Porky’s Pulpit: Pig Barrel Politics

Happier Than a Pig in Sh… Argentina?
We’d be remiss if we didn’t seize this increasingly-not-so-rare opportunity at pig-related humor about a politician from a pig-friendly state.  With Former North Carolina Senator/Failed Presidential Candidate John Edwards’ piggish behavior fading from the limelight, fresh revelations from the Land of Mustard Other Carolina have filled the void.  As you’ve undoubtedly heard by now, Soon-to-be-Former (?) Governor and Suddenly-Less-Likely-to-be Future Presidential Candidate Mark Sanford of South Carolina (where the mustard-tinged barbecue sauce must have impaired his thinking) was caught in a web of lies last week.  Sanford disappeared for several days before it was revealed that he was visiting Argentina, the country with the highest per capita beef consumption.  As if visiting the beef capital of the world was not pig-headed enough, Sanford did so to visit his mistress.  This presumably steak-fueled affair represents a double-affront: to Sanford’s wife and to the hog-loving populace of South Carolina.

Before Charlotte’s Web of Deception
Amazingly, Sanford’s piggish behavior in Argentina was not his first pig-related scandal.  Several years earlier, Sanford raised quite a stink when he brought a pair of piglets to the South Carolina State Capitol.  The piglets, predictably named “Pork” and “Barrel,” Continue reading

Our Barbecue Brethren

And you thought we were the only ones!

When our operative in New York–OK, John Shelton Reed–sent us this photo of the first other pig with yarmulke we’d seen, we were intrigued with a capital J.

Meet our sorta-kosher 'cue compadres

Meet our sorta-kosher 'cue compadres

After a bit of digging, we learned that this barbecue crew is the Semitic wing of Ubon’s Barbecue, of Yazoo City, Mississippi. Huh?

You can read the full story here, but the gist is this: Ubon’s has competed in the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party since 2004. David Rosen, a New York City guy (ahem), struck up a conversation with a member of the Ubon’s cooking team.

They guys struck up a friendship, which led to Rosen and some friends attending the Memphis in May “World” BBQ Championships. There, Rosen and his crew solidified the relationship and their love of the divine swine.

The four Jewish guys from NYC helped the Ubon’s team when it returned to New York in 2008 and went out on their own at the 2009 Memphis in May, in the “Patio Porkers Division.” Stunningly, they took fourth place in their division!

We’ll have an interview with Jubon’s David Rosen in the coming weeks, once he returns from a Caribbean spice scouting mission (aka a vacation).

For now, we’ll leave your sure-to-be-warmed heart with yet more heart warming:

When asked what a Jubon’s is, David replied “We’re four Jewish kids from New York City cooking barbeque in the Deep South — At least the salt is kosher!”

BBQ Jew’s View: A & G Bar-B-Que & Chicken

800 S Lake Park Blvd, Carolina Beach, NC
(910) 458-8620
No Website
BBQ Jew’s Grade: D-
Porky Says: “Put some SPF 30 on your tongue.”

The hot light's on, but you can drive past.

The hot light's on, but you can drive past.

Beach Blanket Barbecue
Based on my limited experience eating barbecue at or near the beach, I think the best advice I can provide for such situations is not to indulge.  Perhaps it’s the over-supply of sunshine and sand, the undersupply of hickory, or the BBQ joint owners having mercury poisoning from all the nearby shellfish, but for some reason beach BBQ joints rarely offer ‘cue worth eating.  A & G Bar-B-Que & Chicken, located on the main drag just off the waterfront in Carolina Beach and featuring a generous two ampersands in its name, does nothing to change my mind about beach ‘cue.   That’s the bad news.  The good news is that next time you are in Carolina Beach you can skip the ‘cue and have plenty of room for donuts from Britt’s, which vies for the title of Best Donut Shop in America, in my opinion.  More on that later.

The good people of Carolina Beach are lucky enough to live in a nice beachfront community and they know how to shag (it’s just a style of dance, relax), but they really should head inland if they want to eat barbecue.  Since I don’t have much good to say about the barbecue or sides I sampled at A & G, I’ll talk about something positive instead…

Continue reading

Call for Porkposals – Input Wanted

Dear Readers,

By now we hope you realize that we, ever your loyal servants, strive and toil to bring a little bit of grease-tinged and hickory-kissed sunshine into your lives.  We want this website to provide you with all the NC barbecue-related news, trivia, reviews and other content your heart desires.  Since we fear we may someday–only in the distant future, we hope–start to run low on ideas for this site, we thought you might be able to provide some advance help.  Consider this a patriotic, preemptive strike for the sake of continued quality at bbqjew.com.  Or just consider it a shameless attempt to steal your good ideas.  Either way, would you be so kind as to drop us a line at BBQJew@gmail.com, or leave a comment on this post, with you answers to the below questions? 

1) What would you like to know about NC barbecue? Are there any mysteries you’d like solved?

2) Would you like to see more guest posts from other barbecue aficianados/junkies?  If so, tell us whom you’d like to hear from and give us their contact info if you have it (self-nominations are welcome).

3) Which joints would you like to see reviewed? (There’s a good chance it’s on our to-chow list already but we are always open to suggestions.)

4) What other barbecue-related topics would you like to see us address? 

We can’t promise we’ll deliver on every request, but we’re sure we’ll borrow many of your ideas.  Thanks y’all.

Swinecerely your’s,

Porky LeSwine & The Rib Rabbi

Hillsborough Hog Day!

hog%20day%20logo

Thanks to an alert reader for pointing out that we had failed to mention that Hillsborough Hog Day is Saturday, June 20th (i.e., tomorrow).  Whoops. 

See more info at https://bbqjew.com/oinks/festivals/. I’ve been to Hog Day several times before and it is a fun event, although almost every year it’s hotter than hickory coals that day.  This weekend promises more of the same.  If you attend, maybe you can help us figure out why the heck the pig in the above logo has a recycling symbol on its shoulder…

BBQ Jew’s View: Holt Lake Bar-B-Q & Seafood

3506 US Highway 301 South, Smithfield, NC
919.934.0148
No Website
BBQ Jew’s Grade: C-
Porky Says: “Deep down, I’m pretty superficial.” – Ava Gardner

Some Reasons to Travel to Smithfield
Smithfield Foods is the world’s largest pork producer and is based in the small town of Smithfield.  Virginia.  Though Smithfield, North Carolina is not actually the home base of the world’s largest pork producer, it is in the heart of the state’s swine belt and has a rich history related to the golden leaf.  It is also Ava Gardner’s home town, so I would guess she ate her share of barbecue plates back in the day, and the Ava Gardner Museum downtown is a featured attraction.  Smithfield also hosts the annual Ham & Yam Festival, which was held just a few weeks ago.  Although the festival won’t be back until Spring 2010, Smithfield, NC is a nice little town that is working hard to revitalize its historic downtown (Smithfield dates back to 1777) and it’s worth a visit. 

By now you may have wondered why I am starting my review of Holt Lake Bar-B-Q with all of this information on the town of Smithfield.  I want you to know there are many good reasons to visit Smithfield.  Holt Lake Bar-B-Q simply isn’t one of them.

I should've turned back at the 1st sign of spaghetti

I should've turned back at the 1st sign of spaghetti

The Review
Holt Lake Bar-B-Q and Seafood is Continue reading

Monday Inspiration

I don’t know anyone in this photo, nor do I really know what’s happening, other than the obvious. What I do know is that ribs + grill + yarmulke = BBQ Jew.

And now for the blessing over the ribs... (photo by slushpup via creative commons)

And now for the blessing over the ribs... (photo by slushpup via creative commons)

Plus, that’s one sweet yarmulke!

South of the Border

While many of you barbecue purists don’t consider ‘cue from south of the border or news from north of it, this New York Times piece on S.C. ‘cue combines the two. More specifically, it’s about Scott’s Variety Store and Bar-B-Q in Hemingway, S.C.

Now I know what some of you are thinking: Oy! But before you click away, know that John T. Edge, author of the fabulous Southern Belly and director of the Southern Foodways Alliance, wrote the article. In my book, that alone makes it worth reading.  

Might decent cue follow this sign?  (photo by Diamondduste)

Might decent 'cue follow this sign? (photo by Diamondduste)

The piece and the awesome, accompanying audio slide show really capture the atmosphere and color of slow-cooking swine. While there’s no mention of that palmetto state sacrilege–mustard in the dip–there is some MSG, unfortunately. But did you see that wood pile?!

My favorite passage from the article: 

Locals knew that if they dawdled until the serving table ran low, Jackie Gordon, Rodney Scott’s aunt, would break down another pig on the bone table. They knew that, with a little luck, they might score a rack of spareribs, wrenched hot from a carcass.

True to my name, I’d dawdle as long as it took to get some piping hot ribs.

Anyway, have a great weekend. And if you’re driving down to Hemingway, holler.

Documuttonary Film School

As you, dear readers, are well aware this website has a narrow-minded myopic laser-like focus on North Carolina’s pork barbecue culture.  Still, we cannot refrain from putting a plug in for a documentary film on another of America’s underappreciated forms of barbecue–Kentucky mutton.  Mutton is one of just a handful of distinct barbecue styles in the U.S., and without a doubt it is the most obscure of the styles.  A new (to us) documentary helps bring mutton the attention it deserves. (Disclaimer: I have not actually eaten mutton, so perhaps the film is bringing mutton attention it does not deserve.) 

Hmm...

Um, no...

According to its websiteMutton: The Movie “takes you on a magical journey to the northwestern corner of Kentucky (Owensboro to be exact) where the descendants of the Welsh who settled the banks of the Ohio River don’t count sheep, they barbecue them.”  Well put.   Mutton is an informative, entertaining documentary and clocks in under 20 minutes long, so you really have no excuse to not watch it.  Of course, we respectfully disagree with Owensboro, Kentucky’s claim to the title of “Bar-B-Q Capital of the World.”  Heck, the people of Owensboro can’t even spell barbecue right!  Still, in the interest of fostering good will among the barbecue-loving people of the world, we present this in-depth analysis of the common ground between mutton and NC pork barbecue:

  • Both mutton and NC barbecue are traditionally cooked over Hickory wood.
  • Both are sources of local pride and the products of hard work, sweat and tears beers.
  • Mutton is often cooked by Catholic churches as a fundraiser, while NC barbecue is a common part of fire department fundraisers.  Catholics and firefighters fear hellfire and fire, respectively, yet have no qualms about Continue reading

BBQ Jew’s View: Stephenson’s Bar-B-Q

11964 N.C. Highway 50 North, Willow Spring, NC
919.894.4530
No Website
BBQ Jew’s Grade: C
Porky Says: “Dude, where’s the wood?” [Editor’s note: it’s somewhere]

A good looking barbecue plate from Stephenson's.

Stephenson’s barbecue plate.

Stephenson’s has a long, proud history and is featured as one of 24 barbecue joints on the NC Barbecue Society’s exclusive Barbecue Trail (which lists only those joints that cook with wood and meet various other criteria).  Yet I was underwhelmed during a recent visit.  First of all, despite being listed a wood burner I saw no evidence of a wood pile  and the barbecue did not taste wood-cooked to me.  I wonder if Stephenson’s has switched from wood cooking, or perhaps they use charcoal instead of split wood and keep their charcoal inside.  Even if they do cook with wood and I somehow missed it, I simply did not think Stephenson’s ‘cue was particularly good. [Editor’s note: I’ve been told by reliable sources that they do indeed stick cook over wood!]

I found the barbecue a bit greasy, almost slimy even.  It was coarse-chopped (seemingly by hand) to a nice consistency, but lacked in flavor.  Stephenson’s almost straight vinegar sauce helped the flavor but did not save the ‘cue from mediocrity.  The sides, on the other hand, were quite good.  The coleslaw was lightly “mayo’d,” with quite a lot of added sugar (a bit more than I think slaw needs, actually) and generously flecked with pickle/relish.  The hush puppies were perfectly fried, fluffy golden brown spheres.  The barbecued potatoes were also good, with a classic Eastern-style tangyness to them.  In summary, I always judge a BBQ joint primarily Continue reading