True ‘Cue Update

Loyal readers may have noticed that my posts to this website have once again slowed to a crawl.  Rest assured I have been busy working on my new project, alongside my barbecue brother John Shelton Reed of Holy Smoke fame, which is called True ‘Cue.  More details soon, as we prepare to launch.  Until then, stay low and slow.

Clyde Cooper’s Celebrates 75 Years

Congratulations to downtown Raleigh’s elder statesmen, Clyde Cooper’s Barbecue, which is celebrating its 75th birthday this year while preparing to move around the corner from its current location early next year.  Although Cooper’s has long been a gasser–meaning it doesn’t technically serve barbecue, but rather roast pork, in my rule book–any restaurant that survives 75 years must be doing something right.  WRAL TV put together a nice video tribute

When Pigs Fly Has Flown

It would’ve been more useful if I’d found out about this event before it happened, but better late than never… There is a new barbecue event in Fayettevilled called, “When Pigs Fly,” which took place on Saturday.  As Chicago Cubs fans say toward the end (or much earlier) of each season, maybe next year.

http://www.fayobserver.com/articles/2013/11/01/1291882?sac=fo.life

Porky’s Pulpit: Roasting Raleigh

Every once in a while your’s truly, the Honorable Porky LeSwine, receives an email that restores his faith in ‘cue-manity.  A few days ago I read just such an email.

The message had the subject line, “Raleigh BBQ Scene,” and with a title like that I figured it would be nonsense–Raleigh has no real BBQ to speak of, and what’s a barbecue scene anyway?!   Raleigh is a barbecue desert (one “s”, not to be confused with banana pudding) and I think it’s an embarrassment to have a dearth of BBQ in our state capital.  Well, as it turns out the email’s author agrees with me:

I am a native North Carolinian (a Raleighite) who has been out west for 20+ years and I am here in Raleigh trying to figure out how to move back here to God’s country. I learned to make my own BBQ many years ago because I couldn’t get it any other way. 

Question: Where can I go in Raleigh to get a good plate of authentic (wood smoked, not oven roasted) pork barbecue? Coopers – nope. Carolina BBQ – nope. How many others are using gas or electric ovens and no wood? The Pit cooks with wood, but I just don’t go along with having to make a reservation for a table to get a good plate of true North Carolina barbecue in North Carolina’s capital city. Its just not right. [Editor’s note: reservations or not, I’ve been underwhelmed by The Pit’s barbecue but kudos to them for cooking it over wood and it’s hard to argue with their success as a business.]

Sorry for my ranting. I just can’t believe the BBQ heresy that is going on here. God bless Coopers for being around for 75 years, but they don’t sell BBQ. They sell roasted pork. Are there others that feel like I do?

Heck yeah, there are others that feel like you do.  Not many of us, perhaps, but we exist and we applaud you for speaking truth to propane-power.  Unfortunately, Raleigh is the tip of the iceberg. The lack of real barbecue plagues the state and I can imagine a future that has no true North Carolina barbecue left.

While we wait for the private sector to come to its senses, can’t the state legislators in Raleigh turn their attention to this problem through some sort of hickory smoke stimulus program?  With or without leadership from the legislators wasting space on Jones Street, some of us traditionalists are as mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore.

If you care about traditional barbecue, I encourage you to like the page at www.facebook.com/truecue, where a Campaign for Real Barbecue will soon begin.  Until then, keep your faith in the holy smoke.

Carolina ‘Cue Wednesdays at Crook’s Corner

One of Chapel Hill’s most venerable fine dining restaurants, Crook’s Corner, may be your new source for authentic North Carolina barbecue.  Starting this week, Crook’s begins a series called Carolina ‘Cue Wednesdays.  Here’s the announcement from their newsletter:

Inspired by Our State magazine’s monthly BBQ explorations and education, I’m taking off from Chapel Hill each week on a road trip-to pick up BBQ from one of our state’s tastiest BBQ joints. Next Wednesday, October 30, we’re kicking off the Carolina ‘Cue Wednesdays Series with The Skylight Inn BBQ from Ayden. Come to Crook’s to taste, for the first time or revisit, Sam Jones’ family’s unmistakably great hand-chopped BBQ-and the Skylight signature sauce. Choose cornbread or buns, our slaw. Bill Smith has great additional sides & desserts to go with (think collards, seasonal veggies, unusual things too like fried beet pies, and banana pudding for after). If you love all sorts of NC Barbecue, mark your Wednesday nights for Crook’s. You can think: Gene’s doing the driving, so you don’t have to. Please call for reservations.

It’s a great concept and a convenient way for people to experience great North Carolina barbecue without driving too far from home (though, for the record, everyone in the Chapel Hill area should first visit their own great BBQ restaurant, Allen & Son, or I’ll be angry).

Crook’s became famous many years ago when the kitchen was run by the legendary, late Bill Neal,  The restaurant continues to be known for classic southern dishes like shrimp and grits as well as the magnificently named “Cheese Pork!”  Crook’s has had barbecue on the menu for years, but it’s never been worth eating, in my over-educated opinion.  As I understand it, their ‘cue typically came from a nearby purveyor of gas-roasted pork (i.e., not actual barbecue in my wood-centric definition).  Let’s hope this new approach of importing their BBQ from far and wide is a success–the more people eating real BBQ the better!

The Barbecue Festival Draws Near

Nice article in Lexington’s Dispatch newspaper on the upcoming Barbecue Festival and those who make it happen: http://www.the-dispatch.com/article/20131011/COLUMNISTS/310119984/1052/living02?Title=Lexington-takes-care-of-barbecue-8212-and-people  The article’s best excerpt: “From the day old Simon Peter had his vision on the rooftop in Joppa and God announced: ‘Q is good for you! Take and eat with a little red slaw’ (Lexington Standard Version), to barbecue pioneers Jesse Swicegood and Sid Weaver, and to today’s plethora of barbecue establishments in and around town, that simmering, delectable, slow-cooked pork shoulder just gets better and better.”

A History of South Carolina Barbeque

Here’s a nice article about a new book–which I’m midway through reading at present–by my BBQ comrade-in-arms Lake High, Jr.  Not only does Lake have one of the best names I’ve ever encountered, but he is a nice guy and very knowledgeable about barbecue in SC and beyond based on my email correspondence with him.

In A History of South Carolina Barbeque(available at your local Amazon.com), Lake makes a strong case for South Carolina as the birthplace of barbecue, though I’d still argue that us Tar Heels perfected the art and have better maintained it over the last few hundred years!  But us fellow Carolinians should probably put our sniping aside and focus on real foes like gas cookers, chains that rhyme with Mickey’s Barbecue Shit, and other such things.  Plus, if the Texans hear us feuding with our neighbors to the South, they might well invade.

Mallard Creek Barbecue

Neat TV news story profiling the serious work involved in preparing for Thursday’s annual Mallard Creek Barbecue in Charlotte.  It’s worth watching for the burn barrels alone, check it out embedded below or by following this link.  For one thing, I didn’t realize they actually cook over wood coals–impressive for an event serving 14,000 pounds of pork!

Texas & North Carolina: A BBQ Love Story

Props to my barbecue brother-in-arms (and shoulders and ribs), Daniel Vaughn of Texas Monthly, who traveled to North Carolina a few months back and writes about his experience here: http://www.tmbbq.com/finding-common-ground/

Daniel makes several good points in the article, not the least of which is his impassioned argument for outside brown and fatty brisket.  I couldn’t agree more.  Thanks for preaching the gospel, Brother Daniel.  You’re proof that Texas residents are capable of common decency and sound reasoning, despite numerous counter examples.  You are welcome back to the Tar Heel state anytime… so long as you bring me a Texas brisket offering.

 

(NC BBQ) Anarchy in the U.K.

I’m four years late on this one, but as any true barbecue fan knows good things are worth the wait.  Loyal reader Porcophile recently emailed me with the link to an article published in London’s the Guardian newspaper in June 2009. The subject?  You guessed it, North Carolina barbecue.

Journalist Joshua Stein is a Brooklyn-based Barbejew, judging by his name, who at the time wrote for the Guardian.  (Where are you now, Joshua Stein?  The Guardian needs you, as it’s NC BBQ coverage has really slipped over the years).  The article Mr. Stein authored is a fairly pro forma overview of North Carolina barbecue, so I’m bringing it to your attention only as a further indicator that North Carolina barbecue will someday takeover the world.  No word on whether the Brits like their barbecue served over a jacket potato, but I’d be surprised to learn otherwise.

Although we owe our eternal gratitude to the Spaniards for introducing the hog to America (thanks Columbus, and a belated Happy Holiday to you!) , it is good to know that others in Europe are being introduced to slow-cooked swine.