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.

Honey Bee’s BBQ

In the old days (you know, a little more than 5 years ago) one could reasonably fantasize about driving down country roads to discover BBQ gems that were known only to the locals.  The modern day equivalent in this age of social media is to stumble onto a hidden gem on Twitter, Google, or some idiot’s (ahem) blog.

And sure enough, this idiot has stumbled into a possible gem.  Honey Bee’s BBQ is a mobile operation based in Durham but selling throughout the Triad and Triangle and towing a nice, wood-fired rig.  I’ve yet to taste Honey Bee’s barbecue but because they cook over wood, I can at least vouch that they do actually sell barbecue and not gassy roast pork.  Follow them on Twitter, if you are so inclined, and leave a comment if you find them in “real reality” (opposite of virtual) before I do.

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.

Butchering a Whole Hog

There is a cool class coming up in Durham for those of you who really want to go whole hog (or have a meat cleaver fetish) and learn how to butcher one.  Only a couple of spots left in this June 27th class so sign up soon.  On the other hand, if you think the whole (hog) is greater than the sum of its (pork) parts, you could skip the class and just put the whole hog on the cooker like they do in Eastern NC.

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

“New” Places for ‘Cue in Clayton, Durham, Lumberton

Within the last couple of weeks I’ve learned of three “new” restaurants serving barbecue.  It turns out only one of these places is actually new, but they were all new to me so perhaps they’ll be new to you too…

1) The venerable Durham institution Fishmonger’s, in business for nearly 30 years as a seafood market and restaurant, added barbecue to the menu a few years back.  I’d noticed the neon “BBQ” sign in the window a couple of times but never thought much of it.  As a restaurant known for oysters, shrimp, and other fresh caught seafood, I assumed their barbecue was store bought or from another restaurant.  Well, it turns out that Fishmonger’s founder and owner is a transplanted Texan from the Houston area, and he loves barbecue almost as much as he loves seafood.  He added his own gas-fired, wood chip burning smoker a few years back and turns out a wide assortment of barbecue, from Carolina-inspired pork barbecue with vinegar sauce to Texas standbys like brisket, sausage and ribs.  Their full BBQ menu is shown here.  I doubt they’re going to change their name to Porkmonger’s anytime soon but they seem eager to have more folks sample their ‘cue.

2) Food writer Greg Cox of The News & Observer reviewed Charlie’s BBQ & Grille in Clayton in a January 6th article.  Cox’s very positive, three-star review notes that Charlie’s is a place where, “Purists might turn up their noses at such an ecumenical approach to barbecue–not to mention that [owner Charlie] Carden uses an electric cooker to coax the smoke from chunks of seasoned hickory.”  Ecumenical?  Charlie’s menu includes brisket, Eastern, Lexington-style and even sweet Western North Carolina pork; chicken; ribs; and sausage.  Ecumenical indeed, and that always raises a red flag for me unless I’m in Kansas City or Texas.  However, it is encouraging that Cox’s article mentions the inspirational stint Carden worked at the rightly revered Allen & Son in Chapel Hill; Carden is clear that he never had any intention of setting out to duplicate Allen’s laser-like focus on vinegar-spiked chopped ‘cue.

3) Finally, the restaurant I am most excited to try: Nelson’s Barbecue in Lumberton, which opened just after Christmas (actually, on the 8th night of Hanukkah, I believe).  I’ll be sampling Nelson’s soon so will save the presumably juicy details for then, but I am encouraged that the owner, Andy Price, has decided to cook over a traditional wood-burning pit.  From what I’ve heard about Price from reliable sources, the guy cares deeply about NC barbecue traditions and knows what he is doing.  I have a sneaking suspicion that Nelson’s is going to be a must visit place for barbecue enthusiasts. We shall see.

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!

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