Friday Find: Midwood Smokehouse Pitmasters Matthew Berry and Michael Wagner join the Cheers Charlotte podcast

Berry and Wagner join around the 41:50 mark to discuss Midwood Smokehouse’s approach to Texas barbecue and the difference between Texas barbecue scene versus North Carolina. Michael even drops some knowledge on where the central Texas salt and pepper originally came from before Matt drops some knowledge of his own about the history of brisket as a smoked cut of meat. The total discussion lasts about 12 minutes.

Link to the episode on the Cheers Charlotte website

Preview: Sweet Lew’s BBQ

Note: This post was updated after initial posting

After working at various chef positions at resorts, country clubs, and, most recently, for the upscale grocer Reid’s Fine Foods, Lewis Donald will be bringing a community barbecue restaurant to the Belmont neighborhood later this fall in the form of Sweet Lew’s BBQ.

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Lewis may be originally from Cleveland, Ohio but has been inspired by southern barbecue at places such as Lewis Barbecue in Charleston and Lexington Barbecue (he recently met Rick Monk, who he hopes will visit Sweet Lew’s once it opens). The plan for Sweet Lew’s is to have pork, chicken, and ribs on the regular menu with daily specials like brisket on Saturdays, smoked turkey on Tuesdays, and hash on Wednesdays.

Speaking of meats, Sweet Lew’s will use high quality meats sourced from ethical farms across the US; his pork will come from Beeler’s Pure Pork in Iowa, the briskets will come from Creekstone Farms in Kansas, and chicken from Springer Mountain Farms in Georgia. Lewis will also keep it simple when it comes to rubs, for instance using only salt and pepper on his pork butts. All of the smoking will be done on a Myron Mixon H2O Water Smoker that will use wood such as pecan and hickory as its primary fuel source; there will be no gas or electricity assistance in the smoking of these meats.

The sandwich I tasted a few weeks back was NC barbecue at its simplest perfection. Hand-pulled pork shoulders mixed with Lewis’s vinegar-pepper sauce, topped with a vinegar slaw, and placed onto a simple white hamburger bun. Sure, I had the benefit of having it prepared freshly off the smoker in front of me, but the process is simple enough that I am expecting the same quality once the restaurant opens.

The house made pickles were a nice compliment to the sandwich (I kept them on the side as opposed to topping the sandwich), but I can’t wait to try the boiled peanuts that will be a standard side. If you’ve read anything about Sweet Lew’s up to this point you’re likely aware of them but this is a menu item that makes it stand out from other barbecue restaurants in town.

Lewis has already embraced the Belmont community through catering neighborhood events and he has plans to partner with local businesses such as the Salvation Army, with whom he shares the back boundary of his property. He wants Sweet Lew’s to have a family and community feel to the restaurant, and Lewis has promised a higher level of service to patrons of the restaurant.

I predict Charlotte barbecue fans are going to go crazy for Sweet Lew’s BBQ. It fills a niche in Charlotte that we just haven’t had – a joint that plans to sell its freshly smoked meat until its sold out, then close for the day. I enjoyed meeting and speaking with Lewis and love the concept; late October can’t get here earlier enough.

In the meantime, if you want to try Sweet Lew’s BBQ before the opening in late October, look out for his pop ups around Charlotte including a stop at Birdsong Brewing on 9/22 from 5-9pm.

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Art’s BBQ & Deli – Charlotte, NC

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Name: Art’s BBQ & Deli
Date: 8/30/18
Address: 900 E Morehead St, Charlotte, NC 28204
Order: Large chopped pork plate with slaw, hushpuppies, and sweet tea (link to menu)
Price: $11

Monk: Art’s BBQ & Deli is a breakfast and lunch spot located in the heart of the Dilworth neighborhood for the past 42 years. It’s known as a popular spot for Panthers players and is said to be a favorite of former QB Jake Delhomme (of particular note to Speedy, I’m sure). The walls are littered with signed Panthers memorabilia and photographs and there’s even a Panthers parking sign around the side of the building.

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Art’s follows the tradition of greeks who started restaurants or diners shortly after immigrating to the United States. Art Katopodis, the original owner, moved to the US from Greece in the 50’s and then to Charlotte in the 60’s. He started the restaurant 42 years ago in 1976 before retiring in 2002 and passing the reins onto his son and current owner, Danny.

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As for Art’s itself, it’s more of a diner/deli than a barbecue restaurant. Circling the building, I did not see a smoker nor detect any smoke in the air during the lunch rush. Not sure if they prepare the barbecue offsite, but if they do I don’t detect any smoke in the chopped pork. Though even if that were the case, it would have been hard to taste since the barbecue comes pre-sauced with a thicker, sweet sauce.

My guess is the barbecue is more of a roasted pork in an oven before being chopped and tossed in that sauce. Curiously, the Art’s branded sauce on the table was a pepper-ketchup sauce in the vein of a Lexington dip and not what the pork was tossed in. Some dashes of that or Texas Pete helped the chopped pork by cutting the sweet sauce and giving it a bit more tang. All in all, I wasn’t wowed by the barbecue.

The mayo slaw was pretty standard but I have a feeling that the hush puppies were originally frozen as opposed to made from scratch. I did get a choice of rolls or corn muffins with my meal, and the corn muffins were far preferable to the hush puppies for my cornbread fix.

Art’s BBQ & Deli is a Charlotte institution and I wish them many more years of continued success, but I wouldn’t recommend it for barbecue. Try the breakfast, deli sandwiches, or fried chicken (a Thursday lunch special) instead.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3 hogs
Pork – 2 hogs
Sides – 2 hogs
Overall – 2 hogs
Art's Barbecue & Deli Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Linkdown: 8/29/18

– Brett Martin (for GQ) on how Houston got cool

– According to this article (which is about a new Jim Noble fried chicken concept), Noble Smoke is now being targeted to open in March 2019

– You can now vote for the best barbecue joints by state in Southern Living’s “South’s Best 2019” poll

– Texas Monthly on the Barbecue Nation exhibit in Atlanta

– According to this list, The Pit is one of Raleigh’s best soul food restaurants

– Yea…I’m gonna need to try this out soon on my own Weber

– A comparison of the two out-of-state whole hog joints coming to Birmingham in the coming months – Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint and Rodney Scott’s BBQ

– Your move, Texas Pete:

Friday Find: How to Butcher an Entire Cow

Now that you know how to butcher a pig, here’s how to tackle a cow.

Jason Yang, butcher at Fleishers Craft Butchery, breaks down half a cow into all the cuts you would see at your local butcher shop. There are four sections Yang moves through: 1. ROUND: bottom round roast beef, eye round roast beef, sirloin tip steak, london broil steak, shank (osso buco) 2. LOIN: sirloin steak, tenderloin steak, flank steak, filet mignon, New York strip steak 3. RIB: skirt steak, ribeye steak 4. CHUCK: brisket, ranch steak, denver steak, chuck steak or roast, flat iron steak

Linkdown: 8/22/18

– This all sounds very promising; can’t wait to try Sweet Lew’s sometime soon

– Red Bridges has set up their mobile stand, Little Red’s, at the American Legion World Series

– A former fish camp in Gastonia is turning its focus to barbecue after a change in ownership and a new name – Ray Nathan’s Barbecue

– Does the Texas barbecue taxonomy need updating?

– BBQ at The Catering Kitchen is seemingly becoming a must-stop spot in the Atlanta-area (Cumming, to be exact)

– Also in Atlanta, B’s Cracklin’ BBQ will now be available at Atlanta Hawks games at Phillips Arena this season

– Scotty McCreery is looking forward to eating some eastern NC barbecue on his way to headlining the Watermelon Festival in Winterville this weekend

– ICYMI:

– The rapidly franchising Mighty Quinn’s may be opening a Washington, DC location soon

– In other barbecue franchising news, Rodney Scott’s has announced the location for the forthcoming Birmingham store; after the build of a cinder block pit and some minor interior work it could open as early as late October

– The hashtag says it all

Friday Find: “Sam Jones: BBQ Gospel”

A short feature on Sam Jones, Skylight Inn, and his recently resurrected family barbecue pit from My Home, NC

Everyone has an opinion of their favorite North Carolina barbeque and what method or sauce is best. There are families who have been cooking BBQ for generations. Sam Jones cut his teeth at his granddaddy’s legendary restaurant, Skylight Inn BBQ in Ayden, NC. Now he is hard at work keeping his family’s legacy alive for a new generation of whole hog enthusiasts. My Home, NC talks to him about his restaurant Sam Jones BBQ in Winterville and his love for traveling the world preaching and teaching the finer points of the Jones family’s BBQ gospel at cooking events.

Linkdown: 8/15/18

– A feature on Sauceman’s brazilian pitmaster Edgar Simoes (though whats with the question about sauces?)

– Former Red Bridges pitmaster Phil Schenk passed away earlier this month at the age of 74

– Later this month, Big Tiny’s BBQ in Mooresville celebrates two years of being open

– With its 5 locations, Midwood Smokehouse is on this list of chain restaurants that started in Charlotte

– A writeup on Rashad Lee, barbecue tv personality and owner of Big Lee’s BBQ truck in Ocala, FL

– A roundup of barbecue books released so far this year

– The Norfolk Virginian-Pilot food writer Matthew Korfhage waxes poetic on the “some of the best pulled pork in the known universe” two hours away from him in eastern NC – B’s Barbecue and Skylight Inn

Sure, there are other famous eastern-style whole-hog barbecue spots – most notably Wilber’s in neighboring Wayne County, where presidents have dined and owner Wilber Shirley still presides over his restaurant, as he has for more than 50 years.

But a morning drive down winding, wooded roads to B’s and Skylight – hitting both stops along the way – is one of life’s most unmitigated pleasures, one I’ve only just discovered and will repeat many times before I’m through.

– Speaking of The Virginian-Pilot, good find from Robert Moss from that paper from 1935

 

Friday Find: Howard Conyers and Rodney Scott Talk Sauce on Episode 3 of “Nourish”

Episode 3 of Howard Conyer’s PBS Digital Series “Nourish” focuses on barbecue sauces with James Beard-award winning Rodney Scott.

Did you know your BBQ Sauce preference says a lot about where you come from? If you call a place like South Carolina home, your taste in sauce can be a clue to your hometown. BBQ expert and award-winning Chef Rodney Scott helps break down the regions and flavors in this episode.