Friday Find: BBQ Mea Culpas on The Winnow Podcast

Monk: In the first half of this podcast, some barbecue talk from Robert Moss and Hanna Raskin regarding two of Robert’s recent articles: a piece in the Charleston Post and Courier on the death (or at least decline) of the South Carolina barbecue buffet and his recent published list of Southern Living Top 50 BBQ Joints.

For the barbecue buffet article, Moss incorrectly noted that after Bessinger’s Barbecue shutting down its buffet (while still remaining open as a restaurant) there were only two more buffets left in the lowcountry. Turns out, he was wrong – and apparently people let him know about all the places he missed such as Music Man’s Bar-B-Que in Monck’s Corner and Kelly’s Barbecue in Summerville. The barbecue buffet is something you mainly see in South Carolina and I have only been to a couple in NC: Fuller’s Old Fashion BBQ in Lumberton – which has since relocated to Fayetteville from Lumberton due to flooding as a result of Hurricane Matthew two years ago – and Duke’s Old South BBQ in Leland which has since closed. I suspect if there are more barbecue buffets out there, they are more likely in the coastal plain of eastern NC since we don’t really see them in the piedmont.

In regards to his Top 50 BBQ Joints list, Moss got some grief from Texans who just couldn’t believe that a non-Texas joint was #1 on his list (Scott’s Bar-B-Que in Hemingway, SC ) and that only 3 Texas joints were in the top 10. Apparently they went so far as to refer to his list as “garbage.” Seems a bit harsh, but perhaps not unexpected from Texans when it comes to barbecue – they take that ish seriously.

Linkdown: 10/10/18

– Menu and pricing for the 89th annual Mallard Creek Barbecue coming up in a little more than 2 weeks on October 25, 2018

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– Six names were recently added to the Barbecue Festival Wall of Fame

– A preview of some of the new barbecue foods at this year’s NC State Fair

One of the hottest items at the media luncheon was the Crack-n-Cheese in a Waffle Cone by Hickory Tree BBQ. The waffle cone was stuffed with mac-n-cheese and then topped with turkey barbecue, cole slaw, turkey cracklings and their signature barbecue sauce. While the combination might sound like too much, the end result was a blend of southern goodness.

Chick-N-Que, which also has a popular food truck, served up their Cluck Puppies. A twist on the traditional hush puppy, this dish contains chopped chicken barbecue.

– The Raleigh News & Observer’s 12 Favorite barbecue joints in the triangle

– On Louisiana whole hog boucheries

– Georgia is getting in on the state barbecue trail website action through the work of Georgia College history professors Dr. Craig Pascoe and Dr. James “Trae” Wellborn

– So this recently happened at the original Plaza Midwood location of Midwood Smokehouse

 

Barbecue Bros Book Club: Foods That Make You Say Mmm-mmm by Bob Garner

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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.

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Monk: Bob Garner’s latest book, published in 2014, isn’t strictly a barbecue book per se. Instead it focuses on various favorite foods and drinks of North Carolina, though naturally barbecue is featured being that it is the state’s most popular food.

The barbecue chapter of the book covers the basics in terms of the history of barbecue in the state and how the two dominant styles of barbecue came to be. Where it does cover some new territory compared with previous barbecue books from Garner is the introduction of different styles of smokers into NC, comparing offset and rotisserie smokers imported from the midwest and Texas to the traditional NC brick barbecue pits with its direct heat method. Instead of an exhaustive list of all barbecue restaurants (which Garner previously covered in his Big Book of Barbecue), he instead showcases just four restaurants – one from the east (Skylight Inn), one from the piedmont (Lexington Barbecue), a new-style joint that serves beer while still smoking over wood (Hillsborough BBQ Company), and a regional chain (Smithfield’s Chicken and BBQ).

The book does contain recipes as well, and I particularly like that the recipe for “charcoal cooked pulled pork” is for a Lexington-style barbecue recipe smoked on a Weber charcoal grill.

The subsequent chapters of the book cover foods often eaten with barbecue like brunswick stew and collards as well as desserts such as banana pudding and peach cobbler. This is smartly done by Garner.

As for other barbecue-related items, the book also has later chapters on barbecue sauces found in stores, Texas Pete hot sauce, as well as soft drinks created in NC. Longtime readers and followers will note how much I love Cheerwine or Sun Drop with barbecue, and of course the history of those are featured.

“Foods That Make You Say Mmm-mmm” lovingly explores the food and drinks of North Carolina in a way that only a native North Carolinian can. It is very much a Bob Garner book – and that’s a very good thing.

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Linkdown: 9/26/18

– Dave Grohl learned to first love barbecue in NC, though I’m curious if he was coming inland from the beach and if so, where:

When Nirvana became popular, the first thing I did is I bought a beach house in North Carolina and spent years up there, and I just ate pulled pork like f—ing crazy from the time I was 22 to about 25 years old,” Grohl said in between temperature checks. When he broke his leg on tour a few years ago and was holed up at home, he really dove into making it himself.

– Vegan barbecue in Charlotte? For shame!

– Pitmaster Matt Horn is bringing central Texas style barbecue to Oakland

– Tim Carman loves ZZQ in Richmond

– The latest on Noble Smoke, though you may find it behind the Charlotte Business Journal paywall if you have visited the site a few times this month

– Triad fall festivals including the Barbecue Festival in Lexington and Whole Hog Barbecue Championship in Raleigh are moving ahead as planned and do not expect to be impacted by the aftermath of Florence

– The N.C. Department of Transportation and Amtrak are offering a 15% discount on train rides to Lexington during the two days of The Barbecue Festival

– Lexington has been ranked one of the smelliest cities in the US according to Expedia

The thick, sweet smoke, tangled with the scent of hickory, wafts through from the barbecue pits in Lexington. Here the air smells of tender meat, falling off the bone, slathered in the town’s very own tomato-based sauce.

– The Smoking Ho on Lewis Barbecue: “If you picked Lewis Barbecue up and placed it anywhere in Texas, it would make the Texas Monthly BBQ Top 10 list. Easily.”

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 vinegar-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