Porky’s Pulpit: Rating Ratings

Barbecue reviewers–myself included–almost always feel the need to assign some sort of rating to each joint they review.  Alas, ten or so hours of slow-cooking pig gets boiled down to one simple letter, word or symbol.  Today’s post takes a look at the different barbecue rating systems we’ve come across.  Here’s the universe of NC ‘cue rating systems we’ve unearthed (let us know if we missed any):

  • H. Kent Craig’s website uses a simple yet elegant scale of assigning from one to four pigs to each joint.  This classic system is easily understood, matches well with people’s concept of four start restaurants, and features a nice little pig image to boot.  What are the drawbacks of Craig’s system? Having only four different ratings for the wide range of quality he has encountered seems inadequate.  Admittedly, a half-pig might look ugly (especially if it were the back half), but surely Craig could have thrown in some half-pigs (hams? shoulders?) to further distinguish among our state’s many joints.pig
  • Dave Filpus’ NC Barbecue Musings site uses a graphically lacking but Continue reading

BBQ Jew’s View: Stamey’s

2206 High Point Road, Greensboro, NC (2nd location here)
Stamey’s Website
BBQ Jew’s Grade: A-
Porky Says: “Deserves it’s fame.”

Just possibly the classiest sign in all of NC BBQ land.

Just possibly the classiest looking sign in all of NC BBQ land.

Location, Location, Location
Even if Stamey’s food was bad (and Lord knows it ain’t), I’d have to give them plenty of credit.  The members of the Stamey family are legends of NC barbecue, and smart businessmen to boot.  Their grand, lodge-style building right across the street from the Greensboro Coliseum, the site of dozens of ACC Tournaments over the past several decades, is evidence of that.  What better place to sell barbecue, and to spread your reputation, than across the street from a huge arena that attracts hoardes of hungry hoops fans from across the state and beyond?  The fact that the Coliseum opened six years after Stamey’s did shows either that the Stamey family was a bit lucky or they were really good businessmen. 

C. Warner Stamey, the founder of Stamey’s and one of the godfathers of NC barbecue (heck, he even brought the hush Continue reading

Happy Memorial Day

We hope you are spending your Memorial Day with your family, friends and copious amounts of slow-cooked pork (or at least some hot dogs cooked on a charcoal grill).  God bless you, God bless America, and most of all God bless the United States of Barbecue.

BBQ Jew’s View: The Barbecue Joint

630 Weaver Dairy Road, Chapel Hill, NC (but plotting a move so call and check)
BBQ Jew’s Grade: C
Porky Says: “Microbrews and brussel sprouts?!”

Returning to the Scene of the Crime
It had been several years since I’d last been to The Barbecue Joint, as my first and last visit there several years ago gave me no reason to go anywhere but Allen & Son when dining on swine in Chapel Hill.  However, a couple of friends had been talking up The Barbecue Joint lately, and Mrs. LeSwine was eager to pay it a visit.  I wish I could report that I had a change of heart and that The Barbecue Joint won me over.  Alas, The Barbecue Joint has some good dishes but barbecue is still not among them.  

Good beer, and a very bad sign...

Good beer, but a very bad sign...

Innocent Until Proven Guilty  
Let’s start with the positives.  The Barbecue Joint offers a large menu of pretty good, slightly upscale versions of Continue reading

Rabbi’s Rant: Barbecuing?!

With the watermelon and ketchup/mustard/relish displays popping up in the supermarket, it must be summer. And that means time to barbecue some meat, right? Nope.

Because as many of you know, barbecue is a noun. Let us proclaim it from atop Mount Sinai.  

Wrong for so many reasons

Wrong for so many reasons. Photo by Curtis Gregory Perry

If you’re looking for a verb to communicate cooking burgers and dogs, etc., we suggest ‘grilling.’  Or even ‘cooking out’ or having a cook out.

As I reformed barbecuer, I can see both sides of this divide. And what I see is the folly of using barbecue as a verb.

If you insist on saying you’re having a barbecue, we’ll look the other way on this incorrect usage. But please, oh please, just don’t say you’re barbecuing anything. 

As for the sign to the right, there’s so many things wrong here. Obviously, there’s the verb thing. But equally important–what kind of park doesn’t allow cook outs? Why do parks exist if not to serve as venues for cooking and consuming meat? Finally, wouldn’t it read better if ‘allowed’ came before ‘in park?’

On a mostly-unrelated tangent, I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment. But the photo below rocked me to the core. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to do some serious soul-searching.


Now *that* is not kosher. Photo by Rahel Sharon

Sex Sells ‘Cue (at least up north)

Recently we received a message from Burgeoningfoodie, who shared this link to a short news report about a sexy mannequin helping sell barbecue in Cincinnati (rest assured, this is a CNN video so it is safe to open at work).  Watching the video brought several questions to mind, none of which are particularly insightful but all of which I will share anyway:

  • Would any North Carolina towns abide such a brazenly bold buxom barbecue display?
  • Do the good people of Cincinnati have a difficult time distinguishing between mannequins and real people?  The video indicates that passersby have been fooled into believing Bar-Be Q is a real woman.
  • Did the restaurant owner consider finding a “sexy” anthropomorphic pig-woman to advertise his restaurant?  And would that be more or less disturbing than his current approach?
  • Are there any examples of sex being used to sell barbecue in NC?
  • Can we trust the people of Cincinnati–a city known for its bizarre, cinnamon-chocolate-chili–to judge good barbecue ?
  • Finally, why does Greensboro, NC–a City located in the heart of Lexington-style barbecue country–have a Cincinnati style chili restaurant but no barbecue joints downtown?  And should we put a sexy mannequin outside as a form of retribution?

Roanoke-Chowan Pork-Fest

Looking for a reason to visit northeastern North Carolina and chow on some pork this weekend?  Look no further.  This Saturday pay a visit to the small town of Murfreesboro for the annual Roanoke-Chowan Pork-Fest.  What is the Pork-Fest?  And why is it hyphenated?  Alas, this post answers just one of these burning questions.

Jimmy Gray wrote bbqjew.com to say, “The [Pork-Fest] cook-off  will be May 16th.  There will be 22 cookers.  The first 5 places will receive a cash prize and the first 2 places for Showmanship.  We have our event at the Brady C. Jefcoat Museum in Murfreesboro, N.C.  There are over 13,000 items in the museum.  We have the largest collection of butter churns, old wooden washing machines and flat irons in the United States.  There are 264 music boxes in 1 room.  We will have music all day, antique and muscle cars.  After the pigs are judged and prizes awarded, we will have a very delicious meal of BBQ with all trimmings.  The ticket price is $10 for the all day event.”

A barbecue cookoff, a chance to tour the world’s largest collection of butter churns, and even an appearance by the Piggly Wiggly Pig (something Mr. Gray failed to mention!).  Sadly, I have somewhere else to be on Saturday and won’t be able to attend this year, but I’d love to hear a report from anyone who finds themselves in Murfreesboro this weekend.  Bonus points if you send along a picture of yourself eating a BBQ sandwich while operating a wooden washing machine.

America’s Largest Pork Display

America's Largest Pork Display

This sign was all I needed to lure me to Nahunta.

I saw the billboard pictured above and it made me crave knowledge and enlightenment (and some pork).  Specifically, I wanted to understand what was meant by, “America’s Largest Pork Display.”  Could I be so lucky?  Could this statement really be true?  And what the heck does “pork display” mean anyway?  These questions burned in my mind like a pork shoulder over hot hickory coals.  So I decided to turn off Highway 70 just west of Goldsboro and follow the road to Nahunta Pork Center.  I’m glad I did.

The Pork King is a benevolent dictator.

The Pork King is a benevolent dictator.

The Nahunta Pork Center (NPC) has been around for over 30 years, and the story goes back  even farther to a 1950s hog market and slaughterhouse located in the small Wayne County township of Nahunta.  It’s hard to believe that anyone could run a successful business in NPC’s off the beaten path location–five miles off the main highway, out in the country and just past the race track, to be specific–for a year let alone half a century.  But judging by the amount of pork I saw for sale at NPC, they must be doing brisk business. 

When you walk in the front door at NPC, you immediately understand why they claim to have America’s largest pork display.  Also, you wonder where else in the world there might be a larger one.  It’s truly a scary thought.  I’m about as far from vegetarian as I can be short of injecting hog fat directly into  my bloodstream, so I’m not easily impressed by the sight of meat for sale.  But one glance at the pork display at NPC is enough to make the most devout carnivore hope to the heavens that God is not, in reality, an angry vegeterian (is there any other kind?).  If He is, I can at least take solace in the fact that the road to hell is paved with good swine.  Continue reading

BBQ Jew’s View: Grady’s BBQ

3096 Arrington Bridge Road, Dudley, NC
No Website
BBQ Jew’s Grade: A+
Porky Says: “I can now die happy.”

A sneak peek inside the pearly gates.

A sneak peek inside the pearly gates.

I thought about leaving my review at this: go to Grady’s.  That would have been enough said, but the folks at Grady’s deserve a little more good (albeit virtual) ink.  As far as I am concerned, Grady’s is among an elite few of the best barbecue joints in the state.  Unfortunately, their off the beaten path location has kept them in relative obscurity, even though they’ve dished out terrific barbecue for more than 20 years and many well known joints can’t hold a pig’s wax candle to Grady’s pork.

Luckily, it's what's inside that counts.

Luckily, it's what's inside that counts.

To say Grady’s is unassuming at first glance is an understatement.  Let’s start with the location.  Grady’s is in the tiny town of Dudley, about 15 minutes south of downtown Goldsboro–a town featuring the well-known joints Wilber’s, Scott’s and McCall’s–and just a few hundred yards north of a road called Squirrel Ridge Drive.  The building itself (pictured above) could easily be missed were it not standing all by itself on a quiet stretch of windy road, and were it not for the prominent Continue reading

Let My Pigs Go! (dang–too late)

When last I heard from the Egyptians, they were drowning in the no-longer-parted Red Sea in the story of Passover. Now they’re killing all of their hogs. Dark days.

This week, Egypt slaughtered between 300,000 to 400,000 pigs. The hogs were owned by the Christian minority in Egypt, and many suspect the Muslim government used the swine flu as an excuse to rid the country of the divine swine.

As a human being, an animal liker and a pork lover, I’d like to say: what a waste. Think of all the barbecue that could have been!

As Porky wrote from the vacuum-sealed confines of his basement, there’s no need to panic about swine having swine flu. What would give you such a preposterous idea? Because as the National Pork Board tells us (in an ad conveniently pegged to my Google “swine flu” search), pork is safe!

The World Health Organization said the same. And Joseph Domenech, chief veterinary office with the UN Food and Agriculture Officer in Rome, said the Egyptian decision was “a real mistake.” I’m not positive, but I think he was referring to their decision not to break out the smokers for a national ‘cue party. 

Barring that, at least the Egyptians could have attempted another Red Sea parting to send the non-flu-having pigs to Israel. What, no national sense of humor?! If the hogs made it, they could thumb their nose at their millennia-old rivals (for sending a bunch of unkosher animals their way).  If the hogs didn’t make it, well, they’d have achieved the same result.