Our Favorite Posts from 2022

Monk: 2022 marked the ten year anniversary of the blog and its gone by in a flash. We’re going to take the rest of the year off in order to come out strong in 2023, but before we do we want to 1) wish you all a happy holidays and 2) spotlight one last time some of our favorite original content from 2022.

Without further ado…

Original Content

My summer kicked off with a weekly recap of all 8 episodes of the third season of “BBQ Brawl.” While I was happy to get through those two months mostly unscathed, I also checked out a few other barbecue streaming shows throughout the year featuring notable barbecue personalities like Michael Symon’s “BBQ USA,” “World of Flavor with Big Moe Cason,” and the third season of “BBQuest” which added Hardcore Carnivore’s Jess Pryles as a co-host.

We’ve done some updating of our Lexington rankings sadly due to closures but I already know I need to get back to Lexington to try Cafe 71 Smoke House BBQ, which opened this fall in the old Rick’s Smokehouse space.

I also am trying a new post format with the “best barbecue within an hour of [insert major city here].” I’ve started with Charlotte but will work on posts for both Raleigh as well as the eastern part of the state.

We also went to a few festivals this year! May was a busy month in Charlotte with both the Smoke & Grapes event at the Charlotte Wine & Food Festival as well as the successful first annual Carolina BBQ Festival hosted by Lewis Donald of Sweet Lew’s BBQ.

In November, I went to Charleston for the second annual Holy Smokes Barbecue Festival and had a grand time in the lowcountry.

I can’t wait to see what festivals I’ll make it to in 2023.

Reviews

We’re up to 327 reviews on the site now, and in 2022 we added 23 more. Not quite our most productive year, but still an average of nearly 2 per month.

Rudy got to finally try Noble Smoke in Charlotte in February, and left pretty impressed with a 4.5 hog review.

Speedy loved pretty much everything about the relatively new Bringle’s Smoking Oasis in Nashville, from the space to the bar to of course the food (in particular the beef rib and the brisket). Another 4.5 hog meal.

But from the looks of it, Speedy’s favorite meal of the year was at Prime Barbecue in Knightdale when he was back in North Carolina this summer. He gave it our prestigious 5 hog rating, the first since our most recent Jon G’s Barbecue review from 2021.

I got in on the 4.5 hog action with a couple of joints in the Carolinas: Lawrence Barbecue in Durham and Palmira BBQ in Charleston. At Lawrence, in addition to the fun atmosphere at Boxyard RTP and the Lawrence Barbecue-inspired beer from Trophy Brewing, the pork and brisket were highlights of the meal. At Palmira, I got to chat with owner and pitmaster Hector Garate and both the whole hog barbecue and hash and rice shone through.

And last but not least, I can’t forget my mini whole hog barbecue tour in eastern North Carolina in the spring, where I visited B’s Barbecue, Skylight Inn, and the original location of Sam Jones BBQ.

I did a brief writeup for The Smoke Sheet, which a version of showed up on the site as well.

With that, the 2022 posts are done for the year. But we’ll be back in January with all new content.

Happy Holidays and see you all in 2023!

Holy Smokes Brought Pitmasters from All Over to the South Carolina Lowcountry

Monk: On a beautiful November afternoon, the Holy Smokes Barbecue Festival brought acclaimed pitmasters from across the US to South Carolina’s low country. In its second year, the festival moved to beautiful Riverfront Park in North Charleston amongst the remains of the old naval base. A beautiful setting for an alternatingly chilly and warm afternoon of barbecue, music, and good people.

The pitmasters were spread across four food “villages” and collaborated on dishes together. Walking in, the first villages you come across are the Traditional and Texas Villages. I started my day off at the Traditional Village with plates of whole hog two ways with cracklins, pit chicken, and a rib with side of hash and rice. The highlight for me was the whole hog and the hash and rice, both likely heavily influenced by Rodney Scott.

Fifteen minutes into the festival and I was already starting to get a little full. Uh oh. From there, friend of the blog Handsome Russ and I wandered towards the music stage and the Coastal Village. After taking in a few songs from Laurens, SC native (and Clemson fan) Warrick McZeke we tried plates of smoked oyster stew from Evan LeRoy and Matthew Register, smoked swordfish over rice from Elliott Moss and the Home Team BBQ guys, and shrimp and grits from Leslie Roark Scott from Ubon’s and local chef Jamie Hough. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the smoked swordfish and rice dish.

In addition to his fantastic oyster stew, a highlight of the festival was catching up with Matthew Register of Southern Smoke as well as his crew of Rodolfo and Cray. I spent a good amount of time chatting with those guys not only about barbecue but of course the usual soccer and college football banter. Great group of guys and I always enjoy catching up with them. I even got a chance to meet Matthew’s collaborator Evan LeRoy briefly and hope to get back to try out his barbecue again soon (my review of a visit during a smaller Sunday menu here).

From there, I really slowed down on food and focused in on the music stage where Asheville, NC’s Travers Brothership absolutely slayed the middle timeslot. As for the villages, I was in eyeshot of the New School Village and after an initial rush the lines mostly died down and the portions got bigger. By the time I stepped up, the smoked sirloin taco was sans tortilla (they had apparently run out) and I tried a fried hawg bawl, skipping the giant tri-tip sandwiches that were being put out as this particular village signaled that they were starting to get rid of food. Forgot to take any photos of my food though.

The Texas Village consistently had the longest lines and by the time I had worked up enough appetite to meander over as my fourth stop, they just had the cheese hominy sausages left, which packed a nice kick.

So I didn’t get to all of the food but next time around I’ll have a better plan going in. But all in all, the Holy Smokes Festival was a great success. In addition to chatting with the aforementioned Matthew Register and Evan LeRoy, I met Rodney Scott at his famed double burn barrel as well as Trey Dutton (and his wife Ellen) of Southern Keep, a childhood friend of Handsome Russ who makes some great-looking artisan jams and pickles in Charleston. I also picked up a beautiful handcrafted oyster knife from Middleton Knives, who was one of the vendors there.

Until next year, Holy Smokes!

Barbecue Bros AV Club: First Impressions of “World of Flavor With Big Moe Cason”

Monk: In addition to “BBQ Brawl” and “BBQ USA,” “World of Flavor with Big Moe Cason” is another welcome barbecue/live fire cooking show in the current peak tv landscape. However, it differs from those shows in that its more of a travelogue show about live fire cooking in the Anthony Bourdain tradition mixed with a National Geographic show that teaches you while showing you something pretty through some gorgeous scenery and camerawork. Also, it’s worth mentioning that while Big Moe Cason is not a new face to the barbecue world and has appeared on earlier seasons of “BBQ Pitmasters,” he is a newer face to this kind of show that offers diversity and a different viewpoint and that is welcomed by me.

The first episode takes place in an around Charleston, SC where Moe meets with pitmasters Rodney Scott and John Lewis in addition to learning about the Gullah Geechee culture and food traditions to connect to his own heritage and culture. In particular, he admires Scott for his role as a black pitmaster and entrepreneur and notes that he doesn’t really see that in Iowa and the Midwest where he lives.

Through these interactions he gets inspiration for his dish that he served at last November’s Holy Smokes Barbecue Festival, a Gullah Geechee-inspired red rice dish with fresh caught crab and oysters and homemade beef sausage he collaborated on with John Lewis.

In episode two, he goes abroad to Colombia to learn their live fire traditions of cooking beef done by their cowboys, or llaneros, going back generations. He tries different foods and customs before again applying what he’s learned to the cooking of a large meal of veal llanero, fried piranha, grilled plantains, and yuca for a festival of llaneros by the end of the episode.

Through the first two episodes, the situations can be a little contrived in terms of filming Moe coming up with a menu through a series of filmed interactions before a big cook by the end of the episode. But in the end, “World of Flavor” is eminently watchable and Moe is a likable host between his big teddy bear exterior as well as his desire to learn about different cultures and apply it to his own cooking. I’m happy to follow along his journey across the world.

“World of Flavor with Big Moe Cason” airs Monday nights at 9pm ET on Nat Geo

Description: The Navy veteran and champion pitmaster Big Moe Cason sets out on an incredible journey to discover mouthwatering dishes cooked over an open flame. Cason dives for fresh conch in the Bahamas, roasts gator in Louisiana, connects with his roots in South Carolina, and wades into piranha-infested waters in Colombia. Moe explores the connections between American barbecue and cultures around the world along the way. While spanning the world, he serves up dishes that are sure to make the locals proud.

Linkdown: 6/9/21

Featured

Southern Living Magazine, their barbecue editor Robert Moss, Home Team BBQ, and Swig & Swine recently announced the Holy Smokes barbecue festival in Charleston this November. The pitmasters are still to be announced, but expect folks from South Carolina, California, Georgia, New York, North Carolina and Texas are expected to be in attendance. Here’s hoping it becomes a fixture for years to come.

Native News

Congrats to Lyttle Bridges Cabiness of Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge in Shelby for her induction into the Barbecue Hall of Fame

Mac’s Hospitality Group, parent company of Mac’s Speed Shop, adds Rare Roots alum Jay Spungin as Director of Operations

Ayden, NC, home to Skylight Inn and Bum’s Restaurant, chooses barbecue over collards for its future marketing campaign

Lawrence Barbecue finally opened at Boxyard RTP this past Saturday

Help name the new Sweet Lew’s Barbeque food truck

Non-Native News

Franklin Barbecue is reopening on 9/1

Eater: “Why Barbecue Sauce is Essential to Black Barbecue”

Barbecue Bible on “Black Smoke”

Matt Horn is on a roll in Oakland