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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Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint – Nashville, TN

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Name
: Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint (Downtown location)
Date: 7/21/18
Address: 410 4th Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37201
Order: Big Poppa Sampler (Full Rack Ribs, 12oz Pork, 12oz Brisket, ½ Chicken, mac and cheese, green beans, fries) with 6 Memphis dry rub wings, 2 orders of hush puppies, and 2 cornbread hoe cakes (link to menu)
Price: $141 (for 6)

Speedy: With Monk coming to town, I had to take him to my favorite ‘cue in town – Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint. I had reviewed the OG location of Martin’s many years ago, but since then, three other Tennessee locations (as well as two Kentucky ones) have opened. While I greatly enjoy the food, I took Monk (and crew) to the downtown location, which is one of my favorite places in Nashville – barbecue or otherwise.

Monk: The downtown location of Martin’s is amazing – flat out. As soon as we stepped up into the upstairs beer garden, I knew it was going to get 5 hogs for atmosphere and ambiance. The upstairs was an airy, open air space with plenty of natural lighting and big ass fans to keep the air circulating. Besides the smokeroom off to the side, it had a small stage, two small bars flanking either side of the room, several long beer garden-style tables, ping pong, shufflepuck, and dartboards. If we ever hit it big from barbecue blogging, I will be taking photos of this space to an architect to replicate at the loft I would buy once I’m flush with all that theoretical barbecue blogging cashish.

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Speedy: With six of us in tow, we ordered the Big Poppa Platter, which consists of a full rack of ribs, 12 oz pork, 12 oz brisket, ½ chicken, and 3 pints of sides. We tacked on a few extra sides and a half dozen wings and we were good to go.

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I’ll start with the ribs. We ordered spare ribs instead of baby backs since they are bigger and we had six hungry men. The rack of ribs was massive – plenty for us all to eat. We ordered dry ribs, and they showed up heavily seasoned as a full slab. The ribs were tender, cooked perfectly, and delicious. I do wish we had ordered baby back ribs, as the quality of the meat is better. On the spare ribs, there was a big more tendon than I like, but that’s a nit-picky complaint. Overall, I could have used a little more spice in the rub, but the ribs are very, very solid.

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Monk: Martin’s is one of the few restaurants in Tennessee (or anywhere else, for that matter) that is still doing whole hog barbecue. With the purchasing power of a growing regional chain, I imagine they are able to make the economics work, but regardless I applaud them for continuing the whole hog tradition. As for the pork itself, our portion was a mixture of pork that was overall lighter than the darker meat of the shoulders predominantly used in the NC piedmont (though shoulders are also available on the menu). I’m not quite sure what the nuances are between western TN whole hog and what you’ll find in eastern NC or the Pee Dee region of SC (a topic which I’ll gladly earmark for more research later), but I quite enjoyed what Martin’s served.

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Speedy: The brisket is about as good as you can find in Tennessee. It had good bark and was cooked pretty well (maybe ever so slightly overcooked), but it is not on the same level as some of the Texas joints. Martin’s brisket does have nice tug and flavor, and has good bark, but it just doesn’t quite have the peppery goodness needed to reach the upper brisket tier. However, if I’m hankerin’ for a good brisket in Tennessee, Martin’s is the best choice there is. As a side note, while not sampled on this visit, Martin’s does offer a cheeseburger topped with brisket that simply is not to be missed. Beef on beef – brilliant!

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Monk: We don’t normally order chicken but seeing as how it came with the Big Poppa, we embraced it. Smoked chicken is not my jam but it definitely worked when dipped in the Alabama white sauce that came with the tray.

Speedy: The wings were good – using the same dry rub as the ribs (other flavors are available, but we went with the dry rub). They were smoked well, but could have stood to be a little meatier. Like everything at Martin’s, the wings were very good. Smoked wings can be a little difficult to find, so I appreciate a place that does them right, and Martin’s is that.

Monk: There were literally no complaints about any of the sides we got. Some of our group raved about the mac and cheese, others loved the green beans, and I thought the hush puppies were solidly above average. But I was most intrigued by the cornbread hoe cakes, an item I’ve not ever seen on a barbecue menu before. In western NC, our cornmeal comes in the form of hush puppies whereas in the east you’ll see cornsticks or more traditional cornbread. The hoecakes were savory and not overly sweet  but I would definitely get them again – I know Speedy gets them most times he visits. Oh, and they have Cheerwine and Sun Drop in glass bottles! So awesome.

With Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint in Downtown Nashville, all of the meats are consistently above average, the sides were great, and the space was awesome. One more thought on the space – after we finished our meal, our group stuck around for another hour or so, grabbing another pitcher while playing darts. I would have gladly stuck around for several more hours, but alas we were headed to Third Man Records before throwing axes in East Nashville (side note – Speedy showed the guys a great time that weekend in Nashville). I can see why Martin’s is Speedy’s favorite joint in the city and I would gladly go back for another meal at this or any of the other locations.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 5 hogs
Pork – 4 hogs
Brisket – 4 hogs
Ribs – 4 hogs
Chicken – 3.5 hogs
Wings – 4.5 hogs
Sides – 4.5 hogs
Overall – 4.5 hogs

Linkdown: 2/28/18

– Billy Graham rarely passed through Shelby without stopping by Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge

– D.G. Martin with an off the cuff list of iconic NC eateries, including the aforementioned Billy Graham favorite Red Bridges

– Interesting:

– The McCall’s Bar-B-Q and Seafood in Clayton that abruptly closed recently will be replaced by Bernie’s Southern Gourmet Buffet by mid-March; barbecue will continue to be included

– More history:

– A short visitor’s guide on where to eat, drink, see, and do in Charlotte contains a few barbecue joints

– I don’t know how long this has been going on, but for folks not fortunate enough to live in the Carolinas, you’re welcome:

Linkdown: 10/4/17

The menu for this year’s 88th Annual Mallard Creek Barbecue, to be held on October 26

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– Cheerwine funnel cake, Thanksgiving egg roll, and turkey bbq are some of the crazy food items at this year’s NC State Fair

– Seasoned Review has a few recent barbecue reviews: Dreamland Barbecue in Tuscaloosa and Hillsborough BBQ Company

– A Kannapolis barbecue restaurant was recently forced to change their name due to a lawsuit from The Varsity in Atlanta; they are now Field House BBQ

Details on the concerts and fireworks shows as part of the 34th Barbecue Festival later this month

– The more you know: history on the “barbecue oven”

– This past weekend’s Whole Hog Barbecue Championship in Raleigh was a family affair

– More from this past weekend:

Linkdown: 8/2/17

One man’s quest to ruin it for everyone else; complaints of air pollution from Little Richard’s BBQ in Winston-Salem:

Someone has been emailing for months officials with the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, the Forsyth County Department of Environmental Assistance and Protection, me, state legislators, Ask SAM and anyone else within electronic earshot about “the plume from the 3 unregulated point source smoke stacks” that sends a “cloud of unmitigated (carbon monoxide) and particulate matter” into the atmosphere.

– Congrats to Rodney Scott’s BBQ, named one of 50 finalists for Bon Apetit’s Best New Restaurants in America 2017

– As expected, the Southeast Tourism Society has named The Barbecue Festival one of the top 20 events in the Southeast for October 2017

– Coverage of Skylight Inn turning 70 last weekend from the News & Observer and WNCT

– The 4th Annual Pigs & Pedals BBQ cooking competition is in Asheboro this weekend, with a new People’s Choice Competition

– Barbecue the documentary comes to Netflix in August in glorious 4k

– An “American Regional Barbecue Cheat Sheet from Tasting Table” though they don’t quite get the North Carolina section right

– This week’s latest Cheerwine story

Linkdown: 7/26/17

– Congrats to Carolina Bar-B-Que in Statesville on being open for 32 years!

– Jon G’s BBQ (our current Charlotte #1) is moving up in the world with their spiffy new trailer

– As previously announced, the next location of Midwood Smokehouse will be in Birkdale Village in Huntersville in the old Smoke location

– John Lewis names his pitmasters of the future in Tasting Table

– Tasting Table had their list of America’s Top 11 BBQ Joints from an article back in May, which I don’t believe I saw until now

– Is it ever too hot to eat barbecue? Never.

– Atlanta’s gotten a 4 Rivers Smokehouse (the first outside of Florida) in its burgeoning westside

– A GQ feature on the Austin barbecue scene

– AV Club’s Supper Club explores Alabama’s white sauce, “smoked chicken’s best friend”

– The best barbecue sides in Austin

– Filing this away for future reference…

Linkdown: 5/17/17

Happy belated National Barbecue Day!

– Jim Shahin steps back and looks ahead to the future of barbecue not just in NC but in other barbecue capitals across the country

One weekend last October, some of the nation’s top young pitmasters gathered on a pig farm just outside Durham, N.C., to participate in an event called the N.C. Barbecue Revival.

On undulating farmland, the cooks, veiled in wood smoke, tended their creations while Duroc and Berkshire pigs trundled freely in the surrounding woods. Without setting out to, these pitmasters — they’re all in their 30s and opened their places in just the past few years — were making a statement: that the next generation of barbecue has arrived.

– Aaron Franklin in Bloomberg (huh?): Eight Things You’re Doing Wrong When You Go Out for Barbecue

– The story of how Heirloom Market Bar-B-Que came to be

– Grant continues his Memphis barbecue trip at Pollard’s Bar-B-Q and ended up digging the side of barbecue spaghetti

– Kosher barbecue festivals are starting to pop up in cities in the south like Memphis, Atlanta, and Charlotte

– Tickets are now available for a Lenny Boy Brewing and Midwood Smokehouse beer and barbecue dinner

Join Lenny Boy Brewing’s Owner and Founder, Townes Mozer, and Midwood Smokehouse Pitmasters in a three course beer pairing event. Sip on Lenny Boy’s famouse Citraphilia IPA, Burndown Brown English Style Brown Ale, and a small batch suprise created special for this evening while enjoying a three course slow smoked menu coming soon.

– How a small town north of Fort Worth, TX became a barbecue destination

– Daniel Vaughn screencapped the barbecue scenes from Master of None season 2

– Cheerwine’s 100th birthday celebration is this Saturday in Salisbury and includes a barbecue competition; more details here:

Linkdown: 5/10/17

– We are honored to be recently added to the list of patrons of True ‘Cue alongside our buddy Grant from Marie, Let’s Eat

– Grant tries a “catfish” sandwich from Scott’s-Parker’s BBQ, which is not a fish sandwich as you might expect based on the name

– Not a good look, pt 2: An update on the Smithfield’s v Raleigh PD story, which may have been greatly embellished

– Good news from our new-ish Charlotte #1: Jon G’s BBQ is getting a food trailer

– One of the things you may not have known about Cheerwine (but probably did if you grew up in NC): Cheerwine is often the number one or two brands sold at BBQ restaurants

– Three Wilson men were honored by the Chamber of Commerce last week

While the trio don’t date back to Parker Barbecue’s opening in 1946, they have been a part of the iconic restaurant on U.S. 301 for more than a century collectively. Williams joined the staff in 1963 as a waiter before heading into the kitchen to cook ‘cue alongside one of the original owners, Ralph Parker. He stepped into an ownership role in 1987, eventually bringing Lamm and Lippard along for the ride. Lippard started working in the kitchen in his twenties while Lamm started in 1985.

– Speaking of Parker’s, Our State Magazine tweeted out their profile of them back in 2013

– Could barbecue be why Seymour Johnson Air Force Base near Goldsboro came to be? That’s apparently how the story goes, according to writer Julian Pleasants

And, Pleasants writes with a smile, the Seymour Johnson air base came about when “the War Department, in search of delicious eastern North Carolina barbecue,” designated the municipal airport near Goldsboro “as essential to national defense.”

– Some of our favorite pitmasters – Sam Jones, Elliott Moss, John Lewis, among others – will be in Greenville, SC in September for a barbecue brunch as part of Euphoria Greenville

– The new Whole Foods store in south Charlotte is having a barbecue and bluegrass opening on May 20; no word on where the barbecue is from

– The latest location of Midwood Smokehouse opens Thursday, May 18

– Charlotte Agenda includes dishes from Bar-B-Q King, Bill Spoon’s, and Art’s Barbecue & Deli on this list of 50 must-try Charlotte cheap eats under $10

Linkdown: 3/29/17

– Skylight Inn and Heirloom Market Bar-B-Que make the list

– Marie, Let’s Eat! goes deep on the old Coleman’s BBQ chain, which used to have 176 stores across the southeast but is now down to just 2 in Mississippi

– From Robert Moss, a history of how the beef rib became an Instagram star

– The Charlotte Pitmasters, at least for July 15

– Cheerwine’s Centennial Celebration in Salisbury on May 20 will have a “People’s Choice BBQ Competition”

– Speaking of which, here’s the story of how Cheerwine came to be 100 years ago from Our State Magazine as well as Eater

Linkdown: 7/13/16

– When two NC originals collide: Cheerwine and Krispy Kreme collaborate on a new soda

– ICYMI:

– Re: the greatness of Georgia barbecue, Paul’s BBQ in Lexington has closed

– Grant visits Captain John’s Hot Pit Bar-B-Q, which is just a “Memphis average” joint

– Seoul Food Meat Co is expanding into the other side of its current building

– How to make Texas-style potato salad, a “classic ‘cue side”

– Destination’s latest post in their SC BBQ Road Trip travels I-77