When the Barbecue Battle Box arrived on my desk, packed in a cooler of freezer packs, I had to admit: Clever idea. It's $59 ($39 if you buy 10 or more for a "Corporate Gift Special") and it comes with 1 pound of Eastern-style pork, 1 pound of Piedmont-style pork, one bottle each of Piedmont Dip and Eastern Barbecue sauce, and two tubs of cole slaw, a red Piedmont style and a white Eastern style.
The battle idea is that you're supposed to decide which style of barbecue is better. But you know barbecue fans -- we spend our time deciding whether this particular sample is a good example of the art of True 'Cue.
So I microwaved the barbecue packages, called together a small coterie of seasoned co-workers (and ended up with a large coterie -- you try putting out a couple of bowls of barbecue at lunch) and we commenced to tasting.
The slaws were big hits, with everyone loving the white and slightly sweet Eastern style, and even barbecue-slaw dislikers saying they liked that version more than they usually do. The sauces were pronounced reasonable facsimiles of the real deals.
The barbecue was pronounced generally good, although there is no nitpicker like a barbecue eater. Several people wanted more smokiness, even though I reminded them that true N.C. 'cue isn't very smoky. We all agreed the textures were right, with the proper minced quality in the Eastern style and more shredded, chunky pork in the Piedmont style. The Eastern style, even before saucing, was noticably more vinegary.
Price-wise, we all thought $59 was a mite high, considering that a pound of either one usually runs $8 to $9 at most of the classic places. As several people noted, "For 60 bucks, you ought to get banana pudding and some white bread."
But still, I've run into pretty big barbecue fanatics from out of state who spend a lot more on a plane ticket, a rental car and several days hitting places like Skylight Inn and Bridge's. So if what you want is to get or give a taste of N.C., this is a pretty good way to do it.
Interested? Go to http://www.ncbbqcompany.com/ or call 866-617-4467.