Saturday, March 20, 2021

Wäller BBQ

BBQ 118 - Wäller BBQ

Wahlrod, Germany

Well, well, whaddayaknow - Facebook can actually be useful for something other than spreading harebrained conspiracy theories after all. I have no idea how the algorithm found me, but a few days ago there was this message in my feed that basically said, hey, this Friday we are serving spare ribs glazed with BBQ sauce, taters and baked beans - come get cha some! I was e-l-e-c-t-r-i-f-i-e-d! Some kind of semi-original BBQ practically in my backyard? And I only learned about this only now? Holy Moses!

Turns out there is a very small outfit in the middle of the Westerwald (think Smoky Mountains, only a third as high, but basically with the same type of country folk living there) that mainly caters festivities, family gatherings, weddings and the like. But during this ongoing pandemic, there haven't been any of those for over a year now, so they turned the business into a delivery/pick-up service for BBQ. Each Friday, they have a different specialty - pulled pork, chicken, ribs, brisket ... the usual suspects. 

Their name - Wäller BBQ - is a pun on the local dialect, in which the word "Westerwälder", as a descriptive term of a person who lives in the Westerwald (think "Montaineer" for someone who lives in the mountains ...), is shortened and becomes just "Wäller". Whatever.

So today, I drove 40 Kilometers in a raging blizzard (actually, there were some flurries ...) from my house to their little shack in the woods (actually, it is a basement room in a somewhat unfinished looking residential building ...) and picked-up my first order there - a so called "BBQ kit" for about 14 Euro, with loin ribs glazed with BBQ sauce, a baked potato with a special creme, and baked beans with some bacon and onions. It all comes in aluminum containers that you just pop in the oven and let it heat at 180 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes. Easy enough.

So what can you expect? What did I expect? Not THAT, to be sure. I am more of a pork kind of guy, but I'll eat ribs if I have to. And those ribs I will gladly eat again. And again. And ... you get my drift. They are s-p-e-c-t-a-c-u-l-a-r! And I am not only saying this because I didn't have real BBQ for two years now (my yearly trip to Boogies in Nürnberg, as well as my yearly business trip to Georgia were both cancelled when that stupid virus decided to spread all over the world ...). I am genuinely enthusiastic, downright giddy with joy. 

At first, I was a bit skeptical - usually, when reheating stuff, the meat gets all dry and the taste is somewhat lacking. In this case, however, so my theory goes, it is that because the meat had time to absorb the sauce even more, it was actually a good thing that it was prepared a day or so ago and then heated up again. The slab of ribs came wrapped not only in aluminum foil, but inside there was a sheet of parchment paper that kept the moisture intact. Those guys are geniuses! So I did exactly as the instructions said, which was very simple indeed, and out came ... drumroll ... more drumroll ... a perfect slab of BBQ ribs.
Really. Perfect. The taste was exquisite - very smoky, with the sauce not overwhelming the meat, yet fruity and with just a hint of spice. No idea whether they are making their own sauce or whether they are using something commercial - but good choice, either way!
The meat was so tender, that it was impossible to carry it over from the aluminum to a tray without it just falling off the bones - literally. It had the perfect texture, with just a bit of fat to keep it juicy and trap the flavor, but not too much of it, so to avoid the dreaded gristle driven gag reflex.
Most delicious.
The kit also had a really big potato, which came in a tray together with the beans, which was popped in the oven as well. The tater was also very tasty, and it came with a seemingly self made kind of sour creme, too, that had some herbs, onions and stuff like that in it. The beans were a bit disappointing, though, but that is usually the case with them. Not only was it only maybe two spoonfuls of beans, but the taste was somewhat plain and nothing special. But it was acceptable as a side and didn't hurt the overall experience.

To sum it up, this was worth every cent. The portion was generous, the meat was top quality, the taste was utterly delicious and the overall experience very strongly reminded me of the trips back in Alabama, which I made every second Friday to some obscure BBQ place somewhere in the boondocks. And the best thing - come this May, the guys from Wäller BBQ will have a food truck that will serve BBQ all week long, not only on Fridays. I am so there when that starts ...


Thursday, May 9, 2019

Boogie's BBQ

BBQ 117 – Boogie’s BBQ
Nürnberg, Germany

Boogie’s BBQ in Nürnberg is the only show in town. Not only in Nürnberg, but it literally is the only real show in the whole country. When I moved back from Alabama, I scoured the internet to find some, no, rather any, BBQ joints in my vicinity. The closest one I could detect is this one, which is about 200 miles away – and that makes a plate of pulled pork now and then a somewhat time consuming and expensive affair. I only have time to go there once or twice a year. So, I am living in BBQ diaspora now. Boohoo, cry me a river.
Although, the real problem here is not so much the distance that makes satisfying my instant cravings so damn near impossible, at least on a regular basis. No, the real problem is that Boogie’s BBQ ranks among the best I ever had – right there with my favorite joints in Alabama, Tennessee and Florida. Those guys in Nürnberg know how to smoke a hog. No wonder, the founder and owner of this place comes from Memphis and he brought all the knowledge with him to Germany. The pulled pork is tender, juicy and has an exquisite smoke flavor. The burnt ends are marvelous as well, and the brisket is just heavenly. They serve the meat with a quite solid bun of bread, not the American style soft variety. And that is a good thing, because with the solid bun you can put more sauce on it, without having to deal with a disintegrating, sloppy mess after five seconds. And sauce you will put on – they have four flavors, one hot, one fruity, one smoky, and one vinegar based. I always mix the hot one with the fruity one, but the other two are also very good. Of course, you don’t need to eat the bun at all and just devour the meat. But quite frankly, I prefer to soak the bun with the sauces, put the meat on it and eat like a pig, including the stains on my shirt and in my beard.
They serve the usual fixins as sides, and the potato salad is just great, and all other sides are good to very good. Meals are not really cheap compared to some BBQ restaurants in the States, because it is a novelty restaurant here in Germany, but I think the items are quite fairly priced for the quality and quantity you get.
Two more bonus points for this place are the very friendly and cheerful staff, and the basic layout of the restaurant. It has all kinds of US memorabilia on the walls, the tables have red and white checkered cloths, the background music is a mix of classic soul and blues songs, and you can even purchase T-shirts with their logo on them. If that place was suddenly beamed away to the BBQ in the southern US, it would fit right in.
So, for me it always is kind of a pilgrimage when I go to Boogie’s BBQ. I just hope and pray that it keeps on serving us poor sinners for a long time to come. 

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Dave Poe's BBQ

BBQ 116 – Dave Poe’s BBQ

Marietta, Georgia, USA

At lunch time, the line of customers stretches the whole length of the entrance way, which is a good 30 feet long. It is always a good sign, if the locals seem to like a place.
Fortunately, I was there right at when they opened the place. before that tidal wave hit.
The restaurant is located in one of those typical strip malls at a busy street that you can find in every American city. Right next to it is a Waffle House, which may serve as a beacon to Dave Poe’s BBQ, because you have to look kind of hard to find it driving by.
It is not even a small place, with maybe twenty tables and booths for four customers each, but there are no flashy signs, no advertisements, and the like to alert you that you are about to pass BBQ heaven. There is only the name of the place in big letters at the front, and it also says “Wood Pit Barbecue” near the top of the building.

And the sign does not lie. To jump ahead to the main reason to go there, the pulled pork I had definitely came out of the wood pit. It had a marvelous smoky flavor, it was tender and even came with some very crunchy bark. Hands down, one of the best pork I’ve ever had. Needless to say, that it was also very tender and juicy. At first, I thought it to be a shame to pour sauce over it – until I took a taste of it. Heaven. Well rounded, thick and red, clearly vinegar based but also tangy and a little sweet. Perfection in a refillable plastic bottle. The potato salad was superb, too. Only the cole slaw was a bit too watery for my taste – some more salt and pepper and maybe even some more vinegar would make it more to my liking. The pulled pork plate came with two slices of pickle and a Texas toast, which I drenched in the heavenly sauce after everything else was gone and basically used as dessert to that really splendid meal. For all that, plus a cup of unsweet tea, I paid about fourteen bucks, which falls in line with the price level in the greater Atlanta area, I guess. It was worth every penny, though.

As for the atmosphere there – very clean, very bright and very straight forward. I wouldn’t call the interior “modern”, and it certainly is not the coziest place you can imagine, but I liked the college sports decorations, including the long line of trophies at one wall, the old license plates on another wall, and the wooden floor and walls overall. A special shout out goes to the Bama sign (RollTide!) next to the UGA sign at the counter! It surprised me a little bit to find those two arch rivals next to each other, because clearly this neck of the woods is UGA country. I failed to ask Mr. Poe, who personally took my order, for the significance of the two signs. Well, I was hungry at the time and had to catch a flight later that day. But whenever I return, this will most certainly on my bucket list of things to do.