Monk: Barbecue lovers flocked to Midwood Smokehouse in Charlotte on November 20 for a four course “Southern ‘Cue Supper” where special guest Sam Jones of the Skylight Inn in Ayden, NC was serving up eastern North Carolina, whole hog barbecue. Having been raised in the Piedmont, Speedy and I were not familiar with the actual barbecue from the world famous Skylight Inn, but we knew the name and understood it’s importance. Sam Jones’s family has been cooking barbecue in eastern North Carolina for 175 years, so clearly he is going to know a thing or two about cooking a whole hog.
Speedy: Walking in, Monk and I were impressed with Sam’s custom built pit, which he made in order to smoke a whole hog exactly like he does at Skylight Inn. The hog was already off the pit by the time we arrived, but we could smell the coals, so we knew we were in for a treat. We arrived a little late (sorry, Monk) and were shown to our seats at a full family style table. It was a nice touch to eat family style with some new friends. The other nice touch was the beer pairing from NoDa Brewing with each course. It was definitely enjoyable, though that would have been a better treat on a non-school night.
Monk: Not to mention the full pint glasses of NoDa beer seemed to come out one right after the other. I finished my beers but most folks didn’t keep up (don’t want to call anyone out but one of them has a name that rhymes with “beady”).
Speedy: I’ll admit it. I was there for the ‘cue, not the brew. Besides, I was driving. YOUR LIFE WAS IN MY HANDS, MONK!
When we sat, the appetizers were already served, but honestly the most disappointing piece to me was that only the hog was cooked by Sam and his crew, so we were not privy to his famous cornbread or Skylight Inn slaw.
Monk: The Midwood sides are fine but it would have been nice to get the full Skylight Inn experience that our table neighbor Dennis who grew up eating there was telling us about.
Speedy: The highlight of the meal was most definitely the hog. Chopped fine, eastern-style, the meat was smoky and tender. Unlike a lot of joints, the hog skin was chopped into the meat, which gave a bit of a crisp bite. I ended up adding a little bit of the vinegar based sauce, which added a bit more tang. All in all, the chopped pork was top notch.
Monk: That pork was a revelatory experience. The taste and smoke was pretty much perfect and as Speedy mentioned, there were crispy pieces of pork skin mixed into the barbecue. This was a first for me, and I loved every bite of it. Afterwards, on our way to Speedy’s car we asked if we could take a photo of the smoking rig hoping to also get a photo with Sam in the process. While Sam initially stepped inside, we ended up chatting for a good 15-20 minutes his childhood buddy named Clay who had known him since 7th grade and came along to help. Eventually, Sam came back out and we got our picture with both Clay and Sam. Fine, fine people those guys.
Speedy: Yeah it was definitely cool to get the “inside scoop” from a member of the pit team. He was definitely a good ole boy and just like smokin’ hogs with his buddies. These guys live, breathe, and most certainly eat barbecue. And they definitely know how to cook it.
Overall, this was a great event on a Wednesday night. I think the $35 price tag may have been a bit steep, but overall, it was an enjoyable experience. I’d definitely go back for a similar event so hopefully there’s more to come!