Linkdown: 9/2/15

– The BBC reports on black pitmasters being left out of the barbecue boom

“National press is infatuated with white, male hipster BBQ,” writes Robb Walsh on the blog First We Feast. “Believe it or not, blacks, Latinos, and women are involved in the barbecue biz too.”

– On a related note, Robert Moss’ list of the 15 most influential people in barbecue history

Here, arranged chronologically, is my list of the 15 most influential figures in American barbecue history. By “influential”, I don’t mean the best cooks or the most successful restaurateurs, necessarily. We’re talking about impact and legacy: the people who helped shape the South’s rich barbecue tradition and create and promote the diverse regional styles we enjoy today. It’s a list that cuts across lines of race and class.

– Moss also has the first part in a series for the “Best of Southern BBQ” Awards

– Just saw that Bill Spoon’s now has a barbecue food truck serving the greater Charlotte area

– La Barbecue – #1 in our recently released Austin rankings –  is moving again in order to stay open during nights for patrons of the neighborhood bars

– The Smoking Ho’s recap of the TMBBQ Behind the Pit Dinner at Snow’s BBQ

– Marie, Let’s Eat! continues his Alabama barbecue travels at Bar-B-Q Hut in Heflin and The Rocket in Jacksonville

– This list is from 2012 but worth a revisit since it has been retweeted in the past week

– The Southern Sauce Festival,  which combines the Q-City Charlotte Barbecue Championship and the Charlotte Beerfest, is one of the 10 things you must do in September, according to Charlotte Five

– From friend of the blog Johnny Fugitt, the most underrated barbecue in St. Louis

– More lists: Yahoo’s 50 best barbecue restaurants in the America by state; gotta say, some headscratchers in this one

– IT’S ALL HAPPENING:

-NPR article on how locals are turning 5-hour long lines at Franklin’s into cold hard cash

– The Daily Meal’s list of America’s 35 Best Ribs 2015 was compiled from 40 different “rib experts” and includes The Pit in Raleigh at #34; Louie Mueller takes the top overall spot (check out Rudy’s recent review here)

Ranucci’s Big Butt BBQ and Rocky Top BBQ Company

For this year’s Q-City Charlotte BBQ Championship (our photos and some thoughts here), they had several more barbecue trucks than they did last year. This, in turn, allowed Speedy and I to check out a couple more Charlotte-area barbecue vendors that we hadn’t been able to try yet. It may be harsh to judge each of these vendors based on their output at a barbecue festival, but nonetheless here’s some of our quick thoughts on the two sandwiches that we both tried that day.

Ranucci’s Big Butt BBQ – Belmont, NC (link)
Pork sammy – 3 hogs

Monk: Ranucci’s Big Butt BBQ has won a lot of competition trophies on the Memphis Barbecue Network, including grand champion of last year’s version of the Q City Championship (when it was a Memphis Barbecue Network event; this year it was sanctioned by the NC BBQ Association). From what I can tell, they mostly do private events and catering, so this was a fairly rare opportunity to try their barbecue. Their pulled pork sandwich was coarsely pulled pork strands as opposed to chopped and had decent smoke. But ultimately I found it a little dry unless I added their eastern style sauce, which I dashed on before leaving their truck and sitting elsewhere. Not bad, but I wasn’t blown away like I was hoping from such an accomplished barbecue competition team.

Speedy: I actually didn’t notice the sauce before leaving the truck, so I had to do without. Like Monk, I found it to be a little dry and a little lacking on the flavor. At the end of the day, competition barbecue is so different than churning out a bunch of sammies for a festival crowd. I just feel like it this setting, vendors should pick a flavor and go with it instead of having festival goers choose and sauce their own sandwich.
Ranucci's Big Butt BBQ
Sandwich from Ranucci's Big Butt BBQ

Rocky Top BBQ Co. – Monroe, NC (link)
Pork sammy – 3 hogs

Speedy: The Rocky Top BBQ Company is a catering and competition team out of Monroe, NC. They’ve been competing since 2009 and have even appeared on BBQ Pitmasters. Monk and I both ordered the barbecue sandwich from Rocky Top as well. I thought the sandwich was pretty good, but not great. I did enjoy it more than Ranucci’s – it was sauced, so dryness wasn’t an issue. It did taste a bit sweeter than I am accustomed to, so I probably would prefer a little more vinegar-y tang. Overall, I thought it was enjoyable.

Monk: To me, something was a little off on this sandwich, texture-wise. And I agree with Speedy on the sauce being a little sweeter than I’d like. Of the two sandwiches I tasted, I preferred Ranucci’s to this one, but as you can tell neither knocked my socks off.
Rocky Top BBQ Co.
Sandwich from Rocky Top BBQ Co.

Photo Gallery: 2014 Q-City Charlotte BBQ Championship, 10/18/14

A few photos from last weekend’s Q-City Charlotte BBQ Championship, now a NC BBQ Association sanctioned event. Whether it was due to the change in sanctioning bodies or different organizers, I enjoyed the changes to this year’s version of the festival a lot. The barbecue competitors were more front and center, lined up on S. Tryon Street instead of being an afterthought to a street festival. There were also several more professional barbecue vendor options to choose from to eat. All in all, not a bad way to spend a few hours on a beautiful autumn Saturday morning.

Monk

Linkdown: 10/15/14

Deep fried barbecue on a stick at – where else – the NC State Fair in Raleigh

– The 85th annual Mallard Creek BBQ Festival has big plans for 2014

In 2014, we expect to cook 14,600 pounds of pork barbecue, prepare 2,500 gallons of Brunswick stew, shred 2 tons of Cole slaw, brew 400 gallons of coffee, and entertain close to 20,000 people.

Shots fired at Lexington-style barbecue by Linwood Parker, who owns White Swan Barbecue; isn’t White Swan the gas station barbecue who cooks with gassers?

“Years ago, when people started moving west in their oxen-dawn carts, it took so long they forgot the recipe for barbecue,” he said.

“When they reached their destination, the only kind of hogs they had were piney wood rooters that fed off acorns. So, their hog meat was green. They just added a lot of catsup to it to cover up the green color.”

Review of Bob Garner’s latest book, “Foods That Make You Say Mmm-mmm”

The 23rd Annual Hog Happnin‘ returns to the Cleveland County Fairgrounds on Friday, October 31 and Saturday, November 1

– Austin Chronicle story on John Lewis’s upcoming barbecue restaurant in Charleston

– A Notre Dame football blog talks NC barbecue in a post before last weekend’s game against UNC in South Bend

– Sam Jones is heading to Dallas for a whole hog event in November

– Eater story (with some nice photos) on the opening of Arrogant Swine in New York

Located on the border of East Williamsburg and Bushwick near the English Kills Canal, Arrogant Swine is the brainchild of pitmaster Tyson Ho, who studied under perpetual Barbecue Block Party participant Ed Mitchell, sometimes called the Pope of North Carolina barbecue. The hulking 3,000 foot space is a former warehouse, with high ceilings, a full bar, and a counter at the rear where the smoked meat and sides are sold by the plate or by the pound. Place your order and receive a number hoisted on a metal rod; carry it to your table and your meat horde will be delivered by and by. There’s an outside seating area, too, with giant graffiti murals decorating the outside walls of the building, and an L-shaped shack out back where the barbecuing is done.

– Shame about where this photo was taken but the linked article takes a look at barbecue culture in Charlotte

– This weekend you can actually taste some of the pitmasters barbecue at the Q-City Charlotte BBQ Championship ( as opposed to years past); more details here

Linkdown: 8/20/14

– Wayne Monk, Sam Jones, and other “old-school pitmasters” weigh in on how the barbecue industry is changing

“To cook pork shoulders the way we do it, it’s a 10-hour process. It’s hard these days to find young men to learn a trade like this that they’re proud of, that have 10-hour days. People take shortcuts, like gas cookers. But the more gas cookers there are, the better my business gets.” – Rick Monk, Lexington Barbecue (Lexington, NC)

– You may remember this bill from a few months back due to its dubious claim to South Carolina being “birthplace of barbecue,” but in any case its finally official: barbecue is South Carolina’s “southern picnic cuisine”

– Speaking of South Carolina, would the Senator Frank Underwood from House of Cards really be eating ribs instead of pulled pork?

– Registration for the 2014 Q City Charlotte BBQ Championship is now live until slots fill up; also, it is now a NC BBQ Association event rather than a Memphis BBQ Network one as it had been in years past

– According to Daniel Vaughn, barbecue editor of Texas Monthly, “[t]he brisket I’ve had in New York lately is better than a lot of places in Texas”

– Vote for best barbecue (as well as other cuisines) in Creative Loafing Charlotte’s Best of 2014 survey

– On September 7, five Louisville chefs will compete in a whole hog challenge to determine who will be crowned the “BBQ King or Queen” (via)

At the stand-up tasting reception, they’ll serve six dishes that illustrate entire animal usage, scored on utilization, presentation, barbecue influences and flavor. The perfect plate spotlights the whole pig and can ultimately inspire restaurant owners to greater support of local agriculture, according to event founder Brady Lowe.

– This Eater guide to the best pulled pork in Austin features a couple of the usual suspects plus a few I hadn’t heard of before (via)

– Marie, Let’s Eat! visits Papa Joe’s BBQ Pit and Cook Out in a review from last week

– This month’s Carolina ‘Cue feature from Our State is Big Mike’s Barbecue, a food truck out of the Raleigh area

At this writing, there is but one place you can find Big Mike’s Barbecue: It’s indeterminate, location at present unknown, its setting determined by demand, a roving outlet for the conveyance of pork in its various guises. Big Mike calls it the Red Barn. You would, too, if you saw it, because that’s exactly what it appears to be. No room for towering bales of hay or horse stalls or tractors, though, just big enough for a sink and a counter and a little smoker toward the back, on what looks like a screened-in porch, and small enough to be pulled behind a GMC Sierra 2500HD. You order through one of the barn windows. On the window is a drawing of a pig holding a fork and knife, a pig with a big smile on his face, as if he’s happy to be eating himself. And, on any given day, the Red Barn could be in the parking lot of the building where you work, near a bar you frequent, or at a party where you’re the guest of honor.

– Brooks Sandwich House, home of Charlotte’s best burger, has barbecue available seasonally and it is back; I’m not sure what to expect from it but when I try it I’ll at least get a burger as well

– A preview of things to come from Buxton Hall?

Q City Championship

This past Saturday afternoon, Speedy and I stopped in on the Q-City Charlotte BBQ Championship. Walking through the competition site on was pretty cool and fairly amusing (the pig puns, they were a-flowing), but the standard street fair aspects and the lack of barbecue options outside of Mac’s, Rock Store, and Sauceman‘s was a little disappointing – my one sandwich from Rock Store was dry and forgettable. Still, I’m glad that Charlotte has a legit barbecue championship and who knows, maybe next year Speedy and I will participate as judges or competitors…

-Monk

Linkdown: 10/23/13

– The 84th Annual Mallard Creek Barbecue is tomorrow

image

– However, Kathleen Purvis warns everyone to be careful at church barbecues (and similar events) in light of the recent salmonella outbreak in Shelby last month

– NC (specifically Lexington-style) and TX barbecue: maybe not so completely different? Daniel Vaughn of TMBBQ thinks so when it comes to outside brown and fatty brisket.

– Diva Q stopped by Charleston last week and helped with a fundraiser for a local charity (thanks to the reader Robert who submitted this story!)

– For August – National Sandwich Month – Zagat listed a sandwich for each state that best embodies “the spirit of each community and its local cuisine.” The good: they picked a chopped pork sandwich for NC. The bad: they photographed one at Bar-B-Q King in Charlotte. It’s as if they flew into Charlotte and found the first barbecue joint they could find (4 or so miles out Wilkinson Blvd from the airport) and just went with that.

– The winners of last week’s Q-City Championship, with Ranucci’s Big Butt BBQ winning the grand championship

Linkdown: 10/16/13

– The Q-City Charlotte BBQ Championship (formerly the BBQ & Blues Festival) returns to uptown Charlotte this weekend

– More shots fired from Stephen Colbert on NC barbecue (0:49 into the video)

Amen. I’ve always said chemical weapons are a state’s rights issue. Each individual state should decide what is and isn’t poisonous. For example, what we in my home state of South Carolina consider a deadly toxin, people in North Carolina call barbecue sauce.

– The author of “A History of South Carolina Barbeque” and also the president of the South Carolina Barbeque Society certainly has some opinions

– Rocky Mount, NC hosts the sixth annual Eastern Carolina BBQ Throw Down this weekend, a KCBBQ event

– A couple of new NYC barbecue spots are trying to replicate NC pulled pork and based on this are seemingly doing a decent job at it

– Details on the grandaddy of them all, the 30th Annual Barbecue Festival

Linkdown: 9/4/13

– Lolis Eric Elie thinks the nation is currently in the “cover-band” stage of barbecue; read this article to see what exactly he means

Barbecue’s migration to the national stage is almost complete. This summer, in Parade magazine, John T. Edge declared this the “new golden age of barbecue,” saying, “Americans adopted barbecue as our national folk food.”

That is exactly what barbecue didn’t need.

– Several Pittsburgh-area barbecue restaurants have been influenced by the Carolinas

– North Mecklenburg Republican Women will host its 5th annual Pig Pickin’ and Politickin’ event on Sept. 10

– This Slate writer believes that if “you put enough barbecue sauce on anything, it’ll taste good,” which is just wrong on so many levels

– A University of Alabama professor recently received an $18,000 grant from the Southern Foodways Alliance to study how barbecue has become such a cultural phenomenon in Alabama

– Clyde Cooper’s will be rebuilding – ahem, “reincarnating” – its current interior when it relocates to a new Raleigh location just around the corner in December (via

– The event schedule for the Q-City Charlotte BBQ Championship has been released and includes concerts, contests, and a brewfest

– Because it is the best (non-alcoholic) drink to have with barbecue, I present to you “The History of Cheerwine”

Linkdown: 8/21/13

– The 2013 Q-City Charlotte BBQ Championship (formerly the Blues, Brew & BBQ Festival) was recently announced for October 18-19 and will be the southeast’s largest sanctioned BBQ competition

Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint, Scott’s, and Skylight Inn make Southern Living’s 100 Places to Eat Now (via)

– Meanwhile in Asheville, James Beard nominated chef Elliot Moss has left Ben’s Tune-Up and is now focusing on his barbecue restaurant, presumably still being called Buxton Hill (though the article mentions he is taking more of a “modernist approach” and the details of which are “still in flux”)

– Boney’s Smokehouse, (review from Speedy and Monk coming tomorrow), gets a 3/4 star review in the Denver Post. Spoiler alert: we didn’t like it as much.

– Myron Mixon has parted ways with his restaurant partners in both Pride and Joy locations – Miami and the soon-to-be-opened New York (via)

– In case you were wondering, you can take Wilber’s barbecue (and presumably any other barbecue) through airport security (although why the typo of “Wilbur’s” made it through the editing process at the N&O is a mystery to me)

– Scott’s Bar-B-Q in Hemingway, SC is Andrew Zimmern’s favorite barbecue joint in America as confirmed in a tweet a few weeks back