Posts Tagged ‘Diva Q’
2312 Mt. Vernon Ave., Alexandria, VA 22301
As I was approaching Pork Barrel BBQ I was worried. I saw a lot of glass. A lot of very shiny posts and a lot of glass. Then I started to worry I would not like the food or the decor. My preferences tend to run to BBQ joints that have a sense of history to them. Even a little grease and grime- however the Pork Barrel Building has neither. Its in a league of its own.
You would have to be living under a rock not to know about or to have heard about Pork Barrel BBQ. Heath Hall & Brett Thompson.
They have appeared on Shark Tank, numerous TV and radio programs and have competed in many contests. They have their own BBQ forum BBQ Backyard.com. They are uber focused on the success of their BBQ products which include rubs, sauces, peanuts and even Que Cologne.
They partnered originally with Bill Blackburn and “Mango” Mike Anderson in the development of their restaurant. Then came shark tank and the outside investment of Barbara Corcoran. To say they are on the path to legendary status in the BBQ world would be an understatement. Their meteoric rise has been incredible to watch. Through their continuous hard work and sacrifices this has all come to pass. But who are we kidding – the most important thing to me is – how the heck does their food taste ???
I entered the restaurant and was immediately greeted by Mango Mike Anderson. I believe Heath must have texted him after seeing a tweet I posted. I thought Heath would have been busy as he was out of the country (getting married) when I visited. Seriously the guy never stops working.
I was really glad to see the interior of this great BBQ place. It has struck a beautiful balance between trustworthy BBQ goodness, sleek decor items, touches of wood and a vintage throwback with a great assortment of retro sodas and a vibe that just seems to flow from it.
There is this massive slab of a table made of wood that just warms the entire room up. The seating encourages a communal vibe. I believe this is important to a BBQ place as well. Stonework through out makes this place cozy. The lighting fixtures were carefully chosen they look like speckled fire. The bar is so inviting – you just want to have a cocktail or a craft brew.
There are great details that have been worked into the location. The floor holds a working fire suppressant system that was originally in a different locale. They just worked it in from bringing around the piping at the floor of the bar to make an easy foot rest to the draft taps on the plumbing. They took a negative and made it into a positive. It seems that nothing is an obstacle they can’t overcome. I loved seeing a nice arrangement of trophies near the sauce station. I liked the whimsy of the redneck plate dispenser. I liked the patriotic wet wipes. The large wooden boxes that hold the retro sodas beckon to you. Everything in this place was carefully thought and laid out. Even the writing on the bathroom doors in the Coca Cola font was done with care. I don’t think there were any details that were left out save for a picture of all of them. When I mentioned this to Mike Anderson he said they have it just had not had time to put it up.
But really once again it all comes back to the food.
They use 1 Southern Pride currently and demand has been so high that they are planning on putting in another. I also have to mention their staff were great. All of them smiling and happy to be there. Love that.
And how was the food? To put it in one word:
Every single item was amazing. I was gobsmacked at how good it all was.
Tender seasoned smoked chicken that the fat had rendered through beautifully:
Moist brisket full of beefy goodness with a kiss of smoke and a great texture that yielded beautifully with a pull test:
Ribs that had been rubbed and smoked with great care. They didn’t need a speck of sauce.
Beef Sausage in a pork casing that was custom ground with their own spices. Perfect snap and texture full of flavor and some of the best Pulled Pork I have ever had. Gorgeous mahogany color. The pork was in larger pieces full of bark and delicious flavor. It was sooo good.
Then there were the sides. All did a great job of complimenting the meats. There were perfectly balanced collard greens flecked with meat (seriously buy a pint or 4 you won’t regret it), tangy and refreshing cowboy caviar (awesome crunch and creamy beans), sliced cucumbers and red onion salad (so refreshing with BBQ), creamy coleslaw (great on pork), red skin creamy potato salad (like your Momma would make i), sweet BBQ baked beans (but not overly sweet), and mac and cheese (they use a great brand of pasta that helps the cheese stick to it) that had one of the best cheese sauces ever.
You also need to check them out on You Tube
So whats left to say about Pork Barrel BBQ?? I can’t wait to go back. I wish I lived closer.
Pork Barrel BBQ on twitter
Pork Barrel BBQ on facebook
Hogs on the Hill
2003 Bladensburg Rd NE
(at N New York Ave)
Washington, DC 20018
Ever been at a traffic light with the windows open and get a waft of something delicious in the air? It happened to me after leaving Leon’s BBQ in MD and still enroute to Pork Barrel BBQ. Sitting there trying to figure out where my GPS was taking me and like bloodhound I started sniffing the air. It was BBQ. Not 50ft from where I was at the lights I spotted the sign above. I knew I had to stop so I pulled into the McDonald’s parking lot and walked across the road to this take out BBQ joint. I was really glad I did. I will say though this was the very first time I have ever ordered BBQ through a bullet proof glass window. Maybe I was in a bad section of DC? I have not idea but it was definitely a first for me. Brilliant orange building – very small with no seating. All take out.
They had a huge pile of hickory in the back. I could taste it in the ribs I ordered. They had a great smoked flavor and had great texture. The rub was very mild, and pleasant to eat. They were served dry. The not so friendly girl at the counter (who looked bored out of her tree) asked if I wanted medium or hot sauce to go with that and the chicken. I go both.
The fat had rendered nicely through the ribs. I tried the sauces and they were really gloppy and overly sweet on the medium and not at all hot for the one they labelled hot. I didn’t like either of them.
The chicken was moist but it didn’t have much flavor. The collard greens were really mushy as was the bland overcooked mac & cheese. Nothing memorable here. The cornbread other than being yellow and moist didn’t have anything special about it. Meh.
Not sure if I would go back. Surly cashier meh food-decent ribs. I may if it was convenient I would order just the ribs – but nothing really spectacular here. Smelled great though.
9448 Lanham Severn Rd
Lanham-Seabrook, MD 20706
I ordered some brisket, chicken and collard greens with some beans. I tried to order ribs as well but they were not ready yet at lunchtime. I was offered the option of whole wheat or white bread. I opted for the white bread thinking that since this was a franchise from Texas I would be getting some great food.
I should have known when I asked them what kind of wood they used and they told me it just came in a bag. Um? They brought out a piece. Very friendly people actually. They had just opened the franchise about 3 weeks prior. They are new – really I get it. I also asked what kind of smoker they used. They could not tell me. ugh.
Still optimistic I sat down and waited for my order to be brought over.
It did and I knew. I knew in my gut this was not going to be good just by looking at it and smelling it.
Sadly I was right. The brisket was really overdone. Crumbling apart all moisture gone in some parts and the texture of rough leather in others. In addition some of it was also cut with the grain making it next to impossible to get a bite off. The smell was a very bitter smoke. Not pleasant at all. The chicken was overcooked and while seasoned lightly by the looks of it – the consistency and flavor was of dry cardboard.
The sauce was still warm as they had made it that morning. It had a really nice balance of sweet and tangy. However even the sauce could not save the brisket or the chicken.
All hope was not lost though. The pork rinds were excellent. Then came the best two items from this place. The beans were amazing. Absolutely amazing. I could have eaten a gallon of them. They were perfectly cooked just deliciously creamy on the inside and just the right texture of tender. The bean sauce was not overly sweet and had some light kick to it. With one bite I was instantly reminded of the beans from Texas that I had loved on my last visit there. then came the collard greens. Beautiful texture, aromatic liquor with a great balance of vinegar and sweet. Delicious!!
So not all was lost on the visit and I am sure these people will get the hang of making some good BBQ in the future. I sure hope they do because Ill have to stop back for more beans and greens. It may just take some time to get the hang of it.
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.
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
Yikes. 2 weeks since I last updated…
I have been on a BBQ crawl all over Maryland, Virgnia and North Carolina. I ate everywhere and anywhere I could get to and as time allowed. I also had a great experience at a place called Serenbe with the great group of Char-Broils all star bloggers along the way.
AS I head home back to Canada I am just trying to play catch up to everyday life. Over the next week or so Ill blog about all the fantastic places I got to eat and where I got to meet some awesome BBQ people. It was one heck of a trip and another thing off my own personal BBQ bucket list.
This is a really vibrant BBQ sauce with a nice level of heat. Great for topping chicken and pork and grilled fish.
- 2 Mangos Chopped
- 2 large jalapenos seeded and diced
- 1 small red onion finely diced
- 1 lime juiced and zested
- 1 navel orange zested and segmented
- 1/4 cup Trader Joes Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp allspice powder
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
Assemble all of the ingredients in a medium sized pot with lid. Simmer (stirring occasionally) on medium low for 15-20 minutes covered until the fruits and vegetables have softened. Using an immersion blender puree the ingredients until as smooth as possible. Press the sauce though a strainer. Keep refrigerated for up to 1 week. Serve on fish, pork or chicken.
Love the color and flavor – sweet, heat and tangy a great change from tomato based sugar loaded sauces. Enjoy!!
1620 Bayview Ave
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.
Back in February of 2011 I was asked to test out some recipes. I did not hesitate at all and accepted. In fact I consider myself pretty damn lucky to be asked. These were not just everyday BBQ recipes. These were World Championship recipes from the people at IQUE. The book is Wicked Good Barbecue – Fearless recipes from two damn Yankees who won the biggest baddest BBQ competition in the world. The book is truly as it is titled- WICKED GOOD.
The recipes I tested:
Jack Daniels World Championship Ribs
I Que Rub
IQUE BBQ Sauce
Pork Rib Marinade
These were recipes that made my taste buds dance, made my BBQ better and were enjoyed by everyone in my family. Well thought out ingredients – never skimping on quality, often sourced out to the best possible result were used.
I remember emailing some questions back and forth about ingredients and application. One of the things that came through clearly was that this is a book filled with unique fearless BBQ recipes. They had a mandate to put out the best and they did. Complex recipes each adding a new element of flavor. Great recipes that you will return to time and time again.
All tried out – tested multiples of times. This is not a dumbed-down fluffy BBQ cookbook. This book was not just churned out with only 1/4 of the recipes tested. No this book is a solid book filled with terrific tips, incredible recipes and full of passion for the art of BBQ. I know many people who were seriously anticipating this cookbook (myself included). With good reason- it is a no holds barred culinary BBQ adventure book. They give up a crapload of competition secrets and some truly inspiring recipes.
Written by Andy Husbands (Fearless Chef, Tremont 647, Sister Sorrel), Chris Hart (IQUE) with help from food writer Andrea Pyenson. These men have some serious bbq chops. World Champions, outstanding culinary chefs with a huge understanding of meat, smoke and fire. This is a new must have for anyone who wants to improve their everyday BBQ and to elevate their competition BBQ
From starting the fires to sourcing meats and adventuresome recipes this book has it all covered. Photography by Ken Goodman adds to the books overall appeal. This is high on my list of recommended reading for 2012. Get it.
I love stuffed burgers. They are like Christmas packages full of surprises. There are thousands of stuffed burger recipes out there. With good reason .. burger consumption is continuing to rise throughout North America. Economical and easy to make we just love burgers.
This isn’t so much aa recipe as it is a method of how I make stuffed burgers.
start with your ground beef. I use ground brisket wherever possible but use whatever you prefer. The final mixture should be 80/20. I have found any more % fat – the stuffing comes out too easily.
Place your ground beef on a cutting board. Here I have made mine into balls that give e a general idea how many burgers I will be making. Each was the size of a hardball.
Squish them down into one large rectangle shaped patty. Cover with plastic wrap and roll out with a rolling pin. This really does help make sure they are all an even thickness.
Using a pizza peel makes cutting easy. Much easier than dragging a knife through. Figure out how many burgers you want. I decided on 8. Enough to feed my family and also provide lunches the following day.
Then take inventory of your fridge. You can go out and buy foie gras and lobster if you would like but I need to get rid of some stuff in my fridge.
I love this stuff. We always have it on hand.
Bacon, jalapeno, mushroom, red onion and to bring it all together in one creamy package Philadelphia Herb and garlic cream cheese.
Spread out a few tablespoons of the cream cheese mixture on one patty for each of the burgers
Add some sauteed mushrooms
Add some sauteed onions, roughly chopped cooked bacon and finely minced jalapenos
Generously sprinkle the burgers with freshly cracked black pepper and kosher salt.
Time for the assembly. I use a slotted fish spatula. Its easy to side under the ground beef and flip it over. Then seal the edges pressing them together and molding the burger shape.
Then its time for the grill at medium high heat. I used my Big Green egg for today’s burger cook. I also used Basques an all natural lump charcoal.
Cook until the internal temperature is to your liking. The recommended minimum temperature for ground beef is 160F
These burgers hold up well even with all the stuffing. You won’t have a lot of leakage. Using the rolling pin really helps you make sure that you have a uniform thickness.
Lots of flavor and great texture. This is a favorite of our house.
Make sure you let them rest for 10 minutes after they come off the grill.
Yummy. Meat on sticks rocks. Want a kid to try something new – put it on a stick. Make it fun. I love these.
4 whole chicken breasts cut into 1.5″ cubes
1 green pepper chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 red onion – chopped into 1 inch pieces
Mushrooms stems removed
For the Wet Rub
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tbsp sweet paprika
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp saffron powder
1/2 tbsp black pepper
1.5 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp chipolte powder
1/2 tsp roasted * strong * cumin powder
Mix wet rub ingredients into a glass bowl. Add chicken toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Soak wooden skewers for 1/2 hr prior to grilling. Place a tomato on the end of the skewer and alternate the chicken with vegetables. Make sure they are tightly packed on. Grill over medium/high heat turning often until the temperature of the chicken reads 165F Set aside to rest for a few minutes and serve. Great served cold the next day as well.
I made a simple basmati saffron rice with toasted almonds and raisins to serve with mine.
1 cup basmati rice rinsed thoroughly
2 cups water
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup toasted almonds
3 tbsp saffron powder
1/2 tsp salt
On a medium high heat bring the water to a boil add rice, salt raisins and saffron powder. Stir thoroughly. Cover th rice with a tight fitting lid. Lower the heat to a simmer and continue to cook for 12-15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside for 15 minutes. Remove lid fluff with fork and top with almonds.