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MD/Virginia/North Carolina BBQ Road trip

I have been wanted to get back to North Carolina for a while now. I really wanted to get to some of places on the North Carolina BBQ Society  Historic Barbecue Trail. I have this underlying fear that if I don’t see some of these places soon they may not be around too much longer. Each place I went in North Carolina was very unique. They are all very individual save for vinegar.  Vinegar was the only constant in the trip. Everything else changed from location to location.  On the way to NC I stopped at a few places in Maryland and Virginia as well.

The Trip started at a place that was recommended to me – over the next couple of weeks Ill write about every place I have been.

Carterque

1310 South Main Street  Mt. Airy, MD 21771

They have a deep understanding of all types of BBQ from Competition to Restaurant and everything in between.  They even organize their own BBQ competition each year SWINESTASTIC.

Fun license plates cover many of the surfaces. Pig lights, wood beams and a generally comfortable feeling round out the vibe. There is a patio out front for more seasonal warmer months.

  

The food is all cooked with hickory and oak on a Southern Pride.

The inside décor is a mixture of license plates, BBQ posters and lots of wood. It’s a comfortable place perfect for date night every day eating and families. The place was getting full of happy looking folks all eating lots of BBQ slowly smoked on heir Southern pride using Oak.  I watched plate after plate of BBQ being delivered to tables. All of it looked great. These folks have earned some serious accolades for their food and their legendary Black Raspberry Grillin’ Sauce taking 1st place at the National BBQ Association (NBBQA) competition.

We got to try all 4 of their awesome sauces-

Sweet & Tangy Grillin Sauce

Ol’ Red Grillin Sauce

Hot & Spicy Grillin sauce

Black Raspberry Grillin’ Sauce

They were all good. On the advice of our server we even mixed the black raspberry with the hot & spicy and it was the bomb.

We ordered an assortment of food-brisket, pork, ribs, sausage and their smoked turkey. Nothing comes slathered with sauce and I sure did appreciate that. All of it was moist and delicious save for the turkey. The turkey was sliced and looked like it had been grilled after. Unfortunately it was on the dry side but still had good flavor. The meat on the ribs pulled off nicely but was not overdone. The brisket was tender and juicy with a terrific pull and chew. Seasonings were restrained on all the meats. They really did a great job of letting the meat and smoke flavor shine through. I really like the fact they served all of their sauces on the side. It was a fantastic grouping.    I can see myself eating here again in the future. I sure hope to get back and I would not hesitate to recommend this place to anyone.

  

  

Sides we chose were mac & cheese, hush puppies, cornbread, loaded baked potato, and coleslaw.  The slaw was beautifully crisp and lightly dressed, the hush puppies were nicely done with a crunchy exterior and fluffy interior, the cornbread had a subdues sweetness to it and the loaded baked potato was great packed with goodness. I just don’t get the texture of the mac and cheese. the cheese sauce was amazing but the pasta was so soft it was mush. I asked the owner about it and he says thats the way people like it. Personally I like texture to my pasta.

Another thing I just have to mention about Carterque is the people that work there. From the front door, to the bar area, to the waiter to the owner these people are uber friendly. Not in that fake crappy kind of way these people really do go out of their way to make you feel comfortable- genuinely glad you are there.
Terrific place to go, delicious BBQ and all around awesome.

Carterque on Facebook

Carterque on Twitter 


 


http://www.highway61.ca/

1620 Bayview Ave

Toronto ON

416-489-RIBS

 

Recently I was in Toronto for a visit. Decided to head to Hwy 61 with some friends to try their BBQ.  I had heard and read some very mixed reviews about it. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got there.

The decor feels right. What I mean by that is the place feels like a BBQ joint from the South. Tucked into a storefront on Bayview Ave its got great curb appeal with flames and barn boards.  The inside is even better. Lots of blues (of course) , Jazz and other music posters , comfortable seating upstairs and down with a couple of friendly bars you want to saunter up to and have a beer. They have a terrific selection of craft beers.

  

  

I spoke with the General Manager Matt and asked if I could see their pits. He was really accommodating and let me see their kitchen and their pits. They use 2 Cookshack Electric smokers in the kitchen and a HUGE custom made 2 ton Ole Hickory in the back. They use organic apple wood for all their smoking.

As I headed to sit down for lunch I asked if  could try a sample platter with my friends and a few of their sauces. What happened in the next hour or so was a bit of a blur. Ribs. Lots of ribs, from their original signature side ribs (my fav) to their Dakota beef ribs ( they had a little heat to them) and then their Mississippi back ribs . Bourbon glazed pit chicken – super moist and flavorful, tender but not too tender brisket that yielded well to a snap test and had a lightly smoky flavor,  Texas style sausage – that had a great snap, great texture to it and a beautiful scent of smoke plus the best onion rings I have ever had anywhere.  Alongside of all this was their sauces… 61 BBQ, Dakota, Memphis, and a really unique creole sauce I could have drunk a cup full – it was so good.  I didn’t even capture a before picture the BBQ enticed us all so much. I think that says a lot. The aroma was captivating.  The food was gorgeous to look at. Nothing was over sauced or shellacked so much that the meat didn’t come through. Here’s the bones:

Seriously as soon as they bottle this stuff I will buy a case or 3  Hwy 61 Creole Sauce.

The meats mentioned above were all incredibly well done. We liked it all. –  The pulled pork was however not my favorite. I found it to be on the mushy end and not all that appealing. It was also lacking flavor. I like bark. I like bark on pork especially since it captures so much flavor. This certainly would not keep me from going back again.

I talked to Matt about the restaurant a bit. I asked him where they learned to BBQ – he told me that the crew had done their own thing but also had gone to learn from a couple of folks who know BBQ inside and out because it literally is in their blood…. Mike Mills yes.. that Mike Mills of 17th Street BBQ fame and his lovely daughter Amy Mills.  They all had gone to the OnCue and business of BBQ course.

Matt also talked a bit about the challenges they had with bringing such a large smoker into the downtown Toronto area. The amount of challenges they had to overcome was huge. From the smokestack length to the building they had to create behind the restaurant to accommodate a hand wash station and prep table were just a couple of obstacles.  They have overcame them all and made all of the health inspectors, fire departments and councils happy.

This was a really good BBQ experience. We all thoroughly enjoyed our meal. The warm hospitality, the great ambiance and the kick ass Q all led to some very happy people with full bellies who are already thinking of making a repeat visit. There are a whole lot of other things on their menu I still want to try.  Kudos to the crew at HWY 61 BBQ. They make some of the best BBQ I have ever tried in Ontario. I’ll be back for sure.

 

 

 


 


Got a new book from Ardie Davis (aka Remus Powers PHB) and Paul Kirk.

America’s Best Ribs: Tips and Recipes for Easy, Lip-Smacking, Pull-Off-the-Bone, Pass-the-Sauce, Championship-Quality BBQ Ribs at Home

Both of these BBQ gentlemen have put out multiples of books before such as:

The Kansas City Barbeque Society Cookbook, 25th Anniversary Edition

America’s Best BBQ: 100 Recipes from America’s Best Smokehouses, Pits, Shacks, Rib Joints, Roadhouses, and Restaurants

Back Cover:

This one is all about RIBS… Delicious…mouthwatering …goodness that is ribs. No boiling needed……….

Ribs is the one thing everyone absolutely loves to make on the grill. I get asked more questions about ribs than any other meat.

They cover off all types of ribs in this book: Pork, Beef, Bison, Mutton and lamb. The recipes are varied and there are step by step instructions on how to make ribs that will make you look like a Champion right in your own backyard! Plus desserts & side dishes .. really yummy side dishes like this corn recipe:

I really enjoy looking through BBQ books that have lots of great but not perfect pictures. Completely staged pictures with perfect drops of sauce really don’t float my boat. I prefer pictures that showcase real BBQ the not so perfect kind. I love the fact that real pictures are used in this book. There are lots of great pictures used from a variety of BBQ Contests and gatherings.  Many people from around the BBQ circuit and BBQ Legends like Pat Burke.

There is a community feel to this book that is terrific. Lots of contributions from many folks in the BBQ community. In addition there are a ton of recipes that  anyone from the inexperienced to the competitor will really use.  The book will be available for sale May 1, 2012 . I think it would make an ideal gift for any avid griller and a wonderful Fathers day gift.

 

 


 


 

Yesterday was the cutoff date for submissions of videos for BBQ Pitmasters Season 3 !

 

The competition is really heating up for a spot on the hit show. Lots of great audition tapes posted to Youtube and Vimeo. Some are new faces and some are people you may have just seen before. Good Smoking Luck to all who applied!!

BBQ Pitmasters 2012 from chris hart on Vimeo.

 

Pitmaster’s Audition from Bourbon Barrel BBQ on Vimeo.

 

Rod Gray Pitmasters Audition from Scott Jolley on Vimeo.


 


I often get asked for advice about starting a Competition BBQ Team. Its a never ending process. I learn something at every contest.

Here are a few forms I use for each and every competition

Diva Q Cook Log 2012

Diva Q Competition Checklist 2012

 

Here are some helpful tips to get you started as a competition team. Remember Having fun is a big part of it but planning it can make it a whole lot better.

 

 

Practical tips & advice for new competition BBQ teams

 

  • Practice

Keep practicing until you get completely comfortable within competition timelines. Practice until you are sick of eating bbq. When you practice at home follow the same timelines as a real competition. Set up like you would a real competition (no running back into the house).

 

  • Analyze

Ask your friends to critique your food. Ask them to rate it just like at a competition. Give them score cards. After a competition analyze your scores. Find out what the judges didn’t like. It’s not personal. It’s just competition. Learn from it.

 

  • Good Notes are worth their weight in gold

At every contest and for every test cook keep notes and take lots of pictures. In addition your expenses should be tracked as well. How much you spend on all of the items you need and what it cost to get there. Be practical. You can’t do every contest (unless you are a millionaire) so pick and choose carefully based on your income and comfort level in spending money on a hobby.

Things to take note of:

Temperature outside, and inside your grill

Humidity levels

Placement on the grill

Holding times

Rubs

Sauces

Finishing glazes

Presentation

Cooking times

Wind direction

  • Change one thing at a time.

When making changes to your flavor profiles, cooking temperature or any other competition change – only change one thing at a time. Measure the results and adjust accordingly. If you change too much you don’t know what you are measuring.

  • Clean as you go.

When you finish a turn in clean up and set up again for the next category. Don’t leave this till the last minute. A clean and de-cluttered competition table makes for an easier environment to work in.

For easier cleanup I like to use Smoky Mountain Smokers Disposable Cutting Boards- they make cleanup  lot easier and there is much less chance for cross contamination.

  • Consistency  Consistency  Consistency

Set up the same at every contest. Set your grills up, your tables up even the drink coolers in the same location. Do things on schedule at the same time. You should plan what you are doing every hour of the contest. Saves valuable time when it comes to turn in crunch time.

 

  • Have a back-up plan

If you use electrical based grills- have a generator and make sure you have gas.  Same for electrical appliances – be prepared. If the contest runs out of power how do you recover? Make a plan.

  • Be Considerate, have fun and play nice.

Introduce yourself and your team to other teams. Don’t play your music too loud. Don’t encroach on your neighbours’ competition site. Ask before entering anyone’s site or wait to be invited. Share electricity and water fairly. Mind your own kids- don’t let them run all over other people’s sites. Offer to help someone if you can. Ask general questions but don’t ask specifics i.e. – what’s in a competitor’s sauce or rub. Everyone remembers the idiots.

  • It’s a lot cheaper to party at home.

Drinking to excess at a contest really doesn’t make that much sense. It is a pretty darn expensive party. Save the liquid libations for after the last turn in time and when the packing and cleaning is done. It’s not a pretty sight to have to clean up BBQ gunk and grease when you are hung over.  Plus if you play make sure you stay the night or have a designated driver.

  • Taste trumps everything.

Taste is the #1 most important factor in scoring for KCBS. Keep that always in mind that you should be spending more time on taste than appearance- always.

  • Be Prepared

Find out what the weather is going to be like well in advance. Search the contest location on Google maps. Take note of where the water and electricity is. Find out who you should contact in case of an emergency.

Have an inventory list of all the items you use in competition. For sauces and rubs make sure you have enough for each contest.  Order regularly to ensure freshness.

  • Share with your competition neighbors.

Wherever possible try other competitor’s entries. Write down what you taste.  Make notes on their turn ins. Ask for honest feedback from them. Its good – doesn’t tell you much. Ask them to be specific.

 

  • Shorten the learning curve.

Before the contest read the Competition forums on the net. Watch you tube videos. There is lots of great information out there on box presentations, rubs, how to videos and sauces. Take a class from an experienced competitor. Take a judging class. Judge a contest. See what is being turned in. All of these will help shorten the learning curve.

  • Shut up Pay attention and listen.

Pay attention to your competitors and what they are doing. Listen to experienced bbq’ers on the competition circuit. Ask the contest reps for advice. You have two ears and one mouth. Use them in that proportion. Often the best advice received is not the advice that was solicited.

  • Edit delete and remove.

After a contest take a look at what you packed and what you actually used. Always go back and edit your notes, delete anything unnecessary and remove anything you didn’t use. Packing too many just in case items just adds up to a much longer competition clean-up. For example I love these heavy duty bus pans. They serve multiples of purposes. i use them to pack items in them. Then when I arrive at a contest I line them with bags to prep- then finally as a dish pan. Three purposes one item to pack.

  • Show me the money!

Remember that you don’t write the check. You don’t give out the scores. What you like to eat and the flavor profile you enjoy- doesn’t matter. The only people that matter are the judges. It’s their opinions and taste buds that put you on the podium.  You should taste test everything with a clean palette (no smoking or drinking anything but water) but remember just because you love 5 spice powder with a heavy hot sauce doesn’t mean the judges will.

 

 


 


Ted Reader has confirmed that he is Tabasco Canada’s newest Spokesperson on his facebook account:

I am happy to announce that I am officially one of Tabasco Canada’s newest spokesperson. I have always been a fan of Tabasco and all of their products and it is pretty exciting to now be part of the family. Check out Tabasco Canada and enjoy the tastyness. Cheers

 

I think this is fantastic news!! Ted comes up with wicked good grilling recipes and I really believe that unlike a lot of those celebrity spokesperson endorsements this one actually makes a lot of sense.

Ted+Tabasco= all things good, tasty & fun.

 

Tabasco made a super smart move having Ted rep them ! Great news!! I can’t wait to see the fun grilling and BBQ related recipes he is sure to create!

For more news about Ted make sure to check out

Tabasco Canada on Facebook


 


One little tweet. Thats all it took for the BBQ community to get all in a kerfuffle about a new Season of BBQ Pitmasters

BBQPitmasters
To all our great diehard BBQ Pitmasters fans, good news in the works. Check bbqforum.com for an announcement. Things are moving quickly!
26 Jan Favorite Undo Retweet Reply

2 days later a post on the BBQ Forum provided a link to the information:

 

BBQ Pitmasters is back!
Season 3 begins shooting in March!!


Good Luck to everyone sending in their audition tapes!!  I had a blast doing the show in Season 2.

 

Of course the debate about BBQ on tv continues on. Well documented by one of my favorite BBQ blogs

The BBQ Brethren

 
Lots of discussions are going on here.


 


Our March class has already old out. We will be announcing another 2 day competition class for May in the upcoming week!

Please note no recording devices will be allowed during class times. A combination of pellet cookers (Traeger) and Charcoal (BBQ Guru Onyx Oven/WSM/Weber Grill) will be used for the class.

This will be an instructional class.

Please note you can also pay in advance via check or cash.

Please email divaq@rogers.com for application form.

 

Hotels in the South End Barrie Area:

Super 8 

Holiday Inn Express 

Hampton Inn & Suites

Days Inn

Monte Carlo Inn