manufactured than a scratch made baked bean. Canned or not, these were better than average beans that coupled well with their incredible smoked meat.
Ratings (On a scale of 1-5)
Total Score: 10
For what it's worth,
Nate Bargatze’s stand-up: 5
It took two years, but I was able to embark on my first tour. My good friend Casey Joe Collins and I started planning a 10 day run out to Wyoming and Colorado in April of 2019. An unfortunate thing or two happened in 2020 which led to us having to postpone the tour until this year. We were very fortunate that most every venue was able to hold the dates for us and we were able to book fill-in dates for almost all of the ones that couldn’t. Despite our best efforts, we ended up with one free day in the middle of the tour. We found ourselves in Colorado at that time, and ended up grabbing a motel in Frisco to relax for a day. We stopped in Denver for supplies and then headed up into the mountains. Upon checking in at the Snowshoe Motel, I was greeted by a front desk clerk who was having an...allergic reaction. I know that he was, because he told me so. Unprompted. I asked if he needed help, but he confirmed that it “will pass”. Almost as if it wasn’t an allergic reaction, or his first one. To the best of my knowledge, it did pass. Fortunate for him. We got checked in and wandered all over this picturesque town. Bars, a brewery, and restaurants. Letting our supplies do the heavy lifting. There was one brewery, and due to various circumstances, we ended up there three times. The third time was for lunch the next day.
That’s where the blog comes in. The next day
This order was a small serving, dished up in a little black bowl. This was a single bean concoction and those beans were cooked to pretty near perfection. The mind(s) behind this side included pork fat and onions to improve the consistency of it. Having varied textures in the beans made it much more enjoyable to eat. In terms of mouthfeel, the consistency of the beans lost a point because this dish was a little more soup-like than I had hoped to see. There was plenty of sauce to this dish, and it had a unique flavor to it. There was a fair amount of smoky flavor in the sauce. One of, if not the most, prevalent smoked flavors I’ve encountered thus far. Unfortunately, there was no sweetness to it. No brown sugar. No honey. No syrup. This sauce was straight up tang. Vinegar based baked bean sauce was a first for me. I love it in a BBQ sauce, but I wasn’t crazy about it in beans. There was a generous spice note to this sauce that helped work in concert with the tangy flavor to keep it from being a one note dish. How about that? Ended on a musical metaphor.
Ratings (On a scale of 1-5)
Total Score: 8
For what it's worth,
Dixie Citrus Blast Gummies: 5