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

Friday Find: Tim Carman Drops By The Winnow Podcast to Give Tips on Ranking Barbecue

Robert Moss is in the middle of compiling and ranking a list of his Top 50 Southern BBQ Joints for Southern Living magazine and in the first half of this podcast episode, he gets tips from Washington Post food writer on a couple of questions he is working through: 1) How do you handle a situation like Scott’s Bar-B-Que in Hemingway and Rodney Scott’s BBQ in Charleston? and 2) Do you judge a restaurant based on the whole experience, just the meats, or everything on the plate? And what about dessert?

Moss also tells Tim and co-host Hanna Raskin why he is ranking the top 10 restaurants in this year’s version of the list.

Click the link in the tweet above or access it here

Friday Find: “It’s Alive with Brad” joins Rodney Scott to make whole hog barbecue

This is definitely one of the better videos on the entire whole hog process I’ve seen. Brad Leone does it all here, from chopping wood to loading the firebox to loading the pig to shoveling the coals to creating the sauce to mopping. He does it all here, Vinny.

Bon Appétit Test Kitchen Manager Brad Leone is back for Episode 31 of “It’s Alive.” Brad learns the art of whole hog barbecue with legendary pitmaster Rodney Scott in Charleston, South Carolina. Join Brad as he chops and mops his way to a delicious plate of barbecue.

Linkdown: 6/13/18

– I think this is a pretty big deal. I may be mistaken, but I can’t recall in my 6 years of paying attention Stamey’s advertising their longtime Degar (from central Vietnam) pitmaster Chhanuon Ponn so prominently (though I know they have his photo up in the restaurant).

– Bob Garner’s latest is on Skylight Inn, Bum’s Restaurant, Sam Jones BBQ, and six generations of barbecue in Pitt County:

The owners of The Skylight Inn, Bum’s Restaurant and Sam Jones BBQ all trace their beginnings to common ancestor Skilten Dennis, who began selling barbecue to camp meeting groups around Ayden from the back of a covered wagon sometime in the mid-1800s.

– Huckberry has a short profile on Rodney Scott as well as his banana pudding recipe in their latest catalog

– Garden & Gun writes up Texas A&M’s Barbecue University but they gotta give NC State’s BBQ Camp some love!

– Food writer Peter Meehan (recently of “Ugly Delicious” fame): “Entering a National Barbecue Competition Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time”

I became a guy who was “into barbecue,” which, for as true as it is, is still somewhat painful to type. Talking Heads had told us that day was coming, when you wake up and ask yourself, Well, how did I get here?

(It me)

– Food & Wine on how Jess Pryles became a hardcore carnivore

– Food & Wine also features several other women of barbecue in their latest issue: Pat Mares of Ruby’s BBQ in Austin and Laura Loomis of Two Bros BBQ in San Antonio

– Food Republic: “Do yourself a favor this summer and learn to properly barbecue tofu”
Me: “I’m good”

– Daniel Vaughn remembers Anthony Bourdain

Linkdown: 5/23/18

– Congrats to our neighbors from Memphis in May, The Shed, on their Grand Championship win

– In case you hadn’t heard, Dave Grohl was all up in some Memphis in May this past weekend, particularly at our neighbor’s booth

– Pete’s BBQ in Rock Hill, which has served barbecue during four holidays of the year, is shutting down after 55 years of service after this Memorial Day Weekend; congrats to the 98-year-old Pete Wheele’s on his retirement!

– Raleigh is a favorite away game for this Pittsburgh Penguins blogger in part due to the barbecue

– Eat Raleigh has a short blurb on Sam Jones BBQ at the Thrive NC festival earlier in May

– Is Charleston barbecue slowly taking over the southeast? Both Home Team BBQ (Columbia) and Rodney Scott’s BBQ (Birmingham) announced expansions last week

– All Swig & Swine Charleston-area locations will have $4 sandwiches on May 30 to celebrate 4 years; proceeds will go to Hogs for the Cause

– This NC travel guide from a British paper mentions barbecue (particularly Sam Jones BBQ) as as reason why North Carolina should be your next adventure

– This looks very, very promising

– RIP Mama Dip