Linkdown: 8/30/17

– Thinking of Houston in the wake of Harvey

– In drier times (hopefully coming soon), could whole hog barbecue succeed in Houston?

– Glad to hear that the smokers at Franklin Barbecue made it through the smokehouse fire

– Art’s Barbecue and Deli and Bar-B-Q King make Charlotte Five’s list of 10 classic Charlotte restaurants you must try

– A barbecue-focused episode of House of Carbs this week talks Texas barbecue and Charleston as a barbecue capital

– Buxton Hall evening pitmaster David Phelps gets a mention in this article on third shift workers in Asheville

After coming in around 10 p.m., he spends the first two hours prepping the next day’s sauces and green beans. As he chops and mixes, Phelps is also building the fire up to the required temperature (225 degrees), in order to cook the two pigs nightly. By sunrise, he generally has around 350 to 400 pounds of pulled pork ready for the day crew.

– Buxton Hall’s also got great fried chicken too

– LOL

 

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Bill Spoon’s Barbecue – Charlotte, NC (RE-REVIEW)

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Name
: Bill Spoon’s Barbecue
Date: 7/14/17
Address: 5524 South Boulevard  Charlotte, NC 28217
Order: Large chopped pork plate with slaw, baked beans, hush puppies, and sweet tea (link to menu)
Price: $13

Monk: As I was compiling the latest Charlotte Big Board update in March, I noticed a disturbing lack of NC-centric barbecue joints on the list. Four of the top 5 are Texas-style joints (Jon G’s Barbecue, Midwood Smokehouse and Smokeshack, and The Smoke Pit), and Boone’s doesn’t adhere to either eastern or Lexington-style tradition. Clearly, it was time to revisit some NC joints around town.

First on my list (once I got around to it a few months later) was Bill Spoon’s Barbecue, a whole hog eastern NC joint that is not all that inconvenient for me but which I tend to overlook. The last time we checked in was in 2015 and Speedy focused on the ribs which were a new menu item at the time. I considered the ribs but between the fact that the two-meat combo is a bit pricey and that Speedy wasn’t blown away by them last time, I steered clear and stuck with the large pork combo.

Looking back at old reviews, I think we underrated the pork at Spoon’s just a little bit. The chopped pork was tangy, flavorful, and moist. As I recalled, it was good on its own but was enhanced nicely by the table vinegar sauce. I gotta say, it was a nice change of pace to only get pork for once instead of getting all of the meats and having tons of leftovers.

The hush puppy basket was late in arriving, coming after our plates had come. But that likely saved me from overeating on the delicious, slightly-sweet cornmeal pups. I have come to appreciate the mustard-based slaw, even if it will never be my favorite style. And the beans were fine.

Me and the Monkettes got some naner pudding to go and if I’m being truthful, it was half the reason why I wanted to revisit Spoon’s. Just ridiculously good.

I left the meal full and satisfied, with a thought in my head. Bill Spoon’s Barbecue has been around for 54 years and will (hopefully) be there for many more, but on a Friday night the dining room hovered between 25-50% occupied. If I have anything to do with it, we need to make Bill Spoon’s more of a thing.

For more reviews, check out:
Marie, Let’s Eat! (2009)
Marie, Let’s Eat! (2016)
Big Wayner’s BBQ (2011)
Our original review in 2012
Speedy’s review in 2015

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 4 hogs
Pork – 4 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs

Bill Spoon's Barbecue Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque – Atlanta, GA (Monk’s take)

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Name: B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque
Date: 3/31/17
Address: 2061 Main St NW, Atlanta, GA 30318
Order: Two meat plate (brisket and pulled pork) with hash and rice, collard greens, and cracklin’ cornbread (link to menu)
Price: $18

Monk: In the past few months, Speedy has checked out B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque in Atlanta twice and rubbed it in my face each time. Finally, I got sick enough of it and packed the Monk family in the car and made the 4 hour trip down to Atlanta just to shut Speedy up. Actually…the Monk clan just happened to be spending a long weekend in Atlanta so I arranged a lunch stop but that’s neither here nor there. And to be fair he wasn’t really rubbing it in my face per se, but it was at least a light brag that got under my skin.

Speedy: No. It was a face rub. Cause this place is awesome.

Monk: Guess my first instincts were right then….

Sitting 15 minutes west of downtown Atlanta in the Riverside neighborhood, B’s sits in an old house that used to be another barbecue joint named Hottie Hawg’s. Neither Speedy nor I have checked that place out but at B’s, you order at the bar and they bring it out to you. Speaking of bar, they do have a couple of solid beers on tap including local favorite Creature Comforts Tropicalia IPA, in which both Mrs. Monk and I both indulged. There is a decent sized patio and we tried to sit out on it but found that it was just a little too chilly in the shade on this particular late March day.

The whole hog pork at B’s is smoked from heritage hogs and was definitely the star of the show. It was served in coarsely pulled strands reminiscent of Scott’s Bar-B-Cue and was just downright excellent. Unlike Speedy’s visit, mine wasn’t on the dry side and each strand had a nice silky texture. I tried both the spicy vinegar and peach mustard sauces and while neither was essential, both complemented the pork well. Speaking of the pork, on our way out to the car, I even caught a worker carting a half of one of those heritage hogs from their annex to the main building, so I took the opportunity to snap a few photos.

Speedy: I’m surprised you don’t have more to say about the peach mustard sauce. I thought it was excellent and unlike anything I’ve had before. I’m generally against mustard sauce on pork (it belongs on sausage), but this stuff is legit.

Monk: I only used it sparingly but did think it was good. I guess I’m surprised at just how enthusiastic you are about it. 

While not quite on the level of the pork, the brisket had excellent bark and a nice tug to it. On this day, it was slightly on the dry side perhaps due to sitting under a warming lamp for too long. Still, these were darn good slices of brisket.

The side of hash and rice was excellent. If you recall, in Speedy’s review of B’s last December, Grant from Marie, Let’s Eat! went for a double side of hash and rice and after tasting, I completely understand why. This stuff was just plain great and certainly in the upper rankings of barbecue hash I’ve tried in my life. The collards were good but had a different taste than your usual vinegary greens due to the addition of a heavy dose of minced garlic. Pretty good, but I don’t know if I’d go for them again here.

Being that it’s the only bonafide whole hog joint in town and that they also smoke a mean brisket, if you are in Atlanta I urge you to make the trip to the westside and check out B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque. You won’t be disappointed.

For more reviews of B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque, check out:
Speedy’s take
Marie, Let’s Eat

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3.5 hogs
Brisket – 4.5 hogs
Pork – 4.5 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 4.5 hogs
B's Cracklin Barbecue  Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
B's Cracklin Barbeque

Photo Gallery: A Free Range Pig Pickin’ with Sam Jones

For the second year running, Free Range Brewing and Order/Fire combined powers to host a premiere screening of an episode of the web series with a pig pickin’ to follow. While last year’s episode featured four NC breweries (Burial Beer Co., Fonta Flora Brewery, Fullsteam Brewery, and Free Range Brewing), this year’s episode was on Sam Jones and Skylight Inn. Sam joined the festivities and smoked a 230 pound hog the night before for the pig pickin’. The whole shindig and its $10 suggested donation for the barbecue benefited the Community Culinary School of Charlotte, so there was an abundance of reasons to make it out to Free Range on a Sunday afternoon.

The 40 or so minute episode of Order/Fire was primarily a discussion between Sam and host Mark Jacksina that took place at Skylight Inn with topics ranging from the history of Sam’s family and barbecue to his first experiences gaining exposure outside of Ayden and his involvement with the Fatback Collective. It was a casual conversation between the two, with Sam peppering in his usual mix of one-liners and idioms. The packed house enjoyed the screening and you can view it here once it is made available online.

Now the first time I tasted Sam Jones’s barbecue, it was at when he smoked a whole hog at Midwood Smokehouse’s Southern ‘Cue Supper in 2013 and the whole hog literally (actually figuratively) blew my mind. I had not yet tasted cracklin’ skin mixed in with whole hog barbecue and absolutely loved that texture. The whole thing was a “revelatory experience” I hadn’t been able to try in the 3.5 years since. That is, until this day, and it definitely did not disappoint in the slightest. I’m still thinking about that pork as I type this, as a matter of fact.

Afterwards, I made a resolution: I will visit Skylight Inn and Sam Jones BBQ in 2017. Mark it down.

 

Barbecue Bros Book Club: The One True Barbecue by Rien Fertel

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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.

IMG_8196A collection of profiles on whole hog pitmasters throughout the southeast, “The One True Barbecue” by Rien Fertel is an enjoyable if not somewhat controversial read. In particular, Fertel ruffled feathers with his chapters on Wilber Shirley and Ed Mitchell. He portrayed the former’s restaurant as a joint with a racial division of labor between the front of the house and the back and the latter as a marketing gimmick in overalls that cooks hogs in a non-traditional manner (hot and fast rather than the traditional low and slow). However fair Fertel’s representation may or may not be (and he is but one man with his opinion), the fact that he spoke with neither for the purposes of this book only added more embers to the burn barrel.

Fertel ties the profiles together through narrative, following his path from New Orleans to the Carolinas and back, with even a stop in Bushwick to visit Arrogant Swine. Each chapter not only explores the pitmaster(s) themselves but in some cases the history of an entire town with Ayden, NC and its two joints Skylight Inn and Bum’s. He particularly favors Scott’s-Parker’s Barbecue in Lexington, TN, visiting with pitmaster Ricky Parker in the first chapter and then his sons after his death in the last chapter. In between, Fertel visits 12 other whole hog joints in Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, and the aforementioned Arrogant Swine in NY.

I enjoyed Fertel’s writing and found this to be a quick read that I devoured over just a few sittings. Fertel cut his teeth writing oral histories for The Southern Foodways Alliance, and his experience writing on southern food showed. A small complaint would be that the only color photographs are confined to a section at the center of the book – I would have loved to see them throughout as opposed to the smaller black and white ones within the chapters. In any case, I can’t recommend “The One True Barbecue” enough.

Monk

Friday Find: Whole Hog BBQ is Alive and Well in Nashville Thanks To Pat Martin’s Bar-B-Que

Eater’s How We Eat video series takes a trip to Nashville to talk with Pat Martin of Martin’s Bar-B-Que.

In West Tennessee, whole hog barbecue is a dying art, but pitmaster Pat Martin is working to change the story. How We Eat visits Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint in Nashville this week to learn about the smokey tradition, how it differs from other barbecue methods around the country, and what Martin and his team are doing to preserve the practice.

 

Linkdown: 1/25/17

– BBQ Hub has a peek inside the pit room at Swig & Swine, the new whole hog joint in Summerville, SC

– Speaking of whole hog, looks like Kentucky is getting more whole hog in the form of a monthly event from Red Barn Kitchen BBQ in the Louisville suburb of Lydon

– Want:

– Marie, Let’s Eat! stops in B & C Melrose BBQ in Nashville

– Charleston’s getting more barbecue: Wild Hare Barbecue opens in February in the West Ashley neighborhood and will be smoking with an onsite stick burner

– Would love to make the trip to Garland

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

Friday Find: Bon Apetit’s Best New BBQ Joint in America

If you recall, back in the late summer Bon Appétit named Buxton Hall Barbecue one of America’s 10 best new restaurants. As a result of that, they also created a short film on Elliott Moss and his journey to open his whole hog barbecue restaurant.

Buxton Hall’s chef and pitmaster Elliott Moss will be the first to tell you he’s not classically trained. In fact, he got his start in the kitchen of a South Carolina Chick-fil-A. After years of chasing his dream of opening up a BBQ restaurant, Moss opened Buxton Hall in Asheville, NC.

Monk