since you asked...
saturday was the most bbq orgasmic day of my life.
the mayor, eric lamb, bo and i departed on time in the horse with
name, otherwise dubbed the faux-mobile. mr. hart and ms. halter sent
their regrets due to minus five interview and unexpected guests,
respectively. we didn't so much as get out of the parking lot before the
mayor wanted to find a liquor store. we didn't pass one until we were
rolling through wilson. but after that, it was four guys in a large
vintage american car with a bottle of maker's.
music was provided by protoblast. nate's new tape is swell, especially
if you can't get enough magnetic fields or chris knox. not available in
stores, but if you have him dub you a copy, maybe you should provide him
with your own tape. bo's copy had, uh, mechanical problems. me, i just
thought it was -supposed- to drag and warbble like that.
first stop, b's bbq, on b's bbq road. take a left at the first stoplight
coming into greenville, just past the washington 264 exit. about a mile
at the end of the road. a small white block building across from a large
cornfield out in nowhere. wonderfully sweet, very lean, fairly tender,
properly chopped 'cue. only just a bare shade dry. 3.6 pigs. we all had
the biggest grins on our faces you ever did see. we knew it was going to
be a really good day.
best "sauce" i've ever had. we sniffed it's bouquet. at first i thought
it might have not quite turned cider in it. but then i think eric
correctly identified it as the addition of honey. i inspected it more
after getting a bottle and taking it home (at $2 a quart, a real deal).
it has very finely chopped red bell peppers in it.
the slaw was almost coarse. the cornbread was a flat square and grilled.
the best iced tea i had all day was at b's. also available are mushy
looking bbq'd taters, green beans, and bbq'd chicken. they have a
walk-up window at b's with outdoor picnic tables. the interior is a
cafeteria style line and maybe twenty small tables. a sign informing
that eleven billion dollars in cigarette taxes have been collected, and
adding that "enough is enough," hangs behind the counter. apparently, bo
had never seen a "hogs are beautiful" poster before, but then, he hasn't
been out of high school for very long.
the four of us ate a plate of 'cue together to save ourselves for
long day ahead. adam, bo, and eric checked out the smokehouse while i
stood in line for two pounds of takeout. that day, however, they were
only bbq'ing chickens on charcoal in a large screened-in cookhouse out
a short stop on the way out of town for me to run into the piggly
and get a bag of ice and a styrofoam cooler to keep the take-out cooled
down. the day got pretty hot as the afternoon wore on. long stretches of
tobacco and peanuts growing in irrigated sandy piles. the occasional
small hog farm.
next stop, pete jones's skylight inn just south of ayden on -old-
you can't miss it. it's the only building with a folksy fashioned triple
dome on top. the 'cue at jones's is radically different from b's, but
almost everybit as good in it's own way. it's a different take on whole
hog. cracklins are chopped up with the hog. indeed, the choppers were
hard at work when we walked in. anyway, just a hair greasy and fatty, a
very country pork flavor, a little spice, a tad dry, very finely
chopped, and good smoke. 3.4 pigs.
the slaw was nearly liquified. the corn bread was flat, square, and
dry as to be nearly inedible. there are no other sides available. the
sauce was on the hot and astringent end. the tea was lipton's
presweetened out of a serve-yourself soft drink dispenser. one orders
from a double file line at the counter, and our orders were taken by mr.
jones himself, who lives across the road. on one wall hung a large
display case filled with pictures of recent presidents and several state
level politicians that have eaten there, and all sixteen ayden police
department trading cards.
the four of us each got a large tray here, which proved to be our
undoing. a large tray is a paper french fry container packed full. we
had discussion over lunch of our mutual food literature aspirations.
adam and eric have great food book ideas. adam, bo, and eric checked out
the smokehouse while i stood in line for two pounds of takeout. we
weren't allowed to enter the smokehouse, a large white block building
out back, but there were enormous stacks of both split and whole log
hickory all around.
adam stocked up on fresh collards, new potatoes, and cured sidemeat
the adjoining roadside market. adam was more or less cajoled into buying
a quarter's worth of the potatoes by the very eager salesperson who
assured us that they were necessary for properly cooked collards. "come
back next week and we'll be getting in some beets," he said. i guess
next week, beets will be necessary for properly cooked collards.
only a moment of decision was taken before heading to our next
destination, buddy's bbq, about a mile south of grifton on nc 11 proper
in a house-sized white block building. bbq here is very porky flavorful,
subtly complicated, and only the faintest touch tough, al dente maybe.
3.5 pigs. the slaw was just serviceable. we got a side of collards from
the extensive list of sides. i thought they were as dry, bland, and
overchopped as they could get, but adam rather enjoyed them. the sauce
was a shaker jar of vinegar soaking whole chilis. the hush puppies at
buddy's are top notched. very coarse meal, done just right in peanut
oil, and not at all greasy. get the lemonade, not the tea.
buddy's has a buffet if you dare. it looks like it steams all day.
long list of seafood, including fried oysters is also available. some
other time, maybe. service is sit down. our wait was a very nice young
girl who didn't seem to understand the nature of our quest when we only
ordered on plate to split between the four of us. we tried to make it up
to her by tipping well. a crude portrait of buddy, apparently a deceased
fighter pilot, hangs on the wall. a photograph of the current owner, who
looks like bo diddley, hangs on the opposite wall.
this was the first of two black-owned businesses we visited. we scored
copy of a local black power paper while we were there with some great
articles. b's and the skylight were both very busy, but buddy's was
suspiciously deserted. with the quality of bbq there, this puzzled me
until we spotted the grade c sanitation rating displayed above the cash
register. the place seemed at least as clean as all the other places we
visited. adam and eric ruminated about the possibilities for sanitation
grading. adam and i wanted to buy buddy's t-shirts, but they only had
mediums. after all that eating, there was no way any of us were fitting
adam, bo, and eric checked out the smokehouse while i stood in line
two pounds of takeout. the smokehouse is, uh, a white block building
with large -electric- cookers with closeable lids. this was puzzling to
me until i noticed the drip pans in close proximity to the grill
elements. apparently, the hogs are smoked in their own juices, a novel
idea that works very well.
rolling back up the highway, i notice a roadside junkstand. without
word, i innocently looked over at adam who says, "what are you waiting
for? turn this car around!" eric bagged a pez dispenser and i got a
square shaped flower vase for seventy-five cents. adam and bo checked
out the chicken and dog pens around the side of the shack. adam wanted
to know if i bought the vase because i felt sorry for the poor geezer,
but i said, no, i've been needing one of those things for awhile now.
we decide to pass up the tienda mexicana in ayden, coz we're all
full to stand up. with the influx of more and more migrant workers who
become less and less migrant, there's a mexican grocery store at every
crossroads in eastern nc these days, it seems. we saw four on the way. i
wondered what musical treasures on cassette i was passing by.
a long cruise and we're back in wilson to stop at a place i've often
wondered about. if there were ever an -authentic looking- bbq place,
mitchell's is it. 606 s. ward street. a collection of oddly shaped,
two-story, yep, white block buildings, painted all over in crazy green
script advertising the wide array of victuals inside. boy, am i ever
glad we stopped at mitchell's. astounding bbq. sweet. moist. pink.
lightly spiced. smokey. 'chopped until tender'. that is, i got ahold of
a couple of small chunks that were tough but the overall texture was
extremely tender. a bit grizzly in places. whole hog with the skin, but
not fried to cracklins. symphonic flavors. 3.7 pigs.
bo, adam, and i played a cruel joke on eric. when we first got the
and sat down, eric was gone to the powder room. we agreed we would
pretend we didn't like the 'cue at mitchell's when he got back. he
wasn't too fooled, but we didn't let on until he said we were bluffing
when we told him how much we liked the hush puppies there.
there was -no- slaw available at mitchell's. the hush puppies were
horrible fried doughy balls. the iced tea was bitter. the collards were
just as overchopped as at buddy's, but were at least almost seasoned.
sweet potatoes were mush with only slight spice. the only sauces
available were chilis in vinegar and tabasco for the collards. the
banana pudding was to die for, like nectar-pureed bananas with some
banana slices thrown in for good measure. bo is a pudding connoisseur if
ever i've met one and he exclaimed it was the best he'd ever found.
anyway, there's a long list of sides at mitchell's as well as bbq
chicken, ribs, and chitterlins. there's a different special everyday of
the week. tuesday is smoked ham hocks day. mitchell's is the only place
we visited that is open seven days a week.
upon entering mitchell's we saw articles boasting its inclusion in
garner's book on bbq. the articles also mentioned that oak charcoal is
used in the cooking of mitchell's bbq. they had oak shingles for sale,
$5 a bag. adam, bo, and eric checked out the smokehouse while i stood in
line for two pounds of takeout. the smokehouse was locked up tighter
than a tick, however.
we decided to pass up parker's and bob ellis's, and head for home.
parker's in wilson, we all agreed, would be worth our while, but we
needed some more settling time and it's right around the corner from
mitchell's. bo and eric had both had only average previous experiences
bob ellis's. on the way home, we got to the country doctor museum in
bailey just as it was closing, a big disappointment.
we also attempted to dine at murray's bbq on old poole road in raleigh,
but found that it is only open on weekdays. that was prolly just as
well, coz at that point, adam was calling for a defibrulator, bo was
broke (big surprise), and eric was reciting the simpson's bit about "i
think my heart stopped; no, there it goes again." anyway, i just want
you to know, it wasn't my idea to go to all those places (but i was
=more than happy= to accomodate). we got back to rtp about two hours
behind schedule. a great time was had by all. meeting eric was great and
i learned a lot about the highway system in this great state of ours.
the smiles on our faces was only muted by the groaning of our now
further extended bellies. i dropped everybody off at the parking and the
air conditioner in my car promptly stopped working. either that's pretty
good timing, or considering it's the start of june, really bad timing,
me, i got all this bbq at home now. yesterday, sweetums made wunnerful
sausage gravy and biscuits for breakfast, but i managed to sample some
bbq in the afternoon before the blood vessels in my head started
bursting. i may grow hooves. i put samples from all four restaurants on
a plate and warmed it up for side by side comparisons. it's almost
stupid to attempt to say which is better than what. all four have tastes
to recommend them and i found myself favoring each of them at different
times. adam thought it would be great to try b's sauce on skylight's
'cue. but after putting sauce on each of the samples, i concluded that
all four are just too good to put sauce on. they're better on their own
and that's the best recommendation to make for bbq. anyway, either
parker's in wilson (there's one in greenville but eric says it's not up
to the one in wilson) or any of the four places we visited on saturday
ought to satisfy your hardest to scratch bbq yearnings.
guess what i'm having for lunch!
Subject: Re: barbie q. heaven
From: "chris calloway"@geocities.com (chris calloway)
Adam McKible wrote:
> go to mitchell's before you die
> closer to 5 pigs if you ask me
i believe there was some mention during that day of comparisons to
actual pig pickin quality 'cue. close. i have to preserve the upper
4.0-5.0 end of the scale for -fresh- cue and the extra dimension it
brings to the experience when bbq comes out of the cooker all hot and
steamy. skylight was apparently the freshest we had all day, being
chopped right before serving, but even the chimneys at the smokehouse
there weren't stoked that day.
no doubt though, it would take a lot of convincing to get me to believe
i'm gonna find better bbq in a restaurant these days than what i had at
also, biscuit king 'cue as served friday night at the "don butman:
durham's most outstanding citizen" party... bkq is served pickin style,
that is whole slab. thoroughly doused in a mildly acidic, very sweet,
medium hot sauce, so i couldn't tell as much about it as i'd like,
especially after that good beer and brother jim's jamma-fucking-great
scotch. i need to sample some more before making a loggable
determination (actually, that's just an excuse to go over to holly's and
eat leftovers), but it's the best you're gonna find in durham, hands
i've used the word 'actual' twice today. i must have a screw loose.
Subject: Re: barbie q. heaven
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Eric Lamb)
A few foonotes to our recent tour:
1) Adam McKible is an alcohol bloodhound. He noted his
liquor before we'd left RTP, and brought the subject up again in Wilson.
"It just *feels* like it's around here," he noted. Six seconds later,
First Mate Williams sighted an ABC Store off the starboard bow. As a
result, I am now strongly convinced that Makers Mark replaces peach
cobbler as the barbeque sorbet of choice. Please compliment the Mayor on
his skills next time you see him; I advise testing him by hiding
some airplane bottles around your house next time he visits.
2) The collards at Buddys were my favorite. The Sanitation
"C," but the taste said "A!"
3) At Mitchell's them boys got me reeeeel good. My brain
"This is bad," while my tongue was pointing out, "Hey, think again." Near
synaptic failure. Hush puppies revealed the truth.
4) It's Bill Ellis, not Bob Ellis. "One to a million,
5) The Fauxmobile is the only way to ride, and I couldn't have
finer company. An extremely good time was had by all.
6) There will be a western NC sequel. Overnight, even.
arteries heal first.
Eric Lamb email@example.com
Subject: Re: barbie q. heaven
From: "chris calloway"@geocities.com (chris calloway)
Bo Williams wrote:
> first off- my idea to put b's sauce on skylight cue.
please accept my apologies. i was under the influence, ya know. of
> an idea i hope to
> realize the next time i see chris (hint hint).
wednesday? i'm doing oysters tonight. and christa and i are gonna
dinosaur stomp at the starlite thing on tuesday, i think. you have to
come to durham, though.
> secondly, calloway failed to mention how unbelievably *cheap* it
> subsist solely on bbq.
well, i tried to make mental notes on the prices, but after visiting
four restaurants, i couldn't keep it all in my head and i didn't want to
quote the wrong price. suffice to say, money is -not- going to be a
problem once one gets to these places.
these observations though... the standard price for a sammich is
pounds are $5.50 at b's and skylight, $5.25 at buddy's, and, get this,
$4.75 at mitchell's. trays at skylight were $2.50, $3, and $3.50 for
small, medium, and large.
i spent almost as much on gas as on bbq. and that's only because
home eight pounds. two less pounds and gas wooda been more.
why do you think i go to ole nc bbq so much? $5 all you can eat weekday
lunch. $8 weekend dinner with -kickass- oysters. bbq, food for wrinkled
ugly old poor people.
> I was dissapointed to see no stew being offerred at any of these
> establishments, but stew's never been a big eastern thing (more mid and
> western nc).
there's just a distinct lack of squirrels in that particular part
state. greene county area, that is. all dried up sand. no topsoil, no
trees. dragon flies as big as your head.
shoot, i'm sure they -have- to pay more attention to stew in lexington,
just so they'll have -something- decent to eat.
they prolly have stew in goldsboro, kinston, and smithfield where
bbq quality starts slipping. apparently, they have no -need- for stew in
wilson and greenville.
stew roadtrip to west virginia? plenty of squirrels -and- possum