Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Adventures in Barbecue

Barbecue. To me, the word alone invokes insatiable hunger for pulled pork in a spicy, not-too-sweet vinegar-based (or tomato-based) sauce topped with fresh coleslaw on a soft round roll. I wasn't always a fan of barbecue, but that all changed once I realized the reason I didn't care for it was that I had never had really good barbecue.

When my husband Steve and I embarked on our cross country journey moving from Philly to our temporary home in Phoenix, we had to come up with some sort of foodie subtext for the trip. All who know us can appreciate this aspect of the trip! We took a southern route to spend time with my family in Houston mid-drive, so we decided to try as many local barbecue joints as we could along the way. We tasted barbecue from Memphis to west Texas. The best that we encountered was a roadside stand in Arkadelphia, AR — Alan's Bar-B-Q. We tried brisket and pulled pork. The pulled pork was so amazing we had to split a second sandwich. Even Allie, our lab/border collie mix, got a nibble and was begging for more. Perfectly spicy and not too sweet — wow!

Since then, we've had some barbecue at restaurants and at home — most recently the barbecue dry rub and companion sauce that I wrote about a couple weeks ago. We had another barbecue encounter in July. We had a few friends over for the 4th and opted for a East Carolina barbecue extravaganza. I roasted a Boston butt pork roast with a few secret ingredients and dressed it with a vinegar based, true Carolina style barbecue sauce that I created based on a combination of recipes in cookbooks and online. Steve made a cool coleslaw to top off the sandwiches. We made collard greens and baked beans to complement the pulled pork — a true East Carolina feast!

I recently got the opportunity to try San Diego's best Barbecue. Apparently Phil's BBQ used to be located in Mission Hills and was constantly jam packed. The were forced to close their doors after a fire and reopened in Point Loma some time later. The new location is all I know and it is fabulous! No table service, just get in line — a long one at peak times — and place your order at the counter. Find a seat at the bar while you wait and have a cold draft beer from their frost coated tap. My friends had beef and chicken. Both were tasty, but I think my pulled pork sandwich stole the show. They pile it so high it is hard to pick it up, but it is worth the sticky fingers. The sauce had the right savory-to-sweet balance for my taste. The sandwich was paired with perfectly crisp french fries that I sprinkled with Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning that was sitting on the bar to give them a perfect kick! Now I just can't wait to take Steve there — Hmmm, maybe dinner tonight!

No comments: