Photo Gallery: 2014 Q-City Charlotte BBQ Championship, 10/18/14

A few photos from last weekend’s Q-City Charlotte BBQ Championship, now a NC BBQ Association sanctioned event. Whether it was due to the change in sanctioning bodies or different organizers, I enjoyed the changes to this year’s version of the festival a lot. The barbecue competitors were more front and center, lined up on S. Tryon Street instead of being an afterthought to a street festival. There were also several more professional barbecue vendor options to choose from to eat. All in all, not a bad way to spend a few hours on a beautiful autumn Saturday morning.

-Monk

Linkdown: 10/22/14

- The Charlotte Observer’s Retro Charlotte blog has several old ads for the Mallard Creek Barbecue

- Speaking of the Mallard Creek Barbecue, in its 85th annual edition just as many people come for the brunswick stew as do for the pork writes Charlotte Observer writer Kathleen Purvis

- One last link for it, where they are going above and beyond to prevent health risks

- Mind wanders to Southern rock, baseball, weather – and barbecue

- Some photos and a short recap of this past weekend’s Q-City Charlotte BBQ Championship

- Village Voice: Arrogant Swine Brings the Nuances of Carolina ‘Cue to New York

The region’s other favorite barbecue preparation, Lexington style, marries pork shoulder with a thin but pungent ketchup-based vinegar sauce. On a recent visit, Ho’s thickly chopped pig was aggressively smoky but just slightly undersalted — it still sings when dipped into that sauce.

- Congrats to Johnny!

Fuller’s Old Fashion BBQ – Lumberton, NC

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Name
: Fuller’s Old Fashion BBQ
Date: 10/10/14
Address: 3201 Roberts Avenue, Lumberton, NC 28360
Order: Buffet: chopped pork, fried chicken, hush puppies, chow chow, okra, banana pudding, and sweet tea (link to menu)
Price: $10.20

It may surprise you to learn that in four years of heading either to or from the beach for a guys weekend at Ocean Isle Beach, NC, I have not made it to any barbecue joints. Well, this year with my handy NC BBQ Map in hand, I was able to identify several candidates on the way, settling on Fuller’s Barbecue in Lumberton, about 2.5 hours into my trip from Charlotte.

Fuller’s is just a half mile of I-95 in a huge, log cabin-esque structure. And I do mean huge – its main room and buffet line was flanked on either side by even more sizable dining rooms. I actually didn’t realize until I pulled in that it was a buffet but since I was arriving right as they opened at 11 I wasn’t too concerned. It was more of a southern buffet instead of strictly barbecue – they had fried chicken, seafood, and even a salad bar in addition to a number of quintessentially southern sides. In addition to a heaping pile of eastern style chopped pork, I added a fried drumstick, hush puppies, okra, and chow chow (which was available instead of traditional cole slaw). And of course banana pudding to top it all off.

The map noted that Fuller’s was a wood smoked joint, and that was the reason why I ultimately chose it. And the smoke came certainly came through the tender, moist meat. Perhaps it was because I caught it right as they opened but if they are able to maintain this quality of pork throughout the day, they are onto something.

While not barbecue, I had a hankering for fried chicken and the drumstick was fried nicely and not too greasy. The hush puppies were tiny orbs with just the right amount of sweetness. The chow chow and okra were solid and tasted freshly made, though I still would have preferred slaw of some sort. And to top it off, the banana pudding was perfect.

There was a 15-deep line at the door when I arrived, and based on my experience at Fuller’s Old Fashion BBQ it was well earned. I’d be very interested to try it again next time I travel NC-74 heading towards the beach to get a sense of the consistency of the joint, but on this visit I was pleasantly surprised just how good it was.

-Monk

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 4 hogs
Pork – 4 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 4 Hogs
Fuller's Old Fashion Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon
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Friday Find: Serious Eats Guide to SC Barbecue

You may recall I wasn’t a huge fan of the NC barbecue video in this series of videos produced by Serious Eats for Arby’s. And this one’s every bit a mess as the other. In addition to the whole “being a blatant ad for Arby’s”, there’s that Creepy Serious Eats founder again. And while they bring in Tyson Ho (he of the newly-opened Arrogant Swine whole hog joint that I’ve been linking to for months) to talk about whole hog barbecue, hey may as well have been talking about eastern NC whole hog barbecue instead of SC. And I actually do suspect he was discussing NC barbecue when he was interviewed seeing as how he is an Ed Mitchell disciple (though he does serve some SC mustard sauce at his joint). He knows his stuff, but keeps referring to “Carolina whole hog” barbecue and even vinegar-based sauce as opposed to the mustard-based sauce they probably want him to discuss in a South Carolina-style video. If I had to guess, I would put money that this was an editing issue and they didn’t or couldn’t get someone to discuss mustard-style barbecue. In any case, way to go again, Serious Eats.

-Monk

Linkdown: 10/15/14

- Deep fried barbecue on a stick at – where else – the NC State Fair in Raleigh

- The 85th annual Mallard Creek BBQ Festival has big plans for 2014

In 2014, we expect to cook 14,600 pounds of pork barbecue, prepare 2,500 gallons of Brunswick stew, shred 2 tons of Cole slaw, brew 400 gallons of coffee, and entertain close to 20,000 people.

- Shots fired at Lexington-style barbecue by Linwood Parker, who owns White Swan Barbecue; isn’t White Swan the gas station barbecue who cooks with gassers?

“Years ago, when people started moving west in their oxen-dawn carts, it took so long they forgot the recipe for barbecue,” he said.

“When they reached their destination, the only kind of hogs they had were piney wood rooters that fed off acorns. So, their hog meat was green. They just added a lot of catsup to it to cover up the green color.”

- Review of Bob Garner’s latest book, “Foods That Make You Say Mmm-mmm”

- The 23rd Annual Hog Happnin‘ returns to the Cleveland County Fairgrounds on Friday, October 31 and Saturday, November 1

- Austin Chronicle story on John Lewis’s upcoming barbecue restaurant in Charleston

- A Notre Dame football blog talks NC barbecue in a post before last weekend’s game against UNC in South Bend

- Sam Jones is heading to Dallas for a whole hog event in November

- Eater story (with some nice photos) on the opening of Arrogant Swine in New York

Located on the border of East Williamsburg and Bushwick near the English Kills Canal, Arrogant Swine is the brainchild of pitmaster Tyson Ho, who studied under perpetual Barbecue Block Party participant Ed Mitchell, sometimes called the Pope of North Carolina barbecue. The hulking 3,000 foot space is a former warehouse, with high ceilings, a full bar, and a counter at the rear where the smoked meat and sides are sold by the plate or by the pound. Place your order and receive a number hoisted on a metal rod; carry it to your table and your meat horde will be delivered by and by. There’s an outside seating area, too, with giant graffiti murals decorating the outside walls of the building, and an L-shaped shack out back where the barbecuing is done.

- Shame about where this photo was taken but the linked article takes a look at barbecue culture in Charlotte

- This weekend you can actually taste some of the pitmasters barbecue at the Q-City Charlotte BBQ Championship ( as opposed to years past); more details here

Press: Interview with the Barbecue Bros by Locally Crafted

Locally Crafted

We did it! We tricked someone into thinking enough of the Barbecue Bros to refer to us as “experts”! Take a read and let us know what you think in the comments. Thanks to the folks from Locally Crafted.

It seems like everyone knows someone who is obsessed with grilling and barbecue – or maybe you are that person. There is no denying that since our caveman days, humans have been fascinated by the delicate interplay between meat and fire. Perhaps most fascinated of all are three lifelong friends from High Point, North Carolina – Tommy, Kenny, and Mark, known as the “Barbecue Bros” – whose love for the cuisine runs so deep that they curate a barbecue blog together. Although Mark has moved to Austin, Texas, the Bros manage to collaborate long-distance to review as many barbecue establishments as they can. We sat down with the Bros to find out how various barbecue scenes compare and learned more than we ever thought possible.  Let’s dig in!

-Monk

Here & Now – Barbecue, The Perennial Flavor Of North Carolina Politics


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In case you missed it from our Wednesday linkdown, Here & Now interviews Bob Garner, and Rufus Edmisten, who lost the election for governor in 1984 because of barbecue.

When running for governor in 1984, Rufus Edmisten was asked if he had enough barbecue to eat. He made a fatal error.

“Something came over me that no one in their right mind would ever do,” Edmisten said. “I said, ‘Yes I certainly have, I’m tired of it. I hope I never see another drop of it as long I live.’ I said that, and I was joking of course!”

The comment created a media storm. Edmisten says the “barbecue faux pas” was a major factor in his loss.

“I never stopped liking barbecue,” Edmisten said. “I have withdrawals at times. I sometimes have to go four, five days on these fancy trips now that I have to make for clients, and I get these distinct barbecue hunger pangs.”

Linkdown: 10/8/14

- Congrats to Marie, Let’s Eat! on their 300th barbecue review, Blind Pig in Jackson, GA

- The NC Whole Hog Champion was crowned after this past week’s championship in Raleigh, and congratulations to Grillfather Cooking Team of Roanoke Rapids, captained by Ernest Twisdale

- A man and his two sons also participated as contestants in the Whole Hog Barbecue Championship this past weekend in Raleigh

- Charlotte Observer writes up next week’s Q City Charlotte BBQ Championship, which for the first time this year is a NC BBQ Association event

- Uncle Ho nears the opening day of Arrogant Swine

The first issue was getting my hogs. I have specific heritage breed pigs shipped up from North Carolina. Getting the logistics set up for them to arrive in time for me to cook is harrowing indeed. There’s really no last minute supplement either—it’s not like I can wander into any random supermarket and pick up a 200-pound pig if my delivery falls through.

Cook too much and you waste money. Cook too little and you not only lose sales, you also sour relationships with customers who made the trip to see you. It’s basically spinning a roulette wheel with over $20,000 all on red. If that’s thrilling to you, you’re in the right place. I, on the other hand, needed a midwife next to me reminding me to breathe while placing my orders.

- Congrats to BSA Troop 33 for winning Creative Loafing’s Critic’s Choice for Best Barbecue (huh?); meanwhile, Midwood Smokehouse wins the reader’s choice for best barbecue

- The Great NC BBQ Map gets more coverage, this time from Paste Magazine

- Mac’s Speed Shop buys a former auto shop in Greensboro and plans to expand there

- Charlotte Business Journal interviews Mike and Anna Hicks, owners of Carolina BBQ in Spartanburg, SC

- Here and Now reports on how politics and barbecue are intertwined in North Carolina

- Scott’s Bar-B-Que gets mentioned in yet another barbecue list (via)

- John Lewis of la Barbecue to open a barbecue restaurant called Lewis Barbecue in Charleston next spring and as a result I just so happen to be planning a trip to Charleston for the late spring/early summer

- Speaking of John Lewis and Charleston, this:

- Charlotte, NC is the #1 “Best Big-City Bargain” according to Money Magazine and Midwood Smokehouse gets a brief shoutout

 

Virgie’s BBQ – Houston, TX

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Name: Virgie’s BBQ
Date: 7/17/2014
Address: 5535 North Gessner, Houston, TX 77041
Order: Order of brisket and ribs (link to menu)
Price: $13.15

Rudy: Historically, Houston has not been known for having many places to get great barbecue. There are some recent places that are getting more pub, but for the size of the city, it has been traditionally lacking. The Rudy family was driving through Houston, so I knew I wanted to see if there was any truth to the stereotype. Virgie’s opened in 2005 and has been on Texas Monthly’s Top 50 list the last few years, so I figured that would be a great place to try. I was wrong.

Virgie’s is a free-standing building in the middle of an industrial park, so not the best location for atmosphere, but it did draw a decent sized lunch crowd from the local businesses.  Inside, there are bare minimum decorations, but it does have the mom & pop barbecue feel.

I should have known I was in trouble when I walked up to the counter and ordered. I wanted to try a few different meats, so I ordered a half pound of ribs, half pound of brisket, and a sausage link. The man at the counter looked at me like I had two heads. He said he had never heard of anyone ordering by the weight (which is how they do it at every other barbecue restaurant I’ve been to in Texas) and suggested that I order the “order” with ribs and brisket. I took his advice, but had no idea of how much food I was actually getting. I thought it was a bit silly how they had just a generic listing for an “order” of something on the menu.

I tried the ribs first, and they were not very good. They had a hard crust on the top, were not meaty, and were only slightly seasoned (if at all). I was hoping for something more tender and with more meat on the bone. They were ok, but nothing great. Texas Monthly had said that the ribs were the highlight of Virgie’s, so I was pretty disappointed.

The brisket was next, and it was the same as the ribs, just ok. I wanted more flavor, either from seasoning or smoke, than I got. While it was tender, it was pretty bland and unmemorable.

Monk: From what I’ve read, it sounds like you maybe should have tried Killen’s Barbecue in nearby Pearland just north of town, though not sure how far out of the way it would have been for you.

Rudy: Yes, that was my initial thought, and one that I hope to get to soon. It’s getting great reviews and is trying to turn around the Houston barbecue reputation. But I was on a road trip, and it would have taken me about 45 minutes (each way) out of where I was going. There were two others that I thought about, but one had mixed reviews and the other one was known for having long lines, so I opted for Virgie’s.

This was my first attempt at finding barbecue in Houston, and it wasn’t too successful. The food was ok, but nothing to write home about or warrant a return trip. I will say the people at Virgie’s were incredibly nice and the service was great, unfortunately, the meat was not.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 2.5 Hogs
Brisket – 1.5 Hogs
Ribs – 2 Hogs
Overall – 2 Hogs
Virgie's BBQ on Urbanspoon
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Linkdown: 10/1/14

- NC barbecue guru Bob Garner has a new book out that *gasp* isn’t completely about barbecue

The 187-page book does mention the state’s signature varieties of smoked meat and sauce, but it also explores other North Carolina food traditions, including fish stew, Ocracoke fig cake, banana pudding, collards and even Moravian chicken pie. The book is part cookbook, part essay collection, part dining guide.

- TMBBQ interview with friend of the blog Barbecue Rankings

- So there’s this:

- BBQ Jew with a short write up on The Great NC BBQ Map

- Q 4 Fun interviews a board member of the NC BBQ Association

What makes you different than the other associations, societies and networks?
We train our judges to recognize and appreciate NC-style BBQ. Teams will be judged on their ability to produce traditional NC-style BBQ. I don’t think other sanctioning bodies concentrate on regional BBQ styles. Furthermore, we not only sanction competitions, but hold cooking classing and are beginning to work on projects that will promote NC BBQ to the general public. We don’t see the other bodies as competitors. We see them as partners and can hopefully jointly sanction some events as with this year’s comp in Washington with the NC Pork Council.

- Arrogant Swine failed their construction inspection, but trudges on anyways; the blog post does have this great photo

- The Whole Hog Barbecue Championship is this weekend

- Diva Q visited Barbecue Bros fave Ed Mitchell’s Que (our 5 hog review) earlier this week