Linkdown: 9/12/18

– Southern Living Barbecue Editor Robert Moss has published his latest version of his top 50, this time with the joints ranked

– As if that top 50 list weren’t enough, Robert Moss also explored what’s in a name when it comes to barbecue restaurant

– Midwood Smokehouse’s Frank Scibelli is one half of a restaurant sibling pairing with his sister, who owns Fran’s Filling Station

– Speaking of Midwood Smokehouse, pitmaster Michael Wagner is up to something and it involves a whole hog BQ smoker and a trailer

– A veteran of Mr. Barbecue in Winston-Salem has opened Carolina Backyard BBQ

– Quite a trip by The Smoking Ho and the Tales from the Pits Podcast crew; The Smoking Ho’s recap here

– Is the SC barbecue buffet on the way out?

– B’s Cracklin’ Barbecue tops Atlanta Magazine’s 10 best barbecue restaurants

– Eater explores the whole hog barbecue tradition

 

Linkdown: 2/21/18

– Congrats to Sam Jones on his James Beard nomination!

– Two other barbecue chefs got nominations as well including Rodney Scott of Rodney Scott’s BBQ in Charleston and Tootsie Tomanetz of Snow’s BBQ in Lexington, TX; Ronnie Killen was also nominated but technically for his new steakhouse, Killen’s STQ

– Texas Monthly has more on Tootsie’s nomination

– A new barbecue restaurant recently opened in Darlington, SC named Fahrenheit 225

– Guy Fieri is curating a lineup of “barbecue badasses” for the country music festival Stagecoach in Indio, CA in late Apil – though the actual list itself doesn’t live up to that billing

– Harold Conyers, a NASA scientist who studied engineering at NC A&T for undergrad and Duke for grad, recently gave a keynote at Morris College in South Carolina

– How Frank Scibelli, restaurateur behind Midwood Smokehouse, Mama Ricotta’s, and Paco’s Tacos (and more), works each day

– The folks behind Seoul Food Meat Co are opening a korean barbecue restaurant next door, targeting later this month

– Owner Rob Berrier announced last month that the Little Richard’s BBQ stores on County Club Drive in Winston-Salem and in Wallburg have changed their names to Real Q; the remaining four Little Richard’s locations separately owned by Nick Karagiorgis and his son Stavros will keep the Little Richard’s name. Read more for the somewhat confusing history behind the ownership of the different locations at the link below.

 

Friday Find: The Charlotte Podcast Explores “Is Charlotte a BBQ Town?”

Monk: Our State Magazine senior editor, podcaster, and writer (and former Charlottean) Jeremy Markovich joins Miller of The Charlotte Podcast to discuss NC barbecue in general before discussing specifically whether Charlotte is a barbecue town.

After a short intro, the barbecue talk starts at 5:17 with some open-ended questions about NC barbecue. Before shifting the conversation to Charlotte later in the episode, the conversation is a little unfocused (admittedly, Miller says he didn’t prep Jeremy for these questions) but covers the difference between east and west and what Jeremy’s idea of barbecue and a barbecue restaurant is.

Here’s a link to Jeremy’s fantastic story in Our State on spending 17 hours (he had planned to be there 24) at B’s Barbecue in Greenville that he begins mentioning at 14:15 when he starts discussing his top 5 barbecue places in NC; Red Bridges in Shelby, 12 Bones in Asheville (I do disagree with this pick), Skylight Inn, and Lexington Barbecue (aka the Honeymonk) all make his list as well.

While mentioning Skylight Inn (16:34), Miller discusses the idea of “porky goodness”. While I’m familiar with (and have tasted) their technique of chopping the crispy skin back into the pork, I must admit that I have never heard this term before. Granted, I have spent only a little time out east so I’m not discounting that it’s a real thing. Only that I’ve yet to come across it in my travels.

Kyle Fletcher’s in Gastonia gets a mention at 18:34. This place deserves a second chance for me, but I was somewhat unimpressed when I went a few years ago.

The Charlotte conversation begins at 21:25. I do disagree with Miller’s assertion that Midwood Smokehouse is a solid B in everything though (21:39) because I think their brisket and burnt ends are A’s and their pork and sausage is at least a B+ (I still need to try the whole hog on the new smoker at Park Road). So I think he may be undervaluing them just a little bit.

Miller brings up the idea of Charlotte as a “barbecue hub” as opposed to a “barbecue city” (22:36) due to its proximity to good barbecue in Lexington (agree), Shelby (agree), and Gastonia (huh?).  Jeremy comes back to Midwood Smokehouse at 25:26 (here’s the article he wrote for Our State) and how restaurateur Frank Scibelli has a habit of introducing foods to Charlotte. First with Mama Ricotta’s and authentic italian (including fresh mozzarella) in the early 2000’s and then Midwood Smokehouse and barbecue other than pork more recently in 2012.

While I couldn’t agree more with Jeremy’s assertion that you need to spell out “barbecue” (as opposed to say, “bbq” like they do in the podcast title) at 28:51, I can’t help but think naming a theoretical barbecue restaurant “Barbecue” is either insanely brilliant or just plain lazy. I still can’t decide.

Overall, I agree with both Jeremy and Miller that no, Charlotte is not a barbecue town but that you can find good barbecue here (I’ve certainly tried to do my homework). When I think on the question of whether Charlotte is a barbecue town, I inevitably go to a quote from Tom Hanchett, the former historian at Charlotte’s Levine Museum of the New South:

Charlotte is not really in either part of North Carolina, it’s a city of newcomers and we have other people’s barbecue.

Until Charlotte is no longer a city of “other people’s barbecue”, in my opinion it will never truly be a barbecue town.

Photo Gallery: Midwood Smokehouse’s new Park Road location

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It had been about 4 weeks since the latest location of Midwood Smokehouse opened in Park Road Shopping Center’s now bustling Back Lot. That’s about the amount of time I like to give new restaurants to work out their kinks so between that and Father’s Day weekend it made for the perfect occasion to check it out.

On a Friday night it was predictably busy, and owner Frank Scibelli mentioned that for this location they had ordered the largest capacity Oyler smoker available (the same manufacturer they use at all of their other locations). They aren’t cooking to capacity yet but at this location it shouldn’t be too long before they are close.

I tried most of the smoked meats this night via the Chef’s Choice Platter (off menu). The pork, brisket, pork ribs, and burnt ends I had all tried before – but this was my first time experiencing the pork burnt ends. If I’m recalling correctly, they are a Friday night special only and they’ve always been out when I had previously tried to order them. Speaking of specials, Midwood Smokehouse is now offering a beef rib, though only on Saturdays and Sundays so I wasn’t able to try it this night.

While the Ballantyne and Columbia locations of Midwood Smokehouse do smoke a whole hog quartered in their Oyler rotisserie smokers on certain days, the Park Road location is getting a BQ whole hog smoker (the eastern North Carolina brand used by Sam Jones as well as The Pit) delivered in mid-July. I couldn’t be more excited for that to come and to try Pitmaster Matt Berry’s take on whole hog. I plan to visit shortly after and will report back. Until then, you can expect more of the same from the new location of Midwood Smokehouse, and that definitely ain’t a bad thing.

Monk