Archives: March 2007
Dinosaur Bar-B-Que Reviewed At Last
Today I posted my long-awaited review of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in New York City. I didn't love it as much as their fans, but I didn't hate it as much as their detractors. I'm still planning a few follow-up visits to get a better handle on the place, and I'll update as I go along.
There are now 104 reviews available. See the Reviews page or link to reviews using the red icons in the Joints directory.
Sausage Heaven, Dinosaur and Q Smokehouse
Looking over my Most Wanted List reminded me that I still hadn't posted a review of Sausage Heaven in Manchester. I took care of that today, borrowing from the piece I posted earlier in the month. See the Reviews page or link to reviews using the red icons in the Joints directory.
Tomorrow I'll post my Dinosaur Bar-B-Que review, based on my visit to their Harlem outpost.
I recently had a barbecue lunch at the Q Smokehouse (Methuen MA) and will have a review posted early next week.
My 2006 Most Wanted List, Revisited
A few months back I offered my 2006 Most Wanted List of the ten barbecue restaurants that I hadn't yet visited but most wanted to visit. So far I've managed to hit 8 out of the 10. Here are my thoughts so far:
Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, NYC
I had a middle-of-the road lunch visit and was planning on visiting them one more time before posting anything official, but I decided not to wait. Tune in this Friday for my Dinosaur review. www.dinosaurbarbque.com
Buck's Naked, Freeport ME
I'm not a babybacks guy, but these were the best babybacks I'd ever had.
Big Bubba's BBQ, Uncasville CT
I'm still not sure about their ribs, but I really liked their brisket, chicken and sausage. Of all the joints I've only been to once, this is the one I mnost want to revisit. www.bigbubbasbbq.com
Tremont 647, Boston MA
This was the one restaurant I'd already been too, but not in a while. I still need to visit, but I need to coordinate it with the NEBS competition schedule to make sure chef/owner Andy Husbands is in the kitchen and not on the road. www.tremont647.com
Sausage Heaven, Manchester NH
I had two very good visits here over the winter. They discontinued their weekday lunch barbecue, but the take-home sausages are fantastic. www.sausageheaven.com
Waterfront Alehouse, NYC
I really enjoyed their pulled pork sandwich and their chili, and can't wait to try their ribs. As I guessed, this is more of a joint that serves barbecue than a barbecue joint, and that's fine by me. www.waterfrontalehouse.com
Willie B's, Bay Shore NY
A good beef rib, good burnt ends, and the babybacks here might be even better than Buck's Naked. www.williebsbbq.com
Finkerman's BBQ, Montpelier VT
I still haven't trekked to northern Vermont to try them yet, but winter isn't exactly the best time. www.finkermans.com
Hog House, Huntington Station NY
At the end of a barbecue crawl, I tried a pulled pork sandwich here that was just okay, but I need to make a real visit. www.hoghousebarbecue.com
Bank Street Roadhouse, New London CT
On a lunch visit, I tried a pulled pork sandwich that was okay at best, and the joint smelled like the previous night's beer. www.bankstreetroadhouse.com
I'm compiling my 2007 Most Wanted List now and hope to have it ready be next week.
A Couple of Updated Reviews
I posted minor updates to the East Coast Grill and SoulFire reviews to reflect recent meals. See the Reviews page or link to reviews using the red icons in the Joints directory.
East Coast Grill Does It Again With Bacon "Steak"
My love affair with East Coast Grill (Cambridge MA) is well documented on these pages, and last night we had another tryst. The specials menu changed over recently, so I was eager to try a few of the new items. The star of the night was the bacon steak, an inch-thick slab lacquered with thinned hoisin sauce and served with pickled cabbage. I liked the contrast between the bacon's crunchy crust and pink interior, and that the hoisin enhanced the meat (almost like maple syrup) without dominating it. A decadent dish to be sure, but not nearly as fatty as you might expect. I'll be back to try it at least one more time before the menu changes.
This ECG visit was good from start to finish. My wife's raw tuna appetizer and salmon entree were both excellent. I also tried and liked the grilled South American fish ribs, which were bone-in strips of pacu, a fish in the piranha family. These were very moist and full of flavor without being too fishy. Since no visit to East Coast Grill is complete without at least one pork rib, I had one of their now-famous General Xiao Jianming wet bones, an Asian treatment of their smoked spare rib. Fantastic as usual.
pacu fish ribs
Chef Jason Lord of East Coast Grill
A Good Meal at SoulFire
An afternoon errand took me near Allston yesterday, so I seized the opportunity and lunched at SoulFire. My pulled pork sandwich was good, and a couple of add-on spare ribs were great. The ribs were very fresh tasting, with a well seasoned, well formed bark and some really juicy meat underneath. Collard greens were good as usual. The spicy mustard sauce previously used only with the chicken wing appetizer is now available for pumping in the condiment area.
'Tis The Season
Spring has arrived, the snow is departing and it's time to start thinking about grilling and smoking. It's time to start looking for those seasonal BBQ joints emerging from hibernation. And it's time to start looking at the BBQ events calendar.
Grilling Events Kick Off Season in Eastern Mass and Brooklyn
Two grilling events sanctioned by the New England Barbecue Society will be held over the next two weekends:
Saturday, March 24: 13th Annual Snowshoe Challenge in Abington MA. This grilling event is being held at the Abington VFW Post 5737, 30 Central Street in Abington MA. Categories include fish, sausage, beef and vegetable. There will be a NEBS booth setup with info about upcoming classes and contests.
Saturday, March 31: Grillin' on the Bay in Brooklyn NY. This second year event is being held at the corner of 18th Street and Avenue Z in Sheepshead Bay. Categories include chicken breast, fish, pork and chef's choice. Barbecue will be available for sale to the public. www.grillinonthebay.org
I'm looking forward to the explosion of barbecue contests and events that will fill almost every weekend from May through July. Note that many of the contests, while open to the public, are not specifically set up for food vending and public tastings, so it's best to contact the event organizers to avoid any surprises.
BBQ at Budweiser, BBQ With the Phantom
Mark your calendar for the weekend of June 22-24, when there will be two events in Eastern New England worth attending:
The Rock'n Rib Fest, held at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery in Merrimack NH, is one of the highlights of the season. This is a 3-day event that starts Friday night, with music, events for kids, vendors from several states serving barbecue, and cooking contests. The grilling contest is Saturday, with the BBQ contest (NH state championship) Sunday. www.rotaryribfest.org
Buy Manny Ramirez's Jenn Air Grill on eBay
We're all used to Manny being Manny, but now Manny's being Steve Raichlen too?
There's a current eBay auction offering Manny Ramirez's used-only-one-time Jenn Air grill. Whoever wins the auction also gets an autographed Manny Ramirez baseball.
A report in today's Boston Globe reveals that the grill actually belongs to Manny's neighbor, and that Manny's simply offering his name as a favor. With the bidding already over the $99 million mark, it looks like whoever wins has no plan to actually pay for the grill. So much for favors.
Behind the Scenes at Blue Ribbon, Part 2
More photos and another short movie from my visits to the Blue Ribbon offsite commissary.
Love the artwork on the entrance to the walk-in freezer.
Much more room to work in than in the W. Newton restaurant.
The fire in the pit.
Steamer for mashed potatoes.
Steam jacketed kettle (left) for cooking collard greens.
Tilt skillet (right) for blackeyed peas, stews and soups.
Ribs in the smoker.
High volume production. These ribs are for the restaurant...
... and these are for a catering job.
Another Pigtrip Video: Blue Ribbon Ribs
Click the photo below to see a short movie of Blue Ribbon's Geoff Janowski chopping ribs for a catering job.
Blue Ribbon's Geoff Janowski chops ribs.
See the video on YouTube
See the video on Google Video
Behind the Scenes at Blue Ribbon, Part 1
Over the last few weeks, I twice visited Blue Ribbon's 5000-square-foot offsite commissary, the new nerve center for their two restaurants and catering operation. Blue Ribbon recently purchased a J&R Oyler smoker to handle the constantly increasing demand for smoked meats. A larger version of the J&R smokers used previously at Newton and Arlington, the new smoker can accommodate 1800 pounds of meat—think a few hundred racks of ribs, 90 briskets or four whole pigs. Now, with a centralized operation, they're able to keep a closer eye on the process and maintain even greater consistency than before.
A location as secret as the Batcave. Note the new truck design.
Owner Geoff Janowski with the new smoker.
Nearly the size of a small carwash, it dwarfs the older one.
Briskets resting. Scroll down to view a movie of one being sliced.
Tomorrow: the tour continues.
Pigtrip Videos on Google Video and YouTube
Click the photo below to see a short movie of Blue Ribbon's Geoff Janowski slicing brisket. Watch out for those oozing juices!
Blue Ribbon's Geoff Janowski slices the brisket
See the video on YouTube
See the video on Google Video
A Week Without BBQ
For the first time since I started this site, I managed to go 20 consecutive meals without eating barbecue. And yes, that's over a full seven days. From the Sunday brunch buffet last weekend at Firefly's (Marlborough MA) to yesterday's lunch at Blue Ribbon (W. Newton MA) I subsided on more conventional fare. The reasons are myriad (weather, schedule, family obligations, etc.), but a small part of that is a desire to eat healthier.
As for Blue Ribbon, their burnt ends were good as usual and the ribs were meatier and juicier than they had been on my last few visits. They recently switched over to a new St Louis cut rib, and while they had always been good, I still missed their spare ribs. If the perfectly cooked ribs I had yesterday are any indication, they've mastered the new cut.
Midtown and Lunch and BBQ and Buffets
I got a good response on my All About All You Can Eat piece from several weeks ago, so I thought you may want to read about another site's buffet strategies, in this case for Chinese buffets. It appeared last week in the entertaining and well conceived Midtown Lunch, a blog that focuses on a small subset of Manhattan, with restaurant reviews from all genres.
Within the barbecue realm, Midtown Lunch is—as am I—a fan of Daisy May's. I'm surprised he hasn't tried the Daisy May's chili yet, because it's one of the best around. Although I rate Daisy May's much higher overall than Virgil's, I agree with one of the review's commenters that Virgil's has a superior pulled pork sandwich.
I really like the Midtown Lunch reviews' +/- sections. These list the positives that someone who likes the place might say, along with the negatives that someone who doesn't like the place might say. Nice approach.
Midtown Lunch on Daisy May's Lunch Cart
Midtown Lunch to Beating the All You Can Eat Chinese Buffet
On the Waterfront
Today you can read my official thoughts on the Waterfront Ale House. Last week I tried their Manhattan outpost, and even though I didn't get to try as many things as I would have liked, I really liked what I tried. There are now 102 reviews available. See the Reviews page or link to reviews using the red icons in the Joints directory.
St Patrick's Day BBQ
Check the News page for a few special menus and menu items.
March Madness: Brackets and Seeds
With March Madness upon us, photocopiers in offices across America are being used to record NCAA basketball picks—for entertainment purposes only, of course. Around the water cooler (I prefer a bubbler, but that's another story) there's lots of talk about brackets and seeds. With the weather in suburban Boston warming up, I’m looking at a different kind of March madness, also with brackets and seeds.
My kitchen's barbecue spice shelf only has two brackets, but there are plenty of seeds. You'll never find any ground cumin or coriander on my barbecue spice shelf. But I do have jars of whole cumin seeds, coriander seeds, caraway seeds, celery seeds, fennel seeds and mustard seeds. Don't bother trying to find any ground black pepper either, because it's not there. But you will find plenty of black peppercorns, pink peppercorns and Sichuan peppercorns. I've got whole allspice berries too. Never ground.
Why whole seeds? Just like coffee beans, seeds retain their flavor much longer on the shelf in their whole form. And just like coffee beans, they supply more flavor intensity if ground right before using, even if fresh. Although it's become over-dramatized at some restaurants, there's a reason why waiters wield huge pepper mills and ask if you want freshly ground pepper on your salad or meat. Freshly ground is a quantum leap in flavor from pepper that may have been ground a year ago and lost its mojo months ago.
Sure, it's very tempting to go to your local CVS and buy several of their 99-cent jars of ground spices, but if there's no flavor in that jar, where's the value? If you’re going to invest as much as 18 hours buying, preparing and smoking your meat, why not invest another dollar or so in a spice upgrade? After investigating specialty spice shops, you might find—as I did—that there are some real bargains there. Shops like Christina’s (Cambridge MA) and Kalustyan’s (NYC) also let you add some excitement to your rubs with several varieties of fennel and dozens of different peppercorns, plus the various paprika permutations among sweet, hot, smoked, Spanish and Hungarian. Even for the most exotic items, you’ll find that whole is less expensive than ground.
Whole seeds pack more flavor than ground, but toasted whole seeds have yet another dimension of flavor. Throw some whole seeds into a dry frying pan over medium heat for a just a few minutes. Allow them to smoke, then stir and remove after they get some color but before they have a chance to burn. You’ll wind up with some serious flavor. The toasting process awakens and releases the oils within the seeds, adding a pleasingly burnt, nutty aspect and intensifying the essence of the seed. It’s a lot like roasting peanuts or coffee beans.
I like to grind the seeds for my rubs in an inexpensive coffee grinder. Unless you enjoy really unusual coffee or heated arguments with your loved one, it’s a good idea to use a different grinder from the one you use for your morning brew. Try experimenting with different textures, varying between fine powders and bumpy mixes. Sometimes after grinding, I’ll throw some whole seeds into my rub.
Using quality ingredients in a rub can take a little extra time and money, but I think the small investment has a huge payback in flavor. How many times have you heard Emeril tell you to throw away those months-old jars of spices in your cabinet? He's right.
Conversations I'll Miss
No longer working in an office, I'm not able to have deep philosophical food chats like this one.
You know, oyster crackers are underrated.
That depends. Oyster crackers in soup are overrated; oyster crackers by themselves are underrated.
That's all for today, I have some things brewing. I'll have at least one more review later in the week.
My wife and I made a Saturday night visit to Lester's Roadside BBQ in Burlington MA, where I was rewarded with some top notch ribs and my wife was rewarded with a good piece of BBQ chicken and a post-dinner trip to the Burlington Mall. I already liked their spare ribs, but the St Louis ribs that are now being served in their place seem to carry the smoke and liberal use of dry rub even better.
On Sunday I met a friend at Firefly's Bodacious Bar-B-Que in Marlboro MA to try the barbecue brunch buffet. I prefer ordering off their regular menu at night, but for $12.99, you get an incredible variety of meats: pork loin, fried chicken, BBQ chicken, pulled chicken, pulled pork, chopped brisket, St Louis ribs and boneless ribs. For sides, they had cucumber salad, house made potato chips, macaroni and cheese, potato salad, cole slaw, mashed potatoes, dirty rice, grilled vegetables, sweet potato pudding and corn bread.
Bobby Q Review
It's a new 'cue review, comin' right at you: today I posted my review for the Connecticut BBQ joint Bobby Q's in Westport. There are now 101 reviews available. See the Reviews page or link to reviews using the red icons in the Joints directory.
The Sundance Head Phenomenon
Some fans of American Idol are bemoaning the loss of Sundance Head, who was eliminated from the competition last Thursday. Despite a very good first audition, he failed to sing on key in every performance since then.
Some barbecue joints are like this, which (beside varying personal tastes) explains why people argue over which joints are great and which joints shouldn't even be in business. They might be very impressive on the first visit, then fail to even come close to duplicating that level on subsequent visits.
There could be a joint you think is really good and that I think is awful. If we ate there together, our disagreement is simply one of personal preference. If we ate there on separate occasions, we might both be right. They might have produced the best plate of barbecue they ever served on your visit, and they might have been their usual sorry-ass selves on my visit. Or vice versa.
I wish there were more barbecue joints that were great every time.
The Little Things
Whether or not you like a barbecue joint mostly comes down to the quality of the meats and sides. But sometimes there are little things that just make you feel good. I’m not talking about an unusual dish, or an unexpected flair with one of the usual ones, or even the complimentary food items you sometimes get when seated (that’s another subject for another day). I’m talking about things almost unrelated to the food itself.
It’s like when you pull into a gas station and you get one of the few pumps left in America with a latch that lets you fill up hands-free. It doesn’t make the gas any better, but you get that tiny little feel-good lift.
Here’s my feel-good list for today, in no particular order:
SoulFire, Boston MA:
Speaking of pumps, the little thing I like most here is the barbecue sauce dispensers. A throwback to the soda fountain days, these pumps near the food receiving area are heated from below, ensuring warm sauce every time.
Daisy May’s, NYC:
They’re a rarity in Manhattan: high quality barbecue served from behind a counter or one of their remote carts. In Massachusetts, this approach is common, but in New York, it’s a treat to be able to get served quickly and take it into the next room and eat in peace. Another little thing I like here is the set of three communal tables. Even though we northerners sometimes bristle at the idea of sitting with complete strangers, the communal table concept is a Southern thing that adds a little authenticity. And what better way to make new friends than over a plate of barbecue?
Memphis Roadhouse, S. Attleboro MA:
The toothpicks here are plastic and have a curve to them, making them the perfect dental tool after a barbecue meal. Now if they could get these individually wrapped in plastic, it would be even better. They also serve the barbecue sauces in heated squeeze bottles.
Wilson’s, Fairfield CT:
Pickles are treated seriously here. They’re house-made, they’re thick and they have a bite to them. Okay, so I broke my own rule about not including food items. But the obligatory pickles at most places are such an afterthought, it’s worth a mention.
Incidentally, the best pickles I ever had at a barbecue joint were on my first visit to the aforementioned SoulFire (I was their first customer on day 1). Their pickles have since become more ordinary, but they’re still very good. I’ve also had very good pickles at East Coast Grill in Cambridge, whose owner, Chris Schlesinger, wrote a book on pickles a few years ago.
Tennessee’s, multiple Boston suburb locations:
You get three sides with every meat platter. If you want cornbread, you have to use one of your sides (like using a lifeline) to get it, but if you don’t want cornbread, you’ve got yourself a bonus side.
American BBQ, Rowley MA:
The paper towel dispensers are built into the sides of the tables, keeping the table clutter-free.
If you look at the wide-ranging meat menu closely, you’ll notice that there aren’t any references to “Memphis ribs” or “North Carolina pulled pork” or any regional affiliations. It’s just good ol’ barbecue. You’ll also notice that there aren’t any dishes called “Cousin Elmo’s potato salad” or the like. They’re not trying to be cute, they’re not trying to be a roadhouse, a frat house or have cool fake graffiti in the outhouse. It’s all about the food, and I like that.
KC's Rib Shack, Manchester NH:
They have one of the funniest, most well written menus I've ever seen.
Lester’s Roadside BBQ, Burlington MA:
After you order at the counter, you get to watch your meat being cut right up front. It’s so close, you could stick your hand in and grab a piece (no, I haven’t done that yet). Other joints that offer a thrill for the voyeur, in varying degrees, include RUB in NYC (a sidewalk window into the kitchen), Q in Port Chester NY (a view from the dining area) and East Coast Grill in Cambridge MA (two grillside tables).
Uncle Pete’s Hickory Ribs, Revere MA:
The old time booths here are big and comfortable and are so high that you can’t see the people in the next booth. That’s a treat, because when the serious ribs here are being devoured, some things (and people) are just better off unseen.
Bank Street Roadhouse, New London CT:
No, I’m not going to mention the array of attractive young ladies this joint promotes on their website and on posters outside the place. It’s their skee-ball. To my knowledge, this is the region’s only barbecue joint (if you can call it that) where you can play skee-ball while gnawing on ribs. And no, please don’t bring the kids. Trust me on this one.
Linwood Grill, Boston MA :
They have a free parking lot. For a joint only 2 blocks from Fenway Park, it's almost too good to be true. The now-departed Rouge in Boston had valet parking, a true rarity among barbecue joints.
Blue Smoke, NYC:
There are a few little things I like here. First and foremost, it’s a classy, well-run restaurant that’s ideal for a date, and you can't say that about most barbecue joints. I also like the communal sink outside the ladies’ and men’s rooms. Their Magic Dust (a secret blend of herbs and spices) supplied in a shaker on the table is a nice touch that I’d like to see used more widely. Other joints that offer spice mixes as an add-on are Willie B's BBQ (Bay Shore NY), SoulFire (Boston) and East Coast Grill (Cambridge).
East Coast Grill, Cambridge MA:
In addition to what's already been mentioned, ECG has the best neighbors a restaurant can have, making for the perfect crawl. Start at Christina's Spice Shop (1 door East of ECG), where you can load up on smoked paprikas, unusual peppercorns and exotic salts for home cooking. Then head to Bukowksi Tavern (1 door West) for a pre-dinner beer from the largest selection in the city. Then grab a table at All Star Sandwich Bar (4 doors East, same ownership as ECG) for a bowl of spicy Texas chili made with smoked brisket. Then head to East Coast Grill for the main attraction. Finish the meal with the area's best ice cream at Christina's Ice Cream (2 doors East, same ownership as Christina's Spice Shop). Then enjoy an evening of comedy at the Improv Asylum (3 doors East). I've never visited all 6 places in the same night, but I've hit 4 of them many times.
First Visit to Bobby Q
Yesterday I lunched in Westport CT at Bobby Q's, a restaurant that was featured on the Food Network a few years ago. I'll try to get a review up by tomorrow for this and/or Waterfront Ale House.
Guide To New York BBQ in Today's Times
In today's New York Times Dining Out section, Peter Meehan has a nice overview of the New York barbecue scene, with thoughts on Manhattan's Fab Four (Blue Smoke, Daisy May's, Dinosaur and RUB) as well as some joints in the outer boroughs (Pies 'n' Thighs, Smoke Joint, Texas Ranger and Mo Gridder's) and further north (Big W's in Wingdale).
Tuesday Night Beef Rib at RUB
Last night I finally tried the beef rib special at RUB in New York City. It's been available Monday and Tuesday nights for a few months now, as is their Asian style pork belly appetizer. This beef rib was the biggest I've ever lifted and had that textural contrast I look for between the crisp crist and the falling-apart tender interior. Flavorwise, it's the older cousin of RUB's signature burnt ends, with even more rub and smoke. Fantastic. The pork belly is a Southeast Asian take on bacon, served with an aioli kicked up with lime and fish sauce.
First Visit to Waterfront Ale House
Earlier in the day, I lunched a few blocks away at the Waterfront Ale House, where I tried the pulled pig sandwich and the Texas chili. The pulled pork was surprisingly good, with a high quality bun, good contrast between the chewy bark and the tender interior meat, a faint pink smoke ring and lightly applied sauce straddling the worlds of the sweet and the vinegary. I like the fact that you can choose between two kinds of chili here: the Texas beef and pork or the venison and black bean. The Texas version I sampled had just the right amount of spice and (here's that phrase again) good textural contrast between the silky pork and the chewy beef brisket. I think of Waterfront Ale House as more of a bar than a barbecue joint, but they do a nice job. Barbecue or not, these guys know how to put flavors together.
A Year of RUB
It was exactly one year ago today that, while on a business trip in New Jersey, I detoured across the river and visited RUB in Manhattan for the first time. I ordered a two-meat combo, selecting ribs and whatever my waiter thought would be their best other choice that day. He selected the pulled pork. The ribs were good (though I've had far better on subsequent visits to RUB) and the pulled pork was great. But it was the burnt ends I merely sampled at the end of my visit that completely blew me away. Summoning every bit of flavor the brisket had to offer, with smoke, wood and spices providing the harmony, that taste was worth the drive and then some. I've since made it my goal to sample everything on the menu, and I've been making some serious headway. I'll further the cause today.
New York Magazine Again Names RUB Best
The "Best of New York" issue of New York Magazine is now out, and RUB took barbecue honors for the second year in a row:
Barbecue is its own world, moving to unalterable rhythms and primordial fumes. That makes it hard to produce in New York City, where everyone wants to be fed five minutes ago, and the words “it’s not ready yet” might as well be in Ugaritic. Only one barbecue in New York really hews to those artisanal rhythms, and it shows. Unlike most of the city’s other big barbecues, which make their food in batches and store it for later reheating, rub’s small size allows it to pay attention to each rack of ribs and each brisket end individually—and, in most cases, to send it from the hot pit directly to your waiting maw. And unlike the city’s newer, smaller places, it cooks with real barbecue equipment, not cut-rate Easy-Bake versions. The ribs, both spare and baby back, are competition-quality; the beef may be even better. Burnt ends, twice-smoked cubes of intensely succulent, tender beef brisket, are available every day, and unutterably rich short ribs on Mondays and Tuesdays. Don’t miss out on the house-smoked bacon, either, made from Berkshire pork bellies and cured with a recipe blessed by Tennessee pork guru Allan Benton. Only in the chicken category is rub second best; Dinosaur’s birds are tastier and crispier, both whole or as wings.
Odd and Ends
I decided to take a couple of days off after posting at least something for 32 days in a row. Over the last few days I had a forgettable pulled pork sandwich at Williker's in Shrewsbury MA and some bacony jumbo spare ribs at Chili Head BBQ in West Bridgewater MA.
I'm itching for a long distance trip and some new discoveries. I'm also itching to get the smoker going. Let's hope I'm 2 for 2 by the weekend.
Warmer Weather Coming
Now that we're into March, it's time to look at some of the outdoor events that are on the horizon.
If you're serious about barbecue and want to travel beyond New England and New York, check out BBQ-Festivals.com. This site has links to BBQ and hot sauce festivals held around the country, as well as restaurant listings, competition info and links to BBQ blogs.
A few weeks ago, I ventured out to Manchester NH to try the barbecue lunch at Sausage Heaven. The bad news is they're no longer offering ribs and pulled pork for their hot lunches (though you can still buy smoked meats cold for home heating). The good news is the sausages are as good as ever.
You can get cooked hot or sweet Italian sausages on a bun (Tuesday through Friday, lunch only), but the real reason to go to Sausage Heaven is the vast array of sausages available for home cooking. The list of varieties reads like a sausage version of Baskin Robbins: cheddar garlic, jalapeño, bell pepper & scallion, apple maple, tomato basil, lamb with apricot, lamb with fennel, chicken Marsala mushroom, chicken cilantro lime, Irish style bangers, Greek Lukanika, chorizo chipotle and many more. They also have smoked cheeses.
The sausages here are lighter and more refined than the sausages you'd eat at the ballpark. I could easily see them being served at an upscale restaurant, with a nice glass of wine. No matter what you drink with them, these sausages are very good.
Although their website announces their upcoming grand opening (of the website), the store is very much open at 33 Elm Street in Manchester.
National Pig Day
Today is National Pig Day. According to the website Groink, March 1 was set aside as a special day for pigs by Texas art teacher Ellen Stanley in 1972 "to honor and give thanks to our most intelligent domesticated creature."
Celebrate the pig today by waddling on over to the Groink site, where you'll find pig jokes, pig quotes, famous pigs, pig photos and all things pig.
Serious About Pork at Serious Eats
The folks at the outstanding site Serious Eats are celebrating National Pig Day in a big way today. Headed by food author Ed Levine, Serious Eats has video from the BBQ documentary Smokestack Lightning and features an honor roll listing some of the best people and products in the world of pork. The site is always great, but today's edition is a must-read.
February 2007 archive