Monk: Our prolific friend of the blog John Tanner has been at it again making the rounds in eastern NC recently, so let’s follow along in envy to some of the better places from his recent trip.
Wilber’s BBQ in Goldsboro has been back for a couple of years now but in his first dining room meal in some years, John and co. are wowed
Martelle’s Feed House is a restaurant with a buffet that includes great ribs and fantastic barbecue, located in the tiny town of Englehard (pop. 155), a (according to Wikipedia) “fishing community in Lake Landing Township on the mainland of Hyde County, North Carolina” near the Pimlico Sound
John also tried out Old Colony Smokehouse in Edenton, “a fine addition to eastern North Carolina” where they hold onto old traditions but also incorporate new trends
John passes on the buffet at Captain Bob’s Restaurant and Catering in Hertford for a pork plate but immediately regrets that decision
One of the highlights of his trip was a visit to Sid’s Catering in Beaulaville, a small town in southeast North Carolina
Things are looking dicey for turkeys this Thanksgiving; this is from Heim BBQ
The BBQuest Eater Heat Map
Dispatches from the Tales from the Pits BBQ + Bourbon road trip
Name: Old Hickory Bar-B-Q Date: 7/1/17 Address: 338 Washington Avenue, Owensboro, KY 42301 Order: Combination plate – mutton, mutton ribs, pork (fries and onion rings) (link to menu) Price: $14.50
Speedy: After my recent relocation to Nashville, I found myself to be in close proximity to the state of Kentucky, which really only has two things I care about – horse racing and bourbon. On a Saturday afternoon starting a long weekend, I found myself with nothing to do, so I decided to make the drive up to see if I could add ‘cue to my “reasons to go to Kentucky” list. I chose Owensboro, as the that seems to be the most famous place for Kentucky’s meat of choice – mutton.
Monk: As always, I appreciate the dedication in driving long distances to try new joints. And seeing as how I don’t see Rudy or me making it to Western Kentucky anytime soon, thanks for biting the bullet and checking out the mutton. I couldn’t have been more curious as to how you would find it once I saw you were checking it out.
Speedy: After the considerable drive (which may have included stops at a couple of distilleries)…
Monk: …ah, there it is…
Speedy: …I pulled into Old Hickory Bar-B-Que to see a traditional looking ‘cue joint with a sign claiming “five generations of quality bar-b-q”.
Monk: So far so good, although can we talk about how Owensboro fancies itself to be the “Barbecue Capital of the World”? Were you aware of this during your trip and if so, how did you feel betraying Lexington, NC like that?
Speedy: No, I wasn’t aware, but I’m not surprised. There are a lot of false idols in this world, Monk, and you can’t avoid them all.
I walked in and was seated at a booth, where I quickly ordered a combination plate with three meats – I chose two kinds of mutton (traditional and ribs) and pork (you can take the boy out of North Carolina…). The food came out quickly and I dug in.
The portions were more than generous. I started with the pork, which was chopped super fine – even finer than Lexington style. In fact, it almost looked like a sloppy Joe. But the flavor was good – it was pre-sauced with a vinegary sauce. It was pretty decent and didn’t require any more sauce, but I felt it did lose a bit of the pork flavor. I also would have loved to have a little bark in with the pork, but it was just fine.
Monk: From the photos, I do believe that pork looks to have the consistency of refried beans just a little bit. At least it was still somewhat tasty, according to you.
Speedy: As for the mutton, I’ll have to describe both cuts of meat at the same time, because I honestly couldn’t tell the difference. There were big chunks of mutton meat that were tender and easy to pull. The tenderness was the best part of the meat. The flavor was somewhat bland and gamey. Adding either sauce (a vinegar base and a sweet heat sauce) helped, but overall, I didn’t find the mutton to be that enjoyable.
Monk: I could really try to shoehorn a “Seinfeld” quote in here, but I think I’ll refrain…
Speedy: The sides were fine (I stuck to the fried variety), but overall, I didn’t think the meal was that great. I don’t feel great writing this review, as I don’t think Old Hickory Bar-B-Q did anything wrong – I just think mutton is not a great meat, which is why no one else cooks it.
As is often the case with food origin myths, these tales get things exactly backwards. Barbecue did not originate as a way to transform cheap cuts of meat into something palatable. Instead, it started as a way to cook all of the cuts of meat at one time, for barbecue originally was a form of whole animal cookery.
In the 19th century, barbecues were large-scale outdoor events, and local farmers donated valuable livestock for the occasion—pigs, cows, sheep, goats, or whatever else they had on hand. On the Fourth of July in the antebellum South, long before refrigeration and reliable supplies of ice, fresh meat didn’t stay fresh for very long. The animals were typically taken to the site of the barbecue and slaughtered right there by the pits.
But the biggest difference between print and digital is the physicality and the connection to a tangible object. You can’t hang a phone app or website on your wall and stick pins in it to mark all the places you’ve visited. You can stand in front of a map and look and remember and plan and dream. Our maps also create a sense of community, something we had never imagined before making them. We live in a world that oftentimes feels so detached, and maps are visible things you hold in your hands that someone sees, and it sparks a conversation over a commonality. People want to know where you’re going and where you’ve been and what you thought of it. Maps aren’t just guides; they’re memorabilia too – beautiful trip mementos that become part of your home and take you back to an adventure you had or a wonderful time making memories with people you love. They touch something deep within – a nostalgia and a wanderlust.
Southerners weren’t too keen on this new definition for one of their favorite words. “Many Georgia epicures insist that this is an insult to the honorable name of barbecue,” Rufus Jarman wrote in The Saturday Evening Post in 1954. “You cannot barbecue hamburgers, roasting ears, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, or salami, and it is a shame and a disgrace to mention barbecue in connection with such foolishness.”
– The Charleston Brown Water Society BBQ Invitational took place this past Sunday and had some famous guests
Pitmasters Sam Jones and Rodney Scott were at Sunday’s second annual Charleston Brown Water Society’s Summer Invitational BBQ, but they weren’t working the pits. No, they both drove multiple hours from their respective homes just to eat and visit. That’s how good the barbecue was.
Teams from Illinois’ 17th Street Barbecue, Tennessee’s Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint, and Charleston’s own Home Team BBQ stayed up all night Saturday smoking meat and fighting mosquitos at the Holy City Brewing compound on Dorchester Road. They offered up their labors to more than 300 guests (including Jones and Scott) who lined up the next day in the hot afternoon sun to check in.
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