Guy Clark’s great song “Stuff that Works” really hits home with me. I love the philosophy that, well, when you find something that works, stick with it, especially if it sticks with you. My wife, Gail, and I found what works for us on New Year’s Eve many years ago and we’re extraordinarily loyal to it. Or them, as the case may be. In a word, ribs. Not just any ribs, but ribs from the legendary Memphis establishment officially known as Charlie Vergos Rendezvous.
Located in an alley off Union Avenue near The Peabody Hotel in Downtown Memphis, The Rendezvous has been a favorite restaurant of mine since I discovered it while attending college in North Mississippi. Like many Ole Miss students, I “majored in Memphis” doing my most studious research in many of the Bluff City’s iconic establishments, including Grisanti’s, Silky’s (on Madison, back then) and The Rendezvous.
The Rendezvous opened in 1948 and is a famous stop for celebrities, politician, locals, tourists and college students like I was when I was first introduced to “the taste of Memphis.” It was mentioned in John Hiatt’s wonderfully gritty song Memphis In the Meantime (“At least we can get ourselves a decent meal down at The Rendezvous”). I couldn’t resist a reference to it myself in a song I wrote called Mackinac Blues (“I tried the Mackinac-style barbecue; Honey, get me down to that Rendezvous”). (Hear my song at the link below).
Gail went to Southwestern at Memphis, now Rhodes College, and has also been a big Rendezvous fan for years. Not long after we got married, we learned that The Rendezvous will ship ribs packed in dry ice, along with the dry rub, sauce, slaw and popcorn anywhere.
About fifteen years ago, we decided to stay home and celebrate New Year’s Eve and give cooking the Rendezvous ribs ourselves a try. It’s as easy as it can be and the flavor is just as good as it is when you walk down the dark staircase leading in to the actual restaurant from that Memphis alley.
So, once again, we’ll avoid the dressed up drunks and amateur drinkers always about in public places on New Year’s Eve and ring in our own “Happy ‘Cue Year” at home in Nashville. You can order the ribs anytime of the year and they are shipped by the Memphis-based FedEX, but we choose only to do that for New Year’s Eve to preserve the special occasion status of our tradition. If you want to experience this culinary wonder for yourself, you can call The Rendezvous at 1-888-hogsfly or go to www.hogsfly.com .
Happy New Year!
Listen to Mackinac Blues here: Les Kerr – Mackinac Blues
Visit Les Kerr’s web site at www.leskerr.com
Photos and text copyright 2010, 2011 by Les Kerr