Friday Find: Rodney Scott on Tales from the Pits at CHSWFF

More content from Charleston Wine and Food Festival from the Tales from the Pits guys. A lot of familiar ground on Rodney Scott, with a little more focus on his recent expansion to Birmingham and any potential future expansion plans he has. Lots more podcasts to come from Tales from the Pits from the festival.

Rodney Scott grew up cooking whole hogs at his family’s general store in the small town of Hemingway, South Carolina. The tradition of hogs cooked under the direct heat of coals burned down from wood splits was the way Rodney learned to cook and still utilizes today.

As food media began to take notice of the whole hog traditions being carried on by Rodney, Hemingway would see an increase in tourists coming to try he and his family’s barbecue. Over the course of time Rodney would meet and become friends with Nick Pihakis, who encouraged Rodney to come to Charleston to open his own place. Rodney Scott’s BBQ opened in 2016 to huge success and acclaim. The city of Charleston embraced his barbecue traditions and in 2018 he became only the second pitmaster to win an acclaimed James Beard chef award.

Rodney and the Pihakis Restaurant Group continue to grow the Rodney Scott’s BBQ brand and spread more whole hog greatness across the country, the latest installment being the opening in early 2019 of a new location in Birmingham, Alabama.

Friday Find: Tales from the Pits Post-Charleston Wine and Food Festival

I got major FOMO listening to this podcast of the Tales from the Pit guys rundown of their 5 days in Charleston earlier this month. Total FOMO. I will definitely have to try to make it out next year.

There are so many amazing events that take place during the five day Charleston Wine + Food (CHSWFF) festival and we were fortunate to be granted media access to many of them. From whiskey-centric experiences to barbecue excursions, we did our best to take in all of the sights and sounds of this incredible culinary opportunity.

This episode will give you a rundown of all of the events we covered as well as some food and drink highlights from each. We were fortunate to get to spend time with some amazing barbecue talents such as Rodney Scott, Sam Jones, Jonathan and Justin Fox, John Lewis, Anthony DiBernardo, and many more.

We’ve got some exciting interviews that we’ll be posting in the coming weeks from these events, so stay tuned for those. A special thanks to Alyssa Maute Smith and the entire Charleston Wine + Food team for putting together such an outstanding collection of unbelievable events and excursions. Be sure to follow CHSWFF on social media to get tickets for next year’s events when they are announced!

Linkdown 2/20/19

Author Adrian Miller made his way through NC, SC, GA, and FL last week doing research for his forthcoming book “Black Smoke” and made a stop at Grady’s BBQ

The new Rodney Scott’s BBQ has opened in Birmingham and is one of three new spots to check out

While back in Charleston, Rodney flew back in town to meet with presidential candidate Kamala Harris at the Charleston store

South Carolina Tourism is breaking records in part due to the Barbecue Trail

RIP Rick Schmidt of Kreuz Market

Last weekend’s Whole Hog Summit in Kinston was a “great success”

According to Travel Channel, Memphis is a the hottest southern destination to visit in 2019, partially due to barbecue

In Memphis, you’ll be surrounded by some of the most finger-licking delicious barbecue joints in the country. Whether you prefer brisket, pulled pork, or a slab of baby back ribs, more than 100 barbecue joints across town are ready to wow you (mostly with pork since that’s what Memphis-style is all about). The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest each May draws more than 75,000 barbeque-loving attendees. While in town, sign up for a class with Memphis Barbecue Supply, including free classes on how to cook competition-quality pulled pork and pork ribs. Yum.

Meatfest: NM style

Linkdown: 1/30/19

Vote in USA Today’s 10Best Reader’s Choice Awards for Best Barbecue in NC

Stamey’s Barbecue with a mini-tweet storm last week; none of which is wrong (click on the tweet below to see the rest):

Sometime it pays to have the fire chief as your pitmaster; a fire broke out in the smokehouse of Skylight Inn last week but Sam Jones was among the firefighters who put the fire out

Rock the Block in downtown Charleston is Saturday, February 23 and benefits Hogs for the Cause; Sam Jones and Justin and Jonathan Fox of Fox Bros BBQ will be in attendance

Conde Nast Travel recently profiled Birmingham and its reinvention and shouted out Rodney Scott’s BBQ, which is opening a store there in 2019

“The city caught my attention because of how pleasant it is,” says Rodney Scott, the James Beard Best Chef Southeast 2018 for his Rodney Scott’s BBQ in Charleston. He’s set to open his next, identical concept in Birmingham first-quarter 2019. “It’s a big city, but it feels like a small town,” he says. “It doesn’t feel like New York or Chicago, but it’s just as important a food city in my opinion.”

WBTV in Charlotte recently featured the “Love Endures” mural by artist Curtis King, which was saved from demolition and now resides behind Sweet Lew’s BBQ

The New York Times’ eating guide for Atlanta for this weekend’s Super Bowl and gives Bryan Furman and B’s Cracklin’ Barbecue a shoutout for being the only whole hog joint in town

Sure, why not?

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.

Friday Find: Tales From the Pits recaps their #HogTripping roadtrip

The Tales from the Pits crew and The Smoking Ho recap their epic #HogTripping roadtrip from Texas through the Carolinas and back that took place earlier this month. I even get a brief mention at around the 49:45 mark, from when I was able to briefly meet up with them at Lewis Barbecue the Saturday of Labor Day.

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.”

Lewis Barbecue – Charleston, SC (Speedy’s take)

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Name
: Lewis Barbecue
Date: 8/1/18
Address: 464 N Nassau St, Charleston, SC 29403
Order: 1 pound brisket, 2 hot gut links, 6 bones pork ribs, corn pudding, collards (link to menu)

Speedy: Later in the day after my trip to Rodney Scott’s BBQ (and after visiting a brewery of course), some of my fam and I decided to visit another new-ish Charleston joint I was pumped about – Lewis Barbecue. After superb visits to both Franklin Barbecue and La Barbecue (where John Lewis did stints), my expectations were super high. Finding a true Texas joint in South Carolina is definitely a treat.

The atmosphere at Lewis Barbecue is awesome. There’s an order counter, a bar, a fair amount of indoor seating and ample outdoor seating. Upon arriving, you order and just like in Texas, the meat is cut and weighed right in front of you. Even though we were still full from our earlier lunch, for our second lunch we made sure to order the brisket, pork ribs, and hot guts.

Monk: I was quite jealous when I heard Speedy and crew were doing Rodney Scott’s and then Lewis back-to-back. You may notice that most of my comments below are just agreeing with how good the food is at Lewis, and I hope I get a chance to get back there again soon (Labor Day weekend, perhaps?).

Rudy: I’m jealous too that you were able to visit Lewis Barbecue.  When he was the pitmaster at La Barbecue, that was the best brisket and maybe best ribs I’ve had, so I’ve missed him in Austin and have been wanting to try his place in Charleston.

Monk: Just throwing this out there…Barbecue Bros company retreat in Charleston next year?

Speedy: I’ll start with the brisket, as that’s the flagship meat. In short, it’s the best brisket I’ve had outside of Texas. We got a mix of fatty and lean, and both cuts were smoked to perfection, seasoned perfectly. I liked the fatty better than the lean, as I felt the lean was a bit dry. Unfortunately, this brisket did not enter into the holy quadrumvirate with Franklin, La Barbecue, Killen’s, and Pecan Lodge, but it’s certainly in the next tier down. A must order.

Rudy: Like I said before, his brisket in Texas is the best I’ve ever had (although Franklin and Pecan Lodge are very very close) so I am not surprised that it was great, but am surprised that it did not break into that group.

Speedy: I was a little surprised too, Rudy. It was still darn good and very close, but maybe it was just a slightly sub-par day or that I usually don’t order lean at all, but it just lacked that extra something special.

Monk: While I have a few more Texas joints (notably, Louie Mueller) under my belt from my trip earlier this year, Lewis Barbecue is still the best brisket I’ve personally had at a restaurant. Note that I have yet to visit any of the spots mentioned in Speedy’s quadrumvirate. Also, based on the lack of spell check squigglies, “quadrumvirate” is apparently a real word and not something made up by Speedy.

Speedy: The hot guts took things to the next level. I like smoked sausage, but have always considered it a second tier barbecue meat. Well, John Lewis is challenging that. The sausage had a perfect snap and great flavor, with just  a bit of a kick. I’m not sure the sausage could have been better.

Monk: I didn’t know that you were biased against sausage, Speedy. Six-plus years into this barbecue blog and you still manage to surprise me.

In any case, I too loved the hot guts.

Rudy: I’ve had the hot guts two times and really didn’t like it all that much.  I think they are all beef and I am not a huge fan of that because I think it can sometimes dry out or crumble.  It could have also been because I had heard so much about them and went in with huge expectations. But most people rave about it and you guys are no different.

Speedy: The ribs were also enjoyable – served with just a light glaze, these spare ribs were big and meaty, rich and tender. There was a hint of sweetness associated with the glaze, and you could clearly taste the smoke, but I would have liked a little more rub under the glaze to add a little spice and seasoning. Still quite good, but if you’re going to skip a meat at Lewis, this is the one.

The sides at Lewis Barbecue are worth more than a casual mention – they are really really good. Particularly the corn pudding was amazing, so don’t skip it.

Monk: The corn pudding was both mine and Mrs. Monk’s favorite side from Lewis as well. Jon G’s Barbecue has their own version of a corn pudding inspired by Lewis and it’s nearly as good. The takeaway here is that more joints should add corn pudding to menus.

Speedy: The meal at Lewis Barbecue was really great. Eating it in the same day as Rodney Scott’s was a real treat (as well as a challenge in terms of stomach room). Both joints are must-visit if you’re in the Charleston area and offer great insights into different styles of ‘cue.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 4 hogs
Brisket – 4.5 hogs
Ribs – 4 hogs
Hot guts – 5 hogs
Sides – 4.5 hogs
Overall – 4.5 hogs

Rodney Scott’s BBQ – Charleston, SC (Speedy’s take)

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Name: Rodney Scott’s BBQ
Date: 8/1/18
Address: 1011 King St, Charleston, SC 29403
Order: Pork and Rib Combo, fries/hush puppies, 6 smoked wings) (link to menu)
Price: $20 (combo), $6 (wings)

Speedy: Recently, I took a trip to Charleston with the extended family, so I knew I had to convince my brother and cousins to leave behind the wives and kids for a few hours to hit eat some ‘cue and drink some brews. Our first stop was Rodney Scott’s BBQ.

Of course I had heard of Rodney Scott before, but I had never been to either his Hemingway or Charleston location, so to say I was excited was a bit of an understatement. I knew I had to try both the pork and the ribs, and thankfully there was a combo plate on the menu, so despite the fact that I knew I had a second lunch coming up, I knew what I had to do. The best part – real-life Bro picked up the check. Just kidding – (spoiler alert!) the chopped pork was the best part, but the Bro paying was the second best part.

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After ordering, the food was brought out promptly, and it was time to dig in. I’ll start with the flagship of the restaurant – the whole hog chopped pork. Though we were in South Carolina, this was classic eastern NC ‘cue – smoked until perfectly tender, chopped fine, and sauced with the perfect vinegary, peppery dip. I loved the tang of the meat and don’t think I would change a thing. On his visit, Monk left Rodney Scott’s feeling mildly disappointed, but thinking back on it just makes me smile. I never tried any of the table sauce, because none was needed.

Monk: To clarify, I was only disappointed compared with that first bite at the legendary Scott’s BBQ in Hemingway, which was in the top 5 of barbecue meals I’ve ever had. My anticipation of that whole hog only grew exponentially in the almost 4 years between, so my visit was a slight letdown only compared with my (somewhat unfair) enormous expectations. On my next visit to Rodney Scott’s, I’m sure I’ll be able to properly appreciate it.

Also, while we tend to think of whole hog as eastern NC, the Pee Dee region of SC (basically, the northeastern corner bordering NC) has their own whole hog tradition which has its similarities. That’s what Rodney Scott draws from as does Elliot Moss of Buxton Hall Barbecue in Asheville, being that he is originally from the Florence, SC area. It makes sense when you look at it geographically.

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Speedy: The ribs, which Monk didn’t try, were also enjoyable. They were big, meaty, and cooked perfectly. I really enjoy dry rubbed ribs, which usually are extremely heavily seasoned and not sauced at all. These ribs were different in that they were not heavily seasoned and had only a hint of a glaze, so the pork flavor and the smoke really shined through. I think Rodney Scott did exactly what he wanted with these ribs, and I would recommend everyone try them, but they were very good but not transcendent to me. I did put some spicy sauce on for a taste, but it wasn’t really needed (though it went well). Overall, a very good effort and as a “second meat” at a joint, pretty impressive.

Monk: I definitely want to try the ribs next time. Everyone knows that Speedy is the rib guy of the bros, but I’ve read good things about them, including how Rodney Scott really cooked them for the first time at the 2017 Big Apple BBQ Block Party (talk about pressure). I’d be interested in tasting some of the other menu items as well such as fried catfish or the ribeye sandwich.

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Speedy: The smoked wings were good for what they are, but they themselves are not a reason to visit Rodney Scott’s. They had a nice dry rub and were smoked well, but I could have used a little more sauce. Wing tastes are so variable, and these just weren’t as good as the pork or ribs.

In addition to my ordered sides (hush puppies and fries), I also sampled the collards. The hush puppies were very good, the fries above average, but the collards were amazing. They had chunks of pork in and were seriously some of the best collards I’ve ever had.

To top off this awesome meal, I was able to chat briefly with the man Rodney Scott himself. For most of the time we were there, he was walking around the dining room making sure everyone was having a great meal, which we were. As a double bonus, Darius Rucker came in to eat. Surprisingly, he didn’t recognize me, so we didn’t get to chat, but it’s good to know that Rucker knows both 90s rock and barbecue.

Monk:  Unless Speedy is leaving something out here, I gotta say how surprised I am that he managed to keep his composure and not go all Chris Farley Show on Rucker – “Hey, remember when you were in Hootie and the Blowfish? That was awesome.”

Well done, Speedy.

Speedy: Overall, this was the best barbecue meal I’ve had in Charleston, maybe in SC. Our whole group agreed – we will be back to Rodney Scott’s.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3 hogs
Pulled Pork – 4.5 hogs
Ribs – 4 hogs
Wings – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 4.5 hogs
Overall – 4.5 hogs