Archives: January 2007
Soul Fire's Mac & Cheese in Today's Globe
Wyeth Lynch of Boston's Soul Fire BBQ (Allston) and his deep-fried mac & cheese balls are featured in today's Boston Globe food section. I'm not a mac & cheese guy, but these look really good (sorry, the link below doesn't include the photos that appeared in the print version).
Boston Globe article
Other Guides To BBQ, Part II: Redbones, Virgil's, Tennessee Jack's Top AOL Reader Polls
Two months ago I listed the nominees and told you who I voted for (Blue Ribbon for Boston BBQ, RUB for New York BBQ). Now the AOL City's Best 2007 reader's poll results are in. Sure, I'd like to see some of my favorites ranked higher. And there are several joints I can think of that should have been nominated and weren't. But you take it for what it's worth. Here are the results, with links to my reviews.
2. Texas Roadhouse (chain)
3. Village Smokehouse
4. Blue Ribbon
6. East Coast Grill
7. Midwest Grill
New York BBQ:
2. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que
3. Bar BQ
4. Blue Smoke
5. Daisy May's BBQ
8. Pig'n Out
Long Island BBQ:
1. Tennessee Jack's
2. Smokin' Al's
3. The Spare Rib
4. Big Daddy's
5. RS Jones
6. Smokey's Original Rib Pit
7. Hog House
8. Farmer Bar
10. Turtle Crossing
Connecticut BBQ fans are well acquainted with the Cookhouse mini-chain that has outposts in New Milford, Darien, Branford and East Hartford. I reviewed their Branford and East Hartford locations on the third day of this site's existence. At that time, I had a decent meal at the East Hartford location and a good to very good meal the Branford location. Since then, I've had a good to very good meal at the East Hartford location and a disappointing meal at the Branford location. Today I updated the reviews with new comments and photos.
See the Reviews page or link to reviews using the red icons in the Joints directory.
Bacon, a close friend of barbecue, got special treatment in the January 25 Time Out New York. One of the 9 restaurants mentioned in the feature was RUB, who got the nod for their BLFGT sandwich made with triple-smoked bacon chunks and fried green tomatoes.
Time Out New York's Makin' Bacon feature
There's something about cold weather that makes me crave bacon for breakfast the same way I crave chili at night. But bacon is unique in that it's great for any meal, great as a side dish, great by itself and great with other foods (burgers, pizza, pasta, you name it). When it's cut thick and smoked, it's even better.
You've probably heard of the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game, where any actor connects to Kevin Bacon in six steps or fewer. How about Humphrey Bogart? He was in Casablanca with Ingrid Bergman, who was in Notorious with Cary Grant, who was in His Girl Friday with Ralph Bellamy, who was in Trading Places with Dan Aykroyd, who was in The Blues Brothers with John Belushi, who was in Animal House with Kevin Bacon.
I was trying to think up a Six Degrees of BACON game, where all foods connect to bacon in six steps or fewer. I couldn't do it, because there's no challenge. Bacon goes with everything except breakfast cereal.
My wife and I stopped into Firefly's Bodacious Bar-B-Que in Framingham MA last night and we both had the chili. More full of meat and larger of chunk than usual, it hit the spot on the coldest day in two years.
Brrrrrrrrrr (isket Chili)
Temperatures with wind chill factored in will be around -20F here in the Boston area, making it a great day for chili—particularly chili made with smoked brisket. October is National Chili Month, but now's when you need it most. January is National Soup Month and chili is a form of soup, so there you go. It's during times like this that I wish Boston BBQ restaurant owners had the same mindset as their Manhattan counterparts when it comes to delivery.
Time for some brisket chili
Today is Friday, and that reminds me of another buffet strategy I can't believe I forgot to include on Wednesday's list. Friday is the day that many office workers choose for their big lunch out, and that can cause huge lines at the buffet. For that reason, as well as the fact that I like to eat out Friday night, I avoid buffets (and eating out in general) for Friday lunch. The upside of the crowd, though, is that it improves the turnover cycle of the food. Conversely, Mondays are bad days for buffets; there probably won't be enough traffic to generate good turnover and the food out there may be old. That's why I like Wednesdays for buffets: it's the halfway point between the two weekends and the turnover-to-crowd ratio is at its highest.
I updated my review for Goody Cole's Smokehouse in Brentwood NH to reflect their consolidation to one location (Exeter is now closed).
Another Closing and Another Good Meal at Goody Cole's
Last night a friend and I trekked to Brentwood NH to check in on Goody Cole's Smokehouse, my favorite New Hampshire BBQ joint. With some creative ordering, we managed to sample all 7 meats and 6 different sides. All were good, but in my mind the clear standout was the chopped brisket, cut from the deckle.
While there, I learned that the Goody Cole's branch in Exeter closed at the start of the new year. In a way, it makes sense, as the recently-opened Brentwood outpost can be viewed as a replacement location. It's bigger, not too far from Exeter, and situated on a road that gets a lot more traffic. Still, I'll miss the Exeter location. That red barn structure and lush green lawn had a lot of charm, and nothing was more relaxing than sitting under those picnic tables with a plate of barbecue on a summer day.
Goody Cole's Exeter location, where I had some of my best BBQ meals of 2006
Tomorrow I'll tweak my Goody Cole's review to reflect some recent visits and the Exeter closing. I'll also update the Cookhouse review (Connecticut BBQ) to reflect my recent visit.
All About All-You-Can-Eat
In Defense of Buffets
Sometimes buffets get a bad rap, generally on two fronts: (1) the quality of the food isn’t as good as you’d get by ordering off the menu; (2) it’s all about (and only about) the gluttony. I’d agree that the first point is usually true, although it doesn’t have to be. I’ve been to buffets where the food is brought out in small batches, maintained at a high level and replenished often. As for the second point, I’d also agree somewhat, but there are other benefits to buffets beside the humongous quantities of food available.
- The speed factor. The
the food is ready, so all you have to do is serve yourself, eliminating the time-consuming formality of reading the menu, ordering and waiting for the food to be cooked.
Variety: Can't decide between black bean chicken and Chung King pork? Have ‘em both (along with three other chicken dishes, two other seafood dishes, a half dozen wings and a whole lotta ribs). Ditto for the barbecue buffet: why decide between ribs, brisket, pulled pork and chicken when you can have all four?
A chance to try something new: Beyond deciding between favorites, buffets are a great way to try items you’ve never had before, risk-free. There are some dishes you might not want to commit to sight unseen. Sure, it may sound good on the menu, but you’re not quite sure it’s going to be what you hope it is. At a buffet, you get to be Peyton Manning, reading the defense and going with the options that look best.
Creativity: This is your chance to channel your inner Bobby Flay and try spiral patterns of yellow and red sauces on a plate, and balance three ribs in a teepee formation on top. Or you could "plate" (a verb nowadays) a pile of collard greens, with four slices of brisket artistically fanned around it. Amuse yourself, impress your friends and have fun.
Most of these are simple common sense, but maybe you'll find a tip or two:
- Plan your attack. Survey the entire buffet before putting the first morsel on your plate. There’s a good chance that there are more items on that buffet than you can possibly eat in one meal. Knowing what’s available will help you decide what’s worth taking and what’s worth leaving behind. If you’re trying to minimize calories, plan your attack by declaring to your dining mates that you’re only making 1 trip, or avoiding anything fried, or whatever works for you. On a barbecue buffet, it’s all about the meat for me, so I usually try to avoid sides that are high in calories (baked beans), carbs (mashed potatoes) and fat (fried foods).
Use a small plate: There's a big stack of plates specifically intended for you to use, but most buffets have smaller bread plates that I prefer. This prevents you from over-loading the plate with so much food that it will be cold by the time you get to the bottom. Instead, get two or three items that are hot and eat them while they’re hot. You can keep going back.
Eat what's best, part 1: Say you’ve got ribs, chicken and brisket on your plate and the ribs are good, but not great. But the brisket’s the best you’ve had in a while. Go back for seconds and get some more of that brisket. If you just ordered ribs or chicken, you’d never know.
Eat what's best, part 2: If you like chicken thighs but hate chicken legs, load up on thighs and leave the legs for those who like ‘em. If you like chicken wing drumettes but hate that 2-bone wing piece, load up on the drumettes. Everybody gets the piece they want, so everybody wins.
Eat what's best, part 3: Here,
there are winners and losers. Not only do you like drumettes, you particularly like those extra meaty drumettes. Using the stainless steel tongs with the skill of a surgeon, you pluck out the four meatiest ones in the tray, leaving the skimpy ones for the sap behind you. You win, and it’s okay to win, as long as you don’t run up the score.
Eat what's best, part 4: In this one, eyeryone's a winner, but you win more. This is a rule I strictly adhere to at a Chinese buffet. Never, ever—and I mean ever—take food from a tray that’s less than 1/4 full. It means the food is old, and you’re likely to get much better quality by waiting until the tray gets re-loaded. Just like the skimpy meat, leave the old food for the sap behind you, and wait for the good stuff. If you want the General Gau’s chicken but it looks old, get the rainbow shrimp this time and re-deploy the General to your next trip. Remember, you’re Peyton Manning, reading the defense and attacking it to win. Waiting may not appeal to you if you don’t have a whole lot of time, but if you master the art of the hover-and-descend, you’ll get good stuff with minimal inconvenience.
You can order off the menu too: Just because the buffet is all-you-can-eat doesn’t mean it’s ridiculous to order something off the menu. If a joint makes really good fried pickles, but they’re not on the buffet, go ahead and get those too.
Use your waiter: Just because the buffet is self-serve doesn’t mean it’s ridiculous to ask your waiter for some service beyond drink refills. If the pulled pork wasn't available, there's nothing wrong with asking your waiter to bring you a small dish of it when it's ready.
Avoid desserts: There are exceptions to this rule. But unless you’re at a hotel brunch or there’s a world renowned pastry chef involved, you’re better off sampling more of the main course items than wasting your time on the second rate cakes typically found at a buffet. On Chinese buffets, some would also say skip the soup, but I always try the soup if I’m at a place for the first time.
- Don't push, don't shove, don't spit, and don't use your fingers when serving.
- Don't use the tongs from one tray to reach into a different tray, especially tongs that have handled meat into a tray of vegetables. I know it’s hard to believe, but there may be some vegetarians at a barbecue buffet who don’t want their veggies to taste like meat. (I love my vegetables to taste like meat, by the way.)
- You're probably going to get your money's worth and more. If the restaurant owner loses a little money on you, there's nothing wrong with it, but I like the win-win. Be a sport and show a little appreciation by at least springing for one drink. You want to keep a good thing going, don't you?
They call it “all you can eat.” It’s not called “all you and your friend can eat,” so if you order the buffet and your friend doesn’t, no sneaking food across the table onto his plate. Don’t even think of asking me to smuggle a wing over to you if I get the buffet and you don’t. One other thing: it’s also not called “all you can eat today and tomorrow,” so don’t bring Tupperware along to maximize your intake.
If there are only 2 ribs left and there’s a sad looking fat guy in line who looks like he wants one, take one and leave him one. No, that fat guy won’t be me. If there are only 2 ribs left, you can have ‘em. I’ll wait for a fresh batch.
Today comedian John Pinette releases his new I'm Starving CD. Pinette might not be a household word, but he's one of the guys you recognize when you see him. Just like Dom Irrera is the "Badda Bing" guy, John Pinette is the buffet guy. At least a decade ago, Pinette formed almost an entire act out of his experiences at all-you-can-eat buffet restaurants. Check it out yourself on this YouTube video or on www.johnpinette.com. I'm going to take a wild guess and say that he probably likes barbecue too.
In honor of this new CD, I'm re-publishing my list of known buffets and all-you-can-eat offers on its own page today. This way, you won't have to scroll through the older blog entries to find it. Just click on the link below or the similar link in the Joints directory.
The All You Can Eat page
Note that I'm by no means claiming this is 100% complete. I'm sure there are other offers out there, so I need help from readers keeping it up to date. Please feel free to contact me with any corrections or new information.
Tomorrow, I'll provide my list of observations and tips for optimal buffet dining.
Colts and Bears In; Patriots Out
It was a great game last night, and it looked pretty good for the Patriots for a while, but it didn't happen. It's a tough blow for New England football fans (and Massachusetts BBQ restaurant owners), but now it's Peyton Manning's time. Or, as Sgt Robert Barone would say, it was "meant to be."
I can handle the loss. I can handle horrible barbecue when I get it. But I can't stomach the thought of even more Peyton Manning commercials being shoved down my throat if he wins the big one.
A serious family matter has limited my travels in the last week or so, but I was able to grab some quick meals at Massachusetts BBQ joints fairly close to home. On Saturday, I lunched at Blue Ribbon (W. Newton MA) and tried a "Chinese spring roll" burrito, made with sliced, glazed pork shoulder. On Saturday night, my wife and I hit Chili Head BBQ (W. Bridgewater MA). Just before the Patriots game, we snuck over to Lester's (Burlington MA) again.
Spare Ribs Getting Scarce
During my Blue Ribbon lunch, I confirmed that they, like Lester's, switched over to a St Louis rib. About eight months ago, Rouge (Boston MA) closed its doors and Firefly's (Framingham MA and Marlborough MA) took spares off their menu.
I'll be watching the AFC championship game tomorrow, not at a restaurant but in
front of my own TV. I think it's much easier to follow the game that way. Of
course, I'll be rooting for the Patriots, but not only for football reasons. No,
I don't have a bet on the game. I'm rooting extra hard for the Patriots because
a trip to the Super Bowl would mean a big payday for some of my favorite
Massachusetts BBQ joints. Whether it's more takeout packages or extra beer
sales, another Patriots win would make an already busy night even more
lucrative. Barbecue joint owners and pitmasters work hard all year and deserve a
little bonus. And it gives me yet another chance to eat barbecue.
Another Good Lester's Visit
I like joints that are improving, and the underlying theme of my review for Lester's Roadside BBQ in Burlington MA a few months back was an arc of constant improvement. That trend seems to be continuing, as my Thursday night visit found three meats (ribs, brisket, pulled pork) all in top form. They've switched from spare ribs to a new St Louis rib that has plenty of meat, and the spice in the crust and the smoke content were perfect. If they can duplicate this level every time out, I'll be visiting a lot more often.
Today I posted a review for Uncle Willie's BBQ in Waterbury CT and New Haven CT. In a way, this is the joint that inspired this site. Prior to a visit to my in-laws on Long Island a few years ago, I researched a number of New York and Connecticut barbecue restaurants on the web and noticed how difficult it was to find good information (the fact that "BBQ", "barbecue", barbeque" and "Bar-B-Que" are used interchangeably doesn't help). After trying the ribs at the Orange CT branch of Uncle Willie's, I sent a detailed email to several barbecue fans, proud of my new discovery just off I-95.
This brings the total to 97 reviews. See the Reviews page or link to reviews using the red icons in the Joints directory.
There's also an updated review for All Star Sandwich Bar in Cambridge MA to reflect the October 2006 introduction of burgers, the heartbreaking November 2006 menu changes and some revised prices.
A Cambridge Crawl
Last night I ate at a few of my favorite Cambridge haunts. First stop was Coast Cafe on River Street, where a friend and I split a beef patty and some fried chicken. Then it was All Star Sandwich Bar, for the Tuesdays-only Texas Reuben. It was great as usual, as was their burger (one of my favorites) and their brisket chili (my all-time favorite for restaurant chili).
I need to post an updated All Star Sandwich Bar review to incorporate the burgers and the November menu shakedown. I'm working on this and will post something in the next few days, along with my review of Connecticut BBQ stalwart Uncle Willie's (probably Friday).
Take My Money. Please.
Most takeout joints are set up so that you order, pay, and the system that prints your receipt also notifies the prep area of your order. But there are still a few holdouts that are less high-tech. This isn’t a problem as long as you take my money when I order, not after the food is done.
The possibility of the food not being at optimal temperature when it crosses the counter and the probability that it will get colder during the ride are tough enough. But when you add the extra delay of settling the bill while my food sits in its styrofoam sauna longer than necessary, it’s a pet peeve. Sure, it only takes a few seconds to handle this transaction—under ideal conditions. But if you’re on the phone, or bogged down in the kitchen, or taking a new customer’s order—with my luck a large order for 12 combo plates, all with different sides—I’d rather be able to take the bag silently and be driving away, knowing I’m about to eat a good, warm meal, not a cold one.
Sizzling in Winter
I judged at the Lincoln NH barbecue contest yesterday, where the teams did a nice job battling the elements and turned in some very respectable product.
Some Bobbique Reviews in the Media
My review for Long Island BBQ newcomer Bobbique was posted a few weeks back. In the last few days, two newspaper reviews for Bobbique appeared:
Love & BBQ
OK guys, you see the date: January 14. This is your one-month warning for Valentine's Day. Now we all know that nothing says romance more than a hearty barbecue meal, but barbecue is not necessarily what our sweetie is looking for next month. So put forth a little effort, use some creativity and save barbecue for another day. (Ebeneezer, this means you. Don't make the same mistake you made last year.)
To Those About To Freeze
I salute you. As I type this at 2PM Saturday, CNN.com lists the current temperature for Lincoln NH at 31 degrees. Not exactly ideal for being outside cooking barbecue, but it could be a lot worse. Fifteen competition teams will be doing just that tonight and into tomorrow at the first annual Winter Sizzler at Lincoln's Inn Seasons Resort. I wish all the teams good luck.
I'm still doing some writing and planning, with nothing ready to post today. I had some good lunches the last couple of days at Blue Ribbon and Chili Head BBQ (see photos in the right column).
For Massachusetts BBQ fans, there are a few whole hog dinners coming up - see the updated News page for details.
Another Manchester NH Review
Today I posted my review for Premier Palette in Manchester NH.
Manchester BBQ fans are blessed with five different destinations to get their fix:
- Down 'n' Dirty
- KC's Rib Shack
- Premier Palette
- Santa Fe Smokehouse
- Sausage Heaven
With a population of not much more than 100,000, Manchester has by my estimate more BBQ joints per capita than any other city in the Northeast region. That's the equivalent of more than 400 joints for New York City.
All have different personalities and different strengths: KC's has killer pork ribs, pulled pork, beer and entertainment, but no brisket or beef ribs. Premier Palette has beef ribs, brisket and fried chicken, but no pork. Sausage Heaven serves takeout BBQ plates for weekday lunches only, but has some of the best gourmet sausages you'll ever taste.
This brings the total to 96 reviews. See the Reviews page or link to reviews using the red icons in the Joints directory.
Holy Smokes in Today's Boston Globe
One of my favorite joints, Holy Smokes BBQ in West Hatfield MA, got a nice write-up in today's Boston Globe food section. If you're passing through central Massachusetts, it's well worth a detour to check this place out.
Boston Globe article (registration required but free)
Holy Smokes BBQ website
my review of Holy Smokes BBQ
As 2006 came to an end, we saw the typical end-of-the-year look at the famous personalities who died during the year. Although barbecue is a growing industry, there were a number of joints that closed in 2006:
- ARMADILLO DEPOT, Worcester MA. I wasn’t in love with this joint, but it was easily the best BBQ destination in Worcester. Their beef and pork ribs were smoky, Texas-style meats ideal for takeout, and their BYOB option was a real plus. Cactus Pete’s, the full service joint across the street, serves ribs, but it’s hardly serious barbecue. There’s a major BBQ void in this city.
BISCUIT, Brooklyn NY. This sometimes-praised, sometimes-slammed joint closed in early 2006, then re-opened at another Brooklyn location in late fall.
- PHATT BOYS, Cambridge MA and Stoughton MA. This looked and felt like a chain, but the menu showed some creativity and the ribs I had in the summer of 2005 were good. In a January 2006 they weren’t so good. A few weeks later, they closed without warning.
- POPPA RICK's, Woodbury NY. I’m not quite sure why this shack closed down or if they’re going to relocate, but I had heard some positive comments about it and was looking forward to trying it. Maybe someday.
- ROUGE, Boston MA. The barbecue wing of Andy Husbands’s once-growing empire closed in early spring. Andy was the executive chef at East Coast Grill in Cambridge before opening his own restaurant, Tremont 647 in Boston around 1996. He’s also part of the very successful IQue barbecue team that’s dominated the NEBS competition circuit the last few years. I loved Rouge as soon as it first opened as a modern Cajun restaurant, then continued to enjoy it as it morphed into the BBQ joint for the hipster set. They served some of the best Rhode Island style calamari and a sage-infused skirt steak I can still taste today. They ran some really good Monday night theme dinners; one of my favorites was the "Ultimate BBQ" dinner co-hosted by IQue’s Chris Hart. I’ll remember the white sangria, the friendly wait staff, the killer chile relleno appetizer, those rubbed-then-glazed spare ribs, and the best lamb ribs I’ve ever tasted.
- SMOKEHOUSE GRILLE, Norwood MA. Their sandwiches were OK, but their ribs were always cold. Nice guy, though. I was hoping to visit one more time before posting my review, available today.
- TEJANO LOCO, Ayer MA. This joint opened and closed within a year. There were no bells or whistles, but it was decent barbecue served by another good guy.
Happy Birthday Elvis
Today would have been Elvis Presley's 72nd birthday. The man was one of America's greatest entertainers and he knew how to eat.
The peanut butter and banana sandwich, grilled in butter, is what we think of first when we think of Elvis and eating, but he was a noted BBQ fan as well. Here's a quote from an interesting article on Memphis barbecue by David Plotz:
On Saturday, we visited Graceland, which, I was surprised to learn, has its own small barbecue theme. Elvis himself liked barbecue—he used to order in from The Rendezvous, says John Vergos—though he was more partial to grilled peanut butter and banana sandwiches. But that's not the Graceland connection. Elvis' father, Vernon Presley, smoked meats in a small room next to the garage for a while. Eventually, Elvis turned the smokehouse into a shooting range.
So celebrate Elvis tonight. Order some ribs from the Rendezvous in Memphis, or make yourself a peanut butter and banana sandwich. And no skimping on the butter.
New Hampshire BBQ Saturday
I did some light traveling this weekend. On Saturday I returned to Manchester NH to meet a friend for lunch at Premier Palette. They didn't have brisket on my first visit, so I wanted to give that a try before posting my review. I should have that up later this week.
Connecticut BBQ Sunday
On Sunday my wife and I drove down to the Cookhouse in Branford CT, where I was less impressed than on my first visit. I'll provide the details in an updated review late this week or early next week. Speaing of Connecticut, I haven't forgotten about Wilson's (Fairfield) and Uncle Willie's (New Haven and Waterbury). I know these have been pending for some time, but I wanted to hit them one more time each before posting reviews. If not, I'll post the reviews I've already written by the end of the month. I also have Bobby Q (Westport) on my radar. So many joints, so little time.
A Loss for Rib Boy
Looks like Mangenius lost out to Real Genius, but it was a great season for the Jets and their rookie coach.
Tomorrow I'll have some deeper thoughts and at least one review.
Rib Boy Returns: Jets/Patriots Sunday
OK, so maybe this won't supply the same level of theater as a series between the Yankees and Red Sox, but it should be good. The Jets are on a hot streak and are one of the NFL teams on the rise, while the 3-time Super Bowl champion Patriots are trying to prove they're still among the NFL elite. There's also the revenge factor: the Patriots additionally want to prove that the Jets' recent win in Foxboro was just a fluke. And, most of all, there's the hate factor: Jets head coach Eric Magini defected from the Patriots, earning the permanent wrath of his former mentor, Patriots head coach Bill Belichik.
Eric " Rib Boy" Mangini
The thing I find amusing is Mangini's nickname: Rib Boy. It's a moniker he earned years ago while under Belichick in Cleveland. Magini's duties then included procuring ribs for the Browns players. Boston Herald sports columnist Gerry Callahan calls him Rib Boy because it looks like he's eaten his fair share of ribs. That may be true, but what's wrong with that?
Summerlike in the City
I had the day off yesterday, and temperatures reached the 60s in Manhattan, so it was a perfect opportunity for some New York City BBQ. I first made an innaugural visit to Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, a joint I've been meaning to try for years. Then I repaired on over to RUB, an old favorite.
New York Magazine Names RUB in Where To Eat
The 2007 version of Adam Platt's Where To Eat list hit the stands in this week's issue of New York Magazine. In the section called Real Barnyard, RUB heads the list:
RUB, in Chelsea, is still the Manhattan barbecue joint I repair to for a bite of smoked pork and a burnt-ends sandwich or two whenever I grow weary of the rusticated pretensions of the Haute Barnyard crowd.
Also mentioned were Daisy May's, Rack and Soul and Pies-N-Thighs.
More Long Island BBQ: Willie B's Reviewed
Today I posted my review for Willie B's in Bay Shore NY. Bay Shore is lucky to have two of the best BBQ joints on Long Island: Smokin’ Al’s for a sit down restaurant meal and Willie B’s for takeout.
This brings the total to 94 reviews. See the Reviews page or link to reviews using the red icons in the Joints directory.
Back in the Saddle Again
Both the site and my email were unavailable for large stretches today but things appear to be back up and running. If you sent me an email Tuesday that bounced back or didn't get a reply, please try again. Sorry for the inconvenience.
Christmas (Death?) Wish List
I did a lot of reading yesterday, and one of the more interesting tidbits I found was at Grub Street, the food blog of New York Magazine. Their December 22 Christmas Wish List had nine wishes, and one of the wishes was this:
The permanent destruction of the Cookshack smoker, the last refuge of mediocre urban barbecue cooks. (The Cookshack, a refrigerator-size device that “smokes” with the aid of a handful of electrically warmed chips, is a sad replacement for a real wood smoker, like the ones used at RUB and other major barbecue establishments.)
Whether you agree or not, the fact that something like this even made the list shows how prominent barbecue joints have become recently. If this raises the bar, even better.
Tomorrow I'll post my review for Willie B's BBQ in Bay Shore, completing my troika of Long Island BBQ reviews from last week's trip.
Looking Back, Looking Forward
The burnt ends I enjoyed at RUB on May 6 were part of the best meal I had last year. Click on the photo to view a blow up and tell me you're not hungry. It's been two months since I was there last and I need to get back this month, maybe even this week. There, that's my New Year's resolution.
Things that you'll see on PigTrip this year:
- interviews with some of the better known and lesser known names in BBQ (I've been sitting on these for a while)
- maps and directions
- more updates to existing reviews
- features comparison lists (similar to lists in the AAA guidebooks that compare hotel features, I'll compare BBQ joint features, listing things like counter-vs-table service, meats served, alcohol, entertainment, etc.)
- "best" lists revealing my top 5's and top 10's for categories like best wet ribs, best dry ribs, best cornbread, best thinking-outside-the-box appetizer and such
- other people's opinions (reader comments and links to major reviews)