where is james? we dunno where james is. call up james. talk to james's
phonemail. guess james had too good of a time the night before.
so, mr bbq hisself, eric lamb, and i, the three and the minus three,
trucked off to siler city. down through apex, we lament the loss of much
land to a northward growing sprawl, and the death of ot's bbq, now the
only pasta restaurant in apex with its own smokehouse. the foliage
through pittsboro is still heavy with green but plenty of mixed palette
as well. and every time i am wth eric, my knowledge of highways and road
construction grows by leaps and bounds.
arrive at the junction of hwy 64 and old 421 just in time for the
opening of bubba's pit cooked bbq. as the lineback page tells, great
name, no pit. but, let that not deter us. best pups of the day, neither
chewy nor overcooked. bland but fresh slaw. extremely high quality
shoulder meat at just the right moisture content. very lean. possibly
gas or electric cooked with liquid smoke; the waitress feigned ignorance
of our every question. but the final product is very good que. 3.1 pigs.
on the table are both an eastern sauce that was sweet like b's, and a
western sauce that was more like a runny version of a1. this pig needed
no sauce, however. well worth the drive. a sign by the door says,
"smoking allowed but please observe a two cigarette limit per visit."
onto asheboro. a brief turn around in the road to check out a sign
read "pig pickin today" at the church of god of prophecy in ramsuer.
upon inspecting the scene and seeing no cooker in evidence, eric vetoes
and i agree. we stop at the blue mist just up the road.
damn pathetic bbq at the blue mist. ok, it would pass for very fine
tender ham with a sort of tangy sauce. but as bbq, it was chopped finer
than the cole slaw and arrived covered with a runny sauce that totally
obscured any flavor that might have been present. in fact, the cole slaw
was the only thing pleasing about the visit. nicely vinegared and
peppered with celery and carrot. the pups were tiny little dough balls.
adding sauce to the que was out of the question as what was already
there had pretty much soaked the pups, anyway. pork soup. also, very
small portion of que on the regular plate. maybe three ounces.
stepping out back of the place, we were amazed at the incredible
smell. we encountered a smokehouse in operation, with its operator
pleased to show us inside. we observed a coal box in which hickory was
being reduced to coals and a nice long cooker on which the lid was
raised long enough for us to see dozens of shoulders cooking. the
attendant on duty informed us that nine to eleven hours was the usual
cooking time, with lids open only twice for turning. eric and i left
perplexed as to how such an obviously correct process could have
rendered the horrible product we consumed. 2.2 pigs at best, and the .2
is only added for the good quality of the tender shoulders.
turning south, we ventured down to seagrove and the nc friends of
pottery museum, which isn't really a museum but three sets of shelves
with one sample from each of the nearby potteries. you pick out which
samples you like and a free map available there tells you where to go
for more of the same. some nice ladies there also called around for us
and found a kiln in operation. i highly recommend stopping there because
seagrove is covered with a clusterfuck of signs pointing in every
direction for this or that pottery works. you could easily spend a week
here trying to see it all. indeed, at the main intersection in town is a
brown d.o.h. tourism sign that reads "area potteries" with arrows
pointing down every road. the bypass coming into seagrove has a sign
reading "area potteries next six exits."
not on the map is phil morgan pottery, directly across the street
the museum. the auman family trained morgans specialize in classical
forms coated with a crystalline glaze that bursts into colorful patterns
resembling fossilized flowers. the vases are turned thinner than china
so that the light almost shines through them. this is very, very fine
art with price tags to match. but looking was free.
farther down hwy 705 is holly hill pottery, where we were sent to
potter aaron britt. holly hill is a manufacturer of functional pottery
with modern glazes. aaron makes over one hundred pieces a day. he showed
us their gas fired kiln in operation. he removed ceramic bricks from the
side of the structure, the largest in seagrove, which hold two thousand
pieces of pottery at a time, so that we could see inside. they were
firing in the bisque stage before glazing. the pots were glowing red
hot. after cooling the bisque pots are glazed with a feldspar mixture
and refired to 2350 degrees farenheit.
aaron is very proud and protective of his chemical formulations for
his glazes and clay, which he experimented with for eight years before
arriving at his process. he received his training sixteen years ago at
the famous cole pottery works.
we saw test cones in the kiln which melt over when the temperature
right. different sized and glazed pieces are put in the kiln at
different shelf heights to take advantage of the effects of the
temperature gradient inside. we then went inside the shop and watched
aaron turn a candle holder in about a minute. out back of the place is
an animal pen with a couple of llamas and some strange geese that looked
almost like turkeys.
seven more miles down the road, we stopped at the southern folk pottery
collector's society. this was an amazing museum. over two hundred pieces
of the finest in southern folk pottery were up for absent auction there.
the place is run by billy ray hussey, who is somewhat of the
self-proclaimed ambassador of folk pottery. he and his wife susan were
gracious hosts. here are some exquisite examples of burlon craig, marie
rogers, and meaders family pottery, as well as some not too shabby
antiques ( an 18th century moravian apple tray, fer instance ) and
quilts, in a beautiful and spawling log cabin.
i easily could have spent a thousand bucks on books alone there.
i opted to join the society, which got me a discount on the cleaver
meaders piggy pot i bought there, in honor of all the pigs we ate today.
this is a rare piece of authentic wood fired alkaline glaze and southern
soils. animal pots are hard to find because they completely enclose an
air space, which makes it likely that most of them will explode in the
kiln. this was the lucky treasure of the day. i was not thrifty today.
back up the road, we stopped at the teague pottery, near the town
whynot, where old man archie teague hisself was explaining how organic
impurities in the clay itself produced an interaction with an iron glaze
to make the distinctive pink and brown pottery his grandfather was
famous for in the 1920s.
i picked up a salt and cobalt wood fired bacchus face jug there by
manness. tiny ashes from the firing process accumulate on the jug and
produce a finely speckled dark brownish blue iridescence. the jug itself
has tiny clay balls forming grape clusters which figure the 'hair' atop
the face. i met old man manness there, too, who claimed he doesn't have
to make all the tiny grapes himself, that rather, he has a yard full of
rabbits that 'do' them for him. hyuck. country humor.
on the other side of the road, we visited the famous ben owen pottery
works. we had been warned at the friends museum that a group of china
red pottery had just been removed from the owens kiln there earlier in
the morning. sure enough, the place was full of the most brilliantly red
pottery that, if it were not for the unglazed bottoms, would appear to
be made of glass, they were so fine. i bought a small japanese style
bowl there. although from a family of famous southern folk potters, ben
owen studied pottery in japan and his forms and glazes reflect that.
this is very unfunctional pottery. the bowl i got will not even hold
water without damage. pottery just for the beauty of it.
seems like we spent a lot of the day out back of places looking at
either kilns or smokehouses, and owens was no exception. at owens, we
saw a good size complex of pine fired kilns. i got inside one, a pit dug
out of the ground, to inspect the construction, that i had hitherto only
studied in books on the subject. a system of pullies operated the door
to the kiln, which was sheltered by a well worn tin pole barn. i was
informed by the curator of the day, however, that my piece of china red
was fired in an electric kiln, as that affords the control necessary to
produce pottery of this quality.
back towards seagrove, we stopped, but not for long, at dirt works
pottery, makers of fine raku. we spent most of our time there talking
bbq with the potter and watching his giant st. bernard. all day, we met
the nicest people, and observed that the seagrove pottery scene is very
diverse, with many interests being served, and with many opinions about
what good pottery and bbq is about. at times i wondered if we were the
clueless tourists, being taken advantage of by the local pottery cabal,
but shucks, it was fun.
we cross the last pottery works off our list because we want to try
get to burlington before schumaker's guitar shop closes. we head up 220
to greensboro through the northern tip of the uwharries, where the
leaves are peaking. i imagine the leaves in the mountains are thinning
out about now and am glad we didn't go farther west. on the way, we
pried the shinola tape out of my stubborn car deck with a pair of
pliers, and then listened to the timotheus groove tape, which i find
pleasantly illbient and four tracked with an endearing economy of sound.
also caught some airtime with qfs and soe.
at stamey's on high point road by the coliseum, we received great
counter service, and some reasonably good que. a little overmoist due to
overshredding. lean shoulders only. the smoke, which is hickory, fades
quickly on the tongue. the flavor was too delicately pink for adding
sauce. bland burnt pups. red slaw, which is not the ideal palate
cleanser for getting a good fix on the que. 2.75 pigs. it's ok and if i
lived in g'boro, i'd be thankful it's not bullocks.
we blew off heading to reidsville for sugar shorts because it was
getting late. in burlington, we found that schumakers's guitars had
closed at 4pm (open until 5pm tue. through fri.). too bad coz the best
bass selection in nc was taunting us through the plate glass from inside
the place. eric was about bbq'd out, too, the pussy, so i had to content
myself with picking up a half pound of hurseys to take home. therefore,
i can't give a whole estimation of the place, but the sample i left with
was juicy, lean, very smokey and long on the tongue. i'd imagine it
pegging 3.1 pigs. we picked at it in the car all the way home, deciding
to bag j&g in haw river for another day. i have a hard time deciding
between bubba's and hurseys for the most satisfying swine of the day. i
look forward to return visits to both.
so. it was a georgeous day of driving around beautiful places, looking
at art, and eating ambrosia. we shared all kinds of delicious music and
local political gossip and had a swell time. we'll do it again, i'm
sure. i'm sorry if you wanted to make this trip and didn't get the
information in time. i came back this evening and found my mailbox full
of inquiries from late last night after i'd last checked my mail.
and an fyi, the 16th annual seagrove pottery festival is sunday,
23, from 10am to 7pm at the seagrove school in seagrove. all seagrove
pottery works will be open that sunday, which is the day of the week
when most of them are usually closed. there will be more than the usual
proliferation of pottery making demonstrations that day. southern folk
pottery is a historically rich blend of african and european artistry
which is very entertaining to look at and study, even in its more modern
variants, and you could do worse for the weekend. the pottery festival
will, of course, feature a bbq, as well. i suppose there's nothing to
prevent all those kilns from being put to proper culinary use.
i feel like i just made a doggam wunc special.
[the following is a postscript from another trip]
Subject: rotes from a deranged sail hag
Date: Mon, 09 Feb 1998 11:47:14 -0500
From: chris calloway <email@example.com>
To: Multiple recipients of list <firstname.lastname@example.org>
bubba que was much drier than i remembered it from the first visit.
down-grading to 2.7 pigs but it's still worth the drive. they have these
homemade kettle chips that, if you are into -potato products-, are the
bomb. the cobbler was just ok.
downtown siler city is just kind of surprising. i got three pairs
cheap jeans at the western mart, the first pants i'd bought in about six
years. next, a gospel guitar shop, well stocked with cd's and tapes, and
displaying a few five and six string basses by a greensboro luthier
called jb player. they were just ok, though. three tiendas all had
tapes, but the one latin house mix we gambled on was a very poor dupe of
some pretty unexciting crap. one tienda was only two sizes shy of
outfitting the gushers in a new handmade silk shirt. had fucking
submachine guns embroidered on the sleeves! the pawn shop had a nice
banjo but busted geetars.
the tacqueria place, though, was all too great. i had bbq pork taco
a tamal. after getting home, some folks told me the real deal there,
though, are the enchiladas.