Monday, June 30, 2014

All good things ...

... must come to an end.
When I started this Quest three years ago, my goal was to visit about 20 new BBQ places in the counties of Limestone, Morgan, Lawrence and Madison each year. Given that there are about 70 BBQ restaurants in those counties at any given time (some will close, others will open ...), it would take about three and a half years at that rate to visit them all.
Well, I did not quite make it to the bottom of the list - time ran out when I was sent back to Germany in June 2014, and the count was 67. So there are a few that got away - around half a dozen, I'd say, that I still have on the list. Whereas, for most of those I do not even know if they still exist - I got their addresses off a Google-search, and they may have faltered since. That happened to me occasionally, when I showed up and only found closed doors instead of BBQ.
I also visited over 40 BBQ places out of the Quest area - Florida, Georgia, Texas, Tennessee, and even New Mexico. There will be one additional in this category - I found a BBQ place in Germany, the only one in the whole of Europe as far as I can tell. They do Memphis style BBQ, and they take it quite seriously. That will then be the final entry in this blog.
The Quest was a lot of fun, I ate a lot of very good, much to much of adequate, and some few bad BBQ. I met interesting people and actually was only approached twice in more than a hundred times by staff members about the photography part of it - and that not in a threatening kind of way, but out of sheer curiosity.
So, the last question at a point like this is always "Would you do it again?". The answer is a very certain "Yes, in a heartbeat". Actually, I will miss this in Germany - I will need to find another food item to follow there. :)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Southern Style Bar-B-Q

Quest Log No 67 – Southern Style Bar-B-Q
Decatur, Morgan County

This was on my list for forever, but somehow I never got to go there – had I known how good their BBQ is, I hadn’t waited so long. Maybe it was my dislike of drive-through BBQ places that kept me away – I just hate to juggle a BBQ tray on my knees and spill sweet tea all over the seats. Well, Southern Style Bar-B-Q has some rough wooden benches to sit in front of a window for walk-up orders. But seriously, me sitting on a cool Alabama summer day in 100-degree weather outside, battling flies, heat, and the sun, I don’t think so. So I bit the bullet and ate my pork plate in the car – since it was a rental, I really did not care that much about spills and such.
The meat was very tender, lean and borderline mushy. The flavor was almost perfect, with a very pronounced but not overwhelming smoke aroma. There are huge piles of wood behind the building, so that is clearly where the flavor comes from. It is supported by a no frills basic vinegar-pepper sauce. As sides I had potato salad, which was a bit on the bland side, and baked beans, which were very reminiscent of the stuff you get out of supermarket cans. Nothing special here, but the meat was righteous BBQ pork if ever there was such a thing. All in all a typical southern BBQ place – like the name says.

Moe's Original Bar B Que

Quest Log No 66 – Moe’s Original Bar B Que
Decatur, Morgan County

We already have two Moe’s in Huntsville, and now they also have one in Decatur. And in a very posh location, too – directly adjacent to the wonderful Princess Theatre in the revived downtown area. The restaurant is a place with a very hip atmosphere, with high tables with bar stools, a big cut-out window in the front, a porch with tables, flat screen TVs all over the place and so on. Since the new-ness has not worn off yet, the good people of Decatur are coming out in droves – I arrived there a little after 11 AM, and half an hour later people were desperately looking for a place to sit. By then, I still waited for my hushpuppies, which I was told “were being taken care of”. The pork stuffed potato I had ordered was long gone by then, and son enough so was I  - without ever having seen one hushpuppy.
The pork on the potato was very tender and lean, but clearly not wood-smoked, but kind of slow-cooked. The BBQ sauce they use is kind of funky tasting, a bit sour and not really sweet - it is really hard to describe, but certainly not how I like it. Also, it is kind of pricey there – well, I guess they somehow have to collect enough money to pay for all this posh-ness.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Pig-N-Out BBQ

Quest Log No 65 – Pig-N-Out BBQ
Huntsville, Madison County

Well, well, a BBQ in a gas station. I have seen stranger things, but it is certainly not the usual setting for such place. I also noticed that they have “Korean BBQ” on the menu, which is kind of no surprise given the fact that the owner is a Lady from this nice country.
The restaurant is surprisingly nice inside – not exactly what you may expect to find in a gas station. The place is impeccably clean, and the little corner where the tables and booths are situated is lovingly decorated, bright and friendly.
The BBQ though, is more like you would expect it from a place like this. The meat of the pork plate I ordered was lean but somewhat chewy, with no particular smoke aroma. It came neither chopped nor pulled, but it looked like it had been put through a blender. There are three sauces, a white one that I did not touch, a basic vinegar-pepper sauce without much pepper in it, and a thick red vinegar-tomato-pepper sauce – and that had some real nice kick to it, and was very flavorful. I scooped the sauce up with the roll that came with the pork plate at the end. Very delicious.
The sides are really almost not worth mentioning – the potato salad was bland and the baked beans were your standard supermarket variety.
The portions were not that big, and actually I was still kind of hungry when I was finished. But for not even nine bucks, including a big 32 oz drink, that is an acceptable deal. But just to fill your tank with some food that is better than a burger from one of them chains. For a real culinary experience, this place would not be my choice. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Stroud's Barbeque

Non-Quest BBQ No 46 – Stroud’s Barbeque

Franklin, Tennessee
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 ... 

On my way back from Nashville, where I watched some Triple-A Baseball, hunger overcame me and I asked my trusty GPS for a BBQ place nearby. That led me to Franklin, to Stroud’s Barbeque. Turns out that this is actually a small local chain with three restaurants in Middle Tennessee. They not only have the usual BBQ stuff on their menu, but also barbeque nachos and barbeque burritos. I resisted the urge to try one of those fairly exotic meals, and ordered a simple pork plate with potato salad and baked beans instead.
To say it right upfront, it was nothing special. The pork was not very tender, but actually a bit chewy. It was lean and the flavor was okay, and together with the vinegar and pepper sauce it was not bad. They also have a standard thick red sweet’n’sour sauce, which also was nothing to write home about. The potato salad reminded me very clearly of the standard supermarket stuff, as did the baked beans. The cornbread muffin that came with the plate was also very standard, although a bit too dry for my taste. But for not even seven bucks, excluding a drink (that was on the house, thank you very much), there is really nothing much to complain about.
The atmosphere of the place is also very middle of the road. There are no booths, only some tables along the wall and the row of windows on the other side. The decoration consists of some pictures with landscapes on them. But, and this is clearly the most interesting feature there, the counter is something else – it is the front end of a 1950s Chevy truck. Very nice touch, although I think it is utterly lonely there and in dire need of some vintage memorabilia around it.
Well, it was no feast for any of my senses, but at least I did not leave hungry and also got a nice picture of the Chevy-counter.