Linkdown: 10/11/17

More on fair food at the NC State Fair (which starts tomorrow) and whoops:

Only one of the dishes I tried was outright bad, and that was the barbecue-and-coleslaw waffle sandwich. It was somehow extraordinarily greasy, even by fair food standards, and the barbecue mostly just tasted like smoke.

– The Polar Pig Cook-Off, formerly held in Mount Pleasant (NC), will be held at the Cabarrus Arena and Events Center on November 10 and 11; the event will feature vendor tents, a Kids Zone, a beer garden, live music, and the barbecue competition (including a people’s choice award)

– People Food and Zagat have named Skylight Inn the most popular restaurant in NC

– Filing away for future potential use:

– Daniel Vaughn of TMBBQ explores west Tennessee whole hog and discovers Ramey’s Whole Hog Bar-B-Q in Parsons, about 90 minutes outside of Nashville

– 45 years ago Monday:

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Friday Find: House of Carbs – “Barbecue for the Forces of Good”

A barbecue-focused episode this week. In the first segment, I would describe fellow Ringer colleagues David Shoemaker and Bryan Curtis as two guys who grew up in Texas but I would classify as more like dabblers into the world of barbecue. Nonetheless, they talk brisket and Texas barbecue with House, who’s experienced La Barbecue

The second segment, Food News, isn’t barbecue-related so skip ahead to 42:25 if you want to hear Danny Chau discuss his excellent article about a recent trip to Charleston to visit Rodney Scott BBQ and Lewis Barbecue and discover the future of barbecue. Danny seems to know what he’s talking about a little bit more when it comes to the world of barbecue.

The Ringer’s Joe House is joined by colleagues and fellow podcasters David Shoemaker and Bryan Curtis to talk Texas barbecue, its growth, and expansion to New York City (3:35). Then House is joined by Juliet Litman for this week’s Food News (23:00). Lastly House sits down with Danny Chau to discuss his recent trip to Charleston and his thesis on South Carolina barbecue (42:25).

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

 

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

 

Swig & Swine – Summerville, SC

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Name
: Swig & Swine
Date: 5/27/17
Address: 1990 Old Trolley Rd, Summerville, SC 29485
Order: 3 meat plate (pulled pork, brisket, and sausage) with hash & rice, collards, and mac & cheese (link to menu)
Price: $24 (for two)

Monk: I have a confession, dear readers, and not one that I like to readily admit: sometimes I do get sick of barbecue. It doesn’t happen often but it usually happens after I’ve had a particularly bad meal. After having 4 meals in 6 days on the Monk family vacation I was actually completely fine with hitting something quick on the road back to Charlotte so we could just get back to real life. The last meal at Smoke BBQ had broken my enthusiasm for the week, it would appear.

However, in an unexpected twist, Mrs. Monk had looked up reviews of Swig & Swine’s Summerville location and insisted that we stick to our original plan. Her enthusiasm helped push me and on we headed about 35 minutes from Mount Pleasant to Summerville, SC. Sometimes the missus really does just get me.

This Swig & Swine, unlike the West Ashley location that Speedy previously visited, has enough room to smoke whole hogs and that was the main draw for me. Besides that, they do go the “international house of barbecue” route with a little bit of everything in terms of smoked meats.

The pulled pork single-handedly restored my faith in barbecue after the disaster of a meal the day before. The lighter meat was pulled into long strands and dare I say, might I have enjoyed it a bit more than Rodney Scott’s BBQ? Perhaps so.

The brisket had well-rendered fat and a nice tug to it. While the whole hog was the main draw, I would just as soon as go back for the brisket.

The housemade sausage was another solid entry and at this point in the meal, Swig & Swine was running laps around my previous meal at Smoke BBQ. In Speedy’s review of the West Ashley location, sausage was by far his favorite part of the meal and I found it to be really juicy with a nice snap to the casing.

My hash & rice fascination continued at Swig & Swine and I realize should take better notes when it comes to hash, because the subtle differences are probably lost on me. Still, that plus the collards and mac & cheese really brought it.

Swig & Swine capped my trip off nicely with a great meal of barbecue. This was the fifth and last barbecue meal in seven days of vacation to and from Charleston – almost certainly the most amount of barbecue I’ve eaten out in a week-long stretch. There was only one real dud, and overall most of my other experiences were really positive. But after this trip, I’m not ashamed to admit that barbecue and I decided to take a little bit of a break from each other for a week or two – and a welcome one at that.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 4.5 hogs
Brisket – 4 hog
Sausage  – 4 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs

Linkdown: 6/7/17

– A great article by Keia Mastrianni in the June/July edition of The Local Palate; the print edition is out now

– The Raleigh News & Observer has a new series called “Good ‘Eatin” that takes a weekly visit to local eateries in North Carolina, and it will continue through Labor Day; this week it visits Pattan’s Downtown Grille in downtown Rockingham that has a franken-sauce of east, west, and SC but cooks over wood

– See if you can find Midwood Smokehouse in this cool Charlotte 8-bit art:

– Frank Scibelli – the restaurateur behind Midwood Smokehouse, Midwood Smokeshack, Yafo, and more – has been named a finalist for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year in the Southeast

– The Daily Reflector out of Greenville, NC has a profile on Parker’s Barbecue in Wilson

– Congrats to Mac’s for winning second in whole hog at this year’s Memphis in May; here’s the deets on the rig they smoked on

– 12 Bones and Buxton Hall Barbecue are on Kathleen Purvis’ list of things to do in Asheville

– TMBBQ on how Texas got a legit Texas barbecue joint

Some photos from last week’s Cape Fear BBQ Festival in Wilmington

– The story behind Texas Pete, the perfect hot sauce for NC barbecue

Hite’s BBQ – West Columbia, SC

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Name
: Hite’s BBQ
Date: 5/20/17
Address: 240 Dreher Rd, West Columbia, SC 29169
Order: Barbecue plate with hash and rice, slaw, and roll (link to menu)
Price: $8

Monk: Back in early 2015, John T. Edge’s article about Hite’s BBQ in Garden & Gun Magazine initially put the joint on my radar. Due to the fact that I don’t make it down to Columbia all that often plus the fact that Hite’s is only open Fridays and Saturdays meant that it would still be over 2+ years before I would be able to finally check it out. Not that I hadn’t tried before unsuccessfully, making the trek down the day before this past New Year’s Eve specifically to check out Hite’s only to find out they were closed. Hite’s is a family operation so I definitely couldn’t begrudge them for not being open before a holiday, but it meant that I would have to wait another 6 months before eventually checking them out.

Hite’s is a takeout only joint run out of a simple cinder block building but does have a few picnic tables overlooking a small lake on the property which apparently has 3 generations of Hite’s living on it.

The menu is very simple, with choice of sandwiches, plates or takeaway pounds of either whole hog, ribs, or chicken. The pork was a tad dry on this day and though mustard will never be my favorite style of barbecue sauce with pork it was still quite good.

Hash and rice comes standard with each plate and was my favorite part of the meal. Not that it’s quite as good as the hash a mile and a half down the road at True BBQ, but it’s still pretty dang good nonetheless.

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There was nothing special about the slaw, which I didn’t feel the need to finish. The rolls that came standard with each plate were fine but in the interest of saving my stomach from the carbs, I saved them for my daughter to have at the beach later that week.

After my meal, I snapped a few photos around the property, including the Hite St sign and the huge stacks of split logs behind the joint before current owner David Hite (grandson of original owner John D. Hite) was kind enough to invite me to check out the pit room. At that point, all of the hogs were off the pits so it was just chicken, so I quickly snapped a few shots when he revealed the pit. I spoke with him for just a few minutes about the family operation behind Hite’s and the requests he sometimes gets from various news outlets (which he isn’t always to accommodate due to the joint’s limited schedule). I certainly appreciated David taking some time to chat with me.

Hite’s BBQ wasn’t necessarily my favorite barbecue of the vacation week (more on that in the coming weeks) but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it for folks passing through Columbia looking for a taste of true midlands SC-style barbecue.

For more reviews of Hite’s BBQ, check out:
Marie, Let’s Eat!

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 3.5 hogs
Overall – 3.5 hogs
Hite's Bar B Que Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Linkdown: 5/24/17

– The 2017 TMBBQ Top 50 is here and Snow’s overtakes Franklin in the number one spot

– The Smoking Ho was a lucky contributor to the list and wrote a little about his experience

– JC Reid of the Houston Chronicle has some thoughts on the list as well

– Not to be outdone, the top 10 barbecue restaurants in New Orleans

– La Barbecue’s trailer could be set up in Los Angeles by September after moving to their permanent Austin location

– Midwood Smokehouse and Seoul Food both have some of the best fried dishes in Charlotte

– Congrats to Mac’s Speed Shop for winning second place in whole hog at Memphis at May this past weekend

– I’m composing this from my iPhone but some photos from my vacation thus far

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.

 

Linkdown: 3/1/17

– NC barbecue legend Bill Ellis has passed away at the age of 83

Ellis was known as a barbecue missionary, carrying the gospel of Eastern North Carolina barbecued pork from coast to coast, and his restaurant was a barbecue mecca.

– His operation was apparently known as the “Microsoft of Barbecue”

– The Wilson Times honored Ellis on their front page yesterday

– City Barbeque has opened its second Charlotte-area location in Matthews as of this past Monday with a grand opening this Saturday; I’ve still yet to check out the Ballantyne location but plan to soon as Speedy had a good impression of the Cary location

– Sauceman’s will be smoking two whole hogs at Lenny Boy Brewing’s patio release party on March 11; you get one free plate when you purchase a 22oz. beer of  SouthEnd MAAgic Yogi, a Belgian Ale brewed with Jasimine Tea & Lemons.

– Rick Bayless details how live fire cooking has influenced him

– The Smoking Ho has photos from The Sausage Kings of Austin Festival in February

– On Jess Pryles, the Austrialian-born now-Austin native

– The latest barbecue stops for Marie, Let’s Eat! are Uncle Gus’s Mountain Pit Bar-B-Que in Decatur, TN and a couple of joints north of Chattanooga

– From Daniel Vaughn and Robert Moss: