Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Fifth Annual Texas Pete Twin City Rib Fest

Lane: Walking across the parking lot, the humidity hung low in the air suppressed by the sweet sting of smoke. Being the late afternoon, the sun was getting low in the sky and the golden glow of the sun's rays shown through the thick plumes of smoke adding to the haze of the day. The crowds were immense with hundreds of rib lovers milling around, excited by the smell of sweet, savory, smoked meat. The excitement of the carnival atmosphere was contagious and we could all feel a sense of community; a cohesive love of southern culture, that essence of barbecue which is neither a verb or a noun but in this setting an adjective. The first selection was a sample of Bibs Downtown from Winston-Salem, NC. The sampler plate included 3 ribs, red slaw, and baked beans. Ribs were pretty smoky but only had a basic flavor provided by a good dry rub that was only a little on the spicy side, but this was a good meaty spare rib. I really liked the red BBQ slaw even though it was heavy on the vinegar. The beans were more like chili and a little on the lukewarm side. I didn't really like them but April seemed to.
April: The Rib Fest was a lot of fun with a very carnival/fair type atmosphere. We decided to stick to the local entrees and try those ribs only. (A review of the only other semi local entrant can be seen below by our guest reviewer, Summer Hanna.) The ribs were good and smoky but a little on the basic side. They were a dry rib with little spice but offered no creativity or sauciness. The red BBQ slaw was so vinegary that I couldn't eat it. The BBQ beans were fantastic. They contained bacon, tomatoes, ground beef, and lots of other good stuff. While they were only a little warm they were so very tasty.

April: Dr. Brownstone's BBQ was our next tasting. These ribs can only be described one way...saucy! They were super meaty and covered in a very rich sauce. The rib meat fell right off the bone and had a really nice spicy taste. Dr. Brownstone's ribs were a good wet rib to compare to the drier version from Bib's.
Lane: These ribs proved to be very wet with a thick molasses sauce. They had a really good smoky flavor. There was textural crunch which signified a strong glaze on the outer layer of meat but the sauce really complimented this texture giving it a well blended taste sensation.

Summer: Prior to Rib Fest, I had looked through the list of vendors andwhere they were from to get an idea of what I should prepare myself toeat Friday night. This is when I had seen that there was a place fromSpartanburg, SC competing, and regardless my love of North Carolina Lexington-style BBQ, I was elated at the chance to have some SouthCarolina ribs. What I didn't prepare myself for was the time commitment required to eat at the Carolina Rib King, the defending champion of the Texas Pete Rib Fest. While everyone else stood in a 5-10 minute line for their plate of ribs, I and a small group dedicated ourselves to a forty minute wait for our dinner.
While standing in line, we had decided to go ahead and test out the sauces independent of the meat. Two five-gallon buckets with pump tops held your choice of either mild or hot sauce. The mild sauce was okay, a blend of ketchup and vinegar with a few spices, but without the heat provided by the pepper left you with the sweet aftertaste of ketchup. Iwas not a fan. The hot sauce however, was much more pleasing. It also was a blend of ketchup, vinegar, spices, with the addition of a smoky flavor and a little heat which we as a group decided was much morepleasing. Once we finally received our meals, I realized the wait was wellworth it. I had a "Baby King Rib Plate." The Baby King comes at a priceof $10 and includes 4 bones, slaw, baked beans, and corn bread. The Carolina Rib King cooked some of the best ribs I have ever eaten in my entire life. I apologize now to all those who may be reading, I have told cook delicious ribs. They all pale in comparison to what I ate Friday night. The meat was so tender that it easily slid off the bone, which I attribute to the slow par-baking over steam which I observed while waiting in line. They were then finished over a charcoal/wood chip flame where they obtained a slight crisp to the outside and a delicious smoky flavor. Even though I had gotten some of the hot sauce, I barely used it. The meat had such a good flavor that it didn't need the addition of anything else. The slaw and beans are nothing worth writing home about. They were your run of the mill food service sides. However, the cornbread was buttery, moist, and delicious: a perfect companion to the ribs. All of which were easily washed down with a Foothills Brewery Hurricane Hefeweizen, the Winston-Salem brewery which supplied all beer for Rib Fest. My only disappointment was that the line was too long to go back for a second plate.
April: As for the rest of the festival, the beer was good (from Foothills Brewery) but the entertainment was disappointing. Friday was supposed to be a performance by Vanilla Ice at 10 pm according to the program and website. We left at 11:45 pm and he still had not come to the stage. Thankfully the company of friends and food more than made up for it!
Lane: I was a fan of Digital Underground from back in the day and I felt privileged to be witnessing the slightest fraction of hip-hop history in the duo of Money B and DJ Nu- Stylez as they played homage to hip-hop’s golden era but when all was said and done and the clock ticked on, and on, it became clear…..they were the hype-men for Vanilla Ice, his warm up crew and after awhile the luster of this golden facet began to grow dim. Maybe it was the clearing of the delicious BBQ smoke haze or perhaps the sheer exhaustion of the day, but we were done and it was time to go.
Twin City Rib Fest Dixie Classic Fairgrounds Winston-Salem, NC 27105
336-725-5635
Distance from Home: 107.12 miles

Friday, June 12, 2009

We are Twin City RibFest bound this afternoon! Not only are we going to just at the 100 mile mark from home to check out some awesome ribs, but tonight's entertainment is none other than Vanilla Ice! I can't wait! We will post our review next week regarding the BBQ. I can guarantee that lots of fun will be had this weekend. I want to say a special thank you to Summer Hanna and Daniel Brumbles for being our very gracious hosts in Winston-Salem, NC forever and always. Good food, good times and good friends are what this life is all about!

Check out the festival link http://www.twincityribfest.com/.

--April

Thursday, June 11, 2009

An email I sent to a co-worker today!

Hey Mike,
I am normally not a big fan of ‘name dropping’ but done correctly, it can open a world of great fun and good food.

The place you have to visit is the Old Post Office. My wife and I used to both work there. The proprietor and chef, Philip Bardin, is a good friend of ours and he’s really into name dropping. So go there and give them my love. I called and told them ahead of time you may be visiting. The food is a little pricy BUT it is very much worth it! You will not be disappointed! This was an online review but from where…. I don’t remember: “Causal dining restaurant that features an excellent menu of Low country specialties and regional favorites such as grits, duck, and seafood specialties. An extensive wine list complements your meal. They are open Monday through Saturday for dinner only; closed on Sundays.”

Old Post Office Restaurant
1442 Highway 174
Edisto Island, SC 29438
843-869-2339

Po-Pigs BBQ: The best BBQ in the Low Country is here. My wife and I also both worked for Robert (Bo Bo) E. Lee, the proprietor, and not only is the BBQ good but the sides alone are amazing. This is my number two pick after the Old Post Office!

Po-Pigs BBQ
2410 Hwy 174
Edisto Island, SC 29438
Phone: 843-869-9003

Main’s Market: I used to work for Larry Main at Main’s Market. He also has a nursery and landscaping business as part of the market. It’s a neat little place. I wouldn’t go dropping my name there,..........................

but he’s an all around good guy.

Main’s Market
1089 Hwy 174
Edisto Island, SC
Phone: 843-869-1337

The Sea Cow Eatery: A neat little place to eat. It’s changed hands over the years so I don’t really have any good inside info. It’s near the water though, so that’s cool.

Sea Cow Eatery
145 A Jungle Rd.
Edisto Beach, SC 29438
Phone: 843-869-3222

Check out this blog with a great appraoch to Edisto
http://mobilestudiotravels.blogspot.com/2009/02/edisto-beach-state-park-south-carolina_20.html

This is a link with reviews of these places that should be helpful:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g54215-d476134-r21798200-Main_s_Market-Edisto_Island_South_Carolina.html

Have a great time…. You may never want to come back…………..

Lane

United Tastes - Pig, Smoke, Pit - This Food’s Seriously Slow - NYTimes.com

United Tastes - Pig, Smoke, Pit - This Food’s Seriously Slow - NYTimes.com: "Pig, Smoke, Pit: This Food Is Seriously Slow"

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Kickin' Pig


April: While this place is better described as a bar rather than a restaurant, it is the place that I keep coming back to over and over again. It only offers chopped pork barbecue and ribs but it is some of the best tasting pork I have had. Most times I do not even add sauce even though they also have one of the best hot sauces (vinegar based) on the table. The sides are just as good. The baked beans, barbecue slaw, and onion rings are fabulous. The hushpuppies tend to be overcooked and a little dry. Nothing that a $1.50 Pabst Blue Ribbon beer can’t take care of!

Lane: I had to describe to some friends the other day what my favorite places around Rock Hill are for barbecue and why. The Kickin’ Pig is great food, a relaxed atmosphere, and a pretty cool place to chill. The people are nice and the food is simple. The Kickin’ Pig is my default place to eat and chill out. I have not had their ribs yet but I thoroughly enjoy their chopped pork sandwiches whenever I can and as sides go the red slaw (coleslaw made with a vinegar-base) and their baked beans are amazing (I usually dislike baked beans too.)

On a side note, some of the coolest Hogs can be found parked in front of the restaurant daily.

The Kickin' Pig 1227 Cherry Road Rock Hill, SC 29732
(803) 980-2689
Distance from Home: 1.62 miles

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Fort Mill BBQ Company


April: This restaurant just opened in the Lowes Food shopping center on Gold Hill Road in Fort Mill, SC. This was one of the first restaurants where we mentioned that we are working on a barbeque blog. One of the owners was nice enough to share a small sampler plate of their meat items. The pulled pork was outstanding. Not only was it nice and smoky, it was very flavorful. I ate almost the entire portion without adding any sauce. The vinegar based sauce was very good and spicy. The mustard sauce was also very spicy and while I am also not a fan of mustard sauces, this one was not bad. The spicy sausage links with pimento cheese were outstanding. The ribs were very good, but very messy. The meat fell off the bone, but disappeared into the sauce that was heaped on. The turkey and beef brisket had the same sauce and spice mix added, but the meat is cut like it has been pressed together. I liked the turkey well enough, but the beef tasted processed. As for the sides, the potato salad was fantastic as was the macaroni and cheese. They are good enough to add a small container of coleslaw to each plate. This is one of my favorite types of coleslaw; chunky cuts of white and red cabbage with a light dressing. I also ordered a bowl of the Brunswick Stew. I am always trying to find a place that makes it almost as well as I do. The Fort Mill BBQ Company comes the closest so far. It was spicy, had lots of vegetables, tomatoes, and meats. I am guessing that their extra ingredient is chopped jalepenos. They added a little extra spice to the stew. Since the restaurant is new, there are still some kinks being worked out. It was very crowded and a little disorganized as they call out order numbers for pick up. While the food is exceptional, it is difficult to linger after the meal. There are plans for an outdoor patio and eventual beer sales. That might make the place irresistible!

Lane: This restaurant is brand new so they were still getting the kinks worked out with internal traffic control, but I recommend “The Company” as the best tasting BBQ restaurant nearby. Stylistically, I appreciate the marketing of the restaurant. The logo and branding were chosen from a contest among Nations Ford High School students. The pimento cheese is an amazing compliment to the smoky sausage link (a kielbasa as opposed to a smoky link like the one Jim 'N Nick serve). I loved the chopped pork, the sliced beef brisket, but I did not enjoy the House Smoked Turkey, which resembled a processed turkey loaf. As of now the Fort Mill BBQ Company has the ABSOLUTE BEST “Nanner Puddin” (banana pudding for you non-southerners)! I highly recommend it!

Fort Mill BBQ Company 737 Stockbridge Drive Fort Mill, SC 29708
(803) 548-7400
Distance from Home: 11.36 miles.

Sonny's Real Pit Bar-B-Q


April: I had eaten at Sonny’s one time before and was not impressed with their food. They have been a long time establishment in the Rock Hill area. I always think of them as being too commercial. We agreed to start here after doing a little online research. I picked out my lunch days ahead of time. I started with a bowl of the Brunswick Stew. Now, I feel that I must mention that this past year at the annual Christmasville Festival in Rock Hill, Scott Huffmon and I entered our own Brunswick Stew recipe in the Brunswick Stew/Chili Cook-off Contest and won first place! So my judging of all other Brunswick Stew is a bit skewed. Sonny’s stew was not bad. A nice tomato base with plenty of corn, lima beans, and spice (though not spicy) but the one addition that I did not like was ground beef and the barbecue was added to the top of the stew once it had been ladled into the bowl. For the main meal I had decided to stick with the pulled pork at each restaurant. Pulled pork is what I consider to be the best way to judge barbecue and is my favorite way to eat it! The Sonny’s pulled pork was good, but not very tasty without added sauce. The smoky flavor was not heavy enough for my taste. The good news is that Sonny’s offers a plethora of sauces for any taste on the table. The “Smokin’” sauce was my favorite on the pork. I am not a fan of the sweet sauces but for those that are there are two to chose from. My side item was corn nuggets. These are a Southern specialty made from creamed corn and deep fried. While good, be careful because they are heat hot on the inside when served fresh out of the fryer.
Sonny’s Barbecue overall was good and offers enough variety that it would appeal to most any taste.

Lane: Since this was our first effort towards tasting as much barbecue, I wanted to try as much of a variety as possible so I could be objective. I went with the Super Combo which is Sonny’s “original” Bar-B-Q Sliced Pork, the slow-smoked Beef, Bar-B-Q Chicken and the Sweet & Smokey Ribs (spare rib cuts). I like my side favorites, such as macaroni and cheese and coleslaw, which in my book always are a compliment to barbecue. The top two noteworthy items from this experience were the ribs which were sweet, smoky, savory, and overall delicious. I always prefer spare ribs over baby-back any day and I really enjoyed Sonny’s. The corn nugget sides also made the diner quirky and fun. I did not enjoy the slow-smoked beef. It had a dry chewy texture. I agree with April in her description of the “Smokin” sauce over the sliced pork.

Whenever I think about good consistent barbecue that is served in large portions, Sonny’s comes to mind quickly. They make it their business to know barbecue and pride themselves on offering a variety of smoked meats.


Sonny's Real Pit Bar-B-Q 2181 Cherry Road Rock Hill, SC 29732
803-324-7984
Distance from Home: 4.15 miles

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Courtney's Barbecue


April: The best part of the 20 minute drive out to Clover, SC and Courtney’s BBQ was being able to smell the smoker about 1 ½ miles before actually arriving at the restaurant. Courtney’s is a family owned restaurant and has a very large dining room. Even on a Friday evening there were plenty of tables at which to sit and the service was very quick. The pulled pork was very smoky but not spicy. The sauces were a nice compliment to the smoky flavor, but did not offer any spice. The portions were ample and served without fanfare in plastic trays. I really enjoyed the option of ordering a baked potato with my meal instead of some of the more fattening sides. This allowed me to enjoy the barbeque and take the potato home for leftovers. With this great place just up the road from our home, we will definitely make many more repeat visits.

Lane: A special note to our buds Jimmy and Erin Fitzpatrick who came out to Courtney’s Barbecue with us, they are what good friends and good food are all about.

Courtney's BBQ 1166 Highway 55 Clover, SC 29710
(803) 222-5900
Distance from Home: 23.7 miles.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The BBQ Guy!

Lane: I came across this blog recently and thought it note worthy. The author is Brian Percy, the BBQ Guy! Check him out:
BBQ Blog - Barbecue, Barbeque, Bar-be-que, Bar-b-que, Smokers, Grills, Spice, Rub, Sauce, News, Contests

Mac's on Main



This is where April and I went to celebrate April's sister's birthday. Sarah H. Boatwright is holding up the ribs. Mac's on Main is known for their live jazz and blues as well as Chef Fatback's cooking. Mac’s on Main was a gem to find in downtown Columbia, SC. A great soul food kitchen and catering place where the head chef and owner makes frequent appearances in the dining room to chat with guests and promote his funk band, “Fatback and the Groove Band.” The pulled pork is well cooked and mixed with a spicy sauce. It is more tomato than mustard base despite its Columbia origin. The pork was tasty, but did not have a real smoky flavor. The sauce was OK, but as you know by now, I am not a fan of having the pork and sauce mixed ahead of time. The macaroni and cheese and collard greens were excellent. The cornbread is also exceptional. The highlight of this restaurant is the homemade cobblers for dessert. They are so good that they are sold in local grocery stores in large aluminum pans for at home enjoyment. The ambiance and central location of this restaurant are also a big plus. Most evenings include live music and the wall of fame is an impressive mix of great gospel singers and other celebrities.
Mac's On Main 1710 Main Street Columbia, SC 29201
(803) 929-0037
Distance from Home: 69.73 Miles
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