BBQ Jew’s View: Blue Note Grill

4125 Durham-Chapel Hill Boulevard, Durham, NC
Hours: Mon-Thu 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fri-Sat 11 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.
BBQ Jew’s Grade: C-
Porky Says: “Nobody loves their Q but my mother, and she could be jivin’ too.”

Singing the Low Down, So-So Barbecue Blues
If you’ve been reading this site for more than a couple of weeks, you’re probably aware that I get a bit cranky about places that serve so-called North Carolina barbecue but don’t know seem to know the difference between a ham and a shoulder.  The folks at Blue Note Grill are trying to learn the art of NC ‘cue but they have a long way to go.  The Blue Note Grill does many things right, but barbecue is not among them. 

Butter My Toast, Not My Bun
The Blue Note is a classic bar and grill that serves up pretty good food, frequent live music, and a variety of adult beverages to wash down the workaday blues.  Their menu includes quesadillas, hand-ground burgers, pork chop sandwiches, fried pickles and banana peppers, onion rings, sweet potato fries, chili, salads and a whole lot more.   As far as I can tell its a place Continue reading

The Pig Now Open in Chapel Hill

As of a couple of weeks ago, The Pig has opened in Chapel Hill in the old location of The Barbecue Joint at 630 Weaver Dairy Road.  We speculated about the possible connection between The Barbecue Joint and The Pig in a previous post.  In fact, according to The Pig’s Facebook page, the owner “worked at The Barbecue Joint for a couple of years and owe[s] allot [sic] of my chops to Damon Lapas but The Pig is in no way associated with either Damon or Jonathon.”  The menu (available on the website) certainly bears some resemblance to The Barbecue Joint in that it appears to include some inventive twists on traditional barbecue joint offerings.  We’ve yet to check out it out for ourselves but are excited to do so soon. In the meantime, try it for yourself: the hours are Mon-Thu 11 to 9 and Fri-Sat 11 to 10.

BBQ on TV?

Dear Loyal Readers,

You recently enlightened me on the topic of BBQ in mall food courts and I once again need to drink from your well of wisdom.  When traveling in the Greenville area not too long ago I noticed a Skylight Inn ad on television.  As you’d expect, it was a pretty low budget ad, which featured the tagline: “It’s a barbecue fact, not fiction, wood cooked barbecue smokes the competition.”  Needless to say, there was nothing particularly exciting about the ad… except that I’d never seen a TV ad for a NC barbecue place before. 

I asked Samuel Jones of the Skylight Inn about the ad and he said they’d started running it relatively recently and that it was paying big dividends in drawing in more customers (I guess that is the point of ads, so I am not sure why this fact surprised me but it did).  Anyway, I’m curious whether other North Carolina BBQ joints have run TV spots. An exhaustive/exhausting three minute search of You Tube proved fruitless (porkless?), but I imagine some of the bigger joints must advertise on local stations.  Please englighten me.

Your’s in our shared quest to educate the world about every obscure detail of North Carolina barbecue culture,


BBQ&A: James Villas, Writer and Cookbook Author

A self-described “Southerner by birth and temperament and appetite,” James Villas has given the people of his native North Carolina many reasons to be proud over the years.  His latest cookbook, Pig: King of the Southern Table, is perhaps the most significant reason yet.   Tarheels and tarheels at heart will be wowed by Pig’s wide-ranging collection of recipes, which describe how to cook every part of the pig one could ever imagine wanting to eat (and then some). 

Long before penning his culinary ode to North Carolina’s favorite animal, Villas received his PhD in Romance Languages and Comparative Literature and served a stint as a university professor.  Soon he left academia to follow his heart/stomach (they are one and the same after all) into the world of food writing.  Villas spent the next 27 years of his life as Food and Wine Editor of Town & Country magazine.  In addition, he has written for Esquire, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Bon Appétit, Life, and The New York Times, and published a baker’s dozen of cookbooks, two novels, and a memoir.  Mr. Pig himself was kind enough to chat with us about biscuits, barbecue and his heart-wrenching (for us readers) decision to never write another cookbook focused on swine.  Enjoy…

Follow this link to read the interview with James Villas.

Porky’s Pulpit: I Am Your Sweet Tea Party Candidate

Ladies and gentleman, I don’t need to tell you that we live in trying times.  (But I will.) The economy remains in shambles.  Millions of hard working Americans are unemployed and therefore the phrase “hard working Americans” sounds more than a little bit nostalgic.  Foreclosures continue at a rate that very nearly keeps pace with the number of Snooki-related news items.  And, needless to say (but I will) the level of political discourse in this country is at an all-time low (Snooki aside).  While most of you are content to vote (or not bother to) for a mainstream Republican or Democrat, and some of you are out on the streets agitating for whatever it is that Tea Party types agitate for (agitation?), I am doing something more impressive.  Yes, today I am proud to announce my candidacy for office under the Sweet Tea Party banner.

What is the Sweet Tea Party? I’m so glad you asked. It is more than a party, it’s a movement.  In fact, it is a large, grassroots movement that is by no means Continue reading

There is Hope in Barbecue

It’s no surprise that when barbecue makes it onto Nightline, the subject matter turns a bit more serious than usual.  John T. Edge, director of the Southern Foodways Alliance, is featured in a recent segment on the show discussing how barbecue culture may present an opportunity to address racism in America.  He makes a pretty good argument for barbecue restaurants serving as a venue in which to address entrenched issues like racism.  In one of his more memorable quotes, in response to the skeptical reporter who asks him whether a place like church might be more appropriate for delving into subjects like racism, Edge says, “Church is so segregated, barbecue restaurants aren’t segregated… I think there is hope in barbecue.”

BBQ Jew’s View: Holly Ridge Smokehouse

511 Highway 17 North, Holly Ridge, NC
Hours: Tu-Th & Su 6:30 a.m.-8 p.m.; Fr-Sa 6:30 a.m.-9 p.m.
BBQ Jew’s Grade: B-
Porky Says: “Decent Beach-B-Q at last.”

Palatable Barbecue Near the Beach? Finally!
Earlier this summer I took a family vacation to Topsail Beach.  Unsurprisingly, I dragged my wife and kids to a barbecue restaurant on the way.  Equally unsurprising was the fact that I did this over my wife’s protests.  She is only an occasional barbecue eater and, like most women, operates under the misguided belief that a greasy plate of chopped pork and hush puppies is a less than perfect pre-bikini meal.  Nonsense!  Plus, in fairness, my wife knows from traveling with me that barbecue joints within 50 or so miles of the coast tend to be mediocre at best.  Needless to say, that fact has never stopped me from trying to find exceptions to the rule.

Given that it’s located inland about five miles from Topsail Beach, Holly Ridge isn’t really a beach town as much as a refueling pit stop on the way to the beach.  Still, five miles is pretty damn close to the beach by barbecue standards, so I had to try the Holly Ridge Smokehouse despite that it looks like just the type of place I know to avoid.  It is large, Continue reading

Purvis Previews Q

Charlotte Observer food editor Kathleen Purvis has a nice series of posts up chronicling her recent visits to some Lexington-style barbecue joints.  Check out the most recent post about Cook’s BBQ by following this link and then see the other posts (on Port-A-Pit and Keaton’s) from there.

The Amazing World of Ribs

The weekend is almost here, summer is fading into fall, and it’s the perfect time of year to fire up the grill.  Next time you cook out, you might should consider taking a break from burgers and hot dogs.  You might should want to cook some barbecue.  But you might don’t have a grill large enough for a whole hog or even a pork shoulder.  Plus, slow-cooking those big ol’ cuts o’ pig is more time consuming than most people can handle.  Ribs make for a nice change of pace for North Carolina barbecue addicts, but I’m guessing you might could use some guidance on which cut of ribs to buy.

The best website I’ve seen on exploring the wonderful world of ribs is without a doubt  Check the site out when you get a chance.  Until then, read the recent Huffington Post article by creator Meathead Goldwyn.  “Unfuddling the Many Different Cuts of Ribs” is an illustrated guide to understanding and selecting the right ribs for your next cook out.  Happy ribbing…

BBQ&A: Anoop Desai, Barbecue Hero and American Idol

Picture by J Squared Photography

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill alumnus Anoop Desai is perhaps best known as the author of an undergraduate honors thesis in American Studies entitled Why Barbecue Matters in the South.  The 60-page paper takes a scholarly look at southern culture through the grease-streaked lens of barbecue.  “If one examines the Durkheimian paradigm in relation to North Carolina barbecue,” Desai writes, “then North Carolinians are divided into two clans of the same ethnic group… there are clear divisions between the eastern and western styles.” Heady stuff indeed, but amazingly Desai’s work in the field of American Studies is not his only claim to fame…

Follow this link to read the interview with Anoop Desai. 

If you want to read Desai’s honors thesis on barbecue, click here.