The Barbecue Bros Holiday Gift Guide 2017

Note: a version of this post was posted in December 2016. It has been updated.

Here’s some gift ideas for the barbecue lover in your life. The bolded items are the ones I can personally recommend. What else am I missing? Feel free to suggest other gift ideas in the comments and I’ll update the post through the holidays.

Monk

See our 2016 gift guide here
See our 2015 gift guide here
See our 2014 gift guide here
See our 2013 gift guide here

Books

Apparel

Other
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Linkdown: 11/15/17

– A promising new barbecue joint has opened up in Manteo on the Outer Banks, Carolina Bar-B-Que Company

Behind the smokehouse, owner Mike Weaver raises an axe in an arc over his shoulders. The blade comes down sure and fast and cleaves a broad section of pecan trunk in two. This is barbecue at its most basic level, starting with the wood. Weaver is in his element, living his dream, but it was a long time in the making.

– Virginia is still at it:

– The story of how a Benson, NC man went from a NC State Barbecue Camp to a state whole hog champion in about 18 months

– The Greenville-Pitt Community Visitor’s Bureau continues to advertise the Pitt County Brew and ‘Cue Trail

– Wisconsin-style barbecue? Really?

“It’s going to be tangy with a little bit of sweet, but not mustard tangy, not Carolina barbecue,” Stahl said. “I focus on my rub. I use European spices that reflect my Czech and eastern European heritage. I personally don’t like sauce on my barbecue. I put a lot of work into the smoke and rub, so I don’t think it needs that much sauce.”

– Franklin Barbecue remains in Bill Addison’s 38 Essential Restaurants in America

– Great story on Stan Hays, the man behind Operation BBQ Relief

– Good use of Twitter’s new 280 character limit or great use?

 

The Improper Pig – Charlote, NC (RE-REVIEW)

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Name: The Improper Pig
Date: 11/3/17
Address: 110 S Sharon Amity Rd Charlotte, NC 28211
Order: The Cotswold Platter with pulled pork and smoked andouille with asian slaw and collards (link to menu)
Price: $14.99

Monk: Back in late 2014, Speedy and I checked out The Improper Pig within a few weeks of it opening and found it somewhat promising but that they were perhaps still working out the kinks that come with opening a new restaurant. Fast forward nearly 3 years later, and to paraphrase former Arizona Cardinals head coach Dennis Green, they are who we thought they were.

The restaurant interior has changed a bit in the past 3 years. Whereas it used to be dimly lit (which I recall made it hard to take decent photos), the restaurant is now much brighter inside. I also think they have become popular with families with kids, so it would make sense not to have it so dark inside.

I didn’t take a peek into the open kitchen this time around, but I assume The Improper Pig is still using a Southern Pride gasser. Out of it, they are still able to coax some decently smoky meats – pork and andouille sausage this time around for me – but its still not quite there in order to be one of the better barbecue restaurants in Charlotte.

As was the case on our first visit, they still get creative with their sides and many have a slight asian bent. Mrs. Monk and I did try a southern egg roll, but the texture inside was mostly mushy as it is just sweet potato hash and collards inside with a drizzle of hot asian mustard. Certainly not as well executed as the southern egg rolls I’ve tried from The Pit in Raleigh. The asian slaw was more or less a small salad with ginger dressing, though, and I regretted ordering it just a tiny bit. The collards were fine but perhaps overly spicy. While the sides were the best part of the last meal years ago, they didn’t measure up on this visit.

So where does this land us? The restaurant is kid-friendly and I could see myself trying their brisket and ribs next time but I won’t necessarily be in a rush to make it back out. The Improper Pig is still a pretty good concept but yet again the execution isn’t quite there for me.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 3 hogs
Sausage – 3 hogs
Sides – 2.5 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs
The Improper Pig Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Photo Gallery: Saturday Lunch at Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge – Shelby, NC

Monk: Some more shots from around the grounds at Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge. See my review from this visit here.

IMG_0704I started my stroll at the iconic green and yellow sign closest to Hwy 74, which is just simply a great retro sign. Over 70 years!

Red Bridges is known for their large wood pile, though on this particular Saturday the pile was a little smaller than normal. Must have been a busy night and morning in preparation for the Saturday lunch.

IMG_0718I mean, what other mailbox would be more appropriate for a barbecue joint? No idea if this is the actual mailbox in use.

IMG_0720I don’t know the story behind this limousine or if the patrons were in the restaurant at the time but it cracked me up.

IMG_0729Another notable car on the Red Bridges premises, albeit for different reasons. I wish I had gotten the full car in this shot.

A few exterior shots of the restaurant from different vantage points during the lunch hour on a busy Saturday. In all my times visiting, I hadn’t stepped back to take a shot of the entire building.

IMG_0751I do love the font of the “Bridge’s” sign in the this shot. The same font is used over the door.

 

Linkdown: 11/8/17

– A couple of barbecue restaurants make Charlotte Agenda’s Top 50 Charlotte Restaurant rankings, Midwood Smokehouse (#20) and Seoul Food Meat Co (#46)

– Raleigh recently got a new barbecue joint on Glenwood South, Southern Charred

– The barbecue circle of life: JB’s Smokeshack on John’s Island outside of Charleston has been put up for sale after 16 years in business

– A barbecue restaurant makes New Orlean’s top 5 new restaurants of 2017, according to Nola.com

– National Nachos Day may have passed on Monday already, but you can always get the Nachos Libre at Midwood Smokehouse

What to expect: A beast portion of tortilla chips that are topped with diced tomatoes, black beans, smoked corn, cilantro, cheddar, diced jalapenos, queso and a heavy drizzle of spicy habanero sauce with lime sour cream.

– TMBBQ Fest was this past weekend

Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge – Shelby, NC (solo Monk review)

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Name
: Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge
Date: 10/21/17
Address: 2000 E Dixon Blvd, Shelby, NC 28150
Order: Barbecue plate with red slaw, hush puppies, fries, and baked beans, Cheerwine (link to menu)
Price: $11.50

Monk: With all apologies to Speedy (who loves this place just as much, if not more than, me), our last visit and only review of Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge was over 4 years ago and it was time. In late October, my wife and in-laws roped me into going to the Livermush Festival in downtown Shelby with the promise of Red Bridges for lunch beforehand. And boy, did that promise work on me like a charm.

Last time, Speedy and I thought our visit would yield a slam-dunk 5 hog review but found a few nits to pick and rated it just below. I wondered in the review if it was the start of a trend but I am happy to report that it was an indeed an anomaly and everything on this visit was as good as ever. The chopped pork tray didn’t have as coarse a chop as last time and the table dip had the right consistency. Even the fries, a worrying blunder last time around, were as you would expect.

I must spend a few sentences to opine on the glory of the hush puppies. These large oblong goodies come by the basket full and are top 3 hush puppies for me, ever. They have a perfect mix of sweet and savory and combined with the crunch when they are provided fresh out of the fryer, they are a religious experience.

On this Saturday, Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge was doing steady business between seated customers and takeout orders. At times, the waiting for a table left customers spilling out of the small waiting area and out the door as well. I imagine Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge had seen this scene on a regular basis in their 70+ years on highway 74 in Shelby. And why not – a short wait to get a table is a small price to pay to get pretty much the perfect meal.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/ambiance – 4.5 hogs
Pork – 5 hogs
Sides – 5 hogs
Overall – 5 hogs
Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Friday Find: Slice of Jess visits Midwood Smokehouse

Slice of Jess visits with Matthew Barry, Executive Chef and Pit Master of Midwood Smokehouse, for a promotional video that highlights what they’ve been doing in Charlotte since 2012.

Charlotte culinary scene is thriving, and I am so grateful to be intertwined in the mix. With new establishments popping up every week, I’ve decided to film our adventures behind the counter at some of the Queen City’s best eateries, distilleries and brewhouses. These videos are designed to be a quick peek behind the scenes, giving viewers a glance beyond the menu and the chance to meet the faces behind the brand.

I’ve partnered with Foodesign Associates for this series; a full service food design, development and marketing firm here in Charlotte.

Link to full post

Linkdown: 11/1/17

– Photos from last weekend’s Barbecue Festival in Lexington, where almost 200,000 people made the trip

– More whole hog is coming to Texas in the form of Feges BBQ in Houston

– Meanwhile, in Austin:

– Barbecue vs chili (?): who ya got?

– Bare Bones in Raleigh served their last barbecue this past Sunday

– Truth:

 

Friday Find: Whole Hog (dir by Joe York)

Directed by Southern Foodways Alliance ringer documentary filmmaker extraordinaire, Joe York. We previously posted the follow-up to this video on the late Ricky Parker’s son, Zach, who is carrying on the tradition at Scott’s-Parker’s.

by Joe York, an examination of barbecue culture in west-central Tennessee. At the core of the story is whole hog stalwart Ricky Parker, pitmaster at B.E. Scott’s Bar-B-Que in Lexington, Tennessee.