We are searching all of North and South Carolina for the best BBQ we can find. After four days on the road, we have had good BBQ and we are looking at Eastern NC and Western NC. The dividing line seems to be around Raleigh. Most BBQ cooked in the east is whole hog. The predominant BBQ in the western part of the state is cooked from shoulders – and the debate between the two (not to mention the different sauces) if fierce. We hopped in Skipper’s plane and flew to Raleigh, where “The Pit” has taken residence in what was once Nana’s Chop House, the restaurant that had a great reputation on Davie Street in downtown Raleigh. Nana’s Chop House was pioneered by Scott Howell, my friend who has operated wonderfully and masterfully over the last 15-20 years Nana’s in Durham. We enjoyed the upscale look of “The Pit” whichis being run and operated by Ed Mitchell and the Q was good, especially the spare ribs.
Our next leg was to fly into Greenville, NC where we had the best BBQ on this 3 stop day trip at Skylight in Ayden, just 10 miles from Greenville. For all of you NC BBQ fans, and especially those of the eastern persuasion, this is probably not news to you. The BBQ served was chopped in a tray under wax paper, under a tray of fine chopped slaw, under wax paper, under thin baked cornbread – all handed to you in a stack. Wonderful. I understand that when they break downt he Q, the fat is pushed to the side, chopped as well and then added back in just the right proportion to keep the pork moist – and they did that perfectly. Maybe some of the best chopped Q I have had, or particularly the best whole hog Q. Brewed ice tea was available and good. Knowing we were “supposed” to be eating some more Q on our trip, with still SC in our flight plans, we ate only a few bites and headed to B’s, on B’s BBQ Road in Greenville. However, B’s was out of food (we cried).
Back to the plane and on the SC where we landed in Conway. Weather was not so good and couldn’t land in Kingstree and Conway was closer to Hemingway where Scott’s is located. Much to my dismay and from henceforth my source of ridicule, Scott’s was not open – I’ll never hear the end from my buddy Skipper. Fortunately Skipper was heading out of town soon for several weeks and I did escape much “Smack” but I know on his return, it will be brutal. Furthermore, Brown’s in Kingstree was closed as well.
Day two brought us Lexington #1, and Monk is still King! Pam, our CFO met me for business meeting and she arrives at 2:15. Still jamming! We sat at a table so we could spread out some papers, I usually eat at the counter. Pam and I both had the coarse chopped, brown tray – slap somebody, will ya’? It has got to be so far my absolute favorite for western styled Q. The hushpuppies are great and after I finish my Q I usually dip the remaining pups in the sauce left in the tray, even if I have to add more. Thanks Monk. My Dad traveled NC for 40+ years and this was definitely one of his favorites. I loved having Q with Big Jim. We sure miss you and so do the NC Q joints!
Day Three was R.O.’s in Gastonia and it was a tribute to Gastonia.
Day 4, as I headed out to look for Jim Early’s book on BBQ, I headed to Bubba’s BBQ on Sunset Road in Charlotte and I enjoyed his chopped BBQ sandwich. This place has a heart for my buddy “The Packman.”
I ended the day back at Rooster’s Wood-Fired Kitchen with our house cured speck ham at with Mas Donis Capcanes Rose. Very nice. Salty, peppered cure ham with the weather tempered Capcanes Rose from the Montsant region of Sapin was a great match. Too many days of pork, eased and balanced with Spanish rose – not your Daddy’s White Zin. Rose is okay.
Next leg coming soon on “The Hog Blog – Jimmy’s Pig Pen Chronicles” (The True Cue School)