Monk: Every April, the streets in front of The Pit in Raleigh shut down for a block party featuring the always undefeated combination of barbecue, beer, and bluegrass music. This year, the festival took place on April 20th and offered smoking of the pig kind on a near picture-perfect day in downtown Raleigh.
I had previously attended one other Cuegrass back in 2014 on a similarly sunny and picturesque day (although my memory is that it was a little warmer that year). This year, friend of the blog Susong and I stopped by Lexington Barbecue for lunch on the way so weren’t particularly hungry for $6 barbecue sammies from The Pit. I did take note that they had gone up in price from $5 some time in the past 5 years and that they are still served in the same foil paper packaging that Chic-Fil-A uses.
While I was too full for barbecue I did, however, partake in some beer as well as the bluegrass music, catching Alan Barnosky solo on the Beer & Banjos Stage on the side street Commerce Place once I got settled before checking out local 4-piece bluegrass group Old Habits on the Main Stage. Old Habits were a fun band of 40-something year old (presumably) dads who did play some originals but also mixed in some crowd-pleasing covers such as “The Weight” by The Band.
Plenty of other folks made it out to watch Old Habits as well.
After catching the full set from Old Habits, Susong and I wrapped it up with a few minutes of Billie Feather back on the Beer & Banjos stage before catching a few minutes of the decidedly non-bluegrass Will Hoge before heading out.
Cuegrass is an extremely family friendly event, from the face painting and games on the side street to the low key environment of watching the bands on blankets and tailgate chairs at both stages. Several kids were dancing and enjoying the sounds of Old Habits, who noted that it was the first (and perhaps only) time that anyone had ever flossed to one of their songs (sadly, I did not capture this ). I can’t recommend the event enough and hope to be back much sooner than the 5 years it took me between my first and second visit.
The last of the videos from Kevin Pang’s BBQ Road Trip ’10 (Keith Allen here, Wilber Shirley here), here’s a short conversation from Ed Mitchell back when he was still part of The Pit in Raleigh.
And while Wilber Shirley didn’t take Kevin’s bait on eastern vs Lexington-style, Ed Mitchell answers the question by claiming that smoking a whole hog is the “true heart of barbecue,” albeit after diplomatically saying he’s “never had bad barbecue.”
– Texas Monthly on the Barbecue Nation exhibit in Atlanta
The ‘Barbecue Nation’ exhibition in Atlanta covers everything from the Caribbean origins of our barbecue culture to the current state of competition barbecue. It’s an educational experience as well as a nostalgic one. https://t.co/6rHB5og8Tj
This video produced by the Durham Convention & Visitor’s Bureau explores The Pit (our review), Bullock’s Bar-B-Que, Backyard BBQ Pit (our review), and The Q Shack (our review). I do think they should have gone to Johnson Family BBQ (our review) as well.
Barbecue is a famous part of North Carolina cuisine, and Durham’s pit-cooking elite have garnered national praise. Hear about four of the five celebrated barbecue joints located in the Bull City with this video, and head to durh.am/durhambbqmap for an infographic overview.
Lewis figured out the exact thickness and material to insulate the walls to keep the heat in too. And because the long, round tanks and smooth edges on Lewis’ smokers are the perfect shape to keep heat and smoke circling consistently through, there’s no need to get up and move product around. Smoke stacks are rolled to a specific diameter. When I asked Lewis what that diameter was, he demurred. These specs are top secret.
– Pulled pork v brisket: who you got? John Lewis of Lewis Barbecue and Aaron Siegel of Home Team BBQ weigh in
AM: Which is better, beef brisket or pulled pork?
Siegel: There is no argument there, really. It’s just a matter of preference, which seems to vary regionally. But even now, regional lines are getting blurred. We’re supposedly a pork town. But we’ve been doing beef brisket with salt and pepper and it’s one of our best selling products. So at the end of the day, it’s a fun argument. But it’s not valid.
Lewis: I think there are things about both that make them stand out. Beef has a stronger flavor than pork. But what pork has is marveling, which gives it a juicier taste. In Texas, there’s an order called the “Holy Trinity,” which includes sausage, beef and pork on the same plate. So I’m really just a fan of it all. It’s all about personal preference.
“Barbecue is sacred to the people of North Carolina,” says Dickson. “If you’re going to do this, you have an obligation to be a good steward of our state cuisine. I can’t think of a better way to do it than this.”
– I may have missed this, but The Pit is servicing barbecue sandwiches at NC State’s Carter-Finley Stadium this football season
– While Grant and his family moved to Chattanooga a few weeks back, his impressive backlog of stories about Atlanta-area restaurants is just now winding down; as he now shifts his focus to his new home, he looks back on his favorite Atlanta restaurants, including two barbecue joints: Old Brick Pit and Heirloom Market
– The Smoking Ho joined the Chicago-based Man Meat BBQ podcast for a conversation recently
House Bill 2 (a.k.a. HB2, a.k.a. “the bathroom law”) exploded out of nowhere in March. Dickson promptly ordered new bathroom signage showing Picnic’s disdain for the state government edict that people must go to washrooms that match the gender on their birth certificate.
Thing is, the law only applies to public buildings and schools, not private businesses. North Carolina, he says, has a “proud tradition of being a progressive Southern state,” and HB2 is not a true reflection of it.