The Barbecue Bros Holiday Gift Guide 2019

Note: a version of this post was posted in December 2018. It has been updated as of December 2019.

Monk: Posting this a bit earlier this year. Here’s some gift ideas for the barbecue lover in your life. Or perhaps you if you want to treat yo’ self. The bolded items are the ones I can personally recommend. 

Books

Cookbooks, from pitmasters and food writers alike

Food History, Cultural Writing, and Photography

Hats, T-Shirts, Apparel

Accessories, Stocking Stuffers, etc.

Happy Shopping!

Linkdown: 11/13/19

WILBER’S BACK (in Spring 2020)

Jamestown’s got a new wood-fired barbecue joint in Black Powder Smokehouse

A new barbecue newsletter called The ‘Cue Sheet from historian and author is a must-subscribe

Adrian Miller’s on the barbecue research trail at Lennon’s Restaurant in Warsaw, NC

Martin’s Bar-B-Que in Birmingham is one of the latest stops on John Tanner’s BBQ Blog, and he gave it a coveted Top Place tag

RIP San Antonio’s Granary

Barbecue-flavored vodka? Barbecue-flavored vodka.

Tejas Burgers is a new restaurant from the folks behind Tejas Chocolate that features a smoked burger

Our State Magazine’s got a NC barbecue quiz

Linkdown: 2/13/19

Our State Magazine’s February issue has a big write up on 26 Essential NC Barbecue Joints

Vote once a day between now and February 25

Steve Raichlen’s upcoming book on brisket comes out in April; here’s a book review

Speaking of Texas barbecue, Daniel Vaughn’s list of the best sausage wraps in Texas (aka #roadsausage)

J.C. Reid on the rise of vertical smokers where space is a little more limited

Relevant Instagram tips for some…

The Barbecue Bros Holiday Gift Guide 2018

Note: a version of this post was posted in December 2017. It has been updated as of December 2018.

Monk: For those last minute shoppers (whoops, should have posted this a few weeks earlier), here’s some gift ideas for the barbecue lover in your life. Or perhaps you if you want to treat yo’ self. The bolded items are the ones I can personally recommend. 

Books

Cookbooks, from pitmasters and food writers alike

Food History, Cultural Writing, and Photography

Hats, T-Shirts, Apparel

Accessories, Stocking Stuffers, etc.

Happy Shopping!

Linkdown: 3/14/18

– Just a few more items from the #BrooklynBBQ controversy last week

– A Brooklyn paper defends Brooklyn barbecue; so does The Houston Chronicle

– Attention Nashville:

– Ribs from Big Bob Gibson was a favorite dish at SoBe Wine and Food Festival in Miami earlier this month

– Evolution of a Filipino Barbecue Cookbook

– [thinking emoji]

– Damn, the food in the Bomb-Ass Biscuit Pop-Up at B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque does indeed look bomb-ass

They opened B’s doors at 9 a.m. on those days (the Riverside restaurant usually doesn’t open until 11 a.m.), slinging Council’s biscuits stuffed with country ham and apple butter or Furman’s fried chicken or sausage gravy. “If you come to a barbecue joint looking for a healthy breakfast, you’re in the wrong place,” Furman says. “We do not do gluten-free here!”

At some point, they added brisket hash to the menu. Then, they started selling beignets. And almost every morning, they sold out.

– WSOC-TV, the local ABC affiliate in Charlotte, has an odd “Best and Cheapest Barbecue in Charlotte” list that almost seems to start like an alphabetical list before stopping after 5

– Congrats to Our State Magazine, writer of some of my favorite barbecue articles

Barbecue Bros Book Club: Carolina ‘Cue by Our State Magazine

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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.

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Monk: Carolina ‘Cue is a collection of articles that appeared in Our State Magazine along with the full color photos that originally accompanied them. The stories move from west to east across the state as you read the book and while the heavy hitters – Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge, Lexington Barbecue, Stamey’s Barbecue, Allen & Son Barbeque, etc – get some coverage in the form of photos between articles, the articles themselves focus on some of the lesser-known joints in the state. And perhaps this makes sense, as the big guys have been covered the most both nationally and locally, so Our State is able to focus on the other places that haven’t had as much exposure.

Each article doesn’t focus on the food so much but rather the story behind the family and the building that makes the food – after all, it is subtitled “the people, places, and plates behind our favorite tradition”. No writer is featured more than twice but there is a cohesive voice and tone from article to article. At just under 100 pages, I breezed through the book in two short sittings but you could easily do it in one.

Carolina ‘Cue was compiled as of 2014 and features 27 restaurants in total (17 in articles, 10 in photos). In the table of contents it states that if you don’t see your favorite then they haven’t gotten there – yet. Here’s hoping a second version of the book can be published in another couple of years to continue the great storytelling project of the state’s favorite food.

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.

Linkdown: 7/5/17

– The Battleground Ave location of Stamey’s will reopen in the next few weeks after a fire last summer and has even added a drive-thru

– A visit to Keaton’s Barbecue in Cleveland, NC near Statesville, known for their spicy chicken

– Keaton’s also gets a write up in this month’s Our State

– The Fayetteville Observer reviews Buddy’s Bar-B-Q, an eastern NC joint which opened 72 years ago in 1945

– Eater jumps on the “Charleston as a barbecue hotspot bandwagon”

– Stick with me here: Tim Carman of The Washington Post says that the brisket at Hill Country, which just recently switched off the gas assist on their Ole Hickory smoker, is “as good or better than Franklin’s”

– Austin 360’s Matthew Odam then takes exception to that statement

Look, I’ve never been to Hill Country barbecue in D.C., or the flagship in Manhattan opened by a man with Texas roots who modeled his restaurant on Kreuz Market in his family’s hometown of Lockhart. But I don’t need to to know that the brisket there, or anywhere in D.C., can’t touch that at Franklin Barbecue.

– The Washington Post then responds back immediately, calling Odam’s take “food chauvinism”

– Scott Moore, the pitmaster at Tejas Chocolate, writes about the experience After Texas Monthly, or ATM, when they were named a top 10 joint

– The Christian Science Monitor takes a macro view of barbecue today, starting from its roots up through this year’s Memphis in May competition

Barbecuing, of course, has always been bound up in the politics and race of the nation. Six years before colonists dumped tea in Boston Harbor to protest British tariffs, the royalist governor of North Carolina, William Tryon, tried to appease local militiamen by roasting a whole ox. The men responded by tossing the roast in the river, an act of affirmed loyalties hence referred to as the Wilmington Barbecue.

– Barbecue the film is available next week

Linkdown: 3/15/17

– Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim to receive barbecue and a subscription to Our State Magazine (among other items) for his comments on Greensboro “adding no value” in hosting the ACC Tournament

– A review of the Barbecue documentary film

– TMBBQ has a post about the Texas smokehouses and barbecue pits of the 20th century

– Marie, Let’s Eat! finds Bears Den BBQ in Ocoee, TN to be similar to Herb’s in Murphy, NC

– A short film on Scott’s-Parker’s Barbecue from the Southern Foodway Alliance

– This article from the Washington Post’s Jim Shahin covers Heirloom Market BBQ among others

Linkdown: 11/9/16

– Ed Mitchell is no longer opening a stall at the upcoming Morgan Street Food Hall & Market in Raleigh but the News Observer has more information on his food truck which can be booked for holiday events

– A list of Charlotte barbecue joints from Charlotte’s Got A Lot; I think ours is  a little more comprehensive

– Grant visits Smokin’ J’s BBQ, another no-frills joint in Knoxville

– The When Pigs Fly BBQ Festival is this weekend in Fayetteville and features a whole hog competition

– Summerville, SC is getting a new whole hog barbecue joint in the second location of Swig & Swine

– Elliott Moss is going on a book tour for Buxton Hall Barbecue’s Book of Smoke: Wood-Smoked Meat, Sides and More, and is making a stop in Charleston

– Buxton Hall gets a nice write up in this month’s Our State Magazine