Cookouts in the Text Age

Sure, there are some annoying parts of living in the age of texting.  The guy you’re having a business meeting with who is also sending text messages to his wife.  The two people sitting at the table next to you over lunch who are looking down at their iPhones rather than having a conversation.  But there are some positives too, such as the motto shown on this apron:


A First Taste of Hogwash

At the beginning of July, I posted an interview with Sean Wilson, founder of Fullsteam Brewery, about the brewery’s Hogwash porter.  Not only was the interview thoroughly enjoyable, but Sean was kind enough to invite the Rib Rabbi and me to attend a recent “Thank ‘Cue” event at Fullsteam’s future location, a funky brick warehouse very near the old Durham Athletic Park of Bull Durham fame.

I am happy to report that, despite my initial skepticism that a porter would be too heavy to complement barbecue well,  Hogwash pairs well with ‘cue.  It is a refreshing, subtly hickory-smoked and easy to drink porter that makes good on its name’s promise of washing down hog.  I’m looking forward to Fullsteam’s opening toward the end of this year or early next year, and I’m already daydreaming about pairing Hogwash with samplings of my favorite Eastern- and Lexington-style barbecue.  Ah, beer and pork, what more could a BBQ Jew desire?

Porky’s Pulpit: The Art of Hogku

With apologies to the people of Japan, and people anywhere who practice the art of haiku or any other form of poetry, I present to you my first attempts at creating a new art form called hogku.  In case you don’t know, haikus (at least the Americanized version) stick to a basic 5-7-5 syllable structure.  Below are my first hogkus.  Readers, any hogkus or other barbecue-inspired poems to share? 

Hickory smoked smell
Taste of vinegar on tongue
God must be watching

Eastern or Western
Differences disappear
Over a chopped plate

Hush puppies, slaw, bun
Everything looks good, except…
Where is the pig meat?

Pig, your sacrifice
Will be memorialized
By sacred pit smoke

Golden fried cornmeal
Your secret is safe with me
In my stomach now

BBQ Jew’s View: The Q Shack

302 E Main Street, Carrboro, NC
BBQ Jew’s Grade: D
Porky Says: “Barbecue tough for a mother to love.”

***NOTE: This Q-Shack location is now out of business.***

Sunday Morning Coming Down
Probably every barbecue lover has been faced with this dilemma: It’s Sunday and the hankering for barbecue strikes, but all the good local joints are closed.  Do you a) go against your primal instinct to hunt ‘cue and eat something else, b) go to a second rate joint to get your fix, or c) drive the 1.5 hours required to reach a good joint open on Sundays?  Unfortunately, I chose option b) a couple weeks ago and got just what I deserved from the Q Shack, a lousy meal. 

My wife, Mrs. LeSwine, and I had a friend in town and she wanted to eat some ‘cue before heading home the next morning.  Instead of just explaining that the few good joints in the Triangle are closed Sundays, we decided to try out the Carrboro Q Shack (complete with its too-clever motto, “BBQ Tender as a Mother’s Love”).

Slick corporate propaganda: not a good sign.

Slick corporate propaganda: a funny sign but not a good sign.

Just Don’t Order The Pork…
I’ve eaten at Durham’s Original Q Shack several times and have always been fine with their brisket and other non-NC ‘cue offerings, although I’ve never been wowed.  The Carrboro Q Shack is part of a small regional chain with locations in Continue reading

Make Slaw Not War

I recently attended a potluck that had barbecue as the main course (not really a pig pickin’, nor did it claim to be,

Classic mustard & mayo slaw for those down east

Classic mustard & mayo slaw for those down east

so I’m refraining from using that sacred term).  I decided to bring coleslaw to this event because :

1) Slaw goes with ‘cue like french fries with a burger or chocolate with bacon (pretty well, actually, as I found out at the potluck).

 2) It’d been a long time since I last made slaw.

3) The pre-packaged slaw sold at grocery stores is often truly vile stuff.

4) I’d been looking for an excuse to try out some slaw recipes from Holy Smoke

Oh yeah, and, 5) I am cheap and so is slaw (especially when vinegar and mayo are treated as staple foods and always kept on hand).  A quick trip to the grocery store to buy two heads of cabbage and I was ready to make slaw.  Continue reading

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 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

The Pit Expanding

A tip of the hat snout to Raleigh-based food blogger Dean McCord, who reports that The Pit is expanding.  The Pit, which I “reviewed” awhile back (see what I mean here), is an upscale BBQ restaurant in downtown Raleigh.  Apparently the people of Raleigh were not persuaded by my snarky commentary and continue to head to The Pit like, well, hogs to the slaughter.  See Dean’s full post on The Pit here and check out the main page of his interesting food blog VarmintBites.

Children of the Corn(meal)

future-legends header

We recently received an email from one of the organizers of the first annual Future Legends of BBQ competition in Flat Rock, NC.  The event, a fundraiser for the Henderson County Young Leaders Program, is scheduled for October 10th.  It is officially sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS), which means it is a competitive barbecue cooking event, and has a mid-September entry deadline.  (Visit the North Carolina Barbecue Society if you believe it is a crime, or at least an insult, that a group with the word Kansas in its name is involved in sanctioning NC-based barbecue competitions!)  What makes the Future Legends event special is that the competitors are, well, children. 

If the thought of witnessing a team of 7 to 17 year olds manning (boying?) a pig cooker for hours on end doesn’t sound worth the $5 price of admission, you should get your head examined.  Of course, if the thought of a team of kids cooking doesn’t scare you half to death, you also should get your head examined.  Actually, the concept makes some real sense, given the fear that pitmasters are a dying, or at least Continue reading

BBQ Jew’s View: Cook’s BBQ

366 Valiant Drive, Lexington, NC
No website
BBQ Jew’s Grade: A-
Porky Says: “My only beef with Cook’s is brisket.” 

You're not lost if you've found this sign

You're not lost if you've found this sign

“Right Turn on Rockcrusher Road”
I don’t own a GPS unit; I’m early-2000s-old-fashioned and rely on Mapquest.  Still, I can imagine questioning the sanity of the computerized lady were she to instruct me to turn off Highway 8 and onto Rockcrusher Road, as visitors to Cook’s BBQ must do. But the drive to Cook’s is well worth it, as Cook’s serves some of the best barbecue in a town that serves some of the best barbecue in the state. 

I first visited Cook’s about seven years ago, when it had a small but loyal following among Lexington area diners.  At that time the restaurant was a modest-looking, modest-sized wood building built by founder Doug Cook with timber he milled himself.  Maybe it was seeing the humble wooden building after driving down a road I thought surely led to nowhere, or maybe it was the smoky aroma, or maybe it was just the quality of the food.  Whatever it was, my first meal at Cook’s seven years ago was magnificent.  I had only found my way back once since then, and when I pulled into the driveway this time and saw a large expansion on the original building my heart sank a bit.  But the aroma of hickory-smoked pork still hung thick in the air. 


Don’t Fear the Brisket
Although my meal at Cook’s seemed a little less magnificent than my memories of my first visit, the ‘cue still rates high.  The pork is tender and cooked to perfection, with a distinct wood-smoked flavor from the 10 or so hours the shoulders cook slow-and-low over the hickory coals.  Pitmaster Brandon Cook, the son of Cook’s BBQ’s founder (who now owns Backcountry Barbecue across town), firmly believes that cooking over wood is the only way to make barbecue. 

Not much has changed to this corner of the building over the years

Little has changed to this corner of the building over the years.

Cook’s BBQ doesn’t heed all sacred barbecue traditions.  Beef brisket earns a place on a almost distressingly diverse Continue reading

Now That’s a Hog

When I say barbecue bike, this event might come to mind. You might even think of something tame, like this. But what you should be thinking about is this motorcycle that doubles as a smoker,

The bike is the creation of Andrew Fischel, one of the owners of posh Manhattan ‘cue slingers RUB BBQ, or Righteous Urban Barbeque. Now I’m no rabbi As a completely unordained rabbi, I’d wager a few pork skins that he’s a BBQ Jew.

Insert your own joke here

Insert your own joke here

According to the article, Fischel had the bike created for the opening of RUB’s Vegas restaurant in 2007. But BBQ Jew was just a t-shirt in-the-waiting back then. So I’m writing about it now. That and because it’s totally bitchin.

Apparently, the RUB guys don’t cook and ride, because, well, they don’t ride. The vehicle isn’t street legal.

Well, I can guarantee that Fischel wouldn’t get a ticket in the great state of North Carolina. Were he ever to get pulled over, his main problem would be a tired pen hand from signing too many autographs. That and finding polite ways to turn down invites to appear at every police function and cop bar from Asheville to the Outer Banks.