Monday, April 15, 2013

A Texas barbecue snob tours the Carolinas

The buzz in the barbecue world for the last few weeks has been the appointment of Daniel Vaughn as the  full-time barbecue editor of the magazine Texas Monthly. In food-writing and barbecue circles, this is  akin to suddenly being granted a magical golden coin and a free pass to every casino in the country.

Vaughn, a smart and funny writer (is that sucking up hard enough, editor Dan?) tweets as @bbqsnob. And while he certainly knows his Texas 'cue, some of the other barbecue worlds had escaped him. So as any good researcher would, he hit the road last week to smoke over how we do it here in the real land of barbecue. Many of us were following along via Twitter. 

Of all the gifts the gods might give us, to see ourselves as others see us. So I gathered his tweets in one list. Dropping a few to keep it focused and adding a little translation here and there (@redblank is photographer Nicholas McWhirter), here's a look at how Vaughn saw us:

Tuesday, April 10:
1. Hey North Carolina -- I'm boarding a plane soon and I'm coming for all your Cheerwine & Fullsteam beer. What else should I be drinking in NC?
2. @redblank and I @dfwairport waiting to go whole hog all over #ncbbq. (That's gotta be the most obvious BBQ pun.)
3. Salt Lick at DFW Airport. The brisket was actually better than my meager expectations. Great beans.
4. Chopped beef, sauce and bun. Salt Lick at the airport. Will this be better than #ncbbq? I hope not.
Wednesday, April 10:
1. Hog skin at B's in Greenville, NC. This is how to start a #ncbbq tour.
2. Feasting at B's BBQ. Chicken incredible and the pork was great too. Very little smoke but freshly . . . .
3. I kid you not, after a meal at B's BBQ w/@redblank, I approached the owner outside. Just as I said we're from TX a bird shit on me.
4. Small tray at Skylight Inn in Ayden. Adding the cracklings into the chopped meat is brilliant.
5. The capital spire & the pork tray at Skylight Inn.
6. No AC at Wilber's in Goldsboro, but the service is very friendly. Before entrees we learned of our server's recent surgery up in Greenville.
7. Hash tags so far in Eastern #ncbbq - #humility #oak #collards #proudtradition #family #hospitable #cashonly
8. A snack at Wilber's. I love this slaw w/a hint of horseradish? and the pork's good too.
9. After just a single day of #ncbbq, I must say NC Brunswick Stew < GA Brunswick stew by a mile or six.
10. @joeperryintx At what sort of establishments would one happen to find this 'livermush' you speak of?
11. Barbecue, NC was named by a man from the West Indies who saw fog ocming off the narrow creek and thought it looked like a BBQ pit.
12. Pleasure meeting Pastor Williams at the Barbecue Presbyterian Church in Barbecue, NC.
13. Pork platter at Smithfield ain't bad but pales in comparison to that fried chicken.
14. The pork sandwich at Smithfield Chicken & BBQ illuminated by the Chrysler 200 dome light.
15. Ingested way too much pork today, but back in Raleigh and @johntedge said I should make room for dessert @poolesdinner. How late y'all open?
16. My digestive track is yelling back at you right now.
17. @johntedge @poolesdiner. Redemption rye and bruleed bananas headed my way. Maybe a nightcap at Fox Liquor.
18. Excellent banana tart at @poolesdiner to cap off the night.
19. Piggly Wiggly empanadas from Calavera in Raleigh featuring NC smoked pork. You'll want to eat these.
Thursday, April 11:
1. Day 2 of the #ncbbq quest. Headed west today.
2: First stop in the Piedmont. Short Sugar's in Reidsville.
3. Minced on the sandwich, chopped on the tray at Short Sugar's.
4. First red slaw of #ncbbq trip. Stamey's in Greensboro. Tastes like cocktail sauce mixed w/cabbage, in a good way.
5. Sliced plate, chopped sandwich, Brunswick stew at Stamey's.
6. Those are hushpuppies and they are superb.
7. Thanks to @grillgirl we made sure to get a chili dog w/slaw at Stamey's. Outstanding.
8. The pit house at Stamey's in Greensboro. Expansive and cleaner than most pit rooms I've seen.
9. In the car and ready to leave Stamey's then see @dennyculbert's photo of the outside brown pork & peach cobbler. Back inside.
10. Peach cobbler at Stamey's in Greensboro.
11. The outside brown at Stamey's, aka what was missing on that earlier smokeless sliced pork plate.
12. Outside brown: #ncbbq = fatty brisket: #txbbq. . . . If you don't ask for it, you probably won't get it. But it's the best thing off the pit.
13. @johntedge The first bite of outside brown at Stamey's was a revelation. It turned a ho-hum day of BBQ into one full of possibilities.
14. A little more outside brown from Bar-B-Q Center in Lexington. Great stuff.
15. More wonderful outside brown at Lexington Barbecue #1.
16. Maybe the best cracklings and sauce of the trip at Lexington Barbecue #1. This place is great.
17. I'm sure you've seen it before, but here are the iconic pit room stacks at Lexington Barbecue #1.
18. Burning hickory in the fire pit at Lexington Barbecue.
19. Look what we found at Cook's BBQ south of Lexington. Brisket & ribs combo. Couldn't resist.
20. Asked for outside brown. Got the inside, frown. At Cook's BBQ south of Lexington.
21. Allen & Sons in Chapel Hill toes line between E & W NC. Pork shoulders, but w/ vinegar sauce untainted by ketchup.
22. Finally found great NC Brunswick stew at Allen & Sons. Really, the whole meal was great.
23. Enjoying a Highland Gaelic Ale at (Crook's Corner in Chapel Hill). Come by and say hi.
24. Too full,  but maybe a late night empanada.
25. Meeting & talking w/ John Shelton Reed in NC was a pleasure. Drinking sazeracs in his living room while discussing his new book on NOLA? Wow.
26. Once again, we had pie for a nightcap. @chulegre (Bill Smith of Cook's Corner) makes a mean key lime pie w/ a saltine crust.
27. After a day in the east for #ncbbq it's all about whole hog, clear vinegar sauce, mayo slaw, collards, oak and cash only.
28. After a day in the west for #ncbbq it's all about pork shoulder, red vinegar sauce, red slaw, fries, hickory and credit cards accepted.
29. After hearing all the jawing about West v. East in #ncbbq - The state is united under a banner of pork, vinegar, cabbage and hush puppies.
Friday, April 12:
1. This morning means goodbye to #ncbbq and hello to #scbbq with first stop in Hemingway, SC three hours away. Tired.
2. Hello South Carolina! I was not expecting to be welcomed by a giant sombrero hoisted on a tower.
3. It's all about the hog and pepper sauce at Scott's BBQ in Hemingway, SC. Incredible stuff.
4. The only way to cool the burn of Scott's sauce is to just keep eating, or take a swig of Red Rock soda.
5. I've been getting requests for recommendations on NC BBQ joints. I spent 2 days there. @bbqjew has spent his life there. Follow him.
6. Generous tray of food for $12 at Brown's BBQ in Kingstree. Good eatin'.
7. The first gasser pit we've encountered this far on the tour. Brown's pit in Kingstree.
8. Scott's in Hemingway -- all wood cooking, slaw and beans only. Brown's uses gas & has 15 sides, like this catfish stew.
9. I wasn't expecting the BBQ sandwich at Cooper's in Salters to come wrapped in plastic & be warmed in the microwave.
10. A well-cooked hog sopped in a great sauce can still taste good, but you can taste the difference at Scott's.
11. Cooper's Country Store in Salters, SC. Come for the historic building, then go to Scott's for BBQ.
12. McCabe's BBQ in Manning has a spicy vinegar based sauce similar to Scott's w/some of the smokiest meat in Carolinas.
13. Sweatman's BBQ. Our only mustard stop of the #scbbq tour.
14. Ended the #scbbq tour on a very high note by sharing a seafood tower @eattheordinary (Mike Lata’s new Charleston restaurant, The Ordinary).



Unknown said...

Sounds like the only place of any significance that he missed was Carolina Barbeque in Spartanburg.

Wiley Coyote said...

I guess with the Observer, it depends on the person writing or editor's allowance to be able to post the "S" word and get away with it.

I posted it by intentionally misspelling it in a comment a couple of months as to not get banned but wound up getting banned anyway.

My hat is off to the bird.

Anonymous said...


You KNOW the CO doesn't play favorites.

Anonymous said...

I'll try to give you a reasonable answer, Wiley. I do think there is a difference between news stories posted on the Observer sites and the blogs.

The Observer site has a very clear policy, posted on stories, listing what isn't acceptable in comments. That includes hate speech, personal attacks and obscene language.

On the blogs, those of us who maintain blogs are each responsible for monitoring comments and deciding what's OK. As I have stated previously, I'm not OK with personal attacks on other commenters, off-topic comments, and obscene language.

In the case of the tweet, I made the decision to allow the original language. It wasn't a personal attack -- he wasn't using the word to call someone or their ideas a name. It wasn't off-topic. It was also pretty far down the list, so anyone who saw it was invested in reading through what Vaughn was doing.

And frankly Wiley, it was funny. And funny is OK with me if funny isn't mean.


Anonymous said...


Grow up. It's a four-letter word. Get your panties wadded over something of significance.

Anonymous said...

I don't think he was overall impressed with NC BBQ - as is reality. Nothing in NC BBQ comes close to Texas BBQ.

Anonymous said...

Just moved to San Antonio from Charlotte and I miss NC 'cue... especially eastern style! Can't wait to read more about this trip in Texas Monthly!

And can't wait to visit NC this summer!