Come on Baby, Airlight My Fire

Gone are the days when lighting a match was about as advanced a fire starting technology available.  (Even a match beats the pants off relying on this guy to stoke your flames.)  The array of high tech fire starting tools available to today’s outdoor cook is ever-growing, and one of the latest products I’ve learned about is the Bison Airlighter.*

Grill lighting (2)The Airlighter is a USB-rechargeable, handheld butane torch with a fan setting designed to quickly light charcoal, firewood, or whatever else you want to blast with high intensity flames (hopefully not your fingers, as the bright blue flame burns hot enough that it’s tough to see in daylight hours, so pay attention!).

Every time I click on my Airlighter, Smokey the Bear prays to whatever forest god he believes in that I don’t point it toward an innocent tree.  The Airlighter is to a match what a cruise missile is to a BB gun.  In other words, this lighter works… and fast. I’ve had good luck using it directly on coals to get them ready for my grill and on campfire wood–I never was a boy scout, so having an edge in this latter category helps balance out my kindling-design ineptitude.

But don’t take my word for the Airlighter’s potential, take the word of the promotional email that preceded my order: “If you¹re still striking matches or flicking a Bic to light a fire, it¹s time to leave the caveman days behind. The new Bison Airlighter combines a high velocity, 4-inch flame with a jet-air-stream to ignite charcoal and wood instantly. Using the Bison Airlighter you can be barbecuing for guests over hot coals within five minutes without ever having to resort to lighter fluid or gasoline.”  Indeed.

Hyperbole aside, it’s hard to argue with the Airlighter’s results. My only complaint is that the first review model I received had a problem with the butane intake line that prevented me from filling its fuel tank without spilling butane; it needed replacement.  This issue may well have been a fluke, it’s hard to know.  The company was responsive to my request for a replacement model, and does offer a one-year warranty.  Other than that problem, the real question you’ll need to ask yourself is whether a high powered butane lighter is worth the $100 it costs, as compared to similar lower cost torches, or compared to a 99 cent lighter and a $15 charcoal chimney.  I think backyard grill gadgets can be fun, so it’s really a question of whether one wants to put $100 towards a lighter or toward something else equally unnecessary but kind of awesome.  Happy choosing!

*Full disclosure: the Bison company sent me a free lighter to test, though per my usual policy I did not promise to review it and told them in advance that I’d be honest if I did.

The Great NC BBQ Map

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHot off the presses is the locally grown, soon-to-be nationally known Great NC BBQ Map. I ordered my copy today and look forward to it soon taking its rightful place in my car’s glove box. Frankly, if this map had existed a few year’s ago, I would have never bothered with this website, as the website’s origin traces back to a similar idea that good ol’ Porky LeSwine was too lazy and untalented to execute!

I should add that it’s particularly good to see entrepreneurs from NC take on the barbecue map challenge, given our mustard- and hash-loving neighbors to the south put the weight of their state government behind such mapping.

With over 400 restaurants, it seems the Great NC BBQ Map map will cover most of the state’s outstanding barbecue places and a whole lot of other ones too.  Porky LeSwine will probably make a lot of margin notes on his map to keep from getting tempted to detour toward too many generic gassers.

For more details about the Great NC BBQ Map or to order online, visit http://www.thegreatbbqmap.com/

House of Swank Clothing

Allow me to interrupt this blog’s dormancy for a quick infomercial for my acquaintances at the House of Swank Clothing company in Raleigh, NC, who are putting out clever t-shirts and other merchandise focused on the Tar Heel state.  I own the lovely shirt pictured below (and, yes, one could argue that it should say vinegar on both sides of the state, but that shirt probably wouldn’t sell):

NCBBq3__54495.1389652252.1000.1200

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out the House of Swank website to see the rest of their offerings.

BBQ Fest Volunteers Needed

Volunteer for a good cause: the Blue Ridge BBQ & Music Festival in Tryon.  Learn about volunteering at http://www.blueridgenow.com/article/20140517/ARTICLES/140519905

Weed-Cooked BBQ

Thanks to several alert readers, most notably (for his alias) Mr. “Portly Pirate”, for pulling themselves away from their munchies long enough to point out a highly interesting story from Gaston County.

According to news accounts, the owner of a local barbecue restaurant confused pit-cooking for pot-cooking, as he and three others were arrested on drug charges after an undercover agent bought over 30 pounds of barbecue marijuana on/near the premises.  The restaurant’s name?  Smokey’s BBQ, natch.

I should note that Porky LeSwine generally follows the “judge not lest ye be judged” philosophy.  But 30 pounds is a whole lot of weed.  Perhaps the good folks at Smokey’s caught the spirit of the Campaign for Real Barbecue and were starting a neo-traditional alternative to wood-cooked BBQ: weed-cooked BBQ.  One can only speculate.

Finally, I try not to stereotype folks, but one look at the pictures of the suspects and the only question in my mind is not “Are they really pot dealers” but rather “Where they are hiding their meth stash?”  A quick visit to the restaurant’s Facebook page reveals no answer to that question, but interestingly posts from early April indicate that the restaurant was going out of business.  That seems all but certain now.  I guess my dreams of a barbecue sandwich with a scoop of marijuana slaw are dashed again.

 

 

 

The Right to Bear… Grease?

Leave it to the elected officials of Alabama to take crazy to another level, an ignominious tradition they’ve upheld for decades.  In his Washington Post blog, journalist (and bona fide yankee*) Reid Wilson notes that Alabama State Representative Steve Hurst believes so strongly in the 2nd amendment that he towed a “gun-shaped barbecue” behind his truck.  Yes, you read that right.  Read the full story (and see the picture) in the Post.

Gun control supporters should take solace that the cooker in question is a simple revolver, not an assault weapon. Better yet, there is no propane tank in sight (could it be that this apparent nut job is a supporter of the Campaign for Real Barbecue?).  Upon reflection, perhaps Representative Hurst deserves everyone’s vote.

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*Southerners everywhere should, of course, note the author’s deep ignorance of the south based on him referring to a grill/cooker as a “barbecue”.  If only that pesky 1st amendment to the constitution were amended, we could prevent such disgraceful speech.

Durham Becoming a BBQ Mecca?

It’s a bit of hyperbole to refer to Durham as a BBQ mecca, but here it is:  http://durhamnewsservicemainfeed.blogspot.com/2014/04/durham-becoming-bbq-mecca.html?m=1  Yet honestly, when Ed Mitchell’s Que opens (next month, as of last report) Durham will have four True ‘Cue certified wood cooking barbecue joints, which puts the mid-sized city on the BBQ map in a way that was hard to imagine just a few years ago. Durham’s already on the culinary map regionally and nationally, so it’s fitting that the city is starting to show some pride in its barbecue beyond the long-standing but gas-reliant “barbecue” restaurants that long were Durham’s go-tos.

Sure, Durham isn’t quite Lexington, NC, which has easily been the state’s BBQ standard bearer for years, and it’s sure not Austin, TX when it comes to a growing urban BBQ scene, but Durham is a pit-cooked barbecue leader among urban North Carolina communities.  Let’s hope others follow the Bull City’s lead–Raleigh, are you paying attention? Charlotte, are you out there?  Wilmington, do you even care? I could go on…

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