Videographer/photographer Tarik Sykes spends some time with rising star Tyler Harp of Harp Barbecue at his weekly pop-up at Crane Brewing in Raytown, MO (about 20 minutes outside of Kansas City). Sean Ludwig from The Smoke Sheet and NYC BBQ even makes an appearance towards the end of the video.
Description: I shot this video over 2 Saturdays visiting with Tyler at Harp Barbecue which is every Saturday from 11-Sellout at Crane Brewing in Raytown, Mo. (Unless posted they will be closed).
Tyler talks about when they started their Pop-up at Crane Brewing and hits on how BBQ is broke up into Regions and KC being a hub of the different Regions in BBQ. Also touches them making Pork Belly Burnt Ends at the Pop-up !
Monk: Writer/director/producer Jon Favreau caught the food bug while filming his movie “Chef” (in which Aaron Franklin had a cameo) and has turned that into the travel/food docuseries “The Chef Show” where he explores the county with Los Angeles food truck godfather Roy Choi (who was a producer as well was the inspiration for the movie). In a couple of episodes from season 1, Jon and Roy stop in Austin to spend time with Aaron Franklin before checking out the Hot Luck Festival (which I’ll recap next week).
The episode starts with the three of them meeting up for breakfast tacos at the Pueblo Viejo taco truck. There, Favreau gets a brief history from Franklin on the start of Franklin Barbecue from the tiny first trailer in 2009 where he was on the forefront of the craft barbecue movement in Austin and ultimately the US. While Franklin’s briskets weren’t quite at the current level when they first opened, it was through the repetition of smoking briskets every day no matter the weather or greenness of the wood that Franklin got the briskets to be of a consistent quality. Roy and Aaron compared notes from the early days (and simpler times) of their respective food trucks, and how they eventually learned to embrace the hours-long lines of people and the possibility of disappointing them.
The middle segment focuses on Favreau prepping a brisket in the kitchen at Franklin Barbecue, getting tips along the way. Favreau also tells the brief story of smoking a brisket and flying with it cross-country to meet Bill Murray to convince him to do The Jungle Book. Then, Franklin shows Favreau how he would trim his brisket (14:54). For those without a Master Class subscription to watch Aaron Franklin run through his brisket process step by step, I would imagine they would want to study this segment very carefully.
Then, Favreau and Franklin season their briskets (18:59) with Franklin’s half and half rub of Morton’s Kosher salt and 16 mesh black pepper, which they age. Franklin is careful not to waste too much pepper, as he apparently accidentally throws away $200 per week (!!) in pepper from the side of the board. From there, the briskets are off to the smoker.
The final part of the episode is Favreau slicing for customers in line at Franklin (though no orders are being taken and it looks to be not during a regular service since each customer just gets a slice of brisket on white bread). Franklin is of course there to give him tips on his slicing, from using the thumb as a guide to making sure not to twist his wrist during the action of slicing.
In this episode of “The Chef Show”, Favreau brings a fan and backyard smoker’s perspective to Franklin Barbecue (albeit, a backyard smoker who happens to be a big Hollywood player and has Aaron Franklin on speed dial). Choi is less a part of the show and somewhat relegates himself to the background with not much from him after the initial segment on the humble beginnings of his food truck. Though he does get a little more run in the next episode where he is cooking his short ribs at the Hot Luck festival. Franklin himself is great on camera, and his personality shines through. All in all, the 26 minute episode breezes by very quickly and is worth checking out for any barbecue fan with a Netflix account.
Host (and from the looks of in, relative newcomer to barbecue) Frank Pinello spends a Friday night at Snow’s BBQ with the legendary Miss Tootsie, pitmaster Clay Cowgill, and owner Kerry Bexley. From basting pork steaks, chicken, and ribs to picking out the done briskets to taking orders in line, he tries just about every task at Snow’s, even if very briefly. He even gets scolded by Miss Tootsie for slamming the smoker door too heavily.
Description: Frank Pinello is back in Texas with another episode of A Frank Experience. This time, he’s in Lexington, TX and is learning what it takes to make world-class barbecue for the masses at the legendary Snow’s BBQ.
Famous for their dry rub and onion-based mop, Snow’s specializes in barbecue brisket, but also makes world-famous ribs, jalapeño cheddar sausage links, chicken and pork steak. Frank works the pit all night, trying to keep up with 84 year-old pit master Tootsie Tomanetz, who’s been making barbecued meats for the people of Lexington for over 50 years. After mopping the meat, Frank tries his hand working the counter (and an electric carving knife) with the Snow’s staff to serve the lengthy line of customers who start queuing up at 8am for proper Texas BBQ.
Monk: I never got those “best of the year” lists that publish in early December, whether it’s barbecue, music, or film (yes, I understand deadlines but stay with me here). What, do they think they aren’t going to potentially eat a great barbecue meal (or discover a new album or film) sometime in the last three weeks of the year? Not me; I’m always going to give myself every opportunity to eat a meal which could possibly make the list. And then I’m going to post that list in January.
That being said, with no signs of the barbecue boom slowing down any time soon, some of the best meals I’ve had yet in the history of this blog happened in 2019. Here were the best of those, and here’s hoping 2020 is full of even more great barbecue.
Honorable Mentions: Brisket and pork from Farmhouse BBQ (review), Whole hog sandwich from Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint (review)
10 (tie). Chopped sandwich with hush puppies and Cheerwine from Mr. Barbecue (review)
Sadly, shortly after my visit in March Mr. Barbecue experienced a fire in their stick burning brick pits that has temporarily closed the restaurant but hopefully they will reopen soon and continue slinging their Lexington-style barbecue to the lucky citizens of Winston-Salem.
Hubba Hubba Smokehouse has been quietly churning out great barbecue from their massive brick pits in the mountains of NC since the early 2000s. They had been on my list for years and I finally got a chance to check them out this year and also spend a little time with pitmaster Spencer Purcell. They are closed for the winter but any serious barbecue fan should check them out once they reopen in the Spring.
9. Bryan Furman’s whole hog and brisket at Sweet Lew’s BBQ (post)
Revenge BBQ is one of two places on this list from an unexpected barbecue location, with Revenge being in the scenic Hudson Valley town of Irvington, about 45 minutes north of New York City. And as is the case with just about any restaurant in an unexpected location, they adhere to the Texas tradition pretty closely and with good results. The brisket shone that day and the Kreuz Market-imported sausages were properly smoked, proving that disciples of Texas barbecue are continuing to spread the message far and wide.
This meal from late December is exactly why I waited to publish my list until January. My previous stop at BBQ King was nearly 3 years before this visit but this simple tray of fresh barbecue on a Friday at 3pm on December 27 reminded me that I need to make it a point to stop by there more often. As should all barbecue fans in western NC.
6. Pork, ribs, and brisket from Apple City BBQ (review)
While Apple City BBQ had been on my radar for some time, my visit this year was completely unplanned and only happened as a result of several detours on the way from Charlotte to the Wilkesboro area for a weekend getaway with the oldest Monkette. As soon as I passed Apple City in Taylorsville right at dinner time on that Friday, I turned the car around and made the stop. Thankfully I did, as it was a fantastic meal of pork, ribs, and brisket. Plus, those deep fried corn nuggets were a unique and noteworthy side.
While the brisket, pulled pork, and ribs were on point each and every time I had Jon G’s Barbecue this year, the Cheerwine hot link represented a cool and exciting development for owners Garren and Kelly. From what I am hearing, 2020 is going to be a big year for them and I can’t wait for more folks in the Charlotte area to be able to try their barbecue. It is our #1 on the Charlotte Big Board, after all.
4. Brisket, pork belly, ribs, and pulled pork from Owlbear Barbecue (review)
I certainly didn’t expect one of the best barbecue meals I had in 2019 to be in Denver, CO. While in the past I would have considered Denver to be a bit of a barbecue wasteland (from a local circa 2013: “Head to Texas if you want good barbecue”), that appears to be changing as part of the nationwide barbecue boom. Owlbear Barbecue owner and pitmaster Karl Fallenius is originally from Texas and previously worked at Franklin Barbecue and has brought that approach to Denver. The brisket rivaled some of the best I’ve had in or out of Texas and the pork belly was the best meat on the platter that day and one of the best meats I tasted in 2019.
3. Whole hog barbecue sandwich and hash and rice from Sweatman’s Bar-B-Que (review)
The simplicity of the whole hog sandwich from Sweatman’s reminded me that, when done right, mustard-based barbecue isn’t some unholy union of sauce and pork. Plus, that hash and rice was life-changingly good.
2. The Miss Mary Platter (Lexington-style barbecue, brisket, turkey, ribs plus eastern and red slaw) and smoked wings from Noble Smoke (review)
In July, Noble Smoke gave Charlotte a true destination barbecue joint and based on several recent visits, locals and out-of-towners alike have shown up for it. I can only hope that with the recent additions of Noble Smoke and Sweet Lew’s BBQ, both in our top 3, Charlotte’s barbecue scene continues the momentum into 2020.
2019 certainly was the year of whole hog barbecue, and that looks to be continuing into 2020 (Particularly in Raleigh, who is getting no less than 4 whole hog joints – Sam Jones BBQ, Wyatt’s Barbecue, Ed Mitchell’s new place The Preserve, and Lawrence BBQ). 2019 was also the year that I finally achieved what I had been hoping to do for several years – smoke a whole hog on a cinder block pit in my backyard. Speedy made the trip into town and the two of us took shifts manning the pit overnight. I was extremely pleased with how (relatively) easy it was and how good the barbecue turned out. For my first whole hog, I couldn’t have been happier (or more tired).
So that’s it. What were some of your favorite barbecue meals this year?