Fire Pit BBQ Opens in Wake Forest

If a friend had told me about a new BBQ joint in Wake Forest that cooks over wood coals and is run by Keith Allen’s next door neighbor, I’d have replied one of two ways:  “Hmm, that is a weird dream” or “Have you been drinking again?”  But when I read about such a restaurant in the News & Observer recently, I took it more seriously.

Evidently, there really is a new barbecue joint in Wake Forest that cooks with hickory and oak (gas-free, thank you very much).  And it really is run by a neighbor of legendary pitmaster Keith Allen of Chapel Hill’s Allen & Son, which is one of the best ‘cue spots on the planet.  I’m not sure that photosynthesis works with pitmasters, so I can’t figure out if Keith Allen’s special BBQ sunshine will help grow a neighbor into a great pitman, but I’m willing to test that theory.  I’ll be headed to Fire Pit BBQ soon, and I hope you do the same.

This is Progress?

Big news from downtown Raleigh where the venerable Clyde Cooper’s Barbecue will soon disappear from the building it has occupied since 1938.  Cooper’s is not going out of business but will soon move to make way for new development.

Losing a historic spot like Cooper’s is the downside of the continued real estate boom that has brought hundreds of millions of dollars of new investment to downtown Raleigh in recent years.  The modest building that long-housed Cooper’s, even as the shadows of nearby buildings grew longer and longer, seemed invincible for awhile–every time a development proposal bubbled to the surface, it popped and Cooper’s was spared.  But this time looks like it will be different. The Holts, who own Coopers, were forced to choose between moving or trying to survive what would have been an estimated 15 months in dormancy while development went on around them.  So they are moving.

Thanks to reader Dave “Pork Skins” Schiller for sending me the article from the Raleigh Public Record that describes the situation Cooper’s faces.  As Dave said to me, it’s hard to imagine Cooper’s anywhere but 109 East Davie Street.  Where will they land next?  Probably not too far from their current location, according to the Triangle Business Journal.  Good luck to the Holts as they try to move forward while preserving the restaurant’s distinct history.

T-Shirts from The Pit

According to the News & Observer, Raleigh barbecue restaurant The Pit has joined the ranks of the fashionistas with a new t-shirt featured at Sportiqe Boutiqe.  I don’t yet see the shirt online but assume it will arrive soon, fashionably late.

The cynical side of me wants to say that this new merchandising means you can now order an overpriced ($35) t-shirt to wear while eating overpriced ($11.99) barbecue.  But I’m trying to use a more positive tone on this website in 2012, so I’ll refrain.

Got Wood?

I received an email from a BBQJew.com reader with the following problem. I’m hoping someone out there in the Internets can provide some specific advice. If you’d rather not share the full contact info here, drop me a line at BBQJew at gmail.com and I’ll pass it along.

“Greetings,

We are planning to resurrect a very old brick cookpit on our property.  Would you be able to share a source for wood in the general Raleigh area?  We live in Wake Forest. Thanks for any info. you may have.  : )

 Sincerely, Diane
P.S.  I found you by way of a search I’d describe as nearly exhaustive!”
Diane’s exhaustive search probably would have been more productive had in been focused on Craigslist, the yellow pages, or even wandering around the streets of Wake Forest rather than trying to find a BBQ-eating fool like me.  But I appreciate her effort and want to help her out. Anybody out there know of good sources of cooking wood in the Raleigh area. Though she doesn’t specify, I assume Diane would prefer hickory but oak may do too.

There is plenty of wood at Grady's in Dudley...

Hogs and Pigs, Oh My

Two Triangle-area barbecue events take place this weekend:

Hillsborough Hog Day, the classic barbecue festival, cook-off and cultural event, moves up a month from past years in order to beat the heat.  The 29th annual event is held in River Park behind the courthouse and features live music, other entertainment, arts and crafts, and lots of chopped pork.  I’ll be dropping by bright and early on Saturday morning to help judge the pork shoulder cooking competition, so I’m looking forward to partaking in some breakfast barbecue.  I hope you’ll come out later on in the day to take in the festitivies, as it’s always a well run event and in the past the hot June weather has been my only complaint!  While you are in Hillsborough, be sure to check out the new Hillsborough BBQ Company.

A few dozen miles east of Hillsborough in Raleigh this weekend is the sixth annual Carolina Pig Jig, which will be held at the state fairgrounds as part of the Got to Be NC Festival (meaning, there will surely be an appearance by the giant shopping cart–you’ll see what I mean if you don’t know already).  The Pig Jig is a cooking competition organized by Raleigh Masonic Lodge #500 as a benefit for area children’s homes.

Rumor Mill: Giorgios Bakatsias Entering the BBQ Business?

Recently I received an anonymous tip from a source I will refer to as “Deep Snout.”  Deep Snout reports that serial upscale dining entrepreneur Giorgios Bakatsias–affiliated with over 30 restaurants and similar enterprises during his long career, including several high profile places in Durham past and present–is about the enter the world of barbecue. 

Giorgios has long been a polarizing figure in the Triangle-area dining scene, hailed by some for helping popularize fine dining in places like Durham and dismissed by others who are less than impressed by his culinary credentials. Regardless of your opinion of his restaurants, Giorgios opening a barbecue place is big news.  It is also fairly hard to imagine given his past forays into French food, pan-Asian cuisine, and many other Internationally-inspired menus. I suppose this is a sign that barbecue is becoming more cosmopolitan, for better or worse, or that Giorgos has run out of other countries whose food he likes. 

Another source (Deeper Snout? Trotter?) told me Giorgios has spent a small fortune on a smoker for the new restaurant and is installing a chef from the former Durham institution George’s Garage at the helm; whether this chef has ever worked in the barbecue world is unclear. 

Stay tuned, I am sure there is more to this story…



Eat Pig, Help the Masonic Home for Children

The Freemasons are at it again.  But this time you can put the conspiracy theories out of your mind, as there are no The Da Vinci Code-like plot twists involved in their upcoming BBQ fundraiser. 

Hiram No.40 Masonic Lodge will be holding its annual BBQ fundraiser this Friday, October 8th from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. to benefit the NC Masonic Home for Children.  Barbecue will be prepared by the award winning competition cookers of the Lodge and will be sold to the public for $7 a plate.  These boys take their BBQ seriously, as they even organize an annual cooking competition called the Carolina Pig Jig.  So, get yourself a plate of ‘cue for a cause.

The fundraiser takes place at the Lodge at 1520 Caswell Street in Raleigh.  Learn more about the event here.

BBQ Jew’s View: Smokey’s BBQ Shack

 
10800 Chapel Hill Road, Morrisville, NC
919.469.1724
Website
Hours: Mon-Wed 11-2, Thu-Fri 11-7:30, Sat 11-7
BBQ Jew’s Grade: C
Porky Says: “Smokey’s is just okie dokie.”

Authentically Inauthentic (or Vice Versa)
Smokey’s feels like what people who didn’t grow up in barbecue country expect a barbecue joint to feel like.  From the joking “Entrance Only – Do Not Enter” sign on the front door to the joint’s a bit too cutesy motto (“The BBQ Rocks and So Do Most of the Tables!”), it has a tongue-in-cheek hillbilly vibe that is both endearing and a little bit grating.  (Judging from the large lunchtime crowd, which was diverse but leaned toward white collar RTPers easily identified by their ID badges, most people find the hillbilly vibe more endearing than I do.)  Similarly, the joint looks like it has occupied the modest white cinder block building on a still-rural stretch of Highway 54 for many years.  Of course, it hasn’t, as The Deli Box occupied the spot just a few years ago.  Still, it’s impossible to deny that the look of the building and location are perfect for a barbecue joint–close enough to RTP to pack in the customers but rural enough to look the part of a 50-year old BBQ joint.

Careful What You Promise
On their website, Smokey’s says it is “the best North Carolina ‘Q’ in Raleigh.”  That is a dubious claim for a couple of Continue reading

A Shot Across the Bow: Dickey’s Moving Onto Sacred Land

The news out of Raleigh is not good, ladies and gentlemen.  Not since the days of British colonial rule has our state witnessed such a threat to our way of life.  According to the New Raleigh blog, mediocre Texas-based barbecue chain (my words, not their’s) Dickey’s Barbecue Pit will be opening up a store in the Progress Energy Building this fall. 

The Progress Energy Building just so happens to be directly across the street from a certain 70-plus year old local BBQ institution–Clyde Cooper’s.  Shouldn’t the North Carolina Utilities Commission, charged with overseeing companies like Progress Energy, regulate this affront on our state’s values?!  For all we know, Progress Energy is using power customers’ fees to subsidize Dickey’s rent in some sort of Halliburtonesque scheme.* 

Now, in my humble opinion, Clyde Cooper’s ranks squarely in the middle of the pack of NC barbecue joints, but I’m still willing to go to bat for them against the evil forces of mass produced corporate Texas ‘cue.  Let’s make a stand, draw a line in the sand/Davie Street asphalt, and send as many people to eat at Cooper’s during Dickey’s opening weeks as possible. And if you have a “Mess with Texas” t-shirt then this is as good a time as any to wear it.

*Note to Progress Energy’s legal staff: this allegation has no basis in the truth and is presumably patently false. However, the BBQ Jew Legal Department is fully prepared to defend my freedom of speech and dares you to find any court in NC that would take a stand against the state’s barbecue tradition in favor of Texas-sympathizers like yourselves.

BBQ Events This Weekend

If you’re in the Triangle area this weekend you could do worse than checking out one of these two BBQ-themed events.  First, in Cary (yes, that Cary) on Friday and Saturday is the traveling road show called the Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival.  Or, if you are looking for something with a little more of a downhome sophisticate flair, swing by The Flying Saucer in Raleigh on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. for a pairing of Hogwash beer with barbecue.  Twenty bucks gets you five 5-oz pours of Fullsteam Brewery beers and a heaping plate o’ ‘cue.  (A tip of the snout to BBQ Dave for pointing this event out.)

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