Linkdown: 7/20/22

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Monk: A fairly wide-ranging state of NC barbecue from News & Observer writer Drew Jackson, who has been very ably covering the barbecue scene in and around Raleigh for the past few years.

Despite the invasive species of brisket coming into the state, there are still a number of places clinging to the NC barbecue tradition, be that eastern whole hog or Lexington-style shoulders (though this story focuses on places east of Durham. Wyatt Dickson, Matt Register, Ronald House (night pitmaster at B’s Barbecue), and Ryan Mitchell are all quoted in the story but of course Sam Jones has the money quote:

“The hard lines that used to exist, that barbecue was either this or it’s not barbecue — that’s over. It used to be, for people in North Carolina, it was either whole hog, or it ain’t (expletive). For 10 million Texans, it’s brisket. As times go on and we’re so much more transient as a society, those lines are blurred.”

Sam Jones

Read more at the link:

Native News

Lewis Donald is no longer involved with Dish and will be focusing his efforts on Sweet Lew’s BBQ and the Carolina Barbecue Festival going forward

Axios Raleigh releases their Triangle barbecue list

Barbecue Center in Lexington is closing for a week later this month for some hard earned rest and relaxation, so plan accordingly

Hillsborough’s Hog Day festival is the oldest barbecue festival in Orange County and this year will officially be part of the Whole Hog Barbecue State Championship

Jon G’s makes the Yelp Charlotte Top 25 Places to Eat along with…JD’s Smokehouse in Rutherford College near Morganton?

A behind-the-scenes follow-up to Jeremy Markovich’s story on B’s Barbecue in Our State Magazine from 2016

Non-Native News

A couple of recent stories where Adrian Miller was interviewed:

Little Pigs BBQ is on this Eater essential restaurants list for Myrtle Beach

Feges BBQ hosted Premier League champions (ugh) Man City on their pre-season US tour

Barbecue sauce beer? Barbecue sauce beer.

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.