The BBQist Manifesto

They may not have gotten brisket before, but they get it now.

CHICAGO – Unwritten rules permeate barbecue culture like post oak smoke permeates a hunk of brisket. Don’t drown the meat in sauce. Use spare ribs instead of babybacks. Never sacrifice attention to the meat for attention to side dishes. Everyone seems to know these rules, but they rarely get codified. The proprietors of Smoque have done just that, issuing a manifesto that records some of these rules while also explaining to Midwesterners unfamiliar with real barbecue exactly why following those rules produces such delicious results.

So does Smoque practice what it preaches? On a breezy June night, I loaded down a platter for a test. Continue reading

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Mad Swine

Location: A dimly lit hotel bar on Madison Avenue.

Don Draper fiddles with something in his drink. Joan Harris, who will soon become Joan Holloway again thanks to the divorce papers she has just been served, looks perplexed.

Joan: Is that…?

Don: Yes. It is.

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Sauces? We don’t need no stinking sauces.

Love (of pork and bread) is all you need.

DESTIN, Fla. – It takes guts to open a cash-only restaurant with no indoor seating in a place where the temperature routinely hovers between 90 and the fires of hell. It takes even more guts to serve a pulled-pork sandwich completely untouched by sauce.

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An ample Dowry

MADISON, Wis. – Even though it stands very little chance of happening, I support the idea of a college football playoff with semifinal games at campus sites because of one glorious possibility. If schools host the games, then there is a chance that some SEC power (Alabama, Georgia, Auburn, you name it) will have to play at Wisconsin. Continue reading

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Biscuits, bees and guilt

The Mountaineer.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – As I stared up toward the top of the hill, one thought thundered through my head.

You brought this upon yourself. Continue reading

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Barbecue in The Bywater

NEW ORLEANS – Even Tom Robbins would admire the way I ate my way through NOLA to keep the leg-humping hunger beast at bay. I consumed Po’ Boys, gumbo, boudin, rabbit, lamb, alligator and the porcine delicacy the French call cochon de lait. But those who have followed this little endeavor for any length of time know that no matter how delicious a city’s local cuisine, I always want to know how that town treats my first and true love. Continue reading

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Heaven’s backyard

Steak, strawberries and duck fat. Don't question it. Just eat it.

NEW ORLEANS – The sun started its descent as the cab rolled alongside the Mississippi River through the Marigny and into the Bywater. A soft breeze kissed us as we stepped out onto the sidewalk on Poland Street. The evening was perfect, but when we saw the peeling paint and the sagging wood, we had to wonder.

For all the breathless promises of a one-of-a-kind dining experience, Bacchanal didn’t look like much. A modest house long past its prime – if it ever had a prime to begin with. Then we stepped into the backyard and understood. Continue reading

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