Friday, March 25, 2011

Goldie's Trail Bar-B-Que

Non-Quest BBQ No 3 - Goldie’s Trail Bar-B-Que
Vicksburg, MS
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 ... 

A visiting alien from outer space (or a tourist from Huntsville, Alabama for that matter …) could very easily come to the conclusion that the civil war was fought entirely in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Everything there is somehow, indirectly or directly, related, touched, or inspired by the great conflict.
Without the big siege of the town to gain control over the Mississippi River, the battle that together with Gettysburg sealed the fate of the Confederacy, Vicksburg would just have remained another sleepy little town in the sleepy rural South.
Even with that storied history under the belt, it is not quite the hectic metropolis today, but a nice little town where they make a living of their legendary past.
The hotels have old cannons as gate guards at the entrance, and one of their streets is named “Confederate Avenue”. Of course, they also have this humongous military park at the old battle site; heck, they even have a salvaged civil war Union river ironclad gunship on display there. And the BBQ place I went to, Goldie’s Trail Bar-B-Que on South Frontage Road, has displays on the walls that show old civil war era guns, all kinds of soldier utensils, bugles, knifes, Minnie balls and the like. It does not quite look like in a museum, but it is a nice collection of civil war memorabilia nonetheless.

Goldie’s seems to be quite an institution in Vicksburg – when I was driving by at lunch time, the parking lot was filled up to the brim, so I decided to return later when the rush was over. It is a family owned and run business for fifty or so years now, and it was actually located at a few different locations in Vicksburg during all those years. It is now situated a stone’s throw away from I-20, just a mile or so from the Mississippi River Bridge.
There is also an “Express” location downtown, where you can get their BBQ as take-out.

Their service is very friendly, yet a bit slow. That could have something to do with the fact that I was there right at the time of changing the shifts after the big lunchtime rush, so the outgoing shift was probably exhausted and the incoming shift not yet at full speed.
The dining room is very clean, and so are the restrooms. I liked that they had actual metal silverware, but the plates were those ubiquitous plastic ones.
And the atmosphere is, well, interesting with all those civil war memorabilia hanging at the walls. Let’s just call it a unique place and move on to the food.

First of all, they do not serve pulled pork. I know, it is Mississippi, but even those folks should have heard about that by now. Or maybe it is a cultural thing, something that is required by law, or just plain stubbornness not to follow the world wide accepted best way to serve BBQ pork. I felt like a Roman who had no alternative but to eat raw meat in some strange barbarian country, when I finally mustered the courage and ordered the “sliced” pork plate.
The waitress must have picked up on my disbelief and dismay, because she quickly assured me that they usually would slice the pork so thin and then kind of mash it in a way that you could not tell the difference. Still, I was not amused. And what was that part about “mashing” the pork, anyway? Well, when in Mississippi, do as the Romans do …

When the food came, my bewilderment grew. It was a very generous amount of meat, thank you very much, that was topped by some raw onion rings. Say what? Yes, raw onion rings. Never seen this before, except on Greek Gyros, which is a totally different culinary beast.
And then, after removing the onion rings, I found out what she meant with “mashing” the pork – it was actually sliced very thin and then they had poured a very charitable amount of Goldie’s special BBQ sauce over it and … mashed it together. The structural integrity of the slices would not withstand such a mangling, resulting in a big saucy mess that very remotely resembled pulled pork – or something you may have seen before occasionally, by the side of the road.
There were stripes of fat hanging around, some sinew I believe, and I expected at every moment to find myself starring into the eye of the poor beast.
Oh well. Besides that, I prefer to decide by myself how much of which sauce is put on the pork. But with only one sauce available at the table – the same sauce that was already on my pork – this became a somewhat moot point. At least they had not completely drowned the meat in the sauce; the quantity they used was actually how I would have done it myself.
So I put the onion rings back on, heaped some of the fat-striped, sauce-drenched meat together with a piece of onion onto the fork, closed my eyes and … really not too bad. Surprisingly tender and juicy, although that juiciness might have actually come from the sauce. Unfortunately I could not tell if the meat had a good smoked flavor, because try as I might, there was no single piece to be found on the whole plate that was not covered with sauce.
Nevertheless, the sauce is really tasty, tangy but not too spicy, with some fruity sweetness, and it also goes well not only with smoked meat, but with raw onion, too.
As I dug through the meat, I realized what a big amount of it that was on the plate. When you order the “double the meat” option, it better is on a day you hadn’t had breakfast. Also, they serve a very tasty garlic toast with it, two big slices to be precise.
Their homemade potato salad and cole slaw is fine, but nothing I would put on a pedestal, like they do on their facebook-page. 

I am a big guy who does not shy away from piles of food. That day, I was especially hungry, because I actually hadn’t had any breakfast and this lunch took place at about three in the afternoon. But I freely admit that when I was done with my double-meat plate with potato salad, cole slaw and garlic toast, there was a slight feeling of queasiness coming from my tummy. But it was totally worth the $14.99 I paid for all that good food, plus a drink.
Although I still can’t bring myself to consider that sliced pork should be an accepted or even tolerated form of BBQ anywhere in the world, I have to admit that those folks in Vicksburg, Mississippi, apparently know what they are doing. Well, without that phenomenal sauce, which covers that mangled mess, it might be a different story.

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