Linkdown: 10/12/22 – The “Noted North Carolinian, Texas Pete” Edition

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Monk: Fascinating story first brought to our attention by the excellent NC Rabbit Hole newsletter by Jeremy Markovich. And relevant because Texas Pete has a long history with NC barbecue: “[The history section on the Texas Pete website] goes on to say that basically, during the depression, the Garner family wanted some spicier sauce to serve at their barbecue stand. The sauce outlived the stand.”

Also fascinating: Jeremy first brought this to our attention (culling information from a publicly available lawsuit, but still) but has since been aggregated out of credit. He breaks it down in the following Twitter thread.

The story has since been picked up by The Huffington Post, USA Today, Business Insider/Food Insider, and the Nexstar-owned news stations like High Point’s Fox 8.

In any case, I urge you to support Jeremy and NC Rabbit Hole for not only this but lots of other fascinating, NC-focused stories.

Native News

The last bit on Texas Pete (for now), an Our State Magazine story on its history from 2017

Mac’s Speed Shop’s latest location in Concord will also feature live music

A short video on Cook Out from Food Insider

The Barbecue Festival is coming up on October 22

Non-Native News

John Mueller’s barbecue joint at the Granary didn’t come to fruition before he passed, but his friend Jeff Ancira is keeping his memory alive with BBQ at the Granary

Heirloom Market is still found on Eater Atlanta’s 38 Essential Restaurants lis

The Houston Chronicle Top 100 List features several barbecue restaurants, including Brett’s BBQ Shop

Voting Ends later today in this poll from City Limits Barbeque

Brisket Tacos at Buc-ee’s – Adairsville, GA

Name: Buc-ee’s
Date: 6/12/22
Address: 601 Union Grove Rd SE, Adairsville, GA 30103
Order: Brisket taco and brisket egg taco
Pricing: $$

Monk: The cult favorite gas station/mega convenience store Buc-ee’s has been on my list of places to visit for some time now. Over Spring Break we just missed the opening of their first store in the Carolinas off I-95 near Florence, SC, and the closest locations of the Texas-based chain otherwise are in Georgia or Florida. Thankfully, gymnastics travels for the oldest Monkette put me unexpectedly in the path of an operational Buc-ee’s off I-75 between Atlanta and Chattanooga in north Georgia.

At the Texas Roundup station in the middle of the store, staffers in red shirts and cowboy hats were busy chopping brisket or assembling tacos and biscuits. While I was happy to stumble onto a Buc-ee’s, unfortunately my timing wasn’t ideal. Arriving a little before 10am, only breakfast items were available, as the sliced brisket, sausage, turkey, and pulled pork isn’t available until about 10:20. Undeterred, I soldiered ahead with both a brisket taco as well as a brisket egg taco.

Before I get to the tacos, I gotta say that Buc-ee’s lives up to the hype. The bathrooms were indeed spotless, and while a tad overwhelming, the store itself was a sight to behold. I didn’t linger too long but made sure to grab a couple bags of Beaver Nuggets in addition to the tacos. Next time I’ll definitely plan to spend more time in the store and will load up on more Beaver Nuggets as well as jerky and gummies.

I ate the tacos on the road and loved them. The brisket, while surely smoked offsite, tasted fairly fresh and was plenty smoky while the eggs were scrambled perfectly. Pulling it all together was a flour tortilla that was on the larger side and tasted perhaps housemade but may have been just a better quality tortilla than I’m used to. Would definitely get again.

Next time I have the pleasure of visiting a Buc-ee’s, I will try to time it better so I can try the rest of the items at the Texas Roundup station. A pro tip I’ve received is to arrive around 10:15am so you can have both breakfast and lunch available. I can’t wait to try that out and bring Mrs. Monk as well, who is dying to check one out. Buc-ee’s!

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 4 hogs
Tacos – 4 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs

Fresh Air Bar-B-Que – Athens, GA

Name: Fresh Air Bar-B-Que
Date: 3/5/22
Address: 1110 Hull Road, Athens, GA 30601
Order: Sandwich plate with Brunswick Stew and slaw, single rib (link to menu)
Pricing: $

Monk: Of all the regions of barbecue in the southeast, Georgia barbecue is probably the one I’m least familiar with. When I have visited the Peach State and tried barbecue restaurants (primarily in Atlanta), they are either heavily Texas-influenced (Fox Bros, DAS BBQ), a fusion-type place (Heirloom Market), or in the case of B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque, Carolinas whole hog. But, as friend of the blog Grant has passionately defended multiple times on his excellent food blog Marie, Let’s Eat!, there is certainly a Georgia style of barbecue with many sub-regions of its own. On a recent Monk family trip to Athens for a gymnastics competition, I purposefully sought out a more traditional Georgia barbecue joint in Fresh Air Bar-B-Que.

The original Fresh Air Bar-B-Que is in Jackson, about an hour’s drive south of Atlanta, and first opened in 1929. It is (according to their website) “the oldest pit-cooked barbecue restaurant in Georgia still in its original location,” and since that original location was opened by Dr. Joel Watkins they have expanded to Macon as well as a couple of locations in the Athens area.

Fresh Air has a simple menu of chopped pork, ribs, and chicken that comes in sandwich, basket, or plate form. I went with a sandwich plate with stew and slaw.

Fresh Air’s chopped pork was on the leaner and drier side (as can be the case in this part of Georgia according to the article from Grant above), so I added some vinegar sauce, slaw, and hot sauce. The sandwich was good, if a bit average.

I bought a single rib bone to try it out and it was well cooked with a slightly sweet sauce. I would have gladly had a couple more.

What really set the meal apart was the Brunswick stew, which was in the upper echelon of stews I’ve tasted. I’m by no means a connoisseur of Brunswick stew, but Fresh Air’s was a thicker stew as opposed to a runnier soup. The greenish slaw was made of finely diced cabbage but I’d take a Lexington-style red slaw over it any day of the week.

Unfortunately, a lot of the classic barbecue joints in the Athens area have closed in the past few years: Bill’s Bar-B-Q in nearby Hull, Paul’s Bar-B-Q, and Hot Thomas Barbecue. Of the ones still open, I would have loved to have also checked out Butt Hutt or Zeb’s or Bar-B-Que Shack and tried this chicken mull dish I’ve yet to have. Even after a visit to Fresh Air Bar-B-Que, it’s pretty obvious to me that I’ve barely scratched the surface of Georgia barbecue. Next time.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3 hogs
Pork – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 3.5 hogs

Linkdown: 1/26/22

A fun story from Charlotte Magazine on how Chapel Hill-born fashion designer Alexander Julian got paid in barbecue for designing the original Charlotte Hornets jerseys.

According to Juilian (also known for the UNC Chapel Hill argyle and being the costume designer for Robert Altman’s The Player), “I had this idea: What good is money if you can’t buy barbecue? I call it Carolina caviar. … I said, ‘I’ll give you ownership of the design for five pounds of Carolina barbecue a month.’ A (writer) asked me to sum up the whole experience. I said, ‘Well, George (Shinn) got rich, and I got fat. I traded $10 million worth of royalties for a gut.'”

Getting paid in barbecue, that’s the dream. Well played Alexander Julian, well played.

Native News

Garren of Jon G’s Barbecue featured on the Minsters of Smoke Instagram page

…speaking of which, Jon G’s is popping up at Triple C Brewing in Charlotte tonight

Sweet Lew’s has a new “Just Peachy” barbecue sauce available through the end of the month

Non-Native News

John Tanner checks out Ruthie’s All Day, The Federalist Pig, and DCity Smokehouse for an upcoming Smoke Sheet article

Adrian Miller is interviewed for this Atlas Obscura piece on the Southern Foodways Alliance oral history project

The Oak Texas BBQ makes its debut in Kemah, TX; they were previously based in Nashville and were Speedy’s favorites

The Texas Monthly BBQ Fest moves to Lockhart for this year’s edition

Tips on selecting the best wood for barbecue

Nice merch special from Fox Bros Bar-B-Q: two mystery shirts and a mystery hat for $35