Greatest Hits — Porky’s Pulpit: “bbq pulled shreds” rant

[Note: This post originally ran on February 10, 2010.  I have not consumed bbq pulled shreds since then but still have flashbacks and nightmares from the experience.]

I recently lived my nightmare.  I ate–“consumed” is a more appropriately clinical term given I did it only in the name of research–most of a package of “Certified Vegan” tofucue.  (You can pronounce that last word however you see fit.)  I will return to the scene of the crime soon to give you a full report on how this vile product tasted (preview: vile), but today’s post focuses on the packaging.

The Front of the Box
Where to begin?  Perhaps the name itself–“bbq pulled shreds.”  Shreds of what? Pulled what? And don’t think the small print “meat-free” above the word “bbq” gives me any comfort.  Plus, aren’t the words “pulled” and “shreds” redundant?

Was the budget too small to afford paying for capital letters on the packaging?  must every word be written in lower case like a jr high text msg? omg luv u tofu, lol!

Why do the words “contains no poultry” appear at the bottom of the picture?  You’ve already flaunted that you’re meat-free.  Is this small print poultry-free message supposed to make me happy?  Or is it an apology?  If so, why apologize simply that you’re poultry-free?  You look like you’re pretending Continue reading

Porky’s Pulpit: Pignorance is Bliss

It’s a new year and the perfect time for a little bit of reflection on 2010.  Without a doubt, my favorite new dining experiences over the past year had one thing in common: I had to drive an extra mile (or 50) to seek out traditional, wood-cooked barbecue at places like Grady’s in Dudley, Wink’s in Salisbury and The Skylight Inn in Ayden.  Unfortunately, I also ate a lot of mediocre ‘cue, and almost all of it was made in electric or gas-fired cookers. 

There was a time when mediocre barbecue was good enough for me; I suppose that pignorance is bliss. But the more barbecue I eat the less tolerant I am for so-so swine. Unless it is doused with a terrific sauce and served with outstanding sides, in my experience electric/gas-cooked pork is rarely better than okay.  After a year of eating more than my share of forgettable barbecue, I am looking forward to focusing on eating at the traditional pit-cooked ‘cue joints as time allows, while passing over most of the faux ‘cue. Consider that my first BBQ Jew Year’s resolution. My other resolutions include:

-Finally write reviews of several restaurants that I dined at awhile back and still haven’t reviewed, in large part because I really don’t enjoy writing negatives things about someone’s livelihood.

-Continue to interview interesting folks for the BBQ&A section of this site, as that has been my favorite part of running this site for the past two years.  Look for a BBQ&A with NC barbecue legend Bob Garner, as well as others, soon. If you have any suggestions for BBQ&A interviewees, let me know.

-Convince some friends and strangers to contribute guest posts to mix things up. After all, it’s hard work reading your own words three times a week.

-Most of all, enjoy another year of rambling on about the incredible, edible world of North Carolina barbecue.

Best wishes for the year ahead,

Porky LeSwine

Run for Your Lives, The McRib is Back!

Breaking news from the Fast Food Nation: The McRib returned to McDonald’s locations nationwide yesterday.  (And just in time for the election: Republicans make big gains and the McRib is reinstated, not sure what to make of that connection.)  Sure, the McRib has it’s defenders, such as one James Pkafke, who writes, “The McRib is like some kind of delicious, mythical being, akin to pure joy captured and stuffed into bread and boneless pork.” But, frankly, whoever this Pkafke guy is (a mythical being, perhaps?), I am quite confident that he is an idiot.  After all, he can’t even correctly spell his own last name–Pkafke, really?  C’mon!  The world needs the return of the McRib like it needs the reemergence of polio.  In my professional opinion, I recommend you vaccinate yourself with a plate of real barbecue from your favorite local joint.

School What?

It recently came to the Rib Rabbi’s attention (after reading a blog post) that an entire generation of young Americans are being duped. Their rightful inheritance of the noble tradition of barbecue is being bastardized by school board shortcomings and shenanigans.

A teacher named, coincidentally enough, “Mrs. Q” is eating school lunch along her students at a midwestern school this year (she’s intentionally vague). She blogs about the experience on Fed Up With Lunch, and in a recent post she reported that her cafeteria served something called “Rib-B-Que.”  She’d written about this all-beef patty smothered in cloying barbecue sauce before.

These are not ribs.

Nor is it barbecue.

Shame on you, lunch ladies!

Pity the poor children. For their sake and our nation’s, I think it’s time we right this barbecue wrong. Let’s call a spade a spade a beef patty a beef patty. At least a few of the kids already do, as Mrs. Q reports:

I think somebody is trying to be creative with the “rib-b-que” meat (the illusion of variety), but the kids aren’t fooled. I asked one of my students “What did you have for lunch today?” and he replied, “A hamburger.”

Porky’s Pulpit: “bbq pulled shreds” rant

I recently lived my nightmare.  I ate–“consumed” is a more appropriately clinical term given I did it only in the name of research–most of a package of “Certified Vegan” tofucue.  (You can pronounce that last word however you see fit.)  I will return to the scene of the crime soon to give you a full report on how this vile product tasted (preview: vile), but today’s post focuses on the packaging.

The Front of the Box
Where to begin?  Perhaps the name itself–“bbq pulled shreds.”  Shreds of what? Pulled what? And don’t think the small print “meat-free” above the word “bbq” gives me any comfort.  Plus, aren’t the words “pulled” and “shreds” redundant?

Was the budget too small to afford paying for capital letters on the packaging?  must every word be written in lower case like a jr high text msg? omg luv u tofu, lol!

Why do the words “contains no poultry” appear at the bottom of the picture?  You’ve already flaunted that you’re meat-free.  Is this small print poultry-free message supposed to make me happy?  Or is it an apology?  If so, why apologize simply that you’re poultry-free?  You look like you’re pretending Continue reading

First Toyotas, Now Pork

Achtung baby!

A North Carolina company is following in Toyota’s footsteps with a massive recall of a life endangering product.  In this case, the recall has nothing to do with defective gas pedals and isn’t actually that massive.  According to this article, The Murphy House of Louisburg is recalling roughly 2,850 pounds of pork barbecue.  The company’s pre-packaged five-pound buckets o’ ‘cue “may contain an undeclared allergen, soy flour,” according to findings by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Consider this recall further proof that soy has no business within 25 yards of barbecue.

As a slight aside, you should sleep easier knowing that U.S. Department of Agriculture staff–when not gorging on five-pound buckets of pork–have created a food safety website called Ask Karen.  The website features a “virtual representative ” named (can you guess?) Karen who “is a knowledge base with information for consumers about preventing foodborne illness, safe food handling and storage, and safe preparation of meat, poultry, and egg products.”

Not only is Karen incredibly knowledgeable about food safety, but she is a looker too.  Nothing is hotter than pillow talk about the safe preparation of meat, poultry, and egg produucts, right?  More from me another day, I’ve got an e-date with Karen to get to…

Porky’s Pulpit: Barbecue “Evolution”

When the Private Equity Beat blog of the Wall Street Journal features a post about barbecue, it’s worth reading.  And they posted a good one toward the end of 2009.  In “Debating Evolution – Barbecue Evolution, That Is,” WSJ blogger Josh Beckerman, who admits he is no dyed-in-the-pig-wool barbecue fundamentalist, nonetheless takes a creationist-worthy stand against the so-called “evolution” of ‘cue. 

What has Beckerman riled up?  This press release entitled “The Barbecue Evolution” that was put out by a large company called Sadler’s.  The press release says, in part: “BBQ isn’t just for backyard parties anymore. Sophisticated barbecue was named a Top 10 Flavor Trend in 2009 by Flavor & The Menu and is predicted to go even more upscale with ethnic and regional flavors in 2010… .”

Beckerman responds to Sadler’s slick press release with fire and brimstone worthy of, well, a BBQ Jew, writing that he has no problem with the concept of mass-produced pit-smoked ‘cue but he’s “not so sure about brisket bow-tie pasta, one of the recipes – along with pulled pork Asian wraps and shaved pork quesadillas – that the company offers to ‘customers who want to experiment with upscale barbecue trends.'”  

He continues his sermon, offering, “Nor do we completely agree that ‘mango salsa or chipotle sauces are ideal compliments to the hardwood flavors of authentic, pit-smoked barbecue meats.’  Although fusion has its place in the world of food, we think barbecue may not be that place.” 

Preach it, Beckerman!

Porky’s Pulpit: If Pigs Could Fly…

If pigs could fly, which airport would they use?  Not Raleigh-Durham International (RDU), at least if they knew they might get cooked there.  Brookwood Farms BBQ is a relatively new entry to RDU’s dining scene, with a location in the posh new Terminal 2 (which used to be the still pretty new Terminal C before it got torn down, and before that there was just old Terminal A and old Terminal B, but Terminal B was closed after Terminal C was built, and… well, it’s a long story). 

According to the blurb on the RDU website, Brookwood Farms BBQ is located near gate C-9 (even though the terminal is now called Terminal 2, not Terminal C, mind you) and is open from 4:30 a.m. until 9:00 p.m.  The website says of the restaurant, “Hailing from nearby Siler City, NC, Brookwood Farms BBQ invites you to come and sit a spell while enjoying real down home cooking.”  Needless to say, despite that folksy quote, I am highly skeptical of the quality of any BBQ joint that is in an airport.  Plus, the folksiness smacks of faux ‘cue to me, but I’ll reserve final judgment until I visit, hopefully on my next flight out of RDU since even I can’t justify driving to the airport just for a meal. 

Actually, let’s be honest, I’ve pre-judged Brookwood already because their wholesale barbecue is sold at large grocery stores.  I’ve had it before and it is simply not good.  See H. Kent Craig’s scathing review if you want the gory details.  Interestingly, Craig says he used to really like their ‘cue, even going so far as describing it by saying, “it embraces your mouth like a silken sexy lover, kissing your tastebuds with one of the most pleasant initial tastes, as well as pleasant aftertastes when you burp your signal of approval later that night.”  Craig writes that the BBQ’s quality has dropped markedly over the years.  But maybe the ‘cue served “fresh” at the restaurant at RDU will be different?  Heck, maybe pigs can fly!

Porky’s Pulpit: BBQ Hormel Style

Recently a coupon caught my attention.  It offered $2 off a 30 ounce package of Hormel’s Austin Blues Pulled Pork.  According to the description on the Hormel website, “This succulent pork shoulder meat is naturally hardwood smoked for six hours. After smoking, it’s finished off with a clear Carolina-style sauce and lightly pulled.”  Sounds pretty good actually, although it’s hard to believe that this industrial strength swine is truly hardwood smoked for 6 hours.  (But since that’s what Hormel claims and they have a large legal team, I’ll take their word for it.) 

More good news about the product: the Hormel website warns that their pulled pork is, brace yourself, NOT Kosher.  This suggests that Hormel’s pulled pork is made from real pork and not some sort of pork-tasting mystery product (I have always been amused that bacon bits are often Kosher, which means, of course, that they contain exactly zero percent bacon).   Hmm, so the Hormel Pulled Pork sounds kinda sorta okay at first, but rest assured there are some bright red warning flags.  Continue reading

BBQ Jew’s View: The Q Shack

302 E Main Street, Carrboro, NC
919.240.4043
Website
BBQ Jew’s Grade: D
Porky Says: “Barbecue tough for a mother to love.”

***NOTE: This Q-Shack location is now out of business.***

Sunday Morning Coming Down
Probably every barbecue lover has been faced with this dilemma: It’s Sunday and the hankering for barbecue strikes, but all the good local joints are closed.  Do you a) go against your primal instinct to hunt ‘cue and eat something else, b) go to a second rate joint to get your fix, or c) drive the 1.5 hours required to reach a good joint open on Sundays?  Unfortunately, I chose option b) a couple weeks ago and got just what I deserved from the Q Shack, a lousy meal. 

My wife, Mrs. LeSwine, and I had a friend in town and she wanted to eat some ‘cue before heading home the next morning.  Instead of just explaining that the few good joints in the Triangle are closed Sundays, we decided to try out the Carrboro Q Shack (complete with its too-clever motto, “BBQ Tender as a Mother’s Love”).

Slick corporate propaganda: not a good sign.

Slick corporate propaganda: a funny sign but not a good sign.

Just Don’t Order The Pork…
I’ve eaten at Durham’s Original Q Shack several times and have always been fine with their brisket and other non-NC ‘cue offerings, although I’ve never been wowed.  The Carrboro Q Shack is part of a small regional chain with locations in Continue reading

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