Friday Find: Who Has the Right to Make Barbecue?

A must-listen: authors John T. Edge and Nicole Taylor join the NY Times’ Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris on their Still Processing podcast for more thoughtful discussions on barbecue and its cultural and historic implications.  Arrogant Swine gets a shout-out in each of the first two segments of the podcast before getting an eventual visit from the two hosts in the final segment.

Monk

Barbecue Bros Book Club: The One True Barbecue by Rien Fertel

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Not that we’re anywhere close to being qualified enough to evaluate books but more so as a public service announcement we will periodically discuss barbecue and barbecue-related books.

IMG_8196A collection of profiles on whole hog pitmasters throughout the southeast, “The One True Barbecue” by Rien Fertel is an enjoyable if not somewhat controversial read. In particular, Fertel ruffled feathers with his chapters on Wilber Shirley and Ed Mitchell. He portrayed the former’s restaurant as a joint with a racial division of labor between the front of the house and the back and the latter as a marketing gimmick in overalls that cooks hogs in a non-traditional manner (hot and fast rather than the traditional low and slow). However fair Fertel’s representation may or may not be (and he is but one man with his opinion), the fact that he spoke with neither for the purposes of this book only added more embers to the burn barrel.

Fertel ties the profiles together through narrative, following his path from New Orleans to the Carolinas and back, with even a stop in Bushwick to visit Arrogant Swine. Each chapter not only explores the pitmaster(s) themselves but in some cases the history of an entire town with Ayden, NC and its two joints Skylight Inn and Bum’s. He particularly favors Scott’s-Parker’s Barbecue in Lexington, TN, visiting with pitmaster Ricky Parker in the first chapter and then his sons after his death in the last chapter. In between, Fertel visits 12 other whole hog joints in Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, and the aforementioned Arrogant Swine in NY.

I enjoyed Fertel’s writing and found this to be a quick read that I devoured over just a few sittings. Fertel cut his teeth writing oral histories for The Southern Foodways Alliance, and his experience writing on southern food showed. A small complaint would be that the only color photographs are confined to a section at the center of the book – I would have loved to see them throughout as opposed to the smaller black and white ones within the chapters. In any case, I can’t recommend “The One True Barbecue” enough.

Monk

Arrogant Swine – Brooklyn, NY

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Name
: Arrogant Swine
Date: 10/6/15
Address: 173 Morgan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237
Order: 1 lb East Carolina whole hog, 1 lb Western NC outside brown shoulder, 1 lb spare ribs, Tikka Masala Sausage, Greensboro Pitmaster Chicken Wings, red vinegar slaw, collards, mac and cheese (link)
Price: ~$120

Monk: Having followed for the past year Tyson Ho’s excellent blog series on Serious Eats on the opening of his barbecue restaurant in Brooklyn, Arrogant Swine was my number one priority while we were in New York for 9 days in early October. That plus the fact that he was doing eastern NC whole hog in the middle of Brooklyn and that his joint was also advertised as a beer hall made it an easy choice.

Speedy: And what a fantastic atmosphere it had! Contrary to every other place in NY, the restaurant was spacious and comfortable, and had a large outdoor seating area. We started our meal at the bar (Monk and crew had some beers and smoked wings while I dealt with a closed subway line) before ordering. A great beer (and whiskey) selection was a big help in allowing the group to wait for me. Anyhow, once I arrived, we put in our order.

Monk: As a nod to cracklins, or crispy hog skin chopped into whole hog, Arrogant Swine serves their chopped pork with a layer of pork rinds. Which is a little bit of a curious choice if you ask me and it took me a minute to realize the pork was underneath it. Once I waded through the pork rinds, I found the vinegary chopped pork to be a decent version of NC whole hog but not quite as good as I had hoped or expected.

Speedy: The western style outside brown was also a little different than you’d find in NC. It came chopped, though I’d consider it more cubed. The pork almost looked more like burnt ends. The flavor was pretty OK, but the cubes made it seem a bit less tender than typical. Overall, I think this really missed the mark. Sorry, Tyson.

Monk: The  tikka misala sausage was made in house and was definitely one of the favorites of our group, though there isn’t much of a link to NC either in the sausage or the fact that its Indian spiced.

Speedy:The spare rib was big, meaty, and smoked well. They weren’t over cooked, so you could get a good bit, and the seasoning and sauce was a good compliment to, but did not overpower, the meat. Overall, I think this was better than the pork, which is odd for an NC ‘cue joint. If I were to return, I’d focus on the sausage and the ribs.

Monk: The Greensboro Pit Master wings are a nod to the Vietnamese pitmasters who do much of the smoking in the Piedmont joints that still smoke over wood – notably Stamey’s in Greensboro. While a nice tip of the hat, the sticky and sweet sauce on the wings isn’t really reminiscent of anything related to NC barbecue traditions. In any case, a nice idea and decently executed wing.

Speedy: I thought they were well smoked, but I didn’t love the sauce – a little sweet on my end. In terms of sides, I think I only had the slaw, which I enjoyed, even though there were raisins in there for some reason, which I can’t figure out.

Monk: Oh yeah! Even after we got an explanation from Tyson that just chopped cabbage and carrots in vinegar wouldn’t cut it in NYC, raisins still didn’t make sense to me. Another curious choice. Shout out to the waffle mac and cheese served with a side of queso, though.

Speedy: While eating, we did chat with Tyson a good bit and he was very cool. We talked about some of the differences between his joint and what we typically see in NC, and he was very aware of that. As he put it, he wanted to take the unique pieces on NC ‘cue and amplify them, which I think he did. While doing that, I think it lost some of the things I love about NC ‘cue, but it’s still better than most of the “barbecue” I’ve eaten in the city.

Monk: As an experience, Arrogant Swine was definitely worth trekking it out to Bushwick and I only wish we had been able to go a little earlier to hang on the outdoor patio and drink more of their great selection of beers. As a barbecue restaurant, Arrogant Swine was a little more of a mixed bag with some items more successful than others. In any case, I would definitely go back to Arrogant Swine again and will continue to follow its development, since  a joint that cooks whole hog over wood (particularly in NYC) is a rarity these days.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 4 hogs
Pork (eastern) – 3 hogs
Pork (western) – 2 hogs
RIbs – 3.5 hogs
Sausage – 3.5 hogs
Wings – 2.5 hogs
Sides – 2.5 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs
Arrogant Swine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Arrogant Swine

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Linkdown: 8/26/15

– You remember how Tyson Ho built  a barbecue restaurant in Brooklyn? He checks in with a retrospective nearly a year after it opened; if you want to catch up on the entire blog series (and I recommend that you do), check it out here

– Blasphemers!: Stamey’s food trailer was stolen from their lot Monday night

– A fire has damaged Bill Ellis’ Barbecue in Wilson but at least there’s this nugget:

“I took my plate with me,” Mangum said. “I was too hungry to just leave my good plate.”

Mangum stood beside Lisa Woodard, who was in her car looking at the smoke.

“I am as hungry as I can be,” Woodard said. “I just paid my money and they told us to get out.”

– Luella’s Bar B Que in Asheville is getting a second location in Biltmore Park Town Square

– A Charlotte vs Raleigh restaurant smackdown includes a short profile on Frank Scibelli (restaurateur behind Midwood Smokehouse) as well as a head to head barbecue smackdown between Bill Spoon’s in Charlotte and Clyde Cooper’s in Raleigh

– Marie, Let’s Eat! has been exploring Alabama barbecue this year and his latest stops on the blog are Pruett’s BBQ & Catfish in Gadsden and Ray’s Bar-B-Que in Atalla

A guide to Houston BBQ from TMBBQ

– Buxton Hall opens this Friday and I couldn’t be more excited to check it out at some point – I believe its been more than 2.5 years since its first iteration Buxton Hill was first announced, then with Rodney Scott as a partner

Buxton Hall is coming. On Aug. 28, the whole-hog barbecue restaurant will throw open its doors, permitting access to chef Elliott Moss’ wood-smoked ‘cue and farm-driven sides, all served in a cavernous former skating rink.

Linkdown: 7/8/15

– Michael W Twitty with a thought-provoking piece: Barbecue is an American Tradition – of enslaved Africans and Native Americans

– How the word barbecue has “divided the coalition of the grilling”

– Friend of the blog Johnny Fugit also weighs in on how words matter when it comes to the word “barbecue”

– We linked to this article a few weeks back, but its worth another link: Tyson Ho (among others) gets a profile in Garden & Gun Magazine

A guide to barbecue in the San Francisco bay area includes the Lexington-style joint Rusty’s Southern

Sarah Fritsche: “When I first visited Lexington Barbecue in North Carolina about a decade ago, I knew I’d met my ideal kind of ‘cue. Slow-smoked pork shoulder is finely chopped, not pulled, and served with a tangy vinegar sauce and all the fixings, which include a tomato-based red slaw and cornmeal hush puppies. Happily, thanks to Rusty’s Southern, I don’t have to book a flight to N.C. to get my fix. Prior to opening their Tenderloin restaurant earlier this spring, owner Rusty Olson and chef Francis Rubio spent time with Lexington Barbecue owner Wayne Monk to learn how to re-create the unique barbecue.”

– The 10 best barbecue restaurants in Britain, for what thats worth

– There is a South Carolina Barbecue Association judging class this Saturday in Cheraw

– Grant’s latest joints on Marie, Let’s Eat!: Center Point Pit Barbecue in Hendersonville, TN and Bill’s Bar-B-Q in Hull, GA

– In a follow-up on Michael Symon and his quest to create “Cleveland-style” barbecue, Thrillist asks just exactly what it is (via)

– Smoking tips from a man who knows what he is talking about, Steve Raichlen

Linkdown: 4/22/15

– The BBQ Capital Cook-Off is this weekend in Lexington

– And on that note, Visit NC has a Lexington barbecue tour itinerary

– 12 Bones makes Bon Appetit’s list of eating and drinking your way through Asheville

– Aaron Franklin’s barbecue book reviewed by Eater, who call it “a Master Class in Perfectionist Technique”

– Robert Moss says there’s always room for banana pudding and we have no arguments

– An employee was apparently stabbed at Sauceman’s in Charlotte yesterday

– Marie, Let’s Eat! visited Memphis a few weeks back and the reviews have started to come in: Leonard’s Pit Bar-B-Que, Cozy Corner Restaurant, Tops Bar-B-Que, and Three Little Pigs Bar-B-Q

– BBQ Snob seems to have enjoyed his visit to Arrogant Swine, calling it “an honest version of Eastern North Carolina whole hog”

Linkdown: 4/8/15

– If you are still wanting to participate in a barbecue-related bracket, Red Clay Soul’s Georgia barbecue bracket is down to the Final Four and voting ends at 10pm ET tonight

– The latest in Arrogant Swine’s Serious Eats series examines the sounds of being the boss, and ends on a really great note about his assistant Roland

My assistant Roland came from the Doe Fund, a halfway house for the homeless. Mistakes from a previous life guaranteed that his resume was heading into the trash can everywhere he looked. Even his parole officer called me, asking if I was sure I wanted to have him around. In Roland I found a student, one who was eager not only to work but also develop a passion for cooking whole hog barbecue. If you ever walk by the Swine at 2 a.m. and smell the smoke from our burning oak logs, wave towards the pit room. You’ll likely see Roland smile and wave right back.

Towards the end of 2014, Time Out magazine compiled a top 100 list of dishes around New York City. In the meat section stood our whole hog barbecue. I posted a picture of Roland for all the world to see. Here was a man who before the Swine never worked a day in the kitchen, competing head to head with the best and most talented chefs in the world. He looked triumphant, and I was bursting with pride.

– Burger Mary takes a deeper look at The Joint, a Texas-style barbecue joint in New Orleans

– Mac’s Speed Shop on South Blvd is one of Charlotte Five’s Top 10 places to have a beer outside in Charlotte

– Old Hickory House closed its N. Tryon location last Saturday but sounds like they could be reopening at a new location at some point

Serving a packed house this week shows them the support from the community, hoping they decide to reopen somewhere else.

“We’re just going to take it easy for a little while, probably get back into it. Where, I don’t know, but somewhere local,” said Carter.

– Wendell man Christopher Prieto has released a barbecue and smoking book, entitled Southern Living Ultimate Book of BBQ

More coverage on Midwood Smokehouse’s upcoming Charlotte location in Ballantyne

– Bob Garner’s (aka the Minister of Barbecue Culture at Raleigh’s The Pit) latest book reviewed

– Several barbecue restaurants are deemed the best restaurant in each NC county by Charleston Food Bloggers including The Smoke Pit in Cabarrus, Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge in Cleveland, Lexington Barbecue in Davidson (duh), Tarheel Bar-B-Q in Gates, and Parker’s Barbecue in Pitt

– Once again, congrats to Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge for their championship in Garden and Gun’s Ultimate Barbecue Bracket

Linkdown: 3/11/15

– The history of naner pudding, the perfect dessert for barbecue

The latest entry in Arrogant Swine’s fantastic How I Built a Barbecue Restaurant in Brooklyn series why restaurants never open on time due to contractors, gas companies, and silly bureaucracy

– In anticipation of this week’s ACC Tournament which started last night (weird), here’s Syracuse.com’s guide to the best eats in the ACC that includes Greensboro (site of this and many many other ACC Tournaments):

Stamey’s (two locations, including 2206 High Point Road, Greensboro, 336-299-9888, @stameysbarbecue)

Especially recommended. Just an old-fashioned southern BBQ establishment, this Stamey’s location is right across the street from the coliseum. It’s packed during the ACC tournament — as well as around lunch on most days. The chopped pork barbecue sandwich (with the slaw on top, naturally) and hush puppies is a great choice, as is the barbecue chicken. Word to the wise: If you want to have dinner there Wednesday or Thursday, leave with four minutes left in the second game of the afternoon session. Otherwise, you’ll wait for a while.

A profile on TMBBQ Editor Daniel Vaughn by Lucky Peach magazine; plus his 3 favorite “fusion-y” places in Texas

– Lucky Peach also spends a day with Aaron Franklin

– Re: Arrogant Swine: Is the Best Brunch in Bushwick Built on Carolina ‘Cue?

– Robert Moss has a short recap of the Cross Culture BBQ event at last weekend’s Charleston Wine + Food Festival

– SXSW Barbecue:

An appreciation of Alabama barbecue, by Daniel Vaughn of TMBBQ

– Menswear blog Red Clay Soul has started their own Georgia barbecue bracket

Today we are kicking off the 1st Annual Georgia BBQ Bracket Challenge with our friends at Peach State Pride.  This should be a GREAT event, and will last until Masters Sunday.  That’s right…five weeks.  We have picked 64 BBQ spots in Georgia (a much tougher task than you’d think), and built a bracket.  There are four regions – named after BBQ sauce flavors: Hot, Mild, Sweet, and Vinegar.  16 spots per region.  We’ll spend one week per region, and the final four will fight it out during Masters week.

– Details on the next NC BBQ Association class

Linkdown: 2/4/15

– This NY Times article on the sisterhood of women chefs in NC is great, though I don’t really get the following line on “barbecue kids” – is this a euphemism for “hipsters”?

Ms. [Nathalie] Dupree, who lives in Charleston, put it a little more bluntly. “North Carolina has always been a place where food was very important, but the men were always more interested in the macho-boy stuff that attracts the barbecue kids these days,” she said. “So the women were free to make all the rest of the food.”

– Tyson Ho checks in with his latest blog entry for Serious Eats on how he picks and scavenges for equipment and other goods when another restaurant closes

– This post on how to help your local bbq joints was written with Texas joints in mind due to beef’s historically high prices, but can apply to local joints wherever you happen to be

– “Barbecue sandwich” is one of 16 sandwiches in Our State Magazine’s Southern Sandwich Tournament; here is their travel guide to each sandwich

– Destination BBQ’s blog has a map that helps make finding SC BBQ easier

– Home Team BBQ is opening a downtown Charleston location by Labor Day 2015

– From last summer, 5 questions with Bethanie Schemel of KC Barbecue Tours in Taste Trekkers (our list is here btw)

– Queen City Q is celebrating 3 years of being open next week with the special release of Susie Q Smoked IPA from Birdsong Brewing, named after the owner of the restaurant

– Speaking of beer and barbecue, NoDa Brewing and Midwood Smokehouse are coming together for a Texas-themed “Crossroads Cue Supper” with James Beard-winning author Robb Walsh; Speedy and I attended a similar event a little over 1.5 years ago with Sam Jones of Skylight Inn

– This week, Marie, Let’s Eat! checks out Porkie’s Original BBQ, a north Alabama joint in central Florida

– Last weekend, a barbecue was held to help benefit a local Charlotte firefighter battling cancer

– Two competitions have been posted on the NC BBQ Association website, one of them being the Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival in Charlotte in May (our photos from last year)

– Scott’s Bar-B-Que is one of Thrillist’s best 13 restaurants in the south

Scott’s Bar-B-Que

Hemingway, SC
If you’ve never driven to the middle of the countryside or just a teensy town whose closest large city is the #1 destination for 19-year-old Spring Breakers along the Carolina coasts, just for a lunch of smokey pulled pork, you’re lazy, but also it’s time to take a trip to Scott’s. The Variety Store and ‘cue spot has been operating since’72, and it’s truly a family affair with son Rodney as the pitmaster that brought them to national fame. Order a 1/2lb of pork, slow-smoked and well-seasoned overnight, get your sauce spicy — you finally took this pilgrimage, so make the best of it — ask for crispy, fresh-fried pork rinds like you’re a regular in the know, and, then, whatever you do, remember to get at least 2lbs of pork and a gallon of sauce to go. Because, sadly, you aren’t a regular, but you’ll want to eat like you are as long as possible.

– Via TMBBQ, Live Oak Barbecue in Austin has closed; Rudy tried it about a little over a year ago and was not a fan

– Finally, if you feel so inclined we’d be honored if you would vote us for Best Local Blog under “Media – Best Local” in Charlotte Magazine’s annual Best of the Best Awards

Friday Find: Zagat visits Arrogant Swine

In case you missed, it, here’s a short video review from Zagat to Tyson Ho’s Arrogant Swine, the first Carolina whole hog barbecue joint-slash-craft beer hall in New York. I so want to check this place out.

With the opening of Arrogant Swine, New Yorkers finally have a place to enjoy traditional whole hog Carolina barbecue. However, with in your face additions like chicharrones and a mac and cheese waffle — not to mention craft beer — this Bushwick abode is anything but humble.

Monk