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…

BBQ Crime Spree

I’m not sure what the exact definition of a hate crime is, but this sure seems like one.  According to an email from the Durham Police Department, someone has been stealing pig cookers.  C’mon people, have some respect for your fellow citizens!  No word on whether the missing cookers are gassers or use charcoal.  If the former, good riddance. If the latter, shame!

—–Original Message—–
From: Michael, Kammie 
Sent: Friday, July 05, 2013 8:12 PM
Subject: Durham Police Asking for Assistance in Smoker/Pig Cooker Thefts

For Immediate Release: July 5, 2013

Durham Police Asking for Assistance in Smoker/Pig Cooker Thefts

Durham police are asking for assistance in identifying a suspect in the theft of a large $4,000 pig cooker that was stolen on May 23 from the driveway of a home off Mineral Springs Road. 

The suspect was described as a black male in his mid-30s, approximately 5 feet 8 inches tall with a medium build and a bald head. He was wearing a green T-shirt and khaki cargo shorts. He was driving what appeared to be a black 1995-2005 Chevrolet Silverado truck.

Police are investigating two other thefts of large pig cookers/smokers. 

Two pig cookers were stolen from the 3900 block of South Alston Avenue in April. The cookers were chained to the back of a building.

Two large smokers on a trailer were stolen from Mount Bethel Presbyterian Church in late April. The trailer was stolen along with the smokers. 

Anyone with information is asked to call Investigator J. Barr at (919) 560-4281, ext. 29119 or CrimeStoppers at (919) 683-1200. CrimeStoppers pays cash rewards for information leading to arrests in felony cases and callers never have to identify themselves.

Dillard’s Disappearing

In case any of you were praying for a resurrection of Dillard’s restaurant in Durham, it looks like God Himself couldn’t bring them back now (after all, even He can’t compete with a gas station).

The beloved, albeit well past its prime, restaurant closed early last year but some of us might have hoped it would return in some form or another.  That appears all but impossible now, as the property has been sold to gas station/convenience store company M.M. Fowler.  Read about the property’s sale, including some heart warming quotes from the family, in the Herald-Sun.  I’m glad that the Dillard family was able to close on its own terms, something not many restarateurs have the privilege of doing.

Bob Garner Moderates Down Home Foodies

From the Durham County library, this looks like a good one, even though it doesn’t feature any BBQ pitmasters…

Southern Cooking (Durham Reads Together)
Sunday, September 23, 3 p.m.
Southwest Regional Library, 3605 Shannon Rd.

Food plays an important part in the culture of the South and in Maron’s novels. InUp Jumps the Devil, Deborah Knott says, “My family will drop every other subject to discuss food.” Join Bob Garner, television personality and food author, as he moderates a panel of leading proponents of Southern cooking, including Chefs Ben Barker of Magnolia Grill, Billy Cotter of Toast, Amy Tornquist of Watts Street Grocery and Iron Chef Walter Royal of the Angus Barn as they discuss Southern food cultures.

Pork, Pickles & Peanuts

What could be finer than pork, pickles and peanuts in Carolina?  Nothing, or so I’m told.  Stop by Duke Homestead in Durham this Saturday (tomorrow, in other words) and find out for yourself.

According to PP&P’s organizers, the festival will feature “a BBQ cook off and pie competition, live music, costumed interpreters at our historic site, local arts and crafts vendors, and a mock Tobacco Queen pageant.”

Better yet, the winner of the pageant “will make her debut in September at our Harvest & Hornworm festival.”  I bet you can’t wait to put that on your resume, young ladies!

In all seriousness, the event looks like it’ll be a blast so check it out.  Learn more on the Interwebs.

Carolina Pork Experiment

The yankees are coming, the yankees are coming.  But this time they are here to spread joy and pork.  This weekend the Carolina Pork Experiment, a stop on the circuit of the Brooklyn Brewery-sponsored The Food Experiments, will be held in Durham.

The event is a chance for amateur cooks to show off your porcine cooking talents, and for spectators to have a good time and a cold draft minus the competitive pressure.  (Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster Garrett Oliver is well-known as a perhaps the leading advocate for pairing beers and food.  His book, The Brewmaster’s Table, is a classic for foodies and beer geeks alike.)  Read more about The Carolina Pork Experiment after the jump. Continue reading

Beer and BBQ on the 7th Day

Continuing this week’s inadvertent beer theme, I just learned of a new event taking place on Sundays in downtown Durham.  Fullsteam Brewery, purveyors of hickory-smoked Hogwash and a wide variety of other southern agriculture-focused “plow to pint” offerings, pairs up with Backyard BBQ Pit, a wood pit barbecue joint that cooks up the best ‘cue in Durham.  Each Sunday from 4 to 8 p.m.  (at least until further notice, so call ahead), the two businesses team up to bring you the succinctly named “BBQ and Beer Sundays.”  The BBQ and beer sabbath is held at 726 Rigsbee Avenue in Durham, Fullsteam Brewery’s world headquarters.

Buy Me Some Peanuts and Barbecue

Baseball season is in full swing and the biggest news is from the concession stand.  Since Dillard’s BBQ, long-time Bulls game concessionaire, met its demise (well, mostly) in the offseason, my hometown Durham Bulls have brought in some new ‘cue.  Does the BBQ come from long-time Durham Bullock’s? Nope, they are only AA BBQ. Relative newcomer Backyard BBQ Pit? No again.  The Bulls have made the barbecue equivalent of signing a big name, albeit overhyped, free agent. “Now introducing, for your hometown Durham Bulls, our new barbecue vendor: The Pit restaurant from Raleigh, North Carolina!”  (Of course, soon enough The Pit will be from Durham too.)

I must say, at $6 for a sandwich The Pit’s ballpark barbecue is annoyingly overpriced like all ballpark concessions, but the ‘cue is a significant upgrade from Dillard’s.  To put it in baseball terms, the Dillard’s barbecue was like veteran pitcher Jamie Moyer: okay for five or six innings but not too special and likely to give you some heartburn before the game ended.  The Pit ain’t exactly Phillies ace Roy Halladay–maybe it’s Cole HAMels?–but it’s a big step up from Moyer: wood-cooked, good texture and generally capable of filling mealtime needs well into the late innings. (For the record, I’m not a Phillies fan and I’m not sure why I am using a convoluted Phils-centric analogy… deal with it.)

A picture of my too small, overpriced but fairly tasty The Pit barbecue sandwich is above. Note the crappy, from-a-plastic-container coleslaw, which is unforgivable. Still, better than an shriveled hot dog and a more than adequate representation of North Carolina barbecue; something we can be comfortable with the many out of town visitors to Bulls’ games tasting if it happens to be their first exposure to North Carolina barbecue.

Take me out to the DBAP,
Take me out with the crowd/
Buy me some peanuts and bar-b-q,
I’ll eat ‘em both ’cause I’m the BBQ Jew/

Let me root, root, root for the D-Bulls,
If they don’t win it’s a shame/

For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out,
At the old ball game!

PLAY BALL!

BBQ Jew’s View: Blue Note Grill

4125 Durham-Chapel Hill Boulevard, Durham, NC
919.401.1979
Website
Hours: Mon-Thu 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fri-Sat 11 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.
BBQ Jew’s Grade: C-
Porky Says: “Nobody loves their Q but my mother, and she could be jivin’ too.”

Singing the Low Down, So-So Barbecue Blues
If you’ve been reading this site for more than a couple of weeks, you’re probably aware that I get a bit cranky about places that serve so-called North Carolina barbecue but don’t know seem to know the difference between a ham and a shoulder.  The folks at Blue Note Grill are trying to learn the art of NC ‘cue but they have a long way to go.  The Blue Note Grill does many things right, but barbecue is not among them. 

Butter My Toast, Not My Bun
The Blue Note is a classic bar and grill that serves up pretty good food, frequent live music, and a variety of adult beverages to wash down the workaday blues.  Their menu includes quesadillas, hand-ground burgers, pork chop sandwiches, fried pickles and banana peppers, onion rings, sweet potato fries, chili, salads and a whole lot more.   As far as I can tell its a place Continue reading

BBQ Jew’s View: Dillard’s Bar-B-Q

3921 Fayetteville Street, Durham, NC
919.544.1587
Website
Hours: Uh, I forgot to write ‘em down, I’ll find out soon…
BBQ Jew’s Grade: C
Porky Says: “Man shall not dine on pork alone (at least not here).”

Man Does Not Live by Bread Alone
While most barbecue joints use their marquee signs to boast or advertise weekly specials, the sign outside of Dillard’s has read “Deuteronomy 8:3″ for as long as I can remember.  Indeed, man cannot live on bread alone. Sometimes he craves pork. 

Dillard’s has been providing Durham residents and visitors with much more than bread since 1952, when its late founder Sam Dillard first started selling barbecue.  Mr. Dillard was a devout Christian, so the Deuteronomy 8:3 reference is not some tongue-in-cheek statement that a younger pitmaster might put on a sign to lure in the hipsters.  At Dillard’s the sign is sincere and heartfelt.  Unfortunately, while the fellowship at Dillard’s remains intact the quality of their cooking has suffered over the years.

Soul Food Aplenty
Dillard’s offers a large buffet of “southern style soul food,” as the restaurant’s website puts it.  (I have yet to experience northern style soul food, and hope to maintain this spotless record but I digress… .)  The buffet is served cafeteria style by friendly staff, some of them direct descendants of Sam Continue reading

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