Unhinged Ramblings from a Real New Yorker, Part II

Below is a message I recently received from New Yorker Aaron Weiss, wanna be BBQ expert and all around good sport.

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Hello Mr. LeSwine,

You may remember me from my Durham-area trip report from last spring. In fact, you posted it (with editorial comment!) on your web site. [Editor's note: indeed I do remember you, with editorial comment.] I owe you a follow up, but I am afraid it may it ruffle your pig feathers. (Flying pigs have feathers, little known fact.)

This past January we drove home up north after a winter holiday in Florida [Editor's note: typical for a New Yorker!]. On the way toward an overnight stop in Winston-Salem [Editor's note: atypical for a New Yorker], I realized that we would be driving through Lexington. I know from reading your site and other ‘cue blogs that Lexington is considered a holy ground, but had not had a chance to visit before. Sadly, I do not yet own a smart phone, and I wanted to do the smart thing by referring to BBQ Jew before wandering into Lexington naked and clueless. So I stopped at a McDonald’s to take a ride on their free wifi, grabbed my netbook
from the trunk, and loaded up bbqjew.com [Editor's note: and ordered a delicious McRib sandwich?].

We pulled into Lexington and stopped at, of course, Lexington #1. We ordered two “large” pork platters, one in the standard chop style and one in a “coarse” chop. Now, before I speak the words of heresy, let me be clear that we enjoyed our meals. I mean, come on — NC barbecue pork!  But…I have a few buts.

Portions were a little skimpy for the price. Maybe I am just the “pig” here, but a little more pork for the money would have seemed more fair. Likewise, we felt a little shorted on the vinegar sauce [Editor's note: next time just ask for more, this is North Carolina, we're friendly like that]. The Lexington-style cole slaw wasn’t quite to my taste, especially compared to Allen & Son, although my partner liked it more.

In sum, we enjoyed our meal but didn’t walk away feeling like we were on barbecue cloud nine, like we did at Allen & Son (and, before it went under, Barbecue Joint). I realize that this reaction is not quite in line with the orthodoxy, and so if I am now cast out of the tribe, I will understand and return to eating Buffalo wings. [Editor's note: If you were Catholic, I'd listen to you repent for your sins, but as a fellow member of the tribe it'd be more appropriate for me to try and make you feel guilty... just remember to atone for your failures next time Yom Kippur rolls around.]

Porkless in NY,
Aaron

Yankee Doodle ‘Cue

It’s amusing to learn about the deviant behavior in the north that passes for cooking barbecue.  Recently the New York Times ran a piece on some friends putting on a “pig roast” in New York state.  This was no ordinary barbecue, at least by our humble southern standards: the pig was stuffed with “quartered and peeled pineapples and butternut squash, halved red onions and a dozen sprigs of rosemary” and then wrapped in banana leaves.  Instead of hush puppies and slaw, sides included kimchi,  as well as “a vegetable piccalilli with ample peppers” and “a concoction of coconut milk, pineapple juice and crushed banana mixed with a pesto of basil and cilantro.”  Yep, we ain’t in Mayberry anymore, Toto.

It’s easy to poke fun at New Yorkers cooking a hog, but all kidding aside it looks like the pig roast participants had a good time and a good meal, which are two defining features of good barbecue.  Plus, the slide show of pig roast pictures is nice.  Still, it’s hard not to smirk when the guys wrap the pig in banana leaves followed by burlap followed by chicken wire.  As if that’s not enough overkill, they then lower the strait-jacketed pig into a stone-lined pit in the ground and cover it with coals and dirt.  Sheesh,  I guess it’s hard to rent a pig cooker up north?

Notes from the Underground (aka Unhinged Ramblings from a Real New Yorker)

I recently received an email from a reader, Aaron Weiss of… ahem, cough, cough… New York.  As you might have guessed from his name, Aaron is a fellow BBQ Jew.  He visited North Carolina recently and gave me a full run down on the rather substantial BBQ-related portion of his itinerary.  Check out Aaron’s reviews of The Pit and Allen & Son’s below.  Note that I edited his report slightly just to remove some non-BBQ commentary that diluted from the pig-centric focus of this website.  Once you’re done reading Aaron’s interesting report, check out his other writings here.

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As I prepare to head back to NY in the morning after being here in the Durham area this week, I wanted to share my experiences. In a perfect world, I would have eaten at a dozen bbq places and be able to write a comparative tome.  [Editor's note: In a perfect world pig grease would heal the sick and give sight to the blind.  And maybe it does.]  But unfortunately I can’t eat like that anymore.

Last year we’d been here on our first trip to the area and had eaten at the Barbecue Joint in Chapel Hill and also Allen & Son. At that time we really liked the Barbecue Joint. I know you gave it a lackluster review, and I certainly would not pretend to disagree with your wisdom [Editor: They don't have sarcasm in New York, right?]. I do think their pork was quite good on our particular visit (in fact, we went there twice on that trip). When we hit Allen & Son that time, I think we were a little porked out. I remember liking it, but didn’t remember coming away from it wowed (although I did remember being wowed by the pecan pie).

This year, things worked out a little differently. First of all, the Barbecue Joint is now closed. Apparently this just happened recently. Upon arriving in the area, we made our first stop at Allen & Son. Guess what? This time, we were wowed. Really, really wowed. I’m not saying the food was any different — maybe it was just as good last year and we Continue reading

Talk About Fusion Cooking!

Earlier this week we learned of the better-than-it-sounds barbecue sundae.  And now we have another reason for BBQ Jews to rejoice: The New York Times recently featured an article about a Garden City Park eatery that specializes in bagels and barbecue.  Wow. 

The aptly named Bagels & BBQ features traditional water-boiled bagels along with hickory-smoked ‘cue.   This is the first time in my life I’ve considered relocating to New York…

Ask BBQ Jew: Finding a Caterer

Today’s post is the first in what will be an occasional series that presents actual questions from actual BBQJew.com readers.  Today, as always, we will protect the reader’s identity unless the reader decides to self-disclose it him/herself.  Without further ado, to the e-mailbag we go…

Dear BBQ Jew,
Love the blog/website. I recently moved back to NC in the Durham/Hillsborough area. I made my first trip/pilgramage to Allen and Son tonight. Yum!  Here’s the problem. All of my neighbors are Yankees. They keep using barbecue as a verb. I want to hire someone who knows what they are doing to come cook a pig in our cul-de-sac and show them what dining heaven is all about. Know of any good adherents to the Gospel of Vinegar based BBQ who would be willing to make my block party the shizzle?
-Hungry in Hillsborough

Dear Hungry in Hillsborough,

Forshizzle, I’m happy to offer some advice.  But first I want to commend you for seeking to convert your Yankee neighbors to our pork-based religion.  With a little persistence on your part, along with the sacrificial offering of a slow-cooked pig, I have no doubt these Yankees will soon see the light. 

My first suggestion is to talk to your favorite local barbecue joint and see if they cater.  Most do.  However, since it Continue reading

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