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?

 

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:

 

Linkdown: 10/25/17

– The 88th annual Mallard Creek Barbecue is tomorrow and the chefs are very busy right about now

Event organizers expect to cook 15,000 pounds of pork barbecue, prepare 2,500 gallons of Brunswick stew, shred two tons of coleslaw, brew 400 gallons of coffee and entertain close to 20,000 people.

– Preparations are underway for this weekend’s Barbecue Festival in Lexington

– The SC BBQ Association has sanctioned the fifth annual Speed and Feed Barbecue Cook-Off this weekend at Darlington Raceway

– The origins of the Alabama white sauce (if you’re into that sort of thing)

– The Triangle Business Journal is getting into the  barbecue game; their definitive guide to the best barbecue restaurants in the Triad

– A short profile on EDIA Maps, the creators of The Great NC BBQ Map

Friday Find: The Charlotte Podcast Explores “Is Charlotte a BBQ Town?”

Monk: Our State Magazine senior editor, podcaster, and writer (and former Charlottean) Jeremy Markovich joins Miller of The Charlotte Podcast to discuss NC barbecue in general before discussing specifically whether Charlotte is a barbecue town.

After a short intro, the barbecue talk starts at 5:17 with some open-ended questions about NC barbecue. Before shifting the conversation to Charlotte later in the episode, the conversation is a little unfocused (admittedly, Miller says he didn’t prep Jeremy for these questions) but covers the difference between east and west and what Jeremy’s idea of barbecue and a barbecue restaurant is.

Here’s a link to Jeremy’s fantastic story in Our State on spending 17 hours (he had planned to be there 24) at B’s Barbecue in Greenville that he begins mentioning at 14:15 when he starts discussing his top 5 barbecue places in NC; Red Bridges in Shelby, 12 Bones in Asheville (I do disagree with this pick), Skylight Inn, and Lexington Barbecue (aka the Honeymonk) all make his list as well.

While mentioning Skylight Inn (16:34), Miller discusses the idea of “porky goodness”. While I’m familiar with (and have tasted) their technique of chopping the crispy skin back into the pork, I must admit that I have never heard this term before. Granted, I have spent only a little time out east so I’m not discounting that it’s a real thing. Only that I’ve yet to come across it in my travels.

Kyle Fletcher’s in Gastonia gets a mention at 18:34. This place deserves a second chance for me, but I was somewhat unimpressed when I went a few years ago.

The Charlotte conversation begins at 21:25. I do disagree with Miller’s assertion that Midwood Smokehouse is a solid B in everything though (21:39) because I think their brisket and burnt ends are A’s and their pork and sausage is at least a B+ (I still need to try the whole hog on the new smoker at Park Road). So I think he may be undervaluing them just a little bit.

Miller brings up the idea of Charlotte as a “barbecue hub” as opposed to a “barbecue city” (22:36) due to its proximity to good barbecue in Lexington (agree), Shelby (agree), and Gastonia (huh?).  Jeremy comes back to Midwood Smokehouse at 25:26 (here’s the article he wrote for Our State) and how restaurateur Frank Scibelli has a habit of introducing foods to Charlotte. First with Mama Ricotta’s and authentic italian (including fresh mozzarella) in the early 2000’s and then Midwood Smokehouse and barbecue other than pork more recently in 2012.

While I couldn’t agree more with Jeremy’s assertion that you need to spell out “barbecue” (as opposed to say, “bbq” like they do in the podcast title) at 28:51, I can’t help but think naming a theoretical barbecue restaurant “Barbecue” is either insanely brilliant or just plain lazy. I still can’t decide.

Overall, I agree with both Jeremy and Miller that no, Charlotte is not a barbecue town but that you can find good barbecue here (I’ve certainly tried to do my homework). When I think on the question of whether Charlotte is a barbecue town, I inevitably go to a quote from Tom Hanchett, the former historian at Charlotte’s Levine Museum of the New South:

Charlotte is not really in either part of North Carolina, it’s a city of newcomers and we have other people’s barbecue.

Until Charlotte is no longer a city of “other people’s barbecue”, in my opinion it will never truly be a barbecue town.

Potbelly BBQ (food truck) (mini-review)

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Name
: Potbelly BBQ
Date: 10/7/17
Order: Chopped pork sandwich (link to menu)
Price: $5.95

Monk: Each fall, the Anne Springs Close Greenway in nearby Fort Mill hosts a Fall Frolic on weekends in October. Tractor rides, pumpkin picking, horseback riding, barrel rides. hay jumping.

Potbelly BBQ was one of a few food vendors set up on a misty Saturday morning and since I hadn’t had any breakfast by mid-morning I went for a sandwich but only a sandwich so as not to spoil my appetite for lunch with the rest of the family.

I stepped up to the window right as a fresh butt was being chopped and ordered a chopped sandwich, adding slaw. The pork was nicely smoked (and obviously fresh), but came with a thicker barbecue sauce on top, which wouldn’t have been my preference. Still, a very satisfying sandwich from Potbelly BBQ. Next time I see them around I’ll try their brisket.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – N/A
Pork – 3 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs