Category: barbecue

It’s Cool In The Mountains

My brother tells the story of when he was on a US Navy ship stationed in the Phillipines. On a very hot day in Manila Bay, the sun was turning the ship’s steel hull into an oven. A little breeze came up, and a young sailor from south Alabama climbed topside to get some air and observed, “It’s a little cool up here in the mountains, isn’t it?”. Everything is relative.

This weekend I am at this same brother’s house in the East Tennessee mountains, and I can attest that it is a little cool up here in the mountains. It is also beautiful.

Our little trip this week started with a couple of days in the Asheville, NC area. If you haven’t been there, you need to go. Asheville is the artsy capital of western North Carolina, and is most famous for the Biltmore House, a 175,000 square foot, 250 room mansion built by George Washington Vanderbilt in the nineteenth century. The estate is on about 8,000 acres. Today’s rich people have trouble imagining such opulence.

On any night downtown Asheville is hopping with live bands, street corner entertainers, and just plain interesting stuff. It is an island of cultural insanity in a beautiful setting, coexisting with back country mountain traditions. If you have been to New Orleans, this is Asheville on a weekend night.

In stark contrast to the liberal, and loose society that Asheville has become is the religious community. In the Asheville vicinity are some major religious mountain retreats. Ridgecrest, Lake Junalaska, and others are nearby as is the town of Montreat, North Carolina, home of world-famous evangelist Billy Graham and Montreat College, a Christian liberal arts institution.

Next to Montreat is the town of Black Mountain. It is a town of about six thousand people. It has more good restaurants than it has gas stations. Art boutiques and antique stores abound. It us one of those places that is a pleasure to explore. We stayed with some friends in Black Mountain, and recommend its inclusion on everybody’s itinerary.

If you like beer you will love this part of North Carolina. The Asheville area has some great micro-breweries and some really good barbecue like that found at The Twelve Bones Smokehouse in Asheville. One of the best breweries is the Pisgah brewery in Black M0untain. I am adicted to the Blueberry Lager they make there. Not only do chicks love it, but men love it, too.

The sailor from Alabama was right. It is way cool up here in the mountains.

Yahoo Doesn’t Know Barbecue

Yahoo! don’t know ‘nuttin ’bout no barbecue.  The linked article purports to tell you what the twenty best restaurants in America are. One, number 15, is Franklin Barbeque in Austin, Texas. Barbeque in Texas? I don’ t think so.

I lived in exile in Houston, Texas for over eight years. Not once in my career as a traveling salesman in the Lone Star State did I ever find real barbecue. I found some wonderful beef brisket, but as everybody knows, barbecue is pig meat. Pork!

You can cook your beef on a grill all night long, and it will be good. It is still not the barbecue that the Deep South, and thousands of years of pig cooking has brought us.

How, do you suppose, can I pass myself off as anything like an expert in barbecue?  One word, Memphis! I was born, raised, and ate my first pork barbecue in Memphis. We almost grew up in an old-time barbecue restaurant, Leonard’s. Unfortunately Mr. Leonard didn’t live forever, and his widow had to sell-out. The restaurant is still around, but I haven’t tried the product lately.

blocks_image

I found an article on the 7 Best Barbeque Joints in Memphis. Whoever wrote the article did OK, but a couple of my favorites are left out. Remember, even if you have good barbecue, you may not make the grade in Memphis.

Here are a few of my favorites.

The Rendezvous : My favorite rib place. They were indescribable twenty years ago, and still are. The Rendezvous is in an alley in downtown Memphis, across the street from the famous, and original Hotel Peabody of marching ducks fame. It is also the hotel in the movie, “The Firm”. We celebrated my wife’s fiftieth birthday there by calling people in three states and telling them to meet us at the Rendezvous. They did, too.Picture of Rendezvous Logo

Corky’s : This one is on Poplar Avenue in East Memphis, and is the same as it was twenty years ago. You can’t go wrong at Corky’s, unless you go to one of their expansion restaurants in another city. They had one in Norcross, GA at one time, and it didn’t last because the stuff wasn’t as good as at the original restaurant.

Picture of Barbecue Ribs
Ribs At Top's

Top’s : Several locations, good stuff. Try it.

The Commisary in Germantown : “So good yu’ll slap ‘yo mama!”  Yep. It’s that good. Don’t miss this one. I ate so much barbecue there I was full for three days.

There are several more really good barbecue restaurants in Memphis that I don’t know about because I don’t live there anymore. If you are in doubt, just stop at any store or gas station and ask the proprietor for a good barbecue joint.

First, you will make an immediate friend. Memphians are proud of their barbecue and love to talk about it. Secondly, you will probably be turned on to a really great local joint. This is win-win barbecue.

Now, about those poor Texans who line up at ten o’clock in the morning for beef brisket. I know it is good stuff, but it ain’t barbecue. However, there is no doubt in my mind that Texans serve the very best pinto beans in the world. They know how to season the beans with generous portions of beef or pork fat, and sliced Jalopeno’s.

I miss the beans and the wonderful Jalopeno cornbread. You can see I did find something in Texas besides Lone Star Beer. We don’t need to talk about that, though.