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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Goldie's Virginia Barbecue in Phoenix, Arizona

If you've read my book (You have read it haven't you? If not, get a copy and get started. You'll be glad you did), you know that people all over the country used to frequently cook and sell Virginia-style barbecue. Though not as widespread today, there are still a few places outside of Virginia that proudly serve Virginia-style barbecue.
Sauer's Barbecue Sauce is based on an old Virginia recipe. Bubba Lou’s Barbecue near Orlando, FL still sells Virginia-style barbecue and so does the Mason Dixon Line Restaurant in Washington state. There is even a Virginia-style barbecue recipe that is popular in the UK.
Here is an unfortunate account of Virginia-style barbecue in Arizona from the October 3, 1929 edition of the Arizona Republic under the headline "Fire Destroys Barbecue Shop on Opening Day."
In 1929, J. B. M. Goldsmith (Goldie) invested his savings of $500.00 to open a barbecue stand at 1154 East Washington Street in Phoenix, Arizona. $500.00 in 1929 would be about $7000.00 today. He not only invested his money, he invested his hard work and his expert knowledge of cooking barbecue.
On October 1, 1929, at 7:00 am, Goldie celebrated the grand opening of GOLDIE'S VIRGINIA BARBECUE. However, the day didn't go as Goldie had planned. By 1:30 pm, Goldie's barbecue stand was in ruins. In only a few hours, the entire operation burned to the ground due to defective wiring. The business was a total loss and Goldie carried no insurance.
I haven't been able to determine if Goldie persevered and reopened his restaurant, but I'm not through researching his story. Stay tuned.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Charleston Barbecue - Southern Hospitality is its Secret Ingredient

Barbecued Pork Belly at Swig & Swine in Charleston
If you've never visited, the first thing you need to know about Charleston, South Carolina, is that all of the good things you hear and read about it are true. It is a beautiful city that offers a rich history, unique culture, amazing music and delicious foods all warmly wrapped in heartfelt southern hospitality.

Even though I had a very busy agenda during my most recent visit to Charleston, I was determined to visit as many barbecue restaurants there as I could. Fortunately, I was able to visit Bessinger's Bar-B-Q, Swig & Swine, Duke's Barbecue, Melvin's Ribs & Que, Home Team BBQ and Lewis Barbecue which included all but two of the places I had on my list.

Hogs are the animals of choice for barbecue in Charleston. You can find barbecued shoulders, ribs and pork belly as well as whole hog. The phrase "whole hog" means something a little different in Charleston than it does in most other parts of the South nowadays. In Charleston, barbecue restaurants literally serve the whole hog including heads, trotters and livers.
I have confessions from the pitmasters that they use those parts of the hog and suspicions that they may also use other parts such as the kidneys, lights and goozles. Parts of the hog that are not suitable for barbecuing are used to make South Carolina-style barbecue hash.

BBQ Hash and Rice at Swig & Swine
Barbecue hash is an old southern tradition that is forgotten by most other places in the South. In colonial and federal times, when hogs were slaughtered for a barbecue, the parts of the animal that were not well suited for barbecuing were simmered in a large iron pot to make a stew they called hash. Barbecue hash in those days was made with livers, trotters (feet), lights (lungs), goozles (wind pipes), heads, and scraps of meat.  Often it was seasoned with nothing more than salt and red pepper. South Carolinians have preserved
BBQ Hash & Rice at Duke's Barbecue
that old custom even though some in the western parts of the state now use only lean meats in their hash. But, in Charleston the hash is made the "old school" way with scraps, heads, feet and lots of liver. It's all cooked down to a mush, seasoned and served over rice. The best barbecue hash I had during my visit is served at Swig & Swine.

Another distinguishing characteristic of Charleston-style barbecue is the sauce. Though all of the places I visited served a variety of sauces, some of which were not particularly South Carolinian, all of them except Lewis Barbecue (more about that later) serve a sweet and slightly tangy mustard based sauce.
Mustard based sauces at Duke's Barbecue

BBQ Sauces at Home Team Barbecue
To my Virginian taste buds, it is very reminiscent of honey-mustard vinaigrette. In Virginia, we use a little mustard in our Southside-style barbecue sauce but not much and it isn't sweet (recipe in my book Virginia Barbecue: A History). So, the Charleston-style sauce took me a little while to grow accustomed to eating.

The last barbecue restaurant I visited was Lewis Barbecue. The folks at Lewis Barbecue don't serve Charleston-style barbecue; they serve Texas-style barbecue.
Barbecue brisket & sausage at Lewis Barbecue
John Lewis, formerly a pitmaster at Franklin Barbecue in Austin, and his partners opened Lewis Barbecue in June of 2016. They serve barbecue brisket, beef ribs and sausage. There is no barbecue hash and the barbecue sauce is decidedly not a Charleston-style sauce. However, the brisket I had there was superb.

Unfortunately for me, Rodney Scott's BBQ was one of those I missed. Scott's new Charleston restaurant opened the week after I had to depart for home. Of course, that means that I will have to visit again. Yep, it's a tough job but somebody's gotta do it.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Virginia Barbecues Separated by 65 Years

Left - Illustration by Alexander R. Boteler from My Ride to the Barbecue: Or, Revolutionary Reminiscences of the Old Dominion published in 1860. Right - Virginia Barbecue circa 1920s. Holsinger Studio Collection. Courtesy of Special Collections, University of Virginia Library.

On the left above is an illustration of a Virginia barbecue held in 1859. On the right is a photo of a Virginia barbecue held in the 1920s. Though separated by about 65 years and the Civil War, the similarities are striking.

Read all about it in Virginia Barbecue: A History now available in hardcover.

The Pitmaster's Prayer