Even in the midst of a pandemic and all that 2020 had to offer, Tim Carman of the Washington Post went ahead with his annual “best barbecue joints in DC” list, with the main change being that he got takeout from every joint he tried. And he found that, even while getting more and more expensive, the state of barbecue in DC is strong and only improving. To wit, three of the joints in his top ten were brand new to the list.
Cheers to Tim Carman for pushing ahead!
10% off today for veterans and active duty military at Wilber’s Barbecue
Monk: When I moved to Charlotte in 2005, I was surprised at the lack of barbecue options in town. Though had I been paying attention then as I do now, it shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise. Mac’s Speed Shop was a fun option for awhile but eventually fell off a cliff after it jettisoned its original barbecue partner and began to expand too quickly. It wasn’t a few years living in Charlotte until I finally checked out Bill Spoon’s Barbecue on South Boulevard, and while the style of barbecue seemed out of place (eastern NC whole hog in the Piedmont?) it was clear to me that it was Charlotte’s classic barbecue joint.
Unfortunately, as of close of business today after 57 years in business, that will no longer be the case. It was announced on Facebook Monday by current owner Steve Spoon, who in 2006 bought it from his grandfather Bill and began operating the barbecue joint in much the same way he had since he opened it in 1963 (albeit in a different location than their current one on South Boulevard). Screw you 2020, and screw you COVID-19.
Kathleen Purvis summed it up perfectly with this poignant quote that doubles as a warning for us lovers of other classic joints: “If all the hard lessons of 2020’s season of terrible teaches us anything, it’s that: Those places don’t last, can’t last, if we don’t make sure of it.“
Charlotte Magazine’s Greg Lacour also pitched in, noting that the restaurant was struggling before COVID and had been operating in takeout only mode for the past few months
Sadly, its taken the restaurant closing for Charlotte to show up again
Seoul Food Meat Co will open a second location in the Optimist Park neighborhood (not NoDa as noted in their post) as part of an adaptive-reuse project called Lintmen’s
Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ is a small Connecticut chain that will open a Kansas City-style barbecue restaurant in Asheville’s South Slope
Rodney Scott’s BBQ in Charleston has been getting a big bump from “Chef’s Table: BBQ”
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.
Matthew Register’s first cookbook “Southern Smoke: Barbecue, Traditions, and Treasured Recipes Reimagined for Today” came out in May 2019 on the same day as books from both Sam Jones and Ed Randolph. While Sam Jones’ told the story of his family’s barbecue legacy (with some recipes) and Randolph’s book featured profiles on various pitmasters and barbecue personalities (with recipes), Southern Smoke is more of a traditional cookbook heavy on the recipes from a few specific regions of the South. And its not all about just barbecue.
Matthew Register’s barbecue star has been on the rise since this book was published last year, between features in Southern Living and Garden & Gun magazines as well as stops on the food festival circuit at Charleston Wine + Food as well as Atlanta Food & Wine. As for the Southern Smoke barbecue restaurant itself, it has been on my list for years to visit but between the fact that Garland is 3.5 hours away and the store is only open on Thursdays and Fridays (due to their catering business), so far a visit there has yet to come to fruition.
The first quarter of the book is dedicated to barbecue, starting off with the basics of smoking as well as traditional North Carolina barbecue and slaws (both eastern and Lexington). Nothing earth shattering there if you’ve read other barbecue books or have done any smoking yourself. From there, Register continues with non-barbecue North Carolina dishes such as collard chowder as well as several seafood dishes like Lenoir County fish stew and fried Spanish mackerel harp, reflecting his hometown of Garland’s position not far from the Atlantic Ocean beaches of NC. Register introduces each dish and his personal history with it and in many cases is able to provide some history on it.
Then, what really sets the book apart from the usual barbecue cookbook is the subsequent chapters featuring recipes from the Low Country of South Carolina and Georgia as well as from Memphis and the Mississippi Delta. I don’t expect you would find recipes in other barbecue books for dishes such as Country Captain Chicken, James Island shrimp pie, delta tamales, or Kool Aid pickles.
Register finishes the book with a chapter on baking, as well as some supper menus (like “Low Country Boil” or “Surf and Turf Carolina Style”), a list of recommended pantry items, and a list of barbecue and southern cookbooks that Register recommends.
I’ll likely never attempt most of the recipes in “Southern Smoke” but its a wonderfully put together reference book that I’m happy to have sit on my shelf alongside some of my favorite barbecue history and recipe books.
Monk: BBQ&A host Robby stops by The Bar-B-Q Shop, a Memphis barbecue institution, to meet pitmaster Eric Vernon (as well as his dad Frank) for spare ribs, a Texas Toast barbecue sandwich, and barbecue spaghetti.
Description: Eric Vernon at Memphis’s The Bar-B-Q Shop is a second generation Pitmaster. He was nice enough to give us a tour of the restaurant, shares it’s history and introduces us to his legendary dad, Frank Vernon. Eric and Robby talk dry, wet, and glaze ribs and eat the #1 ribs in America (maybe the world). They top it of with the Original Texas Toast BBQ Sandwich, Smoked Bologna Steaks and Bar-B-Q Spaghetti. Check out the Bar-B-Q Shop: https://thebar-b-qshop.com/