BBQ Jew Merch Is On Its Way

Thanks to strong and persistent demand from our readers (keep up the good work, mom and dad), we will soon debut BBQ Jew merchandise.  After all, it is just 147 shopping days until Christmas and a mere 133 shopping days until Hanukkah

As a side note, have we mentioned the incredible parallel between the numerous spellings of Hanukkah/Chanukah/Hannukah and those of barbecue/barbeque/bbq/et al.?  Coincidence?  I think not.

Anyway, stay tuned to and we promise the merch will be available soon.  Until then, practice clicking the Merch tab at the top right of the page [Note: We’ve taken the Merch tab down until next week as we prepare for our store’s debut.]

Wilber the Bunny

Thanks to reader Burgeoningfoodie for making the News Room aware of the recent story on Playboy’s website about America’s best barbecue joints.  (Actually, for the record, technically Burgeoningfoodie alerted us to a post about the Playboy article that appeared in the Raleigh News & Observer’s Mouthful blog.)

If you are reading somewhere other than work, I recommend you see the full Playboy article here and the section on Wilber’s here.  If you are currently at work, rest assured the article is 100% nudity-free, but it does contain some graphic depictions of near-naked barbecue covered only in slaw and a bun.  Still,’s Legal Department recommends you save the article for home, unless you work somewhere that considers it kosher to log onto (in which case, you probably work for Playboy).

The last time a pig and bunny got together.

The last time a pig and bunny worked together.

BBQ Jew’s View: Whitley’s Restaurant

3664 NC Highway 8, Lexington, NC
Barbecue Jew’s Grade: C
The Rabbi Says: “Oy Vey.”

The menu at Whitley’s Restaurant claims to serve “Lexington’s Finest,” but I doubt even Whitley himself believes that. And you shouldn’t. Because in my book, that’s laying claim to serving some of the best swine in the state.

Whitley’s was not a sought out destination. It just happened to be a) in Lexington and b) conveniently close to another ‘cue joint to which I was early. So I thought, ‘when in Lexington…”

From the get go, there were mixed signals. A message board under aforementioned sign advertised a salmon patties special. Those abominations are not served at barbecue restaurants I frequent. More worrying, was the lack of that telltale smoky scent we’ve all learned to love. [Porky says: Months after writing this review, The Rib Rabbi and I discovered a Whitley’s website that claims the pork is cooked in a pit over wood coals, so it appears that the meat is cooked over wood for at least some of its cook time.]


Restaurant or a barbecue joint?

Given those two indications, I was not expecting to enter barbecue nirvana. Yet upon entry, I encountered a hefty gentleman in suspenders and jeans. And the brick and wood interior with comfortable booths was about right. I wasn’t sure what to make of the rack of bagged cracklins for sale—in no less than five flavors! (Honey Q, salt and vinegar, regular, BBQ and hot BBQ.)

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Learn to Cook ‘Cue

The NC BBQ Society is offering a great, albeit pricey, opportunity to learn to cook real NC barbecue.  See the Raleigh News & Observer’s food blog for details.  Note that registration for the three-day class ends August 15.  As for the event itself, suffice it to say that one of the instructors is Steve Grady of Grady’s BBQ, one of the best barbecue joints in the state.  Oh, and the event is being held in NC’s beautiful Outer Banks.  If you attend, please give me a full report.  Better yet, give me $500 so I can attend myself.  Deal?

The woodpile behind Grady's tells you all you need to know

The pit and woodpile behind Grady's tell you all you need to know.

The BBQ Song

On the off chance that you–a person who is voluntarily (I hope) reading a blog about barbecue–have yet to see “The BBQ Song” video, now’s your chance.  Not only is the song hilarious, kinda catchy and educational (they have Mayonnaise-based sauce in Alabama?!), but it was recorded by North Carolinians.  The comedy duo Rhett & Link are sort of like Flight of the Conchords for southerners.  (Then again, the Flight of the Conchords guys hail from New Zealand, which is a lot further south than North Carolina… .)  Watching North Carolina folks sing a funny song about ‘cue oughta make you right proud of the Tarheel state.

BBQ Jew’s View: Bob’s Bar-B-Q

1589 NC Highway 56, Creedmoor, NC‎
No website
BBQ Jew’s Grade: D+
Porky Says: “Creedmoor or less.”

How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By ‘Cue?
Bob’s Bar-B-Q is a nice enough place with a large, lodge-like atmosphere and an authentically old fashioned feel.  The comfortable feel is helped by the friendly staff who greet customers as they step into the cafeteria-style serving line.  But alas, the ‘cue doesn’t come close to matching the sweet staff.

Unfortunately, the staff  isn’t the only thing at Bob’s that is sweet.  This is one of the only barbecue joints I’ve ever been to where the barbecue has a sugary taste without any sauce added.  Frankly, it’s distressing.  The barbecue had a good, rough-chopped consistency but its wood smoke-free and oddly sweet taste was not helped by the steam table from which it was served.  The fiery hot Eastern style sauce at the table was quite good, and reminiscent of Scott’s famous recipe, but could not save the pork from mediocrity.  For what it’s worth, the meat is reported to be pork shoulders (a Lexington-style trait), while the sauce and the sides served at Bob’s are very much in the Eastern tradition.  Cross-breeding of this sort is more common than most people think, especially in and around the Triangle area.

The barbecue plate I ordered was accompanied by (surprise) very sweet, very finely chopped slaw made with lots of relish.  The Brunswick stew, which I’ve heard some folks rave about, struck me as a bit (yes) sweet, watery and low in flavor.   The hush puppies were not overly sweet, but were dry and chewy, again likely from the steam table (steam tables are brutal on hush puppies, in my experience).

The rest of the menu, which I did not sample, included chicken and a variety of lunch grill items (hot dogs, grilled cheese, fish sandwich, etc.) with rotating specials like chicken and dumplings.  The pies looked good, especially the pecan, but I had already ingested enough sugar from the BBQ so I steered clear.

Barbecue Road Trip?

I truly believe North Carolina ‘cue is the finest in the country, and I know for a fact that it is the direct descendant of the original American barbecue.  Still, I remain just open-minded enough to admit that I like pretty much any meat that is slow-cooked over wood coals (that is the proper definition of barbecue, of course).  If you are like-mindedly open-minded, and might find yourself crossing beyond the NC border sometime this summer, then check out JJ Goode’s May 2008 article in Details magazine (once the page loads click anywhere on the image to be taken to a .pdf of the full article). 

I know, I know, Details is not exactly the magazine you’d expect to be ground zero for barbecue writing.  However,  Goode’s article provides what appear to be solid recommendations for barbecue joints across the U.S. (Skylight Inn and Lexington #1 are called out for NC), along with some mouth-wateringly terrific photos.  Bon voyage and bon appetit!  But for (Texas) Pete’s sake, make sure you wipe that thick tomato-based sauce off your chin before you return to NC…


The one on the right had some dry rub, hence the blackened look

The one on the right had some dry rub, hence the blackened look (honest).

There’s a mystique around barbecue that it’s a skilled craft best to leave to the pros, it requires all day, you need a pit or a pig cooker to make it right, and so on.  Though these ideas have some truth to them, they shouldn’t dissuade you from cooking your own ‘cue once in awhile.  In fact, you really should cook your own ‘cue.  As they say, give a man directions to a BBQ joint and he’ll eat for a day, but teach a man to barbecue and he’ll eat for a lifetime (or at least until he burns his house down).

Cooking passable barbecue is really not that difficult.  Just block off five hours or so, grab a beer, call up a friend, gather at least one bag of charcoal (not instant light) plus a charcoal grill, round up a meat thermometer and ideally an oven thermometer to leave in the grill, and make sure you have some hickory chips on hand.  Now all you need is a Boston Butt or two and some salt.  If you’re making your own sauce/dip, you’ll also need some cider vinegar and pepper flakes, if you are an Eastern-style minimalist and a little ketchup if you are into the Lexington lifestyle.  Or you can just buy some Scott’s or other NC barbecue sauce at your local grocery store.  Here’s how my buddy and I prepared ‘cue a few weeks ago:

  • Start with a 4 to 5 lb Boston Butt (which is the top piece of a pork shoulder and is commonly available at grocery stores, at least in this part of the world) or a larger one if you have extra time and are patient while it cooks.  Get two if you have the room on the grill–no point spending 4+ hours cooking a half-empty grill. 
  • The night before cooking be sure to rub salt onto the pork.  As the authors of Holy Smoke write, “if you’re the type who turned in extended bibliographies with your middle-school papers, you might want to ‘brine’ the cut by soaking it in salt water overnight.”  They recommend a tablespoon of table salt in a pint of water for each butt.  Either way, on the day of your barbecuing, bring the butt to room temperature for half an hour before cooking and rub a little more salt on the meat.  Throw some hickory chips in water to let them soak while you prepare the grill.
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Capitol Q

Damn you, Joe York. The Leni Reifenstahl of the Southern Foodways Alliance has an entire catalog of short films that do nothing but make you hungry.

OK, fine, they also make you appreciate the cuisine, cooks and culture of the South. York recently turned his lens to barbecue. The result, Capitol Q, profiles our beloved Skylig Inn. Folks, this is 16 minutes of riveting swine celluloid:

The film does a nice job documenting the multi-generational excellence of the Jones family. Having enjoyed the Jones’s ‘cue, I can attest to the fullness of their brilliance and the flatness of their corn bread.

York captured a few great lines from the co-owners. On how they go through two cutting boads per year and whether any of that makes it into the ‘cue, co-owner Bruce Jones unleashed this one: “Our wood tastes better than most people’s barbecue.”

Co-owner Jeff Jones described the menu’s simplicity:

“We don’t have, like, a long menu of different things. all we do here is barbecue cornbread and slaw. When you walk in the door, all we need to know is, like, how much you need.

On the topic of amounts, the menu lists a 6-pound to-go bucket of barbecue as one of the options. Sign me up.

The film even featured our pals John Shelton Reed and Dale Reed lending their wisdom on North Carolina ‘cue. Although it’s too bad that Dale doesn’t get a word in and that John has a South Carolina flag on his jacket. (…kidding)

The only objection I had with the film was its end, when Bruce Jones compared the Skylight Inn to the King James Bible. Hey, guys, let’s not mix barbecue and religion. I mean, come on!

Porky’s Pulpit: Worst BBQ Graphic Ever?

I recently visited Blue Mist Bar-B-Q and, though I enjoyed my meal, I can’t help but point out the absolutely abysmal logo featured on their menu.  I have seen a lot of barbecue joint logos over the years, and this is hooves-down the worst.  The tuxedoed pig looks like it was drawn by someone without an opposable thumb (maybe it was drawn by a pig?).  Really the only indication that the logo is a picture of a pig is the curly tail poking out from the tuxedo.

Um, is that a pig?
Um, is that a pig?

Luckily, the Blue Mist sign outside the restaurant features a much improved version of the pig in a tux logo.  Oddly, the curly tail is not a part of the new and improved logo.

Now that's an improvement

Now that's an improvement