April 13, 2010
If there were ever a match made in heaven, it would be whole hog North Carolina barbecue with local swamp-trash rockers, Southern Culture on the Skids. But it ain’t heaven, it’s Davie Street in downtown Raleigh this Saturday at the second annual North Carolina ‘Cuegrass Festival. I love how they state that the festival features the “bluegrass music by Southern Culture on the Skids.” Er, SCOTS is not a bluegrass band. SCOTS is not anywhere close to a bluegrass band. But SCOTS is a perfect band to play at a festival featuring Southern food, and particularly barbecue (fried chicken and banana pudding would be great, too). Now there are some legit bluegrass bands playing at ‘Cuegrass, so fans of banjo picking and fiddle playing need not worry about getting your fill of tunes.
The festival is put on by the folks at The Pit restaurant in Raleigh, and it’s a huge fundraiser to support the W.C. Breeze Family Farm, a 270-acre educational farm near Hillsborough devoted to sustainable agriculture, and the North Carolina Future Farmers of America , a student farmers’ education group. Barbecue sandwich plates, beef brisket sandwich plates, and beer (great local stuff) each will sell for $5. Pretty simple, and pretty reasonable (where’s that nanner puddin’??). And who knows, maybe Greg Hatem, Ed Mitchell and the other folks at Empire Eats will expand this festival to bring in other pitmasters from across the country, as is the case with the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party. We need that type of party here in North Carolina!
North Carolina ‘Cuegrass Festival
Saturday, April 17
11 AM to 4 PM (Rain or Shine)
328 W. Davie St., Raleigh, NC
July 14, 2009
My friend Joe York, filmmaker extraordinaire, has put together a fantastic film on one of North Carolina’s barbecue gems, the Skylight Inn in Ayden. The Skylight is a special place, a purist’s nirvana, where the crunchy skin is cut into the meat, and there are only three foods on the menu — barbecue, slaw, and cornbread. Yeah, they have soda and Moon Pies, but those aren’t made there. And the barbecue at the Skylight is seasoned very lightly, allowing you to savor the full flavor of the Q.
Watch the film, which was put together for the Southern Foodways Alliance with support from Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group. The film debuted in New York, of all places, at the Big Apple BBQ Block Party.
Edit: I meant to re-post this great photo of James Henry Howell, the Skylight’s pitmaster:
January 26, 2009
You have a chance to be on television if you head down to The Pit on Wednesday, as the Travel Channel’s Man v. Food show will be filming there. The crew is supposed to arrive around 3:00 PM, hanging out with Ed Mitchell and his staff, and then they’ll try to get a feel for the place as Mitchell hangs out with customers around 6. In honor of this special filming, The Pit is offering two specials:
- a double combo with Carolina Ribs and Chopped Hog with two sides for $14.99 (normally $19.59)
- all you can eat Chopped Hog and two sides also for $14.99 (not normally offered)
Host Adam Richman and his crew will also be at Mama Dip’s and the Roast Grill — where Richman will be eating 15 “hot weiners” along with 15 buns, a half pint of mustard, one pint of chili sauce and three drinks (small bottles of Coke, I presume). The show is scheduled to air at 10 PM on March 18.
January 21, 2009
My friend Kathi Purvis sent me a link to this wonderful, and quite accurate, song about barbecue. Yeah, it was part of an Alka-Seltzer ad campaign from last summer, but it’s still cool. I think I’ll have Rhett and Link, the front men for this song, come to the next pig pickin’ I do, as they are from North Carolina.
November 18, 2008
Here I was, surrounded by icons of North Carolina barbecue: Wilber Shirley of Wilber’s Barbecue in Goldsboro. Chip and Charles Stamey of Stamey’s Barbecue in Greensboro. Samuel Jones of the Skylight Inn in Ayden. And Ed Mitchell of Raleigh’s The Pit. We were assembled there to celebrate the release of the fantastic book on North Carolina barbecue, Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue, written by John Shelton Reed, Dale Volberg Reed, and William McKinney. Mr. Mitchell was getting ready to pull a pig off his cooker in the kitchen, and folks were just having a grand time. I truly felt that I was not worthy to be around so many barbecue dignitaries, but they weren’t the ones drawing my attention. No, Andy Price was the person I really wanted to get to know, and that’s because this young accountant is about to open a small, Eastern-style barbecue restaurant in Lumberton. Read the rest of this entry »
June 23, 2008
Raleigh’s Ed Mitchell went head to head with South Carolina pitmaster James Hagood on NBC’s Today show this morning, in a battle between NC and SC barbecue. Of course, Ed’s barbecue was the unanimous winner among the three judges.
Click here for the video.
And be sure to look for newlywed Greg Hatem in the background!
June 23, 2008
I received in the mail a notice from UNC Press about a book that will be coming out in November, a book on North Carolina barbecue with the title, “Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue.” Yeah, I know — “Just what we need, another barbecue book.” That’s what I thought, too., until I saw who wrote this sucker: John Shelton Reed, Dale Volberg Reed, and William McKinney. I know each of these individuals, but Will McKinney is a friend who may be more knowledgeable about NC barbecue than anyone I know. How knowledgeable? Well, how many people have spent HUNDREDS of hours gathering oral interviews from owners and pitmasters of NC barbecue establishments? How many people can say they founded the North Carolina BBQ Society — when they were a student??? McKinney has a passion for barbecue that few can match, so I’m quite sure his contributions were invaluable to this book.
John Shelton Reed is not a historian or a food writer by trade; he’s a sociologist, and that makes this book even more exciting in my mind. It’s the human dynamic of barbecue that fascinates me, and I really can’t wait to dive into this book. Professor Reed and his wife are two of the leading authorities on Southern culture (if you haven’t read their book, 1001 Things Everyone Should Know About the South, you need to), so I’m pretty darned sure that this book on barbecue won’t disappoint you.