Sunday, July 14, 2013

Burger King

Non-Quest BBQ No 36 – Burger King

Huntsville, Alabama
During my occasional travels, I try to sample BBQ at those near and far away places outside the Quest area. I just really, really like that stuff ... 

So, once in a while one or another of the national fast food chains decides to spice up their menu with a BBQ-themed item. It should go without saying that those ventures cannot be compared to our local BBQ – they are worlds apart. But as an alternative to the regular menu items, it might just work.

So, now Burger King, too. It is called the Memphis BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich and comes with pulled pork, Memphis BBQ sauce, sliced onion rings and a sweet southern dressing. It looks quite nice in the advertisement pictures, so I thought what the heck.
Well, the one I got did not look quite as nice. After unwrapping it, there was this squishy, slobby, moist, and chaotic mass, which looked an awful lot like road kill. I am also pretty sure that the white sticky thing on it was cheese, which was not featured in the advertisement at all. Or, if it was supposed to be the sweet southern sauce, it was one rubbery concoction of a sauce.
Of course, the advertisement promises tender hickory smoked pork, but there was no way in the world to examine that – the whole thing was drenched in this supermarket-grade Memphis BBQ sauce, which was the only flavor I could determine. Even the onions tasted like it. Which is not to say that it was all bad. Not at all, if you do not expect a real BBQ sandwich. For a fast food offering it was acceptable, even more so because the small combo with fries and a drink only sets you back about five and a half bucks. But be warned – as the picture indicates, it is a real mess to eat. Get some extra napkins.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Hickory Stick Bar-B-Q

Quest Log No 55 – Hickory Stick Bar-B-Q
Decatur, Morgan County

On the outskirts of Decatur, there is a shop where you can buy an almost life-size metal elephant with a big red Bama-A on it. It does not get any more southern than this. Well, maybe a notch or so more when you step into the BBQ place next to it and have some pulled pork.

The Hickory Stick Bar-B-Q is in an unassuming square building, and the inside too is rather unspectacular. About a dozen or so tables in a big room with black, white, and red chairs, and red or blue tablecloths, with rolls of paper towels on them plus a bottle of vinegar BBQ sauce – the basic necessities are all there, including some BBQ and pork themed wall hangings. This is not the coziest atmosphere, but it will do if the food is good.
And good it is. I had the large pork plate with potato salad and slaw, and a side order of hushpuppies, and together with a sweet tea that set me back a little more than ten bucks.
The pulled pork was moist and lean, although not the most tender meat I ever had. It was not really chewy, but could have been a bit less resistant. The flavor, on the other hand, was beyond any doubt very articulated and had a wonderful hickory aroma. Together with the very basic vinegar-pepper sauce, which was more sour than spicy, it made for a wonderful taste experience.
The slaw was also on the sour side, with the vinegar-based dressing having just enough spices in it to produce a well rounded aroma. The potato salad was very tasty, too, but reminded me of a product I once had bought in a supermarket. No biggy here, not everybody is a potato-salad wizard, and to acknowledge one’s limitations is usually better than trying and bringing an inferior product to the table. Or, if it really was made from scratch, then kudos for achieving a well rounded middle-of-the-road taste.
But now, I have to talk about the hushpuppies. Very crunchy on the outside, just moist enough on the inside to not fall into a gazillion crumbs when cut in half, with a nice corn flavor with only a very subtle sweetness – some of the best hushpuppies I ever had.

So, if you ever drive through Decatur and see an elephant with big red Bama-A’s on its sides, stop and take a picture. And then go a few steps to the side and have some good Q at the Hickory Stick place. It does not get any more authentic then this.