Linkdown: 5/16/18

– Here’s whats going on at this weekend’s Memphis in May Barbecue Competition; I’ll see you out there

– Been a big couple of weeks for Rodney Scott:

– The Charlotte Observer’s Kathleen Purvis puts his James Beard win in perspective in this essay

– Justin Brunson of Old Major in Denver has a BQ Grill that he uses for catering as well as for fun

When I arrived at Old Major, Brunson was already stoking the fire in his BQ Grill, a steel behemoth sporting two huge drawers for coals, four air vents, enough horizontal space to cook a 250-pound pig, and a wood storage rack in the back. “It’s pretty much just a big, metal oven,” says Brunson. “This is the same grill that Sam Jones [of Sam Jones BBQ in Winterville, North Carolina] and Elliott Moss [of Buxton Hall BBQ in Asheville, North Carolina] use for barbecue. They make a gas model, but that’s not real barbecue. It’s got to be all wood, all the time.”

“This is my hobby right now, cooking on this grill,” says Brunson. “With Red Bear about to open, it’s my stress relief.” It’s also about supporting local farmers and producers, and experimenting with the “flavor of Colorado.” Brunson’s goal: To use the grill for catering, special events, and to cook local pigs, lambs, and more for anyone who asks. (Seriously, if you call Old Major and ask for a whole-animal feast, Brunson will cook it for you.)

Here’s the full menu for next month’s Big Apple Barbecue Block Party including ribs from the newly awarded James Beard winner Rodney Scott and whole hog from Ed and Ryan Mitchell as well as Sam Jones

– For such a good docuseries, David Chang’s “Ugly Delicious” gets barbecue wrong

– Midwood Smokehouse’s Park Rd location is having a barbecue bootcamp on June 23

– Big news for Knightdale, NC

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Linkdown: 5/9/18

– So this happened Monday night:

Rodney Scott is the first African-American to win Best Chef: Southeast and second pitmaster to win a JBFA

– Chris Prieto of PRIME Barbecue broke ground in Knightdale Monday for his new barbecue restaurant

– Sure thing, guys:

– This Charlotte Five guide to Best Charlotte diner’s, drive-in’s, and dives includes the  Bar-B-Q King drive-in

– Bar-B-Q King (opened in 1959), Art’s BBQ (1976), and Bill Spoon’s Barbecue (1963) are all on this list of iconic Charlotte restaurants open for over 20 years

– The Smoking Ho has some cool photos from last week’s Red Dirt BBQ & Music Festival in Tyler

– Midwood Smokehouse has several lunch options under $10

– For potential Mother’s Day gift needs:

Linkdown: 4/4/18

– A quick primer on NC state symbols, including that the Barbecue Festival in Lexington is the official food festival of the state

– Speaking of festivals, there are a few barbecue festivals coming up in NC over the next few months including BBQ Festival on the Neuse in Kinston, Jiggy with the Piggy Fest in Kannapolis, and the Eastern BBQ Festival in Rocky Mount

– Asian Smokehouse? I’m in!

– Charlotte Agenda’s city guide for Asheville includes Buxton Hall Barbecue and 12 Bones

– Marie, Let’s Eat! tries Martins’ Bar-B-Que Joint in Nolensville and pleads for them to open a store in Chattanooga

– Midwood Smokehouse gets some recognition as TripExpert Expert’s Choice Award 2018 and was named Best of Charlotte

Based on 1M+ reviews from 85 different publications, the award recognizes the best restaurants around the world. TripExpert takes a new approach to ratings by using only professional reviews from travel guides, magazines, newspapers and other respected sources.

– A few barbecue joints gets covered in this Alabama tourism video – BBQ on the Blvd in Florence and Big Bob Gibson’s in Decatur

– How did I miss this a few weeks back?

 

The 10 best NC barbecue joints in Western NC – Honorable Mentions

Monk: Last week I posted my list of the 10 best joints in western North Carolina. Here’s my list of honorable mentions.

Please note: For the purposes of this list, I’m defining “western NC” as west of, but not including, Raleigh. In essence, I am dividing the state geographically by the two styles of barbecue but not limiting this list to purely Lexington-style/Piedmont-style/western-style barbecue joints. Make sense?

Johnson Family Barbecue – Durham (review)

Outside of my usual digging for barbecue joints I had never heard of Johnson Family Barbecue, so it was a pleasant surprise that the barbecue was as good as it was. The makeshift smokehouse shed around back only adds to the charm of the joint, which is connected to a gas station on Wake Forest Highway between Durham and Raleigh/Wake Forest. 5021 Wake Forest Hwy, Durham, NC 27703 johnsonfamilybbq.com

Midwood Smokehouse – Charlotte (review)

As the story goes, if Frank Scibelli can’t get a certain food in Charlotte, he tends to open a restaurant to fill that gap. With Midwood Smokehouse, that gap was wood-smoked barbecue; primarily central Texas brisket and sausage but also but also pan-regional smoked meats such as eastern NC pulled-pork, burnt ends, and ribs. With the latest Park Road location in Charlotte, Midwood Smokehouse is now looking to fill in the gap for wood-smoked whole hog barbecue in Charlotte. various locations midwoodsmokehouse.com

Picnic – Durham (review)

As with Buxton Hall and Old Etowah Smokehouse, Picnic was part of a trend of new whole hog joints outside of eastern NC a few years back. While I found it to be a little on the pricey side, the whole hog was still quite good and worth a return visit whenever I get another chance. 1647 Cole Mill Rd, Durham, NC 27705 picnicdurham.com

The Smoke Pit – Concord, Monroe, Salisbury (review)

What began as a combination butcher shop and barbecue joint has developed into a small chain with locations in Salisbury and as of earlier this year, Monroe. The Smoke Pit does serve pulled pork but is a good bet for the some of the best brisket from a restaurant in the Charlotte-area. various locations thesmokepitnc.com

Smokey Joe’s Barbecue – Lexington (review)

Speedy Lohr’s BBQ – Lexington (review)

Someday, I hope to be able to properly assess all of the 18 or so Lexington barbecue joints and create a comprehensive list. In the meantime, I will say that Smokey Joe’s Barbecue and Speedy Lohr’s BBQ are quite good and in my current top 5 for the small town of approximately 20,000. Smokey Joe’s Barbecue: 1101 S Main St, Lexington, NC 27292 smokeyjoesbbqlexington.com; Speedy Lohr’s: 3664 NC-8, Lexington, NC 27292

Well, what do you think? What joints have I missed the mark on or left off on either this list or the 10 best list entirely? Let me know in the comments below.

Linkdown: 3/21/18

– Glad to finally see a new review on Marie, Let’s Eat! for Hugh-Baby’s BBQ and Burger Shop though Grant *gulp* doesn’t order barbecue?!?

– John T. Edge of Garden and Gun also profiled Hugh-Baby’s in their February/March issue

– Meet Chef Kelly Tam, the new-ish pastry chef at Midwood Smokehouse (as well as several other FS Food Group restaurants)

– Buxton Hall Barbecue gets a mention on a Charlotte Five guide to Asheville

– A chef born in Charlotte is part of a trio running Liberty Smokehouse in Falls Church, VA, where they got a favorable review from The Washington Post

– Remember Taylor Hicks? The season 5 winner of American Idol has his own food show and the NC episode featuring barbecue from The Pit aired earlier this week

– Side dishes continue to get better at Texas barbecue restaurants, says Texas BBQ Posse

– R.O.’s Bar-B-Cue, started in 1946, is one of the oldest restaurants in Gaston County

– Smoked whole alligator is on the menu at Black Sugar Rib Company in Los Angelos

– Congrats to Rodney Scott, who received a James Beard nomination for Best Chef: Southeast

– Mmm, dessert!

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.

 

Linkdown: 1/31/18

– An oldie but goodie from Our State

 

– Travel and Leisure stops in Charleston and checks out the barbecue scene while they are there

Southerners have long nurtured a debate over whether Carolina-style pork or Texas-style brisket is the true king. Charleston has decided you can have it both ways. On Upper King Street, one year ago, Rodney Scott opened Rodney Scott’s BBQ, a brick temple to the low, slow, whole-hog style that put South Carolina barbecue on the map. Less than half a mile away, at Lewis Barbecue, you can sit in a gravel courtyard under the shade of a live oak and enjoy some of the best brisket in the country, Texas-style.

– John Shelton Reed has a guest post at Barbecue Bible to remind folks about True ‘Cue

– Guy Fieri recently spent some time filming “Diners, Drive-in’s, and Dives” in the Wilmington area and apparently learned some things while he was there:

When asked if he favored Eastern or Western North Carolina barbecue, Fieri said he pleaded the fifth.

– From last summer, Food and Wine on where to eat and drink in Charlotte includes Midwood Smokehouse

– Seoul Food Meat Co is one of the restaurants in Southend where you can eat lunch for less than $10

– Kathleen Purvis preaches on Charlotte barbecue

Linkdown: 1/24/18

– Three Charlotte barbecue restaurants make this fries list, including The Improper Pig’s sweet potato waffle fries, Midwood Smokehouse’s pimento cheese fries, and Seoul Food Meat Co.’s kimchi fries

 

– Bob Garner’s latest for The Daily Reflector waxes poetic on The Angus Barn in Raleigh

– For these cold we’ve been experiencing the past few weeks, Midwood Smokehouse has seven new soups for the soul including the loaded baked potato with pulled pork and brisket and a brunswick stew

– Men’s site The Manual has a podcast on barbecue and booze

Finally, the conversation turns toward what the panel was all waiting for: booze pairings. Slaughter suggests (and the guys all agreed) the best booze pairing for barbecue is a definitely a whisk(e)y with a smokey, peaty flavor. Scotch is possibly the most appropriate since it calls back to the smokiness of the meat. The group also touches on wine pairings, emphasizing that a bolder, heavier, red wine is best, such as a Zinfandel or a Napa Cabernet.

– RIP

– Bib’s Downtown in Winston-Salem contributed some comfort food recipes for the local Fox affiliate

– Keanu voice: Whoa.

Linkdown: 12/13/17

– Sad news as Midwood Smokeshack has closed in Matthews. However, there is some good news in that the employees will keep their jobs at other Midwood Smokehouse locations and FS Food Groupd will be looking to build a full service Midwood Smokehouse in the Matthews area at some point.

– D.G. Martin’s list of last minute book gifts includes one of my all-time favorite barbecue books which was just re-issued on paperback, “Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue” by John Shelton Reed, Dale Volberg Reed, and William McKinney

– Charlotte Agenda: “Noble Smoke could give Charlotte a true barbecue flagship”

– However, one recently-elected city councilwoman will not be patronizing Noble Smoke when it does open due to his support of HB2 in 2015

– Carolina Smokehouse brings western NC barbecue to Carolina Beach’s boardwalk

– Congrats to B’s Cracklin’ BBQ!

Photo Gallery: Rough Draft Brewing Beer Dinner at Midwood Smokehouse Park Road

IMG_1057 (2)This past Wednesday night, I was invited by Sarah from Midwood Smokehouse (shouts to Sarah!) to a beer dinner featuring some California-inspired dishes which incorporated smoke in various ways paired with four beers from Rough Draft Brewing Company out of San Diego. I hadn’t previously had the pleasure of trying any beers from Rough Draft and the courses for this dinner were different from the usual barbecue beer dinner fare, so this would be a night of new experiences for me. Here’s the highlights:

Appetizers: Rock Shrimp Tostada, Bacon Wrapped Jalapenos, Jalapeno-Jack Cornbread paired with Weekday Session IPA

Now this was a great start to the dinner. My first bite of the evening was a good one – the crunch of the freshly fried corn tostada contrasted well with the acidity of the rock shrimp and ceviche. I had two of these. The bacon-wrapped jalapeno is a normal offering on the menu but this version featured a “queso Chihuahua”. Lastly, the cornbread topped with pulled pork and pico was good but ranked third in my passed app hierarchy (patent pending). The Weekday Session IPA was a smart move to not come out of the gate too hot.

First Course: San Diego Pier Taco paired with Grapefruit Weekday IPA
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A southern California classic – the fish taco. The grouper was fried in a beer batter made with the Grapefruit Weekday IPA mixed with ground corn into a maseca but was still light enough for a first course. The Grapefruit Weekday IPA is made from the same recipe as the session IPA but as the name implies, is infused with grapefruit. This tied in nicely with the grapefruit-avocado crema that topped the taco and the smoke in the dish came from the smoked tomato salsa. I could have had at least 2 more of these, but thankfully they didn’t allow that because I would have been too full for…

Second Course: Ancho Rubbed Tri-tip paired with Hop Therapy Double IPA
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My first taste of tri-tip. I don’t know this preparation compares to classic Santa Maria tri-tip (Midwood smoked over hickory as they do with all meats), but I do know that I really liked it and in particular the ancho rub. Midwood Smokehouse has previously featured it as a Barbecue Month special in years past and if its on the menu next May I may have to make a special trip out. As good as the tri-tip was, the sweet potato tamale was every bit its equal. Made from sweet potatoes from a Barbee Farms out of Concord, the use of sweet potato in a classic tamale presentation blew my mind. This course paired with the Hop Therapy Double IPA which was a more malt-forward double clocking in at 9%. Thankfully, they weren’t serving more than about a half pour because this guy was dangerously drinkable and I could see it sneaking up on me.

Third Course: Key Lime Rye Cake paired with Sea State Blackberry Rye Ale
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FS Food Group (the restaurant group owned by Frank Scibelli that owns Midwood Smokehouse among other concepts) recently hired a full-time pastry chef and while I unfortunately can’t recall her name, this rye cake with smoked blackberry sauce was her topper to the dinner. It paired nicely with the Sea State Blackberry Rye Ale.