Linkdown: 6/12/19

From this month’s barbecue issue of Charlotte Magazine

Texas Monthly on 2019’s best barbecue books

Houston’s barbecue scene is on fire

Several Lexington barbecue joints are featured in this blog post from Bites of the Bull City

Robert Sietsema on the history of barbecue in NYC from the 80’s to the present

Sam Jones will be doing a book event at the downtown Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint in Nashville on June 25

Congrats to The Smoking Ho on 6 years

Barbecue Bros Book Club: “The Prophets of Smoked Meat” by Daniel Vaughn

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.

Monk: Before Daniel Vaughn was BBQ Editor of Texas Monthly (but not before he was the BBQ Snob), he took a series of long range barbecue roadtrips across Texas spiraling out from his homebase of Dallas. Those trips, along with some profiles of notable pitmasters, form the narrative structure of this book, The Prophets of Smoked Meat, which was released in 2013 on Anthony Bourdain’s Ecco imprint.

Vaughn had been writing on his old Blogspot blog, Full Custom Gospel BBQ, going back to 2008 so was well versed in many of the great and not-so-great joints across Texas. Oddly enough, for a book that celebrates the best in Texas barbecue, for several long stretches of this book (particularly the Panhandle and East Texas trips) Vaughn experienced some quite severe barbecue droughts accompanied by photographer and friend Nicholas McWhirter and a rotating cast of friends and family. Based on this book alone, one might even come away with the impression that outside of a few truly transcendent joints (Snow’s, Franklin Barbecue, Louie Mueller, etc), there’s quite a lot of bad or mediocre barbecue in Texas. I can’t speak from personal experience, but it was interesting to this Texas barbecue novice nonetheless.

Vaughn’s writing has improved from years of full-time barbecue writing but his style here is informal and easy to read – about what you’d expect from a blogger-turned-author. I get a bit of a Hunter S. Thompson vibe in reading Vaughn’s pursuit of vices – in this case the Texas trinity – brisket, sausage, and pork ribs – as well as alcohol (but definitely not mescaline).

In addition to the barbecue roadtrips, there are 20 or so short profiles with recipes of notable pitmasters such as Tootsie Tomanetz of Snow’s BBQ, Wayne Mueller of Louie Mueller, Roy Perez of Kreuz Market, Greg Gatlin of Gatlin’s BBQ, and of course Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue.

An unexpected (for me, anyways) side effect of the book was the descriptions of the vast landscape and terrain of Texas, from the vastness of western plains to the Llano Estacado to the Hill Country to the bayou of east Texas. My Texas experience is limited primarily to the big cities, but this makes me want to spend a week driving in the remote areas of Texas.

The Prophets of Smoked Meat is essential reading for anyone interested in barbecue in 2019, not only because of Vaughn’s position as a BBQ Editor (perhaps still the only such full-time position in the US) but because of the dominance of Texas in American barbecue. As a NC barbecue fanboy, similar to how I felt after reading “Texas BBQ, Small Town to Downtown,” there needs to be one of these books for NC barbecue. Again, I’d happily volunteer my services for such a gig.

Available anywhere you buy books. Official description:

The debut title in the Anthony Bourdain Books line, The Prophets of Smoked Meat by “Barbecue Snob” Daniel Vaughn, author of the enormously popular blog Full Custom Gospel BBQ, is a rollicking journey through the heart of Texas Barbecue.

From brisket to ribs, beef to pork, mesquite to oak, this fully illustrated, comprehensive guide to Texas barbecue includes pit masters’ recipes, tales of the road—from country meat markets to roadside stands, sumptuous photography, and a panoramic look at the Lone Star State, where smoked meat is sacred.

Barbecue Bros Book Club: “Texas BBQ: From Small Town to Downtown” by Wyatt McSpadden

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.

Texas photographer Wyatt McSpadden released a barbecue photo book just 9 years before this book, in 2009. So why a new book now? Well, in case you hadn’t noticed, a lot has happened in the world of barbecue in the past 10 years, particularly in Texas. In 2013, Texas Monthly hired a full-time barbecue editor in Daniel Vaughn (who lends McSpadden an essay for this book). Also, a little joint opened up in Austin just months after that first book’s release, and it changed everything. You may have heard of it – Franklin Barbecue. So yeah, there is quite a bit more ground to cover.

Now I haven’t yet read the first book (though its now at the top of my shortlist of barbecue books), but I get the impression that its very similar in nature. In “Texas BBQ, Small Town to Downtown,” Wyatt’s fantastic photography is front and center, of course and beautifully laid out by his wife Nancy McMillan.

Wyatt does write about a handful of joints that mean a great deal to him, from joints that remind him of the joints he went to growing up in Amarillo (like Prause Meat Market in xxx) to legendary places where he tasted his first transcendent bites of barbecue (Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor).

Wyatt’s passion is evident in those words as well as his gorgeous photography. He was there to document the rise of Aaron Franklin and Franklin Barbecue (Franklin provides the foreword, pictured above) and more than most, has criss-crossed the state for nearly 30 years, documenting every weathered nook and smoke-encrusted cranny.
“Texas BBQ: From Small Town to Downtown” is an essential barbecue book to add to your collection. I will say, North Carolina barbecue needs it’s own iteration of this book, and what a dream job that would be.

Available wherever you buy books. Official description:

In Texas BBQ, Wyatt McSpadden immortalized the barbecue joints of rural Texas in richly authentic photographs that made the people and places in his images appear as timeless as barbecue itself. The book found a wide, appreciative audience as barbecue surged to national popularity with the success of young urban pitmasters such as Austin’s Aaron Franklin, whose Franklin Barbecue has become the most-talked-about BBQ joint on the planet. Succulent, wood-smoked “old school” barbecue is now as easy to find in Dallas as in DeSoto, in Houston as in Hallettsville. In Texas BBQ, Small Town to Downtown, Wyatt McSpadden pays homage to this new urban barbecue scene, as well as to top-rated country joints, such as Snow’s in Lexington, that were under the radar or off the map when Texas BBQwas published.

Texas BBQ, Small Town to Downtown presents crave-inducing images of both the new—and the old—barbecue universe in almost every corner of the state, featuring some two dozen joints not included in the first book. In addition to Franklin and Snow’s, which have both occupied the top spot in Texas Monthly’s barbecue ratings, McSpadden portrays urban joints such as Dallas’s Pecan Lodge and Cattleack Barbecue and small-town favorites such as Whup’s Boomerang Bar-B-Que in Marlin. Accompanying his images are barbecue reflections by James Beard Award–winning pitmaster Aaron Franklin and Texas Monthly’s barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn. Their words and McSpadden’s photographs underscore how much has changed—and how much remains the same—since Texas BBQrevealed just how much good, old-fashioned ’cue there is in Texas.

Linkdown: 12/16/15

– Now at Stamey’s:

– Grilling with Rich reviews Sam Jones BBQ in Winterville

– They also have an interview with Cary-based BBQ pitmaster and author, Christopher Prieto

– Here’s a recipe for a Georgia-style brunswick stew from Virginia Brock; speaking of Georgia and Virginia

Virginia staked her claim boldly in 1988, with a statewide proclamation as this stew’s place of origin, and it has hosted an annual Brunswick stew festival and contest for more than twenty-five years. In a gesture of goodwill, they invite rival stew-masters to bring their crews up from Georgia for some spirited stew celebrations. Georgia staked her own claim by building a monument featuring a massive cast-iron stewpot, which they proudly declare to be the very one in which noble Georgia residents stirred up the very first batch of Brunswick stew back in 1898.

– City Smoke (one of our least favorite Charlotte barbecue restaurants) is shifting their concept from barbecue restaurant to rotisserie, smokehouse, and speak easy

The re-brand comes at a time when the restaurant’s owners wanted to take the eatery to a new level – more than that of a barbecue joint. Of course, that barbecue was the cause for much celebration after City Smoke was named the winner of the Carolina Cook Off edition of “BBQ Blitz” on Food Network thanks to Chef Adam Pugh’s rendition of smoked pork chops with cheddar grits.

– Meathead Goldwyn’s list of best books for the BBQ lover (via)

– Big beer news from Charlotte’s Queen City Q, official barbecue of the Charlotte Hornets, Charlotte Knights baseball team, Charlotte Checkers hockey team, and Charlotte Hounds lacrosse team:

The Barbecue Bros Holiday 2015 Gift Guide

Here’s some gift ideas for the barbecue lover in your life. The bolded items are the ones I can personally recommend. Feel free to add or suggest any other gift ideas in the comments below and I’ll update the post through the holidays.

Monk

Books


Apparel

Other

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See our 2014 gift guide here
See our 2013 gift guide here

Barbecue Bros Book Club: Barbecue: The History of An American Institution by Robert Moss

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Not that I’m 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. First up is what I would consider an essential book to understanding barbecue.

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In order to better understand where barbecue is heading today, I think its vital to understand the history and foundation of barbecue in the US. Robert Moss is a barbecue historian from Charleston and the current barbecue editor of Southern Living Magazine, so he is as qualified as any to write about the origins of barbecue in the United States and how the regional styles popped up. And that is exactly what he does in Barbecue: An American Institution. In it, he traces the Caribbean origins of the word to the American roots in Virginia – thats right, South Carolina, you are decidedly not the birthplace of barbecue despite what your ludicrous campaign says – through the decline during the fast food era and its current rebirth.

Moss’s book is comprehensive in its documentation of barbecue’s trends across America, and while it does devote some space to detailing the regional styles of barbecue (North Carolina, Texas, South Carolina, etc) if you are looking for more in-depth knowledge about a particular style you will have to look elsewhere. Still, this is as good a starting place as ever if you are looking to read up on American barbecue. Lots of great archival photos and ads are sprinkled throughout as are some barbecue-related recipes. Highly recommended.

Monk

The Barbecue Bros Holiday 2014 Gift Guide (updated)

With just a little over a week to go, here’s some last minute gift ideas for the barbecue lover in your life. The bolded items are the ones I can personally recommend. Feel free to add any other gift ideas in the comments below.

Monk

See last year’s gift guide here

Books

Apparel

Other

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The Barbecue Bros Holiday Gift Guide!

The holidays are upon us, and if you are looking for a last minute gift for a NC barbecue lover in your life, I can personally recommend the following books. But you don’t have to take my word for it.

-Monk

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Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue by John Shelton Reed, Dale Volberg Reed, and William McKinney

My favorite of the three NC barbecue books listed here. A comprehensive and oftentimes funny history of barbecue in North Carolina with tons of extra information packed into the sidebars (think fun facts, photos, and graphics). There are also recipes and profiles of several barbecue pitmasters who are cooking barbecue the right way across the state. If his name sounds familiar, John Shelton Reed recently teamed up with the BBQ Jew to to create True ‘Cue.

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Bob Garner’s Book of Barbecue: North Carolina’s Favorite Food by Bob Garner

This book is actually two books in one – North Carolina Barbecue: Flavored by Time and Bob Garner’s Guide to North Carolina Barbecue – and is part NC barbecue primer, part recipe book, and part restaurant reviews. All from “the barbecue man” and UNC-TV barbecue personality himself, Bob Garner.

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The Best Tar Heel Barbecue: From Manteo to Murphy by Jim Early

This book is a little dated but is a fairly comprehensive listing of barbecue joints from the Outer Banks to the very western corner of the state, even if a handful of the restaurants have closed by now. Jim Early is the founder of the NC Barbecue Society, so he is also another man who definitely knows what he is talking about when it comes to NC barbecue.

What about you? What are your favorite barbecue-related books (NC or otherwise)? Feel free to respond in the comments. 

Holy Smoke quote

Barbecue in these parts is ever so much more than just the meat; it’s also the preparation, the ritual, the social occasion, the fellowship, the anticipation, the realization, the memory.

John Egerton, taken from Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue by John Shelton Reed and Dale Volberg Reed

I finished this recently and highly recommend it if you want to know about the history of barbecue in North Carolina or the difference between eastern and Lexington style barbecue or read testimonials from some of the most revered pit masters in the state or all of the above. If we gave whole hog reviews to books, I would give it 5 whole hogs. Great book.

-Monk