Linkdown: 5/12/21

Featured

In one of the latest signs of a return to normalcy, 60 teams participated in last weekend’s 40th Annual BBQ on the Neuse Festival, the world’s largest whole hog competition. Attendance was larger than expected, with upwards of 15,000 attendees (vs an expected 5,000) coming to downtown Kinston to enjoy barbecue, music, and a little rainy weather (at least on Friday night).

In terms of winners, contestant Amy Bell had a good year, winning first overall in product quality and sauce. The rest of the winners here:

Next year’s event will be held on May 6-7.

Native News

Indy Week reviews the Raleigh location of Sam Jones BBQ, which doesn’t even have a freezer on site

Daniel Vaughn spent a little over a week in NC and ended his tour at Jon G’s Barbecue this past Saturday where I was fortunate enough to meet up with him

Non-Native News

Congrats to Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ on their new space in Buda, about 15 minutes south of their current location in South Austin

Juan Luis from John Lewis of Lewis Barbecue makes this list

A few shows with barbecue-focused episodes – Ugly Delicious, Cooked, Taco Chronicles, The Chef Show – are on this list from The Manual

Bon Appetit has an essay from Black Smoke

But of course Texas has a state high school barbecue championship

It’s not everyday that a barbecue restaurant gets featured in Architect Magazine; in this case its Black Hog BBQ in Ashburn, VA

Smoke Show BBQ – Charlotte, NC

Name: Smoke Show BBQ (pop-up at Crown Station)
Order: 1/2 lb brisket, 4 St. Louis cut rib, 1/4 chicken, potato salad, cole slaw, mac and cheese, baked, beans, banana pudding (link to menu)
Pricing: $$

Monk: Ever keeping my eye on new barbecue restaurants or pop-ups in Charlotte, I was caught off guard by a recent Charlotte Magazine article listing 4 pop-ups to know including one Smoke Show BBQ. The pop-up is owned and run by Brandon Belfer, a chef who attended Johnson & Wales culinary school in Charlotte and who according to that article has worked for a lot of great chefs and kitchens in Charlotte including The Stanley with Paul Verica, The Crunkleton, The Asbury under former chef Matthew Krenz and current chef Mike Long, and Kindred and Hello, Sailor under Joe Kindred and Craig Diehl.

Belfer is originally from the town of Pleasanton outside San Antonio, so he grew up around Texas barbecue and that is his focus for Smoke Show. Every 2 weeks or so, he runs his pop-up from a literal pop-up tailgating tent in the parking lot at Crown Station in NoDa (just around the corner from the former Monk residence).

And Belfer’s barbecue shows some promise but did have some issues on this day. The Creekstone brisket had a nice bark but had some issues with consistency and texture and could have used a little more trimming of the fat cap. Brandon eventually introduced himself and mentioned he was breaking in a new smoker. On top of that, for this cook he was delivered larger-than-expected briskets (16 pounds vs. his normal 12 pounders). I could tell those variables affected this particular cook but as I mentioned earlier, there is promise.

The St. Louis cut ribs were best part of the meal and had some real nice flavor, even if the ribs weren’t the meatiest. The smoked chicken was a solid option as well but probably could have benefitted from some direct heat to crisp up the skin (I’m assuming it was smoked on an offset like the rest of the meats but could be mistaken there). Beef ribs were a special, and while I didn’t order on this go round I’ll get to it eventually.

All of the sides were well made and showed off the culinary skill of Belfer; this day we got mac and cheese, potato salad, baked beans, and cole slaw. And to top off the meal, the banana pudding with some sort of caramelized crumble topping was awesome. I’ll be ordering that ‘naner pudding every time I come back.

Smoke Show BBQ is well worth keeping an eye on as a new player in the Charlotte barbecue scene, and I look forward to giving them another shot in a few months.

Ratings:
Brisket – 3 hogs
Ribs – 3.5 hogs
Chicken – 3 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs

Linkdown: 4/28/21

Featured

Mr. Barbecue re-opened last month after two years of closure due to a fire, but thankfully owner Jimmy Carros never considered either a) closing or b) not rebuilding the wood-burning smoke pits. To quote him from the Eater story below:

“The thought never really entered my mind,” Carros said.

“The flavor that you get from the wood-burning pits is not easily matched,” he explained. “I’m not saying it’s impossible, but I’m not sure I can do it.”

As a classic NC barbecue fan and one who enjoyed his visit to Mr. Barbecue a few months before the fire, I heap the highest of praise to Carros for that thinking. And others appreciate it too, as Mr. Barbecue was recently recognized in the Eater’s Carolinas list of best restaurants in Winston-Salem.

Mr. Barbecue is currently open for drive-thru orders only.

Native News

Thank goodness Grady’s made it out of the pandemic; now I just need to get there

In what was (somewhat embarrassingly) one of the oldest barbecue restaurant’s in Charlotte, the Tyvola Rd. outpost of the Sonny’s BBQ chain closes this Friday

K&N BBQ makes Axios Charlotte’s list of best food trucks; and they recommend you try the pork and brisket

Picnic and Bullock’s Bar-B-Cue make Eater’s list for Durham

Adam Richman (of Man vs Food fame) visited Midwood Smokehouse last week

Non-Native News

Black Smoke is now out, and this in except from the book; the story of Marie Jean of Pine Bluff, AR and her role in barbecue history is uncovered

John Tanner’s Barbecue Page has a fascinating story about barbecue and the law in the landmark case of Katzenbach v. McClung and Ollie’s in Birmingham

Robert Sietsema releases his latest barbecue list for NYC for Eater

Sietsema’s also got the deets on where to get a Frito Pie in NYC, including Mable’s Smokehouse in Williamsburg

I’m seeing the house made sausage trend in NC more too

Congrats to Eliana Gutierrez for one year as a pitmaster at Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ

Checking In: Noble Smoke

Monk: It’s been over a year since I last got takeout from Noble Smoke and much longer since I had last dined in. Recently, I found myself in the neighborhood just down the street getting my second COVID vaccine shot, so beforehand I decided to treat myself to lunch on their patio on a nice Spring day.

As everything is a la carte at Noble Smoke, I ordered a Lexington-style chopped pork sandwich ($8), a 1/4 lb of smoked turkey ($5), and a side of Anson Mills hush puppies ($4).

Speedy is on record as proclaiming Noble Smoke’s sandwich the best pork sandwich outside of Lexington. And he’s not wrong. As has been well documented, the pork shoulders are smoked in a brick pit that was fabricated to mimic the pits of Lexington Barbecue (owner Jim Noble got permission from his friends the Monk family). Topped with a red slaw on a fresh baked bun, it’s quite a satisfying sandwich. I’d be tempted to go with getting just two of those next time instead.

Speedy and I have both been into trying smoked turkey at more places so I went with that as a side. Noble Smoked has a very good version of smoked turkey, smokey and not overly dry. The sandwich might be a good switch up order sometime in the future.

Noble Smoke’s hush puppies are made with cornmeal from Anson Mills in Columbia, South Carolina. I find them to be the best hush puppies in Charlotte, no doubt.

Noble Smoke has a daily rotation of fruit hand pies ($4), and on this day they had blueberry, which was fantastic.

Noble Smoke continues to knock it out of the park. On a nice day, their patio is a great setting, with their pallets of wood from Carolina Cookwood providing some separation to the parking lot in addition to setting some nice ambiance and the recent introduction of a beer shack for outdoor drink service. I hope to spend more Spring and Summer afternoons on that patio.