Monday
Aug062012

All The Way to Memphis

You know you are getting close when you see signs like this:

From West Virginia, through Kentucky, down to Nashville, I passed Civil War sites, the KY Bourbon Trail (yikes), Daniel Boone's Wilderness, Mammoth Caves, and Lincoln's birthplace.  And I sang the Mott The Hoople hit all the way. So after 9+ hours I was ready for dinner. My first choice was Leonard's Pit BBQ (closed on Mondays) but that neon pig will figure into the music video big time. Corky's in Cordova (a Memphis neighborhood) was perfect. Manager Christa Gilliland treated me like royality with stories, good cheer and a special plate of samples (pulled pork, smoked sausage and brisket) as I had the dry rubbed ribs. We don't get food like this anywhere up north or even out west. No sauce just a spicy paprika-based rub and the ribs stay just as succulent. Had a great time there, what with all the 50's music (doo wop, Chuck Berry and Elvis). 

Tomorrow: Graceland, the Rendezvous and Cozy Corner before heading to Muscle Shoals Recording Studio.

 

"Mr Brown" is the dark, almost burnt part of the roast pork butt (shoulder) that is often shaved away so the final roast doesn't get too dark and charred. Ahhh, but BBQ lovers stand in line for "burnt ends" that are chopped and sauced up. 

Christa from Corky's

dry rub Memphis style

 

But I am also partial to John Hiatt (with the AMAZING Sonny Landrreth on slide) and "Memphis In The Meantime" "with a Telecaster through a Vibralux turned up to ten" (h/t Ace La Vida)

Sunday
Aug052012

West Virginia...Mountain Momma...

After leaving NY at 7:00AM, I arrived at the half-way point to Memphis - Teays Valley, WV. Say "Taze" Valley when you're in West Virginia. And one of the up and coming BBQ smokers and restaurants is Barnyard BBQ. I stumbled on it while looking for some half-way activities (nosing around my hotel for stories about local Jack Whittaker - Powerball winner of the largest undivided prize in history, $319M), and made a point of taking the western MD-WV route into Tennessee. This sign was directly overhead as I ate:


Owner Crystal Tincher made me feel right at home in her wonderful roomy restaurant. What caught my eye on the web was that they have live bluegrass there on the weekends (and the great Bluegrass Junction XM station playing throughout.) And this is my MO...music and BBQ. Her ribs were falling off the bone, so succulent and the pulled pork hit the spot. But I was taken by her Carolina vinegar sauce. I might be a convert. 

Chef and "one of the" pitmasters, Travis, was gracious enough to let me tape him serving his rack of ribs (which will make the video, I'm sure.

"Take Me Home, Country Roads"

Next stop: Leonard's Pit BBQ and Graceland!

Tuesday
Jul242012

Charlie Vergos' Rendezvous is "Honored" to participate.

John Vergos just emailed and said they would be honored if I made the Rendezvous a stop on the BBQ Tour. That is huge because their place is another BBQ shrine.  I'll swing by there on Tuesday morning and see their famous ribs smoking.

Here is Nick Vergos with PGA Champ Shaun Michael and power driver, John Daly. (I was 6 feet away from Daly when he drove a ball 400 yards, around a dog leg!)

 

Tuesday
Jul172012

I'm Going to Kansas City...

 

I didn't pay attention to any of the pretty women there. No. I drove 4.5 hours from St. Louis of one thing -  to find some of the "best in the West". And, baby, I found it. I visited four joints in two hours: Danny Edwards' BLVD BBQ, Gates BBQ, and Jack Stack. Gates and Jack Stack were paranoid about my taping. Something about their secrets. They were the more "corporate" of the joints I've visited, so I understand. Bureacracy rules. BLVD BBQ had just closed its doors after its lunch crowd but opened them for me. Joel Bremer gave me a real cook's tour and I tasted some brisket. Hmmm. But the 9 hour round trip was worth it all with Arthur Bryant's. 
This is a BBQ SHRINE! And the Burnt Ends open faced sandwich was just outta this world. Manager Eddie Ecoles was kind enough to let me back in the kitchen too. As I skated around (there's a fine layer of grease everywhere) what I noticed immediately was how kind and happy were all the workers. They know they are at one of the best places and their pride shows through. The pictures on the wall gave proof of the celebrities that are rumored to visit. I especially liked the side-by-side photos of Jimmy Carter eating ribs...next to Sarah Palin and John McCain chowing down.


I didn't pay attention to any of the pretty women there. No. I drove 4.5 hours from St. Louis of one thing -  to find some of the "best in the West". And, baby, I found it. I visited four joints in two hours: Danny Edwards' BLVD BBQ, Gates BBQ, and Jack Stack. Gates anbd Jack Stack were paranoid about my taping. Something about their secrets. They were the more "corporate" of the joints I've visited, so I understand. Bureacracy rules. BLVD BBQ had just closed its doors after its lunch crowd but opened them for me. Joel Bremer gave me a real cook's tour and I tasted some brisket. Hmmm. But the 9 hour round trip was worth it all with Arthur Bryant's. This is a BBQ SHRINE! And the Burnt Ends open faced sandwich was just outta this world. Manager Eddie Ecoles was kind enough to let me back in the kitchen too. As I skated around (there's a fine layer of grease everywhere) what I noticed immediately was how kind and happy were all the workers. They know they are at one of the best places and their pride shows through. The pictures on the wall gave proof of the celebrities that are rumored to visit. I especially liked the side-by-side photos of Jimmy Carter eating ribs...next to Sarah Palin and John McCain chowing down.

 

 

 

Burnt Ends Open Face Sandwich (to DIE for)

Danny Edwards' BLVD BBQ

WIth a Pig Ol Pig outside

And always a good sign...a wood pile


Here's Little Richard's hit version of the Leiber and Stoller hit. I actually learned it all from the Beatles with their rip of LR's "Hey Hey Hey Hey"


 

 

Monday
Jul162012

Meet me in St. Louis (for great BBQ)

Yes, the home of the 1904 World's Fair, the great Arch and Chuck Berry also has great BBQ. So I started my tour a little earlier than expected as I had some business in town. Before I actually got to enjoy the local fare, I was wandering around The Loop downtown and found Chuck Berry Square (where lines of his songs are etched in stone in the pavement).

I view this as a SIGN. Not only is he one of my biggest influences but "My Baby Loves BBQ" is pure Chuck.

Then dinnertime rolled around and I visited Terry Black's Super Smokers out west of the city in Eureka. Big Bill Rosenbach was there managing the crowds (long line) and the orders. I had a third of slab of ribs and some pulled pork. When Bill came out to join me at the table, the first thing he asked was "How were the ribs?" His pride showed through all of his backstage tour he gave me. Since I am gathering shots for the upcoming video, I wanted to get some authentic smoker shots and they had a doozie - as big as a bread oven (remember, I'm from the Cassone Bakery family). But I will return today to get some real "smoker" shots and to meet the star, Terry. His BBQ team won the Memphis in May Championship for Whole Hog in 2000, among many others. I am learning quickly how big some of these festivals are and what influence they have with BBQ lovers.

Super Smokers' Eureka restaurant, off I-44, also part of the "Historic Route 66" tour (notice the 66 signs above the windows.) They get a big response from the folks who follow the Chicago-to-LA route.

Now...off to Kansas City!

 

 

 

When it all started:

As the song says 

We soon found ourselves on a mission
Had to find out what we were missin’
Moving from town to town down the Eastern Seaboard
Looking for the best in the west was our just reward

So I decided to get in the car and go. August 2  I'll head to the first stop in Memphis, TN, (1,167 miles from NY)Charlie Vergos' Rendezvous. John Vergos said to come on down, they will "be honored". Of course, I have to also visit Leonard's Pit Barbecue and get a shot of "Mr Brown" in neon outside his place (and taste their ribs!). 

Then we'll head east to Decatur, Alabama and Big Bob Gibson's Bar-B-Q where the invitation was sent by Jeff Hess at the 6th Street restaurant. That should be August 8th for lunch, although I do want to stop in Muscle Shoals and see "the studio" where all those hits where made.

Then we're off to the Mountain High BBQ & Music Festival. Hope to get some great shots there. Then off to the greater Raleigh area and the highlight of the trip.

Charlie's BBQ & Grille in Clayton, NC. Why? Because  former State Trooper Charlie Carden was the first to respond to my request and was very responsive to having me down. Charlie is even closing the restaurant for busniess on Sunday, August 12, to have a "Customer Appreciation Day" to coincide with my visit. He'll have a stage, DJ and, oh yea, free BBQ!

I'm coming to eat, to film and even to play, if you'd like...well, at least my song. And I'd love to video a crowd in your place lip-syncing the chorus ("Bop - Bop - Bar- Be- Cue")

Watch my viral video, "Route 22", about our hometown road up here in NY which goes from NYC to Canada. That is the spirit in which the BBQ video will be made.

I especially need some footage of "that curling column of smoke"...so if your smoker has a nice visual plume, I'd like to film it.

BBQU's Steve Raichlen added the song to his blog and pointed me in the right direction with his bible, "BBQ USA"

You can email me through the Bandcamp link (click on the song) or on the contact page.

 

 

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